100 years of Finland

by Tessa Särkilahti, degree student in media

Small white flowers in a green ground


Our little Finland is now 100 years old, congratulations! Three generations of independence has passed and in this short time we have grown this strong and independent safe welfare country we are today. Naturally there have been ups and downs but instead of focusing on all the problems we have a good reason to take a little break and celebrate. Let’s forget about neo nazis marching on the streets of Tampere and education budget cuts, it is time to think what is good about Finland.

Suomi 100-celebration started almost right after 99th independence day a year ago. The official theme is yhdessä (together) and in my opinion it has been really successful campaign. All the smallest companies and events are working in a collaboration with Suomi 100 and you can not escape the ads. From cleaning tool manufacturers to coffee companies everyone has created their own Suomi 100 marketing campaign in honor of Finland.

Even though Suomi 100 celebration campaign has been pretty commercial it has also brought people actually together. Everybody has been able to join the celebration and people have been active in social media in different campaigns.

At least for me, Finland has always been very equal and democratic. It can be a little boring sometimes but Finnish people appreciate peace, safety and honesty. Our welfare system is taking care of the weakest members of society (like us students) and offers equal right to everyone for good education and healthcare. The system is not perfect and Finnish people like to whine but personally I am very thankful for all the financial support my home country has offered me during my childhood years to this day. Taxes are no joke.

One thing I also really love in our little Finland is that nature is always close to you. Our air is fresh and smells good and the environment is clean, people tend to pollute and litter their environment wherever they go so Finland is my safe place. No one wants to live in here so we have a lot of unhabitated areas filled with beautiful forests, lakes and mosquitos. These pictures are from last summer when we went hiking in this old forest, these remains me how short and delicate finnish summer is. I love all the seasons equally.

Finnish art and design is very close to my heart, we have a lot of talented photographers, illustrators, painters, industrial designers, textile designers, architects, the list goes on. We’ve also succeeded to create some international brands that have stand the test of time like Moomins and Marimekko. Finland is also doing pretty good on international catwalks. Still I feel that most of the talent goes wasted and domestic design is underrated, it is such a shame! Buy more from local sellers.  fern leaves

When asking my foreign fellow students what do they value in Finnish culture, most people answer with confusion and silence. It is indeed a hard question, even I had to think about it twice and do some research what it actually means to live in Finland. It is maybe that Finnish people are somewhat introverted and slowly warming human beings, maybe our culture is just reflecting that. Being proud and bragging about yourself is not cool in here so people keep their achievements safe and hidden in their pocket where no one could find them or share them. Therefore our culture is a very well kept secret.

I asked what kind of things intrernational students from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Russia and Britain value in Finnish culture. The first thing they all said was that they think Finns are very honest and trustworthy, that we are calm and follow all the rules. These are nice compliments and very true! Thank you. We got minus points on being a little too boring and untemperemental but hey, can’t win all categories. Also being private and keeping personal space is a respected feature, Finland is a safe place to live, we have beautiful peaceful nature and our environment and cities are clean and well functioning. It is always refreshing to hear what visitors and foreigners think about your home country.

Small green plants in a ground.

To be honest these answers didn’t surprise me, this is pretty much the same what I’m thinking about Finland and it’s people. I wish Finnish people could open up more to foreigners and visitors and show that there is so much more Finland that just sauna and beer. Also I was actually quite surprised that how less foreign students knew about Finland, our history, language, design, arts and folklores. It doesn’t really hurt to keep yourself updated while traveling.

Suomi 100 celebration year has come to its end and these past hundred years have created a good base for a bright future if things goes well. And I hope there will be many hundred years more. So congratulations again, you are beautiful, you are strong, you are independent, you are Finland.


My life in Finland

by Maria Mikhaylova, degree student in Media

Dark landscape: a couple of trees in the foreground , then water and city lights in the background

City lights between two lakes

Adapting to my new life in Finland wasn’t too difficult for me for many reasons. First of all, I am used to darkness and cold during winter time, as for I am from Russia and we have exactly the same climate. So I probably don’t suffer from it as much as my classmates who came from warmer countries. What I noticed here is that finns are complaining about it more than we do in Russia, and many people that I met are dreaming to move to some warmer place at least for winters. Maybe I’m the weirdest person on earth, but I really love winter more than summer and I find it a very inspiring and beautiful season. And yes, I also enjoy the darkness (but not in the mornings, it feels so bad to get up when it’s dark outside).

Mainly blue and red sky, in the lower part two leafless trees.

What makes Finns so humble?

I really like that finns appreciate people’s private space. I am an introvert, and I felt really uncomfortable when, for example, random people would start talking to me in public transport. Especially annoying it is during a long-distance train trip. People somehow feel that they SHOULD start a conversation, otherwise they’re not polite. In Finland it’s vice versa. It is polite to be silent and not to bother a person with your presence. I can say that I really enjoy it!

I also appreciate that Finnish people are very humble, never brag and maybe are a bit shy. From my perspective it is a sign of good upbringing and valuable qualities in a person. And also if you break this wall of shyness and coolness (of course it should happen without pressure) you will find out that they are very nice, honest and quite easy-going people. They can even joke 🙂 My experience in meeting Finnish people is only positive.

A basket filled with mushrooms.

Treasures from fresh nature!

Also what I think is great, is that people are helpful, in small and in global things. I used to stop people in the streets to ask the road quite many times when I was here as a tourist and had no internet on my phone. Every time the person would stop and start explaining me in details how to get to the place, no matter what gender or age he or she was. Once I saw how a person fell down on the railway station just while running to a leaving train. The machinist stopped the train, and all the people who were around helped this man to get up and made sure he was alright (it took about 5 minutes or maybe even more), then helped him to get on the train. For me it is a wonderful example of a well organized society where people take care of each other.


by Carlos Portilla, degree student in Media

sunset from a hill through a couple of trees to a lake

Finnish language

A lot has been said about the Finnish language. A variety of opinions I have heard. An interesting mixture of advices and warnings I have received. But what is the real deal with Finnish language? The real deal with the Finnish language is the one that you choose, I could say. If you want to see it as a hard language, it will be a hard language; if you want it to be challenging, it will be challenging; if you want to understand it, then you will understand it; if you want to be fluent in it, then you will. Finnish language will become what ever you truly desire depending how hard you work on it.

I have met people that by studying it for a year have good conversation skills. I have also met people that have been living in Finland for over 20 years and are not able to order something in a restaurant, and I have also seen two-year-old kids speaking Finnish. So, is that because of the language? No, is because of each one of us. It’s not something related to age or how long have we have lived in Finland. We decide how long is going to take us to understand it depending in our own effort and commitment.

Tampere – The Manchester of Finland

Carlos. Frenckell Teatteri.edTeatteri Frenckell – in a national industrial landscape

The first time that I came to Tampere I saw it as a really small city compared to where I’m from. Almost 1/10 of my hometown’s population. I didn’t thought it could be an interesting or dynamic city. I was wrong. When I started reading more about Tampere, I realized that it is a very well developed city in many aspects (culture, sports, leisure, art, museums, nightlife, education, theatres, etc.)

The first thing that surprised me was that a city with a little over 200 000 people living there could have it’s own Philharmonic Orchestra which is considered the only full-sized symphony orchestra in Finland outside Helsinki, and which performs regularly in Tampere Hall, the largest concert and congress center in the Nordic countries, also in Tampere. This city was also an important part of the lives of Finland’s most popular poet (Lauri Viita) and writers (Väino Linna, Kalle Päätalo and Hannu Salama).

A number of festivals take place in Tampere, such like: Tampere Film Festival, Tammerfest, Tampere Floral Festival, Tampere Jazz Happening, Tampere Vocal Music Festival, Tampere Bienanale, among many others. Another important fact about Tampere is that it is considered to be the capital of Finnish theatre.

A scenery over the city of Tampere, cloudy weather

A part of my Tampere!

As you can see, Tampere might seem like a small town, but it’s a very versatile and dynamic city worth getting to know, and to make your stay a little more pleasant, here are some important words and phrases you may need to use:


ENGLISH                                        FINNISH

Hello                                                  Hei

How are you?                                    Mitä kuulu?

My name is …                                  Nimeni on …

Thank you                                           Kiitos

Where is the bus station?                Missä on linja-autoasema?

Where is the railway station?              Missä on rautatieasema?

Where is the restroom?                         Missä on vessa?

Goodbye                                            Hei hei


My EVS story

by Barbara Jazbec, degree student in Media

 snow crowded sea shore with a couple of quays in the sun set

My EVS destination – Kokkola by the winter sea

EVS stads for Europen Voluntary Service, is an international volunteer programme funded by the European Commission. It enables all young people legally resident in Europe, aged between 18 and 30 years, to carry out an international volunteer service in an organisation or in a public body in Europe, Africa, Asia or South America for a period ranging from 2 to 12 months. EVS is a very good opportunity to experience living abroad, meet new people, become more independent, practice your English and learn a new language. They provide the reimbursement of travel expenses and complete coverage of the costs of food and accommodation for the international volunteer. European Voluntary Service is practically FREE OF CHARGE! It is a good opportunity if you are lost, if you do not know what to do next… It can help you to ”find yourself”.

My EVS project was in Kokkola, Finland. Kokkola is a town located in the west coast of Finland. My EVS journey started on the 13th of November 2013. My project was 10 months long.

My work was to help in the youth center Villa Elba and in a local Finnish kindergarten. I was 2 days in a week in the kindergarten and two days in Elba. In the youth center mainly my work was in the international office where they plan all different international events and EVS projects. There I sometimes helped also to do outside work, for example cutting grass, taking the leaves away and so on.

Moomin characters implemented using collage

Of course I created Moomins of my own!

The other two days when I was in the kindergarten, I was helping the teachers to take care of the children. I was working in a group where the children where form one to three years old. There with my Finnish language skill I was basically fitting in the group of one year old. Teachers were singing songs about colors; ”se on vihreä, se on vihreä” that they and me could learn colors. Then they were also teaching them numbers “yksi, kaksi , kolme…” Children in that age know only one language so they could not understand that I do not speak the same language. They were talking to me in Finnish: “Lisää vauhtia, Barbara!” when I was swinging them outside. Through that I learned the most of my Finnish at that time when I knew just “Kiitos” and why was that because I was forced to speak only Finnish with the kids so trough that was the most fun and easy way to learn the new language.

Behind two pinetrees there is a large blue wooden building in snowy environment.

Here I learned Finnish playing with children!

This was my short story about coming to a new country and how to learn Finnish by playing.

How to apply for EVS; contact your local youth center for more info!





by Marja Oksanen

Lumipoika.edHei, hyvät opiskelijat!

Hienoa, että haluatte opiskella lisää suomea! Tampereella voi mennä monille iltakursseille. Tässä on linkki, josta voit hakea juuri sinulle sopivan kurssin: http://www.finnishcourses.fi/ .

Nämä kurssit maksavat, ja ne ovat Ahjolassa, Työväenopistossa (Sampolassa) tai Kesäyliopistossa. Toivottavasti sinä löydät hyvän kurssin ja pääset mukaan! Ole mukana joka kerta, tee läksyt ja opi paljon lisää!





by Marja Oksanen


How are you, a new degree or exchange student? Just fine, I hope. I also hope you will participate Finnish language courses: TERVETULOA!

It is nice to start with typical phrases. Please, click a link below which leads you to practise them! Have a nice time!



Me opiskellaan suomea!

by Marja Oksanen

Salolammen lukiolaisia.edTerveisiä Minnesotasta!  = Greetings from Minnesota!

Me ollaan lukiolaisia eri puolilta Yhdysvaltoja. = We are highschool students from different parts of USA.

Salolammen kesäleiri on se paikka, jossa me opiskeltiin 4 viikkoa suomea Marjan kanssa. = Salolampi summer camp is the place where we studied Finnish for 4 weeks with Marja.

Ehkä me tullaan vielä vaihtoon Suomeen, jooko? = Maybe we’ll come to Finland as exchange students, ok?   Nähdään!



Welcome to our Course Theatre!

by Marja Oksanen

Thanks, my marvellous Basics of Finnish group!  = Kiitos, minun erinomainen BoF-ryhmä! As exhange students after 39 contact lessons you have done a good job!

Here you are, have a look at the selection of restaurant dramas:



Venninen – a Finnish Hero

by Matti Raappana, degree student in Media

There’s a thing in Finland called sisu. It basically means that you never give up, whatever happens – you do everything to survive. Here in Finland there was a guy, whose life – in my opinion – describes the best way, what sisu means.  Johan Venninen, a true Finnish guru.

Johan Ebenhard Venninen (1.2.1909 – 13.4.2008) was a Finnish inventor. He lived in Vihti, not so far away from Helsinki. When Venninen was only nine years old, he had an accident, which turned out fatal: it made him blind almost the rest of his life. Years later his sight came partially back, but unfortunately only for a moment, because later he had another accident that made him completely blind.

Even Johan was blind, he did wanted to be self-reliant and to find ways to survive alone. He didn’t want anyone to help him. He wanted to do everything by himself. So he became an inventor. He really did. A lot of inventions. He was very handy with metalworks, for example he built a garage and sauna for himself, he repaired even rooftops and did some renovation work. He also mined a cave using explosives (WHAT!!!).

Venninen had a hill next to his house. He wanted to build a garden on the top of the hill, because he noticed that plants grow better there. Because the hill was almost 20 meters high, he made himself a crane-system, which helped him to get soil and water easier to the garden – and amazingly he did all this without any help.

I know this sounds almost like a joke. But wait. This is getting even better. And this all is true!

Venninen loved boating and fishing, but as you can imagine, for a blind person it’s not that easy. That’s why he invented an own compass-system from an old radio. His idea was that this gadget  gives a sound when it was pointed north. And somehow with that device (I can’t understand how) Venninen was able to use his boat and find always a way back home.

Venninen ate mostly raw food. His favourites were smoothies which contained only water and different kind of leafs and plants (dandelions, nettles etc.) which he found in his yard and forest. First he always took a small bite from everything, and then by the taste he knew immediately if it was poisonous or not. He didn’t have any kind of poisonings ever. He really knew what he was doing. He was nearly never sick either. (Maybe also we all just need to try his way.) It’s still mystery for me how he knew so well plants and raw food.

Venninen was living like this over 40 years. All the time inventing something new which helped him in everyday life. He was truly a survivor.

He didn’t have a wife or kids. Most of his life he was just by himself, but indeed happy. For him it was really important to help other people and for example he cured other people of bad back pains with massage.

Johan Venninen got Mensa-award in 2007 when he was 98 years old. One year later he died. His last will was that someone would finish the cave-project which he had already started.

For me the life of Johan Venninen is just something really amazing and inspiring. I know that many Finnish people are pretty relentless (sisu again), but this particular one is still truly much more next-level-stuff. It’s absolutely astonishing how an old, blind man can do this kind of actions.  And for us it is one of the best examples showing that we can do anything we want if we just try hard.

Venninen has said in an interview, that he’s not more special than any other people and anyone else can do exactly the same things, if just wants to. His life indeed inspires me not give up very easily. I hope that it affects you same way.

You can get more info about JV  and amazement feelings as well  by watching some clips in Yle Elävä Arkisto (http://yle.fi/aihe/artikkeli/2008/12/31/johan-venninen — only in Finnish: “Johan on Venninen” ja “Vesille Vennisen mieli” . With English subtitles, try youtube.com.)


by Elisa Pekkola, degree student in Energy and Environmental engineering

Two student girls with carboard signs

It may sometimes be difficult to express your thoughts in your own language, but even more so in a language that is not your mother tongue. Ideas might get lost in a jungle of different tenses, and finding the correct words may seem impossible. This is one of the reasons I find it often challenging to communicate with people from different cultures.

I have made some observations about the situations where the message during a conversation may be misunderstood. Asking for advice for example in some homework dilemma might lead to confusion. As a person tries to explain even a very familiar topic in another language the result can be anything but clear. Another situation I find interesting is day-to-day conversation and especially the way people from different cultures react. A blunt or even a slightly rude comment leaves you to wonder if you had said something inappropriate. This is however not the case.

A group of students wadering on the street with carboard signs.Different cultures have a way of saying things in a certain way, using certain words. Especially in Finland we love to stay comfortable in a conversation without having to put too much effort both in receiving and sending a message. It may be so that a person doesn’t have the same competence of a language as you do which leads to a conversation that is hard to make sense of. Also some words may be used in different contexts depending on the culture which can be confusing in communication. Something that sounds completely normal in Finnish can mean a completely different thing translated directly into English.

As a Finn I find it uncomfortable in a conversation to admit you did not understand what the other person meant by something. But the only way to make clear of a conversation is to face the difficult words and ask bravely. Learning the verbal culture of another country is a fascinating part of intercultural exchange!