Sadly, the day has come when Korean students, who are exchange students, have to leave. Most of us leave for another country or go back to Korea in May, and it was really sad that we can not meet Kiia anymore. We decided to keep in touch with each other even after we said goodbye in Finland. This activity with Kiia and other Korean students allowed us to have a deep understanding of each other and a great affection for Korea and Finland.
The Vappu Festival celebrates May Day in Finland, and it is a festival not only for students but also for all generations. In Tampere, TUT freshmen are dipping into the river for a performance and many student organizations plan various student events such as picnic, karaoke and so on. We settled on the lawn near TampereTalo, and Finnish students gathered with their high school graduation hats, department uniforms. We didn’t play particular games together, but we had a good time sitting on a mat and talking and drinking until nightfall. I have another special memory that I will never forget.
This activity was especially special. Because we ate reindeer meat at Kiia’s house. She is from Lapland, Rovaniemi. Just last month we went on a Lapland tour through ESN so that we all had a basic knowledge of Lapland. Reindeer meat is actually quite expensive also in Lapland, so when we went to Lapland, we only had a reindeer burger. But thankfully, Kiia cooked for us for several hours to make a reindeer stew. I brought Korean potato salad and shared it with them. Korean potato salad is similar to Mash potato, unlike the Finnish one. “Hotteok,” which made by another Korean student, is a typical winter snack in Korea, and Kiia really liked it. After eating together, I learned that ‘Noni’ and ‘Noniin’ have a variety of uses while watching Finnish stand-up comedies.
This activity was for all of us to participate in a Korean food party. Surprisingly, an Asian resident in Tampere was so interested in Korea that she was planning and hosting a Korean food and culture party, every month. It must have been so hard even for us, Koreans, to do so, that we were grateful to her for planning the wonderful party every month.
We attended the party with Korean potato pancakes and chicken dishes, and Kiia made traditional Lapland dish called Kampanisut. Other than us, there were students from various countries, and all of them were very interested in Korea, so the story worked well and we had useful stories. Among them was a Finnish student who was an exchange student in Korea. We all shared food together, tasted Korean drinking, and played a Korean drinking game.
This activity is also held in Lapinkaraari like the last meeting. This time, Kiia invited a special guest, a friend of the same major as Kiia. We all played Finnish card games together, with some Finnish words written on the cards and a handwritten English translation written by Kiia next to them.
Originally, if someone with a card explaining the word, others have to guess it, but since we were not good at Finnish, we proceeded to play the game first in English and learned the word in Finnish. Through this game, we were able to learn many pretty words such as “star” in Finnish ‘tähti’, and “moon” as “kuu.”
After playing the game, we were hungry and cooked Korean food, fried rice and red pepper paste samgyeopsal together. It was more fun and delicious to be with friends of Kiia and Kiia. Next, we also made a plan to take time to make Finnish food.
Last time we got together in Flat of Kiia, this time we gathered together in Lapinkaari, where most Korean students live. For Kiia, who first came to Lapinkaraari, we all went around Lapinkaraari and introduced her to the public kitchen, the gym, and our room. We gathered in the common kitchen and had tea time together.
During the Tea time, we talked about Korean music and Finnish music that we have been interested in. Kiia was a huge fan of Korean singer Tablo, and she even bought a concert ticket since Tablo had a concert schedule in Helsinki. We talked about Korea’s hip-hop culture, K-pop culture, and how Gangnam Style became well – known in Finland.
According to Kiia, clubs in Finland had Gangnam style every day when the Gangnam style was popular, and when the Gangnam style came out, people climbed up to the table and danced. It was surprising that Korean music was popular even from Finland, a country that required to get 10 hours by plane. We also got to know some Finnish music, which we all like and shared a list.
The fact that Finnish people like drinking is quite well-known. Since Koreans loved alcohol as much as Finnish, we couldn’t miss drinking activity in our plan. So we went to the bar near the school. It was mainly a beer bar, but I drank water because I didn’t drink, and other friends drank beer. In the bar, we learned that beer is ‘Olut’ in Finnish and that ‘I like to drink beer’ is ‘Pidän oluesta’ in Finnish.
In addition, we made Korean and Finnish word cards and played word games. First, we wrote the words commonly used in our daily life. Those who want to win this game have to collect as much as cards when the host calls the word. So if someone wants to win, he has to memorize many words and be fast. Through this game, we could learn and memorize words in a fun way.
This activity was at Cafe Pussti. The cafe is near the Linna building, and very famous for delicious cinnamon rolls. We, who learned in class that cinnamon roll is one of Finland’s traditional foods, headed to Cafe pussti with Kiia. Kiia said that unlike other countries’ cinnamon roll, Finland’s cinnamon roll is large in palm size and features a spice called Cardamon. The taste of cinnamon roll was fantastic, as we heard. We finally said, “Let’s make our own cinnamon roll next time.”
Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite Finnish bread. I don’t think I eat this bread for dinner in Finland, either, but I bought these at Lidl or from a market and ate it at meals. Since we came to the cafe, we learned how to order in Finnish and practiced ordering in person. It was a great time.
Finland has a community for Chinese students, which hosts an annual Chinese New Year’s Day event. There is no Chinese student in our group, but Korea also has a new year’s day in similar period so that we participated in the event. Together we had an interesting experience, making dumpling dough and filling. Kiia, who has never made dumplings before, and we who made dumplings only when we were young, made all different shapes of dumplings, but the taste was all delicious.
In particular, Chinese students brought a lot of Chinese sauces, we explained about the sauces to each other and talked about the foods Finnish people eat on holidays. In Finland, Christmas is almost the biggest holiday, and I found out that with the exception of May Day, Finnish people spend time with their family rather than having a big event on each holiday.
This day we all gathered at Kiia’s flat. It was for watching a Korean TV show together. The Finnish episode of the Korean TV show is about a Finnish guy living in Korea who brings his Finnish friends who know little about Korea. They travel around Seoul and experience many things in Korea. We all laughed together and had time to ask and answer questions while watching TV show together on Kiia’s flat. What we found was the fact that Finnish ‘Oi’ was usually a smiley exclamation and effect sound, but in Korean, the pronunciation is the same as the word means ‘cucumber’. In addition, I could learn the exclamations that Finnish people use when they think or are surprised.
Our first meeting took place in TAMK.
In our first meeting, we introduced ourselves first and then asked each other some questions. In the beginning, Kiia asked why we came to Finland as an exchange student and we asked Kiia why she wanted to learn Korean. Through answering each other’s questions, we discovered that we were very interested in each other’s culture and language. In particular, Kiia brought a Korean guidebook for this day and showed us how to read it properly and asked if it was correct in pronunciation.
After learning basic information about each other, we talked about our activity future plans. We also planned to take time to share Finnish songs and Korean songs, since we all love songs. It was our first meeting, but I thought our future activities would be really fun.