For our fifth meeting but not the last one, Jessie organized a trip for us to take a cruise to Tallinn. Estonia is a country opposite Finland, while the capital Tallinn is located at the northern end of Estonia, on the south side of the Baltic Sea. This is a historical city, like Toledo of Spain. The old city is not big and can be finished in one day, but we have experienced a special local culture here. In addition to local Estonian, Finnish, Russian and English are well understood in Tallinn. Here we can see a lot of Russian elements, like Russian dolls, Russian costumes… We also tasted the local special food: reindeer meat, although it tastes similar to beef. Now, we are looking forward to our trip to Lapland.
Today is my birthday(Oct.9th). I wanted to invite everyone to eat Chinese food, but there are very few local Chinese restaurants in Tampere, and Bettina is a vegetarian, so we decided to go to sushi. The sushi restaurants here are all run by Chinese, so we could also taste a little Chinese food at the sushi restaurant. Now I want to talk about the cultural differences about birthdays. In Spain, everyone will buy some pizzas and drinks to a party at home, then go to the bar for a few drinks. People who have a birthday in the Netherlands should buy a cake by themselves for everyone to eat together. In Italy, friends are paying for the birthday person, and he or she only needs to enjoy it. In China, the birthday person invites everyone to eat and pay the bill, the guests give gifts.
Learned some words today: Cheers + Happy birthday in German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian. Write the name of Julia in Chinese. Say “The food is very good, I can’t eat anymore.” In Spanish and Italian.
There’s one thing that must be done in Finland is the sauna. So tonight Jessie invited us to a Miami sauna party for the third meeting. It sounds very strange, a sauna in the bar. First, we went to the apartment of another German friend. We discussed various styles of music, Russian and German, and tasted the Finnish-made vodka. Then we walked to the bar, just like all the schools, there was a place to hang clothes when entering the door, and we needed to take off our shoes. It’s worth mentioning that this was a traditional Finnish sauna. Although there was no lake after the sauna, most Finns are naked.
Words learned today:
Vihta: is a birch whisk used for whipping oneself or each other in a sauna. Birch leaves release essential oils that can heal inflammations and clean the skin, while whipping does wonders to your blood circulation.
Löyly: The steam you get in sauna when you throw water on sauna stove is called löyly. It is believed there is löylynhenki, the spirit of steam living in each sauna providing a decent heat for its users. But you should be careful not to piss off löylynhenki, as it can easily burn off your ears!
October 1st is China’s National Day, especially this year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country. Celebrations were held around the world, including Finland. There are fewer Chinese in Tampere, but there were still small cultural performances. So we went to watch this show that day, which was also an opportunity to know about Chinese culture. Performances include poetry reading, zither playing, chorus, Chinese dance, etc. At the same time as the performance, we explained Chinese cultural activities such as musical instruments, dance, and acrobatics. After the performance, we discussed traditional Chinese food and decided to go to my apartment to cook one together, not the complicated one, but the simplest scrambled eggs with tomatoes. Through the cooperation between Jessie and me, we cooked two large bowls of scrambled eggs with tomatoes, which was very delicious.
To be honest, it was not the first meeting for our group, but it was a day worth remembering. Fortunately, it was a sunny day. We participated in a canoeing activity organized by a hiking group. The boat rental point was next to the Rauhaniemi sauna. So, we had to climb over a mountain to get there. Because of the large number of people, we had a boat for every 6 people. It must be said that canoeing is a team sport that requires someone to guide the direction and also needs to cooperate to control the direction of the boat. After the interesting canoeing, we chose a hillside with a good view and waiting for the aurora while barbecuing.
What I learned today: German grammar (positive, negative, neutral). How to pronounce letters. Noun initials should be capitalized. Numbers. And how to say and write “I love you” in German, Chinese, Spanish and Italian.