All posts by Elisa Haapala

Zalig kerstfeest!

We spent our final meeting in a Christmas spirit baking gingerbread (pipari) and Christmas pastries (joulutorttu) while listening to Christmas music. We made both pipari and joulutorttu from frozen doughs to save some time. I have never made either of the doughs myself and it is quite common to use frozen doughs for pipari and joulutorttu.


With pipari, all you have to do is to roll out the dough and cut it with a different Christmas themed molds and then bake it according to the instructions in the package. After the piparis have cooled down you can decorate them however you like. We made two different icings. One was icing sugar mixed with lime juice and the other was icing sugar mixed with my grandmother’s homemade rasberry-redcurrant juice. On top of the icing we put a few peppermint flavoured chocolate candies.




One batch of piparis accidentally burned but luckily we had enough dough to make more 😊



When making joulutorttu, you first need to cut the frozen puff pastry into squares. When the dough has melted a little you need to make diagonal cuts into each corner and lift up the corners like in the photo. Then you can choose a marmelade that you like and place it on top. Traditionally joulutorttu is made with plum jam. We used plum jam and apple-cinnamon marmelade.




While enjoying our piparis and joulutorttus we taught each other some Christmas related words.



Unfortunately all good things come to an end at some point. I learned a lot about the Dutch culture (and food) and some phrases and words to amaze people with. I also liked teaching Finnish and things about Finland and Finnish culture. This course was better than I ever imagined and huge thanks for that go to my pair Jocelyn!

Game on!

For our 9th meeting we went to see an ice hockey game in Tampere Ice hall. The game was between Tappara and KooKoo. Tappara is one of the two hockey teams in Tampere and the opponent team came from Kouvola which is a city in southeast Finland. We had seats that were really close to the action because of the student-priced tickets. Tappara was in the lead the whole game and ended up winning with 3-0.



During the breaks we talked about popular sports in our countries. Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Finland. Other popular sports are skiing, football and ‘pesäpallo’ which is similar to baseball. Popular sports in the Netherlands are football, volleyball, hockey and ice-skating. We also taught each other some ice hockey and sports related words.


Pre-Christmas party with EOTO

Christmas time means pre-Christmas parties and for our eight meeting we went to the EOTO Christmas party which was at Solu. There were many other students from around the world who were also participating the EOTO course. Many students had brought some traditional food and snacks from their home countries to share with everyone. At the party me and Jocelyn talked about Christmas traditions in Finland and the Netherlands.


In Finland we celebrate Christmas on 24th December, Christmas Eve. In the morning of the 24th there is a children’s TV show where Santa Claus takes calls from children and they also show traditional Christmas animations and movies. Christmas is spent with family. Many families go to church on Christmas Eve and for most of them Christmas is the only day of the year they go to church. Some of my family members go to church in some of the Christmases but not always. Personally, I don’t go to church because I have resigned from the church.  In the evening, after the church or some other activities, there is the Christmas dinner which consists of oven-baked ham, root vegetable casseroles, mixed beetroot salad, smoked salmon and many other different salads, meat and fish dishes. At some point, usually after dinner, Santa Claus comes for a visit. Santa Claus’ visit is usually a tradition only if there are young children in the family but some families hire one even when the children are older and don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore. Children sing songs to Santa Claus and then Santa Claus brings presents to everyone. The presents can be placed for example under the Christmas tree by family members if Santa doesn’t visit. After Santa Claus leaves the presents are opened and the rest of the evening is spent with family. Rest of the Christmas (25th and 26th) is usually spent with family and I personally visit my grandparents and my boyfriend’s family on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.



In the Netherlands the Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Day 25th and the second Christmas Day 26th. I already posted a blog about Dutch traditions and I told about Sinterklaas. On Sinterklaas’ Day children get presents so it is not a common tradition in the Netherlands to give presents on Christmas Day. Christmas is more spiritual and it involves church. In the Netherlands Christmas is also spent with family and it includes a Christmas dinner. A Dutch Christmas dinner usually includes roast pork, vegetables, homemade bread and pepernoten.


Although very similar, there were surprisingly many differences between Finnish and Dutch Christmas. It was nice to get to know more about Dutch traditions and the pepernoten cookies that Jocelyn had brought were so good I’m going to buy them too!

Delicious Dutch Dinner

Our 7th meeting took place on Sunday 19th of November and we met at Jocelyn’s apartment in Rauhaniemi. Our mission for the evening was to cook some traditional Dutch food. I was really looking forward to it because, well, food is always nice. We made carrot and potato stew with meatballs for dinner and a stroopwafelcake for dessert.


Jocelyn had already prepared the meatballs when I arrived and here is the recipe for the meatballs.


Gehaktbal                                                                  Meatball

200 g Gehakt                                                            200 g Minced meat

1 tl Zout                                                                      1 tsp Salt

2 tl Nootmuskaat                                                    2 tsp Nutmeg

2 tl Paprikapoeder                                                  2 tsp Paprika powder

1 tl Peper                                                                   1 tsp Pepper

½ Ei                                                                               ½  Egg

50 g Paneermeel                                                     50 g bread-crumbs


Bereidingswijze gehaktbal / Method of preparation meatballs

  1. Klop het ei. / Beat the egg.
  2. Voeg de kruiden en paneermeel toe. / Add the spices and bread-crumbs.
  3. Voeg dit toe aan het gehakt. / Add this mixture to the minced meat.
  4. Kneed tot een compacte massa. / Knead till a compact mass.
  5. Verdeel de massa in 2 stukken en rol tot gehaktballen. / Separate the mass into two pieces and roll them into a meatball.
  6. Braad voor ongeveer een uur. / Roast for about an hour.


When I arrived we started preparing the stew. Here is what you need for the stew.


Hutspot                                                                     Carrot and potato stew

750 g Aardappelen                                                 750 g Potatoes

750 g Wortelen                                                        750 g Carrots

1 Ui                                                                               1 Onion

25 g Boter                                                                  25 g Butter

50 ml Melk                                                                50 ml Milk

Snufje zout en peper                                             Pinch of salt and pepper


Bereidingswijze hutspot / Method of preparation stew

  1. Schil de aarappelen en snijd deze in evengrote stukken. / Peel the potatoes and cut into equally sized pieces.
  2. Snijd de ui in kleine stukken. / Cut the onion into small pieces.
  3. Schil de wortelen en snijd in kleinere stukken. / Peel the carrots and cut into smaller pieces.
  4. Doe de aardappelen, wortels en ui in een pan. / Put the potatoes, onion and carrots in a pan.
  5. Vul de pan met water en voeg een snufje zout toe. / Fill the pan with water and add a pinch of salt.
  6. Kook dit voor 20-25 minuten. / Cook for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Giet het water af en stamp alles door elkaar. / Pour off the water and mash everything.
  8. Roer de melk en boter erdoor en breng op smaak met zout en peper. / Mix the milk and butter with the stew and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serveer met gehakballen en jus. / Serve with meatballs and gravy.



And then for the dessert we made a stroopwafelcake.


Stroopwafelcake                                                  Syrup waffle cake

200 g Zachte boter                                                 200 g Soft butter

200 g Suiker                                                              200 g Sugar

4 Eieren                                                                      4 Eggs

200 g Bloem                                                              200 g Flour

2 tl Bakpoeder                                                         2 tsp Baking powder

2 tl Vanillesuiker                                                      2 tsp Vanilla sugar

2 Stroopwafels                                                        2 Stroopwafels (Syrup waffles)

Snufje zout                                                                Pinch of Salt


Bereidingswijze stroopwafelcake / Method of Preparation stroopwafelcake

  1. Roer de boter zacht en voeg de suiker toe. / Mix the butter and add the sugar.
  2. Roer totdat het luchtig is en voeg een voor een de eieren toe. / Mix until it’s smooth and add the eggs one at a time.
  3. Voeg al mixend de bloem, bakpoeder en zout toe. / While mixing add the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  4. Breek de stroopwafels in kleine stukjes. / Break the stroopwafel in small pieces.
  5. Voeg de stroopwafel en vanillesuiker toe. / Add the stroopwafel and the vanilla sugar.
  6. Roer alles goed door elkaar. / Mix everything together.
  7. Vet de bakvorm in en giet het beslag in de vorm. / Grease the baking mold and pour the batter into the mold.
  8. Bak voor ongeveer 60 minuten op 180°C. / Bake at 180°C for about an hour.



The food was really good and I am definitely going to make them again! In the end, here is a photo that describes our cooking. We both cut our finger while cooking but it was worth it!



For the 6th meeting we decided to meet at a bar and learn some free time related vocabulary, like how to order a drink for example. We met at Kivenheitto and we were supposed to play billiard but sadly the bar was really crowded for a Wednesday so we had to settle for a few games of table football. I am writing this post a few months late so I am not sure what the final score was but I am pretty sure I won… Memories grow sweeter with time.

After my supposed victory we went to a different, less crowded, bar called Salhojankadun Pub. I’ve heard that it is the oldest pub in Tampere and it is very conveniently located right downstairs from my apartment. At Salhojankadun Pub we enjoyed a few drinks and talked about vocabulary related to bars and drinks.

I had such a great time and I am looking forward to actually using these phrases someday!


Dutch holidays and traditions

Our 5th meeting was on 7th of November and we met at cafe Siilinkari in Hämeenkatu. It was quiet when we went there which was perfect for the meeting. Our first meeting was at cafe Puisto with its delicious cakes and pastries but Siilinkari had really good cake too. My choice for the evening was some green tea and a ‘mokkapala’ which is a coffee flavoured chocolate cake, kind of like a brownie.


We discussed some Finnish and Dutch holidays and traditions. While many of the Finnish holidays don’t have much other traditions but drinking alcohol, the Dutch holidays seemed to be a lot more traditional and there are many holidays in a year that kids are excited about.


King’s Day 

King’s day is celebrated on the 27th of April and it’s a national holiday in the Netherlands. The date marks the birthday of the king. On King’s Day there are a lot of flea markets where people are selling their used items. There are also many big festivities like concerts and other outdoor events. On King’s Day people usually wear orange clothes and there are orange pastries and drinks and so on.


Liberation Day

Liberation Day is celebrated annually on the 5th of May. Liberation Day marks the end of the German occupation during World War II. On Liberation Day there are celebrations like parades and music festivals all around the Netherlands. It is a national holiday but it is a paid holiday only every 5th year.


Sint Maarten’s Day

Sint Maarten’s Day is celebrated every year on 11th of November. In the evening children go from door to door with self-made lanterns. They sing songs and receive candy in return. I had actually heard something about this tradition back when I was around 12 years old and I used to study German. It seemed to be quite similar with the German tradition. Sint Maarten’s Day is also similar to a Finnish tradition in the Palm Sunday when children dress up as witches and from door to door wishing good health with self-decorated osiers.



The festivities begin in mid-November when Sinterklaas arrives to the Netherlands. Sinterklaas arrives from Spain with a ship filled with presents to the children. Sinterklaas travels around the country and visits public places like schools and shopping centers. In the evening children put their shoes in front of the fire place with a carrot (for Sinterklaas’ horse) and sing a song so that Sinterklaas knows where to come. In the morning they will find candy and presents in their shoes. Common treats are small cookies called ‘pepernoten’ and chocolate letters. The children are told that bad children who don’t behave well are taken to Spain in a sack. The main event during Sinterklaas’ stay in the Netherlands takes place on 5th of December. On that day everyone receives presents. When children get older and no longer believe in Sinterklaas the tradition is that family members give each other presents in a similar way as in “Secret Santa”. Presents are packed in funny or unusual ways and given with a personal note that is often a humorous poem.


New Year’s Eve

The New Year’s Eve celebrations are quite similar in the Netherlands as in Finland and all around the world. Some traditional things for a Dutch New Year’s Eve are ‘oliebollen’ which are traditional Dutch doughnuts with raisin and a bonfire that is made of Christmas trees.


It was really nice getting to know all the different holidays and traditions there are in the Netherlands. Especially King’s Day sounds really interesting because I like flea markets a lot, maybe I will visit Netherlands at the end of April some year!

About school at school

Our fourth meeting took place at TAMK since our subject for the meeting was school and education. We taught each other how the school systems in our countries work. We also talked about different student benefits and expenses as a student.

In the Netherlands the primary school starts at age 4 and if you’re born at the end of the year you might have to retake the first year since you’d be missing too much. That differs from the Finnish system where everyone starts school at the same time in mid-August in the year they turn 7. Before primary school the kids might go to a kindergarten but it’s not mandatory like it’s not in Finland either.

Primary school lasts for 8 years so when going to secondary education they are usually age 12. In secondary education there are three different choices for high schools that are VMBO, HAVO and VWO. The choice is made based on test results from primary school.

VMBO (”preparatory middle-level applied education” or pre-vocational education) lasts for four years and it has four different levels (TL, GL, KBL and BBL). The levels go from most theoretical path (TL) to the path that emphasizes vocational training the most (BBL). After VMBO the student might go to work or continue studying at MBO. MBO (”middle-level applied education” or secondary vocational education) lasts for 2 to 4 years depending on the level. Students in MBO can choose a more school-based path where training within a company takes 20-60 % of the time or an apprenticeship education where training is more than 60 % of the study time. After MBO the student can enter the job market or continue studying in HBO.

HAVO (”higher general continued education” or general secondary education) lasts for five years. The first three years all students study the same subjects and after that they enter the second phase where they have to choose a profile. The different profiles are Culture&Society, Economy&Society, Nature&Health and Nature&Technology. A HAVO diploma provides access to HBO. HBO (”higher professional education” or polytechnic / university of applied sciences) usually takes 4 years (bachelor) and after that you may apply for a master’s program or enter the job market.

VWO (”preparatory scientific education” or pre-university education) lasts for six years and it is the highest variant in the secondary education level. The studies in VWO go on similar way as in HAVO but the difficulty level is higher. In VWO students also have to choose between the four profiles. With a VWO diploma a student can continue in WO (”scientific education”) that is only taught in research universities. WO also has a bachelor’s (normally 3 years) and a master’s (1-3 years) programme. After a master’s degree it’s possible to apply for a PhD candidate position at a university.

Although the school systems have similarities there are also a lot of differences. In Dutch school system are three options for secondary education where there are only two options in Finland. Also, the compulsory education in Finland ends after comprehensive school (or when it has passed 10 years since the beginning of comprehensive school, at age 17) and in the Netherlands it ends when you’re 18 so for example after VMBO a student must go at least two years to MBO.

In the Dutch system there is a possibility to “level up” after for example finishing at HAVO you can take final year of VWO and apply for WO. And it is also possible to go from HAVO to MBO. Usually students just follow the path as it is planned. It seems a bit weird because secondary education starts as early as age 12 and I know that many Finnish people who finish high school at around age 18 still don’t know what to do in the future. In Finland both high school and vocational school are equal when applying to a university or polytechnic (depending on the degree of course).

In Finland the education is free at all levels. Of course there are some private schools too that have tuition fees but they are not very common. In the Netherlands the education costs after secondary education. In the Netherlands students don’t get a student benefit from the government but they can apply for a cheap loan. In Finland a student can get student benefit from the age 17 on (depending on parents income and other things). In higher education parents’ income can’t decrease the amount of the money anymore but there are many other factors that affect the amount of money that you can get. Finnish students can also apply for a loan.

I find different education systems interesting as you may have realised from the length of this post. It’s interesting that even though we’re all students in TAMK at the moment we come from different study backgrounds.

An afternoon with the Moomins

Our third meeting took place at the Moomin museum in Tampere-talo. There is a free entry on last Friday of every month between 15-19. Moomins are really popular in Finland and also around the world. Last time I visited Moomin museum I was around 10 years old. The exhibition was really nice and very well executed. Sadly, due to copyright issues it’s not allowed to take pictures in Moomin museum. I recommend Moomin museum to anyone who is interested in Moomins and the story behind the books.


After visiting the museum, we named the main characters in Finnish and Dutch. Names turned out to be quite similar with each other. The Dutch ones are also similar or the same with the English names.

We also did a Moomin character test that is found on the official Moomin website:

According to the test result I am Moominpappa. I partly recognise myself of the description below and it seems that Moominpappa and myself are both quite party people!


Hyvää ruokahalua! Bon appetite!



Our second meeting was on 22nd of October at my place where me and Jocelyn made some traditional Finnish food. We made macaroni casserole ’makaroonilaatikko’ for dinner and blueberry pie ’mustikkapiirakka’ for dessert. It was actually the first time that I made macaroni casserole but it turned out to be very easy to make. There aren’t many spices in traditional Finnish foods except for salt and pepper and those were also the only spices in macaroni casserole.


Makaronilaatikko                   Macaroni casserole

Ainekset                                          Ingredients

5 dl makaronia                            5 dl macaroni

1 sipuli                                            1 onion

1 rkl rypsiöljyä                             1 tbsp rapeseed oil

400 g jauhelihaa                         400 g minced meat

2 kananmunaa                            2 eggs

5 dl maitoa                                    5 dl milk

½ tl suolaa                                     ½ tsp salt

¼ tl mustapippuria                     ¼ tsp black pepper


  1. Keitä makaronit. / Cook the macaroni.
  2. Kuori ja pilko sipuli. / Peel and cut the onion.
  3. Kuullota sipulit öljyssä. / Fry the onions in oil.
  4. Paista jauheliha. / Fry the minced meat.
  5. Lisää sipuli jauhelihan joukkoon. / Add the onions into the minced meat.
  6. Sekoita se makaronien kanssa. / Mix it with macaronis.
  7. Vatkaa kananmunat. / Scramble the eggs.
  8. Lisää mausteet ja maito kananmunan joukkoon. / Add spices and milk into the eggs.
  9. Kaada munamaito vuokaan. / Pour th eggmilk into the pan.
  10. Paista 175°C noin tunti. / Cook at 175°C for about one hour.



Mustikkapiirakka                     Blueberry pie

Taikina                                              Dough

150 g voita                                    150 g butter

1,5 dl sokeria                               1,5 dl sugar

1 kananmuna                              1 egg

3 dl jauhoja                                  3 dl flour

1 tl vanilliinisokeria                    1 tsp vanillin sugar

1 tl leivinjauhetta                       1 tl baking powder

400 g mustikoita                         400 g blueberries

Murutaikina                                 Short pastry

50 g voita                                      50 g butter

½ dl sokeria                                  ½ dl sugar

1 dl jauhoja                                  1 dl flour


  1. Sekoita sokeri ja pehmennyt voi. / Mix sugar and softened butter.
  2. Lisää muut aineet ja sekoita tasaiseksi. / Add rest on the ingredients and mix evenly.
  3. Levitä taikina vuokaan. / Spread the dough into the pan.
  4. Kaada mustikat vuokaan tasaisesti. / Pour the blueberries evenly into the pan.
  5. Valmista murutaikina ja levitä se mustikoiden päälle. / Mix together the ingredients of the short pastry and spread it on the blueberries.
  6. Paista 200°C noin 30 minuuttia. / Cook at 200°C for about 30 minutes.
  7. Tarjoile vaniljajäätelön kanssa. / Serve with vanilla ice cream.



Macaroni casserole and blueberry pie both turned out like they should have and tasted good. Blueberry pie is one of my favourite desserts and it was really nice to share the recipe with Jocelyn. 😊

Testing 1, 2, 3

Hey everyone! 🙂

My name is Elisa and I’m a student here in TAMK. This is my fourth and final year of vehicle engineering studies. I am teaching Finnish to my pair Jocelyn who is teaching me Dutch.

Our first meeting was 19th October and it took place at the new cafe and restaurant Puisto in Koskipuisto. The cafe was really cute and there were many different delicious-looking cakes and pastries. I chose blueberry tea and a piece of lime and white chocolate cake. It was really good!

I was excited to learn some Dutch because all I knew about the language was that it kind of sounds and looks like English and German combined. I learned numbers from 0 to 100. First I repeated the numbers after Jocelyn and it was surprisingly easy. That was probably because I used to study German when I was younger and they sound somewhat similar. After repeating the numbers, I tried to write them down but I got almost all of them wrong the first time. While writing them down correctly I learned some things about pronunciation for example the letter v is pronounced as ’f’ and ’ij’ is pronounced as ’äi’ like in the Finnish word for mother ’äiti’.

Jocelyn already knew the numbers in Finnish because she is taking the Basics of Finnish course. I taught her the shorter spoken language versions of numbers. We also taught each other how to say hello and goodbye.

Until next time!