All posts by Fruzsina Vajda

Finnish Design

For our 10th meeting, we decided to check out the Joulun Designtori in Klubi, which is a market for different Finnish designer products. Finnish design is of great significance with such companies as Finlayson, Marimekko, Iittala and Arabia, but also the smaller businesses are popular, and this market gives the opportunity for them to show their products.

We took a walk around the place to see all the handmade merchandise and we were talking about how the designers have to bulid up their own brand and business after developing something new. There were a huge variety of different jewelleries, clothes, postcards, shoes and all different kinds of accessories.  We could see that recycling is important even in this area, since there were jewelleries from old spoons for example.

After the design market, we headed to Tampere-talo, because there was also a market kind of event, which was a fundraiser where different organizations were selling their handmade products or donations, thus collecting money for different purposes, such as for schools or for helping animals. Krista told us that volunteering and these events are very common in Finland and she is also volunteering at different organizations.

For me it was really interesting to visit these two markets after each other and see the differences between them. Even if they both had handmade products, the purpose and the presentation were absolutely different.

Since this was our last meeting, we had a small discussion at the end about the meetings and the outcome. We agreed that this course is the best way to learn about language, culture, history and traditions, since we always had fun during the meetings, and even the seemingly boring topics turned out to be interesting. We have got to know plenty of interesting things through sharing our point of views and experiences, usually without even noticing that we are actually learning something.

Thank you Krista for being our personal guide in Finland and hope to see you soon! 🙂

Suomi 100

For our 9th meeting, we decided to go to the celebration of the Independance Day on the 6th of December. Since Finland declared its independance 100 years ago, it was a significant event and a huge number of people gathered in the center of Tampere to watch the performers and the fireworks.

The whole city turned into blue and white for this occasion and also some big cities around the world, even Budapest in Hungary had some blue and white lights on a sight to honor the anniversary of Finland.

There were speeches and some Finnish songs and also the national anthem performed and while we were waiting for the best part (fireworks), Krista told us a bit about the history of Finland and its position in foreign affairs.

I’ve also asked about the army duty, since in Hungary my dad still had to join, but it’s not obligatory any longer. I’ve learned that the boys have to join the army around the age of 18, but they can also postpone it in case of studies for example, and women can also join, but its not mandatory for them. Since Krista’s friend had personal experiences, he could share some details about his time in the army as a cook.

It was a really nice experience to take part in the celebration of the 100th birthday of Finland and learn something about the history as well. At the end we watched the amazing fireworks that were worth waiting for even though it was freezing cold outside.


Since Christmas is coming and the Tampereen Joulutori, the Christmas Market was opened on the 2nd of December, we decided to meet there as our 8th meeting.

There was an opening ceremony with Santa Claus and we could also listen to some Finnish Christmas songs.

The Market offers a huge variety of unique artworks made by Finnish craftspeople, just as different kinds of products from the vendors of Germany. You can also have a glögi with some Christmas cookies, toasted chestnut or differently flavoured almonds.
We decided to walk around to check out all the cottages and talk about some traditions in the meantime.

We talked about traditional decorations, such as the Christmas goat, which is made usually from straw with red ribbons and is a popular ornament in Finland, while in Hungary, we have a special candy called ‘szaloncukor’ which is commonly used as an ornament on the trees.


Krista also told us that knitting is a very popular activity in Finland, that’s why there are plenty of those products, especially socks in the Market. We could also see that white and blue coloured things are a great deal and Krista explained that it is because of the 100th anniversary of Finland this year.

After all, we could agree on the fact that the Christmas traditions concerning the decorations are quite similiar in Finland and in Hungary, and we all loved the smell that filled the air of the Market.

Päiva, viikko, kuukasi ja vuodenaika

This time we decided to learn the days of the week, the months and the seasons, so we met in Café Europa for a drink.

I had the idea of making cards with the names of the days, months and seasons both in Hungarian and in Finnish, so that we can pair them and see how they look in both languages.

We started with the days:

Monday:  hétfő –  maantai
Tuesday: kedd – tiistai
Wednesday: szerda – keskiviikko
Thursday: csütörtök – torstai
Friday: péntek – perjantai
Saturday: szombat – lauantai
Sunday: vasárnap – sunnantai

We also talked about the meaning of the words used, if there’s any, or the origins in some cases. In Hungarian the word ‘hétfő’ literally means the beginning of the week, while ‘vasárnap’ comes from ‘vásárnap’, which means market day, since the big markets are held on this day in Hungary. As for the Finnish days, ‘maantai’ means day of the moon, ‘keskiviikko’ is the middle of the week, and ‘lauantai’ comes from a Swedish word meaning taking a bath.

Then we paired the seasons:

Winter: tél – talvi
Spring: tavasz – kevät
Summer: nyár – kesä
Autumn: ősz – syksy

After that we collected the months, in case of which we discussed that the Hungarian ones are quite similar to the English, while the Finnish ones are absolutely different. The names in Finnish always refer to the activities or the nature of the given month, such as ‘lokakuu’, which means watery snow or mud, describing October perfectly. Also in ‘joulukuu’, which is December, ‘joulu’ means Christmas, thus it’s time for celebration.

In the end, we organized the months according to which season do they belong to.

After this meeting, we agreed on the fact that even if our languages are said to be in the same language family, they seem to have very few things in common, since these are basic words in our everyday lives and they are totally different.


This time we decided to meet in the Vapriikki museum centre, which is located in an old factory area and gives home to many different exhibitions. There are eight permanent ones: the Natural History Museum, the Tammerkoski Rapids and the Story of Tampere, the Media Museum Rupriikki, the Mineral Museum, the New Hockey Hall of Fame Finland, the Doll Museum, Postal Museum and The Finnish Museum of Games.

Unfortunately we got there just one hour before closing, so we didn’t have time to see all  the exhibitions. We choose to visit the Natural History Museum in order to learn something about the wildlife of the region.

We have seen different kinds of stuffed animals, such as a moose (‘hirvi’ in Finnish), which can weigh up to 700 kg, a brown bear, a wolf, foxes and birds.

The most interesting creature for me was the ‘hirvikärpänen’, which is a small insect that flies to mooses and once it is attached to their skin, it looses its wings, stays there like a parasite and is feeding on their blood. There can be thousands of these creatures in one moose.

We’ve also seen an ‘ilves’, which is called lynx in English and one of the hockey teams of Tampere got its name after this animal.

I think this exhibition was really interesting and I’m sure that I’ll go back and visit all the others as well, so that I can learn more about Tampere and Finland.

Pálinka and kolbász – tastes of home

My mom was visiting me last weekend and brought homemade ‘kolbász’ and ‘pálinka’, so we decided to invite Krista over and give her a taste of Hungary.

First of all, we explained what ‘pálinka’ is, from what and how is it made. It is a traditional alcoholic drink made from different kinds of fruits, such as plums, apricots, apples and cherries, which are collected, fermented and then destilled.
Since I got four bottles of pálinka and they were all different, we could taste and then rank them. The absolute winner was the ‘szilvapálinka’ (plum pálinka) made in 2010 and the ‘sárgabarack pálinka’ (apricot pálinka) from 2016 got the last place.

There is an old tradition in Hungary called ‘disznóvágás’, which is the slaughtering of a pig in order to get pork and processing as many parts of it as posible to produce some food from it. This is also the way of making ‘kolbász’, which is a kind of sausage made from minced and seasoned pork, that is put into intestines. So we shortly described this tradition, which by the way includes drinking ‘pálinka’ early in the morning, and tasted the Hungarian sausage with some bread.

We also taught Krista how to say cheers in Hungarian, which is ‘Egészségedre!’ and is a really difficult word to pronounce for foreigners.

I am glad that we had the chance to share some interesting things about our home country and to bring some real homemade flavours to our meeting and not just talking about them without actually trying. I really hope that we could bring a little Hungary to Finland this time.


For our fourth meeting we choose to get to know the Finnish and the Hungarian letters, so like in primary school, we learnt the ABC in both languages.

We decided to write down words beginning with each letter, so that we can also learn some easy vocab and Krista can make cards with them later as her art project.

The Finnish version:

And the Hungarian one:

The first significant difference that we noticed is in the number of letters, since Hungarians have 44, while Finns only have 29.
Altough the Finnish ABC doesn’t have that many letters, they still barely use about 9 of them, so it was either difficult or impossible to find words in those cases.
However in the Hungarian version, we have 4 letters that are not really in use only in foreign words and about 2-3 that are rarely used. As something special, we also have double letters, which look like two single ones put together, but have a totally different pronunciation in most cases.

I think I’ve never been thinking about the letters themselves before, for me the Hungarian ABC was the basic, since it is a must learn for every primary school student. Although I  find it really interesting, that even the basis of the languages can differ this much.

Tappara vs Ilves

Since ice hockey is a significant part of the Finnish culture, our third meeting took place in the ‘Tampereen jäähalli’, the Tamperen Ice Stadium, where we got the chance to watch a hockey match.

As a kid, I did play ice hockey at home with my friends on the lake, but I didn’t really know the rules and how to play it properly. So at first, Krista told us the basic rules of the game, so that we can follow and understand the match more easily.

During the play, there are 6 players per side on the ice, one of them being the goalkeeper and the aim of the game is to score goals by shooting the puck with sticks. A professional game consists of three twenty minute periods, with the clock running only when the puck is in play.  Penalties can be given by the judges if any infraction of the rules happen. In that case the offending team has to play with one less player usually for two minutes.

I have also learnt that Tampere is the only city in Finland that has two teams, Tappara and Ilves, and they were playing against each other this time. Right now Tappara is the 6th in the Finnish League and Ilves is the 13th.

During the game, cheerleaders were dancing, fans were cheering, and there were also some games for the audience in the breaks. Krista also told us, that these events are probably the only times when Finnish people are really cheerful. I have also noticed, that Tappara had a larger number of fans and they seemed to be more enthusiastic during the match.

At the end Tappara won by 8 – 1 and it was a lot of fun to be a part of this experience.


School and education

We choose school to be the topic of our second meeting, so we got together after our classes ended at TAMK.
We started with learning some basic words in Finnish and in Hungarian in connection with school. 

After that we were talking about the school systems in both countries.
Beginning with the structure, which look almost the same except for the number of years spent in one institution. Also Finland has two different kinds of universities and you can find a huge variety of subjects at one campus from very different fields, while in Hungary most unis are built around one field of study and have different faculties and campuses for the subfields.

We also talked about the graduation and entrance exams and how you can get into high schools and universities.
I’ve learnt that in Finland, when you want to go to high school or technical school, only your grades and your average count, while in Hungary you have to take exams and your points will determine. Though it is similar, that only students with better learning skills can get into high schools.
Also when you graduate from high school, you have some exams in both countries, but in Hungary the results of these are used to apply for universities, while in Finland it’s less significant, since you have to take separate entrance exams when applying.

I think that our meeting was a great opportunity for me to learn about the Finnish school system, to which I somehow belong now and I hope, that I could teach interesting details about the Hungarian education. I find it very interesting, how our systems differ but are similar at the same time.

Finnish birthday party

Our first meeting was at Krista’s birthday party, so we got the chance to participate in a Finnish celebration and see how it usually goes.

First, to break the ice, we had some Finnish drinks, the ‘sahti’, which is related to beer, but still different, and some wine, that were made by Krista’s dad and tasted really good.

Than we tried some snacks, starting with the ‘hapankorppu’, which is a type of crispbread usually served with butter. The ‘leipäjuusto’, which is a kind of cheese with ‘lakkahillo’, which is a jam made of cloudberries.  We tried some ‘tyrni’, which is called buckthorn in English and has a bit sour and bitter taste. We also had ‘mämmi’, which is served with ‘kerma’ (cream) and ‘sokeria’ (sugar) and is a dessert eaten at Easter and  ‘ruskea pipapari’, which is gingerbread usually eaten at Christmas. Of course we also had some ‘salmiakki’, the traditional salty liquorice, which you either hate or love.

As Krista had some Finnish friends over, we could talk about the most important holidays and how they are celebrated in Finland.
Such as the 6th of December, the Independence Day, when there is huge ball at the Presidential Palace even broadcasted on television.
Or Christmas, when Santa brings presents nowdays, but actually was an ugly creature and frightened children in former times.
We also learned that May Day, the 1st of May, is an important holiday,  when the last year students of high schools wear special caps and people are having picnics and partying outside.
Midsummer is also a remarkable celebration, when most people go to the countryside, make bonfires and when young girls can see their future husbands according to some folk magic.

I can say that our first meeting went really well, since we had fine snacks, learned a lot of interesting things about the Finnish holidays and celebrations and we had the chance to get to know some Finnish people and to spend a fun evening with them.