All posts by Leila Huuki

Final Meeting – Hobbies and Kalevala

Didn’t the spring go so fast? I mean, a moment ago it was like February and now it’s almost summer!

This final meeting of ours was a few weeks ago in May. Last time I had asked Nadiia what she still wanted to learn about Finnish language so I could prepare something in advance. She wanted to learn more about the culture but also to repeat some basics, like “How old are you?” and “What is your hobby?”. When I started to gather the material, I realized that English doesn’t have a word for “harrastaa”, they just have the word “harrastus” (hobby). So we have shorter way to say “My hobbies are” → “Minä harrastan” vs. “Minun harrastuksiani ovat”.

So I taught her the numbers from 1-100 and then some Finnish hobbies:

Kuvahaun tulos haulle jääkiekkoKuvahaun tulos haulle jalkapallo

Jääkiekko                                                      Jalkapallo

Kuvahaun tulos haulle tanssiminenKuvahaun tulos haulle neulominen

Tanssiminen                                           Neulominen


After that we started talking about the culture. I told Nadiia that Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish but in Lapland some people also speak Sami. I also introduced her our national epos, Kalevala. I actually found a copy of children’s version of Kalevala in TAMK library so I could show it to her. It was a little hard trying to explain what Kalevala is about so I got a challenge of my own too. If some of you readers are interested to find out about it, here is one English translation:   Of course the language won’t as rich as the Finnish version. (I have to admit that in the original piece many many of the words are unfamiliar to me)

Right. Is this really it? The end of my less than 12-hours-blog? Well, I have to say that it’s been a nice journey remembering all of my meetings with Nadiia. I think we made a great team together. Our meetings didn’t quite go as planned in the preliminary plan (or very much didn’t) but I think we weren’t supposed to be each other’s official teachers, more like study partners who learn together. And we did learn and we discussed a lot. We compared the languages and the cultures and because Nadiia is from Ukraine and studies in Poland, I had some grip of their cultures too. Teaching Finnish was a tough one, I can admit that but I’m happy I took the challenge because it was rewarding to see the other one learning and remembering stuff. And she could really pronounce Finnish better than most of foreigners. I mean, my Russian pronounciation was much worse! But then again, she was hearing Finnish every day everywhere. Maybe I should start listening to more Russian music and watching Russian movies so I could memorize it and wouldn’t lose the language skills this time.

What an amazing spring and hope the summer will be good too. Thanks for reading!



11th Meeting – Russian Samovar and Lullaby

In our 11th meeting we did some repeating of the food words from the last time. Then Nadiia showed me this interesting document about Russian Samovars. It is a great Russian tradition to meet all the family together and drink some tea. All the previous fights are forgiven and forgotten while drinking tea. Some of the Russians even have this habit that if they are so angry with someone, they invite them for a tea and talk to each other via Samovar, like “Could you tell Sergei that he was annoying” (okay maybe not that harsh?). The old way of drinking tea is to pouring it first into the cup and then on the tea plate and drink it from there. I’ve heard that people in Finland have also done that in the old days.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle samovaari

Somehow we also got to talking about music again. She played me this one lullaby:

And I’m sure I have heard this somewhere before but didn’t know it was Russian!

Because I’m going to be working in a camping site for the summer I asked Nadiia to teach me some useful Russian words for it because there might be some Russian tourists that don’t speak English (and of course I also want to practise and improve my Russian).

And as this was our last meeting when Nadiia taught me Russian, it’s time to make a summary. I really think that my Russian have improved this spring. I think I might even understand something if someone speaks me Russian (please don’t speak too fast and mumbling though :D). And now I know lots of new things about the culture. Actually, the culture was quite strange to me before. I have always been more interested in the Western culture but this made me open my eyes and think about the East for a change. They have beautiful architecture and many interesting traditions, especially this Samovar was interesting.  Maybe I’ll even visit Russia sometime or some other Eastern Europe country.

10th Meeting – Foods and Drinks

I just realised I haven’t introduced myself properly. So hi, my name is Leila and I study hospitality management in TAMK. I like cats and dogs, food and wine. Briefly, that’s me.

So because of my study field we became talking about food because who doesn’t love food better than a restonomi! Now I know some of the basic food words in Russian and to make you (and myself) hungry here are some of them:

Kuvahaun tulos haulle juustoKuvahaun tulos haulle jäätelöKuvahaun tulos haulle suklaa

сыр                                мороженое                         шоколад

Kuvahaun tulos haulle viinirypäleKuvahaun tulos haulle leipäKuvahaun tulos haulle sipuli

виноград                                        хлеб                                            лук


Funny, we also discovered that chicken in Russian is курица which sounds like Finnish word karitsa (baby lamb). And Russian word молоко (milk) is pronounced like Malaco, the Northern candy factory. Of course many of the food words are related to English, such as Банан, лимон and кофе so they are also easy to remember.

And now I’m starting to get hungry….

Ps. Wine is вино, by the way.

9th Meeting – Painomustetta

I’m part of TAMK’s very own Theater Club Ääriraja and we made a play for this spring, called Painomustetta. I invited Nadiia to watch our dress rehearsal. For those of you who don’t know theater so much, dress rehearsal means the last rehearsals before the premiere. The play is performed like in a real situation and the director doesn’t interrupt but gives his notes at the end.

Nadiia was a bit further in her Finnish studies so we wanted to give a try on how much she would understand of our play that was all in Finnish. After all we used quite common language in the play, with some slang words of course but if she couldn’t understand, at least the play would be visual with music and dancing.

After the dress rehearsal I asked what she thought the play was about.  She had had some clue of it and some details but didn’t get the whole picture. I explained the plot to her and then some words she had caught but didn’t know the meaning. It was a bit difficult even because she told the words to me as she had heard them and I had to figure out the context before realizing what she meant and explaining them. Because some of the words were really hard to explain without the context. Especially hard was to explain the name “Painomustetta”, it’s like print ink and it comes from that the play’s one focus was on a newspaper. Okay, wasn’t so hard when I put it that way but it wasn’t that easy the first time 😀


By the way, welcome to see our plays in the future!

8th Meeting – Черный кот

Hello! Getting tired of me yet? 😉

So 8th meeting already… This time we also met at Nadiia’s house. Like I had told her before it’s easy for me to learn a new language by listening music, so she played me this song (got to warn you, it’s quite catching):

It’s about how people think that when you see a black cat crossing the street it brings you bad luck, but in this song only the black is the one who becomes unhappy because of the people. It’s sad to see the cat so sad, I want to go and hug him!! (even if it’s “only a cartoon”). But because of the catchiness of this song, I now remember some Russian words better.

We also watched a clip of this movie буратино. It’s somewhat a Russian version of Pinocchio, or at least it I understood the movie that way. I have to say that, based on this movie, Russians have more expressive voice actors in children films than some of the Finnish ones.

This meeting we had more discussions about Finnish and Russia cultures and their differences than straight lectures about the language but it was nice for a change.


7th Meeting – Russian Kitchen Words

We arranged the meeting in Nadiia’s home this time. It was actually funny because she lived opposite of the house where I used to live when I first moved to Tampere.

Again we decided to just go with the flow and she taught me different kitchen words in Russian. And now I remember: the Finnish word “loska” is quite similar to the Russian word Ложка (spoon)! That’s why it was so funny the time when we talked about the weather. It might mean something in Polish too, as I remembered in that post.

Миска is a deep plate in Russian. Nadiia thought it was funny when I told her that in Finnish it’s a boy’s name.  Actually, come to think about it, it’s easier to learn new words when they are similar to something you already know.

Remember when in the first post I talked about that the Russian language sounds all the same to me? Well, with some words you really have to be careful with the pronounciation. For example стол (table) and стул (chair) have just a tiny difference. Also Russian has like six different s-sounds (in Finnish many call them s-sounds because they are all new letters for us):

c – it’s like a regular s

ш – is sh, like short

щ – shcha, at this point I went like whaaaaaat, but it’s like fresh_cheese, the sound that comes in the middle when you say them quickly (or something like that)

Ц – ts, like in boots 

Ч – ch, like chat

Ж – like pleasure

Okay, except the щ, I start to realize that there are many different ways to pronounce the s-letter in Finnish and English too. But we have to learn how to say it in different words, meanwhile Russians have own letters for each of them, so you know instantly how to pronounce it. It sounds way smarter than the Western way but how come it’s so so hard to learn them…

6th Meeting – Russian literature in Metso

Because this course isn’t just about learning and teaching languages but to also talk about the cultures, we decided to head to the Tampere main library, Metso. I find out that they have a quite large section for foreign literature and it covers so many nationalities, for example French, Portuguese and Polish. Of course we found some Russian literature as well.

I learned Aleksandr Puškin is one of the most famous writers and poets in Russia. Many think that he was the founder of Russian literature. Like Russians’ version of Mikael Agricola. I have never really read Russian literature. I know Tšaikovski and Tolstoi and have seen the American version of Anna Karenina, that’s about it. So it was exciting to know about Puškin. We also looked at the Russian movie section. It was interesting that many of the movie covers looked like old Finnish movies even though some of them were made in the 21st century.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle aleksandr pushkin

Aleksandr Puškin

Kuvahaun tulos haulle mikael agricola

Mikael Agricola

I also told Nadiia about Aleksis Kivi and his famous novel Seitsemän veljestä. Now when I think about it, it’s funny that one of our most famous novels is about seven brothers who don’t know how to read and manage to burn their sauna down (okay, there was more than that, read the book).

Kuvahaun tulos haulle seitsemän veljestä

Altogether, we had a lovely and intelligent day.

5th Meeting – Walking Around the City Centre

Why should you always meet indoors when you can walk around and talk about what you see? That’s what Nadiia and I thought and so our fifth meeting was outside. We met at Keskustori and started walking from there.

What comes first to mind when you try to think of subject to talk about? The weather! At that time there was typical Finnish winter with rain and slush but I also taught some nicer weather words such as aurinkoinen and lämmin (in Finland those are quite rare phenomena, especially in autumn, winter and spring). I learned that “loska” (or some word that is pronounced like it) means something totally different in Polish. Of course when you don’t write these down instantly you forget them… But I assure you it was funny!

We walked past the Tammerkoski and I told Nadiia about students’ Vappu (Labor day) traditions. Then I taught here how to say different directions in Finnish:


(Isn’t this cute, I made it with paint)

After the walk we headed to the Living Room to get some snacks. There I repeated the words I had taught for her and we also talked about Russian language.

All in all, it was a nice day (except the weather).

4th Meeting – Russian Question Words

This meeting we decided to go somewhere else than TAMK where our last meetings had been. So we met at Linna, which is a part of the University of Tampere. It was hard to find a place quiet enough but that still wasn’t in the library area where you actually have to be quiet. After some searching we found a nice sofa downstairs.

Like the last meetings we just went with the flow and Nadiia got to teach me some Russian question words (and some other random words that came to mind). At this point I might add that Russian isn’t Nadiia’s mother tongue but she really speaks and writes it well (perhaps because Russian is very related to Ukranian?). She might say “это просто” but I really think “это сложно”. Fortunately the question words were quite easy and I wasn’t so overwhelmed like the last time. I think it’s partly because before this meeting I was listening some Russian pop music while sitting in the bus and “got into the mood”. Okay, most of the time I had no idea what they were singing about but, hey, didn’t we all listen to English music as kids and tried to sing along without knowing the actual words or their meanings? In the long term it really helps and you start to understand!

After the lecture Nadiia told me what the songs’ names meant in English and, like I thought, most of them was about partying and love like the English ones (some of them were even better). When taking the bus home and listening to the playlist I started to recognize some single words. Yeah, I’m progressing!

3rd Meeting – Teaching Finnish

Hello again!

We were going to donate some blood with my friends but discovered at the Red Cross Blood Donation Service that on Wednesdays it closes at 16:00 already. Well, at least we tried, just have to try again with some better luck next time. But this is why it took me this long to write this post.

So, back to business, on our third meeting with Nadiia I was supposed to teach her some Finnish. Before the meeting I looked through the Finnish study books and frankly I was kind of terrified. It is easy to speak Finnish and to know the grammar because it’s my mother tongue but try to teach it to someone who doesn’t know anything about it.  There are some rools, yes, but I also discovered that there are soooo many exceptions. Like conjugating basic substantives: koira-koirat, kissa-kissat, sana-sanat ← this is very simple, isn’t it? Well, try these: kukka-kukat, äiti-äidit, lehti-lehdet, kahvinkeitin-kahvinkeittimet. And then try to explain what words conjugate in what way. I mean, as a native speaker you just know (okay, we did learn some of it at elementary school, but still).

Well, it turned out that Nadiia was also taking a Finnish basics class in the university so we skipped the hellos and those things that she had already learned there. We looked through one of the Finnish study books and I said that she could tell me if there is something particular she wanted to learn from there. That’s when we came up with the months and weekdays. Thank god they are so simple, I mean if you want to say on what day you are doing something, just add -na in the end of the word:

Maanantaina, tiistaina, keskiviikkona

Also the months are very easy. If you want to tell which month you were born, just add -ssa:

Tammikuussa, helmikuussa, maaliskuussa

Finnish weekdays doesn’t really mean anything (at least in the common language) like in some languages. But some of the months have different meanings. The word “kuu” itself means “moon” and for example (freely translated) helmikuu (February) is “pearl moon”, heinäkuu (July) is “hay moon”, kesäkuu (June) is “summer moon” and joulukuu (December) is “christmas moon”. Kind of funny when you think it that way.

That’s all folks for this time!