Final EOTO meeting was at hand 5th of December and it was the perfect time to do some Christmas baking. We made a traditional Finnish Christmas baked good called joulutorttu, a Christmas tartlet. A leafy buttery dough is shaped as a star (or whatever shape you can make of it) and a spoonful of plum preserve is placed on top. They are baked in the oven until golden brown and crispy. The results might not have been the prettiest ones but Fabian, Chen and I found them delicious – accompanied with a traditional Christmas drink glögi.
I learned that in Switzerland there is a similar drink, Glühwein, served on Christmas. On the word Glühwein there is again present the letter h that is silent. At this point I have some idea of where the silent h is present and where not.
I also served assorted chocolates from Panda, which are very sweet but typical to serve during Christmas holidays and give as a present. I learned that in Switzerland a chocolate brand called Cailler was found in 1819 and it is the oldest Swiss chocolate brand in history. A chocolate brand called Lindt was familiar to me from before, also Swiss.
On December 4th we had lunch at TAMK and talked a bit about New Year and went through some additional Christmas related words.
I taught the words for New Year (Uusi Vuosi), Merry Christmas! (Hyvää Joulua!), Christmas carol (joululaulu) and rice porridge (riisipuuro). I told there will be Christmas caroling at TAMK before the holidays and also a rice porridge -breakfast will be served on the 15th. In the words I taught the frequency of compound words could again be seen.
Fabian taught us the words for snow (Schnee), chocolate (Schokolade), New Years Eve (Neujahresfeier) and white beard (weisser Bart). Although not a new thing to me it was a good reminder that in German nouns begin with a capital letter. I was surprised to learn that New Years Eve is a compound word in German since I don’t find it as common for German than for Finnish.
Since Christmas is very close to my heart, and usually a subject that touches people in one way or another – we continued the subject on our 8th meeting December 2nd at my place.
I told Fabian an Chen about our many Christmas Eve traditions. How the President declares the Christmas peace in Helsinki, traditional breakfast and dinner dishes and of course the Christmas sauna. Related to this Fabian and Chen found it surprising that many apartments in Finland have their private sauna at home, now just the one in the building for everyone. We truly love our saunas! Additionally I explained the early Christmas Day church, a tradition to many people even without heavy religious meaning to it.
I was surprised to learn that in Korea celebrating Christmas is not necessary common but is is a holiday usually celebrated by couples – like Valentines Day! However Switzerland is also a Christmas celebrating country and learned that it is a tradition to go to a mass on Christmas Eve at midnight. And also during the Eve it is traditional to read texts from the Bible and say prayers. For me it seems like in Switzerland the meaning of Christmas is still highly correlated to religion and compared to this Finnish Christmas celebration might seem to be all about gifts and overeating. The conversation gave me the sparkle to keep in mind the art of moderation in celebrating Christmas this year.
For our 7th meeting on November 30th it was time to visit the lovely area of Pyynikki and, most of all, the Pyynikin Munkkikahvila and the Pyynikki sight tower. It happened to be so that it had recently snowed and we got to enjoy the wintery scene and atmosphere in the perfect surroundings. Since it felt a bit like Christmas on those few snowy days we decided to go over some Christmas related words.
I taught Fabian and Chen the words for ginger bread cookies, Santa Claus, snow and how to say it is cold. On exchange I learned the same words in German in addition with Merry Christmas! – Frohe Weihnachten! As I was teaching it was interesting for me to notice that many Christmas related words in Finnish have the word joulu (Christmas) in them. Maybe that is explanatory by the fact that Christmas is a great celebration in Finland (compared to South-Korea) and many things connected to Christmas are not visible at any other time of the year. However this is just my narrow interpretation. When Fabian taught the spelling for a word such as Weihcnachten it was difficult for me to understand why there is a letter h in the beginning of the word. I found similarities in many German words. The h is often silent and it is necessary to learn where to add it.
Our sixth meeting November 21st was something I have never witnessed before – live boxing! Only occasional times from the TV I have watched this sport so what an interesting experience this was for me. Chen and Fabian are both fans of the sport and Chen has even been to a boxing game before in Korea. The event, Tammer Tournament, was an international tournament with different weight classes – some of the contestants were even world champions! And interestingly there was a match Korea vs. German, although I am not entirely sure who won since the rules appear somewhat vague for me still.
During the game night we taught each other a few things about sports and sports culture in our home countries. Since we were attending a sports event in Finland it was easier to reflect Swiss and Korean sports cultures against Finnish.
It was time to introduce the beautiful Tampere kauppahalli for my foreign group members, so on our 5th meeting we decided to have lunch there. The restaurant was more like a school cafeteria type with home cooked style meals. Delicious – and even a discount for students! After the lunch I showed Fabian and Chen around Kauppahalli and introduced many of the items the stores were selling. A lot of Christmas related foods and baked goods were for sale so I explained what they were and when they are traditionally eaten. Fabian bought some hillomunkki and karjalanpiirakka to serve his friends. However we left the cow tongue for the next time.
On the 4th EOTO meeting we decided to meet at my place and that I would be serving some Finnish delicacies. The food I decided to share with my group that night are not usually served at the same time but, as I like the idea of culinary mix and match, thought I would give it a try. Often at Finnish parties people bring food with them and the result is often a delicious mash up of different flavors. The menu of that night:
Karelian pie (karjalanpiirakka) with egg butter (munavoi)
Luostari-cheese with fig and orange preserveMini rye bread crisps with cold smoked salmon flavored cream cheese
Jam filled doughnut (hillomunkki)
The food was much liked and I taught the names of the dishes for my fellow group members. Additionally we practiced some Finnish greetings.
For our third meeting we had planned to visit the famous Rajaportti sauna and experience true Finnish culture there. However as we reached the premises we noticed the sauna is being renovated and is closed for November. Near the sauna there is fortunately another place that has Finnish culture written all over it – Pispalan Pulteri. The decision was made and for the topic of the evening we chose South-Korean culture.
During the conversation many similarities were found between South-Korean, Finnish and Swiss cultures. Especially the school system seemed to operate on the same way as Finnish. South-Koreans, however, begin school at a different age than Finns or Swiss which is due to the way they’re age is being count. In South-Korea it is believed that at birth you are already one years old, thus if you began school at the age of 6 (by regular age counting) actually you would be 7! In addition it surprised us how long the compulsory army serving is in South-Korea – two years to be exact. Topics included also accommodation, business manners and relationship with North-Korea.
A free discussion about this subject taught me a lot about South-Korean culture. No language was taught but, nevertheless, the evening was very eye-opening.
Since Tampere is full of cozy coffee places and café’s we decided to meet in one. Since our group could meet only later in the evening Coffee House in Keskustori was a great option.
Our order included caramel latte with whipped cream, a regular latte, tea and a huge cheesecake muffin. We learned the names of these items – not forgetting chocolate sprinkles! The theme of the meeting was to learn café vocabulary and some simple ways to make an order. In addition we discussed about café culture in our home countries and what would be a typical order for a Finn, German and a South-Korean. Another subject of discussion was traditional dishes, for example karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pie) in Finland, and if different parts of our home countries have differences in food.
On this meeting we made notes and helped one another to spell the words. This method was helpful for example in understanding the complexities of compound words in Finnish. The night was a success and I even learned how to ask my German friend if he fancies a cup of coffee – Hast du Lust auf einen Kaffee?
On a chilly night October 8th our first EOTO meeting took place in Rauhaniemi, Tampere. Two of our group Fabian, from Switzerland, and Chen, from South-Korea, share an apartment so we decided to meet at their place.
The atmosphere was relaxed and free flowing conversation was at full throttle although our group had met only once at the kick-off at a TAMK auditorium. Fabian had saved original Swiss cheese for that night to make raclette, a Swiss dish. Originally raclette is served by melting the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part. Fabian’s version was made of boiled potatoes with a tons of cheese on top, heated up in the oven. The dish was served with sides such as pickles, asparagus and olives. After dinner it was time to check the Aurora light forecast online and what the magnitude was at the moment. Despite of the nearly freezing weather we headed to the shore of Pyhäjärvi among other Aurora observers to get a glimpse of the beautiful northern lights. Aurora was barely visible that night but the beautiful view at the shore with lights shining across the lake and starry sky made the trip worth making.
Our first meeting was a night of culinary experiences and culture exchange. I learned a lot about Swiss and South-Korean cuisine and we taught each other names of different dishes and foods in our own language. In addition our diverse conversation gave each other insight about culture and especially technology in our home countries.