On Thursday 25th, we had planned to study at Tampere University’s library Linna, but when we got there it was so full of people that we couldn’t find a place to sit down. We went walking around Sorsapuisto park, there were still some ducks in the pond so we practiced counting in Finnish – yksi sorsa, kaksi sorsaa…
I’ve felt that within the limited time of these meetings it’s difficult to teach vocabulary so that it’s easy to memorize. That’s why in this meeting I introduced Meguru an app called Memrise which I’ve found useful in my own language studies. I had made a Finnish-Japanese course based on the words I had taught Meguru earlier, and then I showed him how to use the app to practice those words. I also gave him some Finnish-English handouts which I’d received from my friend Jenny.
After talking at the park we went to Sampola library to read Moomin comics in Finnish. Then it was time for me to take my family’s dogs on a walk, and Meguru agreed to come walk the dogs with me. We talked about how common having pets is both in Finland and Japan, and Meguru could practice Finnish with the dogs, such as ”istu” (sit), ”päivää” (”hello”, shake paw). I guess this is a bit different kind of EOTO experience.
Then we went shopping in Prisma Lielahti. Suprisingly, there were books written in Japanese in a free-to-take -cart in front of the library at Lielahtikeskus. One book about ayurveda for women and another about mental training for dance. We took a look at them, but as I’m not interested in the topics and they were a bit difficult to read, I left them there for the next lucky person to find.
We met and ate traditional dishes of each other’s country in apartment of Huang’s friend at a night of holidays. I cooked rice, miso soup, and Nikujaga(meat and potato stew flavored with soy sauce). Huang and her friend cooked many Chinese dishes and all of them were very good! I was surprised because there are the dishes similar to the dishes which they cooked like dumplings and candied sweet potatoes in Japan. We talked about table manner and culture each other while eating. Then, we learned words on colors at my apartment because her friend’s room and my room are in same building. It was very good time!
This time our plan was to go to Ikea, to learn furniture (家具, huonekalut) vocabulary and try their meatballs (ミートボール, lihapullat) which are famous even in Japan.
We walked around the furniture exhibition, pointed at items around us and asked each other what that item was called in Finnish or Japanese. It was easy to repeat practicing the same words, because there were many rooms which had the same items in them. Also the price tags had the words in Finnish so that was helpful for teaching.
In the photo you can see: matto – マット(matto), lamppu – ランプ (ranpu), sohva – ソファ (sofa)…
It’s great to be able to ask from a native speaker which words are commonly used, because when I looked up some words in a dictionary, it gave several options which Meguru said he wouldn’t use or hadn’t even heard of before. I could even learn some specific vocabulary related to what I’m studying at Tamk, such as 水道 / 蛇口 (faucet) and 換気扇 (ventilation fan), which are unlikely to show up in a textbook.
On a bus on the way back from Ikea we noticed that we couldn’t remember the words that well anymore, so we went to a library to write them down. We also practiced Japanese pronunciation.
Last Sunday(October 7th), we went to the Pyynikki observation tower. The reason why we chose there to meet is that I really wanted to eat the famous donuts of the cafe on the side of the tower! We enjoyed the very sweet donuts and a cup of coffee.
Also, we talked about each other country’s education. I was very surprised to hear that Chinese students go to school early in the morning and go back home at 12am!
Then, we had a great view of Tampere from top of the tower. But it’s so cold, so we couldn’t stay there so long.
This time our plan was to meet at a bus stop, take the first bus which comes and see where it would take us. We ended up on bus number 17 which took us to Kalkku. I taught Meguru seasons in Finnish while we were on the bus. We saw Tohloppi lake from the bus window and decided to go there. So once the bus reached it’s final stop at Kalkku we switched to another one in front of it to go back. The bus drivers were a bit amused at us doing that…
We reviewed nature vocabulary which we had taught each other at the previous meeting and taught some new words. There were signs around the lake which I helped Meguru to translate. There was one which we both thought was funny: “Making horses swim in the moorings (places for boats) is forbidden”.
After we had walked around the lake, we went to a nearby bakery to eat pulla and practice Finnish. We’ve both noticed that if I tell Meguru what some word is in Finnish and instantly give a Japanese translation, it’s not a very efficient way for memorizing the words. So for a while we talked only in Finnish. I taught new words – kuppi, kello, matto – by pointing at the items around us and talking about them. Then we talked about the items together.
For the 6th meeting, Meguru and I went walking in the Kauppi forest. Because there’s also a sports park in Kauppi, we saw people playing pesäpallo (Finnish baseball) and compared the differences between Finnish and Japanese baseball. Then we talked about sports classes in Finland and Japan. Until high school, my class would go to Kauppi several times a year, to play baseball, to ski or to do orienteering in the forest. In Japan it’s not common to go to a forest during PE class, but they’d go mountain climbing once a year.
When we were standing next to a small spruce, I asked Meguru if he remembered what number 6 is in Finnish. He remembered it’s “kuusi”, and I taught him that spruce is also “kuusi” in Finnish.
I taught Meguru other nature related vocabulary, such as koivu (birch), käpy (cone) and aurinko (sun) and Meguru taught me them in Japanese. He remembered names of animals which I’d taught earlier, but unfortunately we couldn’t see any. We saw some Finnish people picking mushrooms, though. The forest was a refreshing place for language exchange, but it was difficult to write things down for later.
For this meeting Meguru and I had planned to have Finnish lunch at Kauppahalli (Market Hall), but we ended up doing a lot of other things.
We met at Metso library and started with Finnish study. We tend to talk in Japanese a lot of the time, so we agreed not to use Japanese during this meeting, only Finnish and English. We’ve met quite many times in a short while, so I thought I wouldn’t teach that many new words. Instead, we practiced making sentences and conversation with the vocabulary Meguru already knows. One of us asked a question and the other replied, for example “Missä sinä olet?” (Where are you?) “Olen kirjastossa” (I’m at the library). I also taught how to change the same sentences into past tense.
Then we went to Kauppahalli and walked around looking at different foods and signs. We gave up on not talking in Japanese, since it’s easier to communicate using it. I pointed at different foods and asked Meguru if he has tasted them yet or if he knows the word in Finnish.
The lunch options were pretty expensive for a student budget, so eventually we just bought some Finnish style cakes and had lunch at University of Tampere. After that we went to Ratina shopping centre because Meguru wanted to buy a coat, and finally to Pispala to enjoy autumn scenery.
This time I learned to be more careful about my word choices in Japanese, because Meguru often pointed out when I said something weird. I used some words which are dialect from one region in Japan, and those words sound funny or even rude to people from other regions.
We had our first Japanese-Chinese meeting at a department store RATINA on September 14th. My pair Huang had known that RATINA was on sale, so we decided to meet there.
First, we looked around the entire RATINA. There were a lot of shops and we talked a lot while walking around. For example, about the difference in uniform. Most Japanese high school students go to school wearing uniforms like jackets and skirts, or shirts and pants, but according to Huang, Chinese high school students go to school wearing jersey. I was surprised to see the actual picture because the Chinese uniforms was like gym clothes to wear in physical education class in Japan.
Then we sat on the bench and taught the name of countries each other. Although there are kanji (Chinese character) in Japan, it is difficult for me because the pronunciation is quite different from that of Chinese.
After all we just bought a snack at a grocery store despite sale, but it was a really good time talking with Haung!
This time we met up at Vapriikki, which is a huge museum centre. I thought a visit to Vapriikki could be an interesting way to learn about Finland, since there are exhibitions on various topics such as Finnish nature, viking age history of Tampere region, Finnish civil war, video games and ice hockey. Also, you can get a free entrance to the museum with a coupon from students’ ”supervihko” or through student discounts in the Pivo-app.
We visited all of the exhibitions and mainly talked in Japanese. I taught Meguru Finnish words from signs in the exhibitions, mostly in the Natural history museum. Before going to the museum I’d written a list in Japanese of some animals which I remembered were in the exhibition. When we entered the exhibition, I gave Meguru the list and asked him to find out what those animals are called in Finnish.
I believe this was a good way for teaching new words. Meguru also taught me new words in Japanese, such as
キツツキ = woodpecker = tikka
スズラン = lily of the valley = kielo
モモンガ = flying squirrel = liito-orava
In the other exhibitions I wasn’t able to teach Finnish so well, because the vocabulary used in them was quite specific and I hadn’t prepared for them. Especially the exhibition on Finnish civil war was difficult for me to explain in Japanese. I think all of the exhibitons were still useful for learning a bit about Finnish history and culture. We even got to practice ice hockey with a virtual goal keeper.
On Thursday 20th Meguru and I met at Maruseki, which is the oldest Japanese restaurant in Tampere. It’s my favorite restaurant for sushi in Tampere, and I wanted to hear Meguru’s opinion on how it compares to sushi restaurants in Japan. We ordered sushi and talked in Japanese about how our week was going.
I asked Meguru about the proper way of eating sushi. There are many websites and videos on the internet which claim to teach the correct way, saying for example that using chopsticks is wrong and you should eat with your hands, or that soy sauce should be used in some specific way. Meguru told me that sushi can be eaten with chopsticks or hands, it depends on the restaurant and the way you prefer to eat. In Japan you’ll be given a hand towel or tissue at restaurants, so eating with hands is completely ok.
Meguru taught me how to count sushi in Japanese (since the language has different counters for different objects). Unfortunately I forgot to write it down and can’t remember anymore…
After eating we went to the nearby library Metso and switched to Finnish study. Meguru had bought Finnish nightmares comic book earlier, so we read it together. On each page, first Meguru read the text and I corrected his pronunciation, or I read the text and Meguru repeated.
Then I translated the contents into Japanese or English, or Meguru translated and guessed the meaning based on the pictures. Quite many times Meguru was faster than me, because I started thinking of exact translations for the Finnish words instead of the meaning.
It was fun to talk about how we would react in the situations shown in the comics, and how common they are in Finland and Japan. There were quite many Finnish “nightmares” which are shared by Japanese people: touching strangers, public embarrassment and somebody not obeying the traffic lights, for example.