Tag Archives: Learning Finnish

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


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!




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!

My experiences with Finland: Its culture, its nature, its habits and its people

by Theresa Fein, exchange student from Germany

a map around Baltic Sea and the route from Lahnstein to Tampere

To the other side of Baltic Sea

It all started on a cold and snowy winter day in Germany. Our suitcases (my boyfriend accompanied me the first couple of days) were packed and my tutor was willing to pick us up in the middle of the night, which we highly appreciated! The landing in Helsinki was awful, because of all the wind. I am not a big flyer and the complete airplane shaking did not make it easier! Then finally arrived in Tampere the next shock: what a tiny airport! Only one baggage conveyor belt and one hall for both arrival and departure – it felt kind of homely.

We did not have to wait long for the next surprise. Nearly 2,000 kilometres up north and no snow! We left a snowy country to actually fly to a wintrier one and then this! It was super cold and windy, but no snow! Luckily we did not have to wait long for it. What depressed me most during my whole time now in Finland were the long nights. It got day, but the sky was still grey and rather dark. You feel tired and unmotivated to even leave the house, although my 12m2 room was not a better alternative. Nevertheless were the few sunny days I have had so far the best times I have had here! Due to such cold temperatures, the lake next to my apartment was frozen (which is already fascinating for us, since we have never ever seen such a huge water area frozen!) and we could walk on it, which was a fantastic feeling. The Finns are even crazy enough to put a café right in the middle of it.

A girl and a boy kissing in a sun shine , the sky is clear blue and in the background there are two persons skating.

What a feeling on the ice of Näsijärvi lake!

The next thing that comes to my mind when thinking of Finns is their hobby: Sauna! On one day, when it was minus 23 degrees we did a walk around the lake and saw people coming from the sauna and swimming in the freezing water, just unbelievable for us Germans.

In general I have to say that Finns are very nice and friendly people, although they are rather quiet and shy. Before coming here I had the stereotype in mind, that most people are blond and blue-eyed, which I quickly got rid of!

Furthermore is it very impressive how sportive most of them are. Even on icy and therefore slippery ground they go for a run. In Germany no one would ever think of such life-endangering things!

Another amusing thing is encountered were words like: “kioski”, “posti” or (because we came here when the Film “The Hobbit” started) “Hobitti”. It is easy for us to understand them, because Finns have just added an “i” at the end to the original German word, so that we could understand them. With all of the other words it did not work at all. When we are in France or Spain and are reading street signs, familiar. With Finnish it is impossible! The words are even so long that you cannot properly pronounce them.

Two ice hockey teams standing in lines opposite each others on the ice of an arena.

We spurred a local team Tappara, didn’t we?

When comparing Germany and Finland it is obvious, that all products and especially alcohol (which you can only buy in have to go home – although – sometimes this might be a good thing.

I still remember the first time I visited my tutor at home, he was watching ice hockey – incomprehensibly for me! Who on earth would watch ice hockey, when it is possible to watch football?! Even after seeing one match in a stadium I still do not understand this hype.

When I did a day trip to Helsinki, the first thing I saw was a Muumi. I guess I have seen this gesture before, but honestly it is not very popular in Germany. In Helsinki they have several stores, where they only sell things with Muumis on: papers, cups, plates and even dresses. Also in Tampere they are following me: here is a museum only about Muumis! Quite interesting to see what high status this figure has here.

A Cathedral building in the background after stairs, young foreigners standing in wind in the foreground.

A part of monumental centre of Helsinki : cathedral (1852) by a German architect Carl Ludvig Engel.

And until now my last very surprising fact about Finland or in this case Helsinki: some of the main shopping streets are heated! When I was there in winter I was already wondering, why the streets were dry and no snow hills left in the corners. After a short Google search I figured out that they truly do heat these streets – very impressive, isn’t it?


Fingerpori – Humongously Hilarious Homonyms

by Antti Palosaari, degree student in Media

heimo2.edFingerpori is a Finnish comic that’s been around since 2007. Written and drawn by the artist Pertti Jarla, it tells rather heart-warming stories about the folks of a small Finnish town called Fingerpori. Located right between Vatican, Soviet Russia and Mordor, Fingerpori is home to the engineer Heimo Vesa and his friends. Characters such as Jesus, the Pope, Adolf Hitler, The Phantom and Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim appear occasionally.

Needless to say, the comic is extremely humorous and exhilarating. Yet it has caused controversy in certain conservative Finnish communities. The beauty of Fingerpori is its vivid use of the Finnish language – thus reading Fingerpori comics is a good way to learn Finnish, and great fun, too! Fingerpori takes great advantage of homonyms, wordplay and puns. Some of the jokes don’t translate very well, and you have to know some Finnish to get the joke. However, several strips have been translated into English and can be read here. A new strip is published daily in Finnish here.



The Channel Number One – Radio Rock

by Jarmo Hirvikoski, degree student in Media




You might already know that rock and metal music is quite popular in Finland. What you might not know is that there aren’t many Finnish radio channels that are dedicated to play songs solely from those genres. Luckily Finland has Radio Rock, and it makes up for that quite nicely. Its broadcasting began in January 2007 and the first song that the station played was Metallica – Master of Puppets. Radio Rock is one of the most popular radio channels in Finland these days.

Playing great songs from both Finnish and foreign bands is coupled with interesting competitions. You can, for example, try to beat another competitor with your musical knowledge or simply try to be the first one who calls to the studio when a specific song is played. Prizes often are free festival tickets and backstage passes to gigs in Finland and foreign countries, Radio Rock apparel, or gift cards to different shops (e.g. Gigantti and Disturb). Famous artists also visit the shows every now and then, and those visits are usually funnier than their visits to other radio channels because they can act more freely. That usually means cursing and being honest with their opinions. The channel also organizes cruises, which are very popular because you get a chance to meet many Finnish artists.


Big part of Radio Rock’s charm comes from its speaker persons or hosts. Shows like Heikelä Korporaatio are highly entertaining because the speakers, Jussi Heikelä and Harri Moisio, discuss about various topics with humoristic, honest and occasional ”I don’t give a damn what others think” attitude. Visiting artists probably like to visit them because of that. Artists and media celebrities even host some of the shows. For example, Jussi 69 from The 69 Eyes has his own show called ”Rock ‘n Roll Circus”. In summer and December, there are special shows called ”Kesäpojat” (Summer boys) and ”Tiernapojat” (Star boys) with their own guest hosts. Artists from Kotiteollisuus, Lovex, Stam1na, Apulanta and Maj Karma have already shown their hosting skills.

So, Radio Rock is more than recommendable if you want to listen to Finnish rock music, hear Finnish rock stars’ honest thoughts and win cool stuff. And simultaneously learn some Finnish.



It sounds great now, thank you guys!

by Marja Oksanen

Two smiling men at a table with a loudspeaker

Benjamin and Daniel enjoying clear sound

A lack of proper loudspeakers in our class room caused irritation which led to respectable activities: Daniel Bodenmiller and Benjamin MacNab built a brand new, useful and efficient gadget to give joy to Finnish language students. Now we are able to hear clearly listening comprehension exercises and lyrics of Finnish songs!

Once again, thank you dear Environmental Engineering students!


a loudspeaker is being built, stil very unready

There is still a process…

This unready gadget is shaping to be a loudspeaker.

…going on.

Tutoring in the Finnish as a second language course

by Sanna-Kaisa Lamminpää, degree student in Media

At the start of the course ”Finnish language and communication skills” I was told that it’s

Three students at a table playing a game

Rolands, Chrystal and Urara both thinking hard and feeling successful round a verb board game

possible for us Finns to take part in the Finnish for foreigners course as a tutor student. Every tutor participant was promised some extra credits for the tutoring work, which of course sounded really tempting to me. I didn’t want to participate just for the credits, though: As someone who speaks Finnish as her first language, I was really interested in seeing how the language is taught for people who don’t speak a word of it. I also liked the idea of being involved in the learning process as a tutor student. – Plus I thought that it could be a valuable learning experience for me as well!

Two students at a table round a board game looking at a camera. Left side a female one, right side a male one, who is casting a dice.

Anastasia and Phu: “How many steps will I take?”

The one thing that I will probably always remember is how ridiculous Finnish grammar looks to me. The thing is, when you’re fluent in a language you don’t think about the grammar at all when you’re using it. – You just ”know” when something sounds right or wrong. Sometimes that proved to be a hard thing to explain when I was asked question regarding the grammar. I could easily tell if one of the students had made a mistake but when I was asked ”why?” I often had no choice but to say ”I don’t know, that’s just how it works.” After listening to the lectures about the grammar rules I honestly felt like I didn’t know Finnish at all! A few times I got so confused that even I started making mistakes when I was concentrating too hard on the grammar instead of following my ”gut knowledge” of the language.

Despite my poor teaching skills, being a tutor in the course was a lot of fun for the most part! I

Two students - left side a female one and right side a male one - at a table playing a board game.

” ‘To repair’ in Finnish is ‘korjata’!” Kimberly and Mark solving verb problems.

love being around people and helping the foreign students with Finnish turned out to be an altogether awesome experience. Even outside the classroom I still get questions about pronounciation or grammar from the students! I also try to slip some simple Finnish into our conversations every once in a while and, to be honest, sometimes I’m amazed how well some of the students understand what I’m saying. Even when I say something in a very colloquail way, a lot of times I get a reply back in very good Finnish. – and let me tell you, that never gets old!

I’m looking forward to seeing how well the foreign students are going to learn Finnish during these years of studying in TAMK. Who knows, maybe we will be able to have conversations completely in Finnish by the end of our four year journey!