Monthly Archives: May 2016

10th meeting

Our last meeting was on Mothers day via Skype. After battling with connections for awhile we studied vocabulary about family and relationships. Once again, Isa had very good materials to study. In Spanish many of the words describing family relations have the same stem and are only differentiated between masculine and feminine.

  • aunt / uncle – la tía / le tío – täti / setä
  • sister / brother – la hermana / la hermano – sisar / veli
  • daughter / son – la hija / el hijo – tytär / poika
  • grandma / grandpa – la abuela / el abuelo – mummo / pappa

When talking about in-laws, we had to admit that non of us Finns could remember all the Finnish terms (who uses “kyty” anymore?). In Spanish naming in-laws is a bit simpler; same term goes with both sides of the couple. For example, the sister-in-law – la cuñada – käly or nato and the brother-in-law – el cuñado – lanko or kyty.

Since this was our last meeting we also talked about everyone’s summer/future plans. It has been nice studying with these girls and I feel that my knowledge of Spanish grammar and pronunciation have increased during this spring. At least my vocabulary has.

Summer phrases

Lovely, warm and sunny spring afternoon at Pella´s terrace. Good coffee, freshly baked croissant and summer phrases in Spanish. Isa gave us a sheet of summer-related words and we tried to put them together to form logical phrases. This is what we created:

  • Ahora es verano – Nyt on kesä
  • Tengo al traje de baño – Minulla on uimapuku
  • Me gusta pescar – Pidän kalastamisesta
  • Como la sandia y bebo la limonada – Syön vesimelonia ja juon limsaa
  • Es caliente – On kuuma
  • Juego al golf – Pelaan golfia
  • Me encanta nadar en mar – Rakastan meressä uimista
  • No sé nadir – En osaa uida
  • Las vacaciones es en junio, julio y agosto – Lomakausi on kesä-, heinä- ja elokuu
  • El verano es soleado – Kesä on aurinkoinen
  • El helado es frio – Jäätelö on kylmää

Not enough to have very sophisticated conversations but something to start with.

8th meeting

Weekend studies via Skype led us to study words and phrases that are useful when going out.

  • Vamos! – Let´s go!
  • Vamos al bar – Let´s go to a bar
  • Vamos a bailar – Let´s go dancing

At a bar it is essential to know these:

  • Te ves bien – You look good
  • Como la estás pasando? – How is it going?
  • Vienes seguido a este bar? – Do you come here (this bar) often?
  • Puedo ofrecerte un trago? – Can I offer you a drink?
  • Todo bien – All good
  • ¿Todo bien? – Is everything good?

And of course you might want to know these:

  • Cerveza / birra / chela – beer
  • Canã – small beer
  • Fría – cold
  • Vino blanco – white wine
  • Vino tinto – red wine

That´s everything you need to survive a bar night!

Nykyaika Photographic Centre

Our seventh meeting was about arts and adjectives. We went to see a photography exhibition at Nykyaika Photographic Centre. Theme of the exhibition was desire. It was mostly photographs but also video and sound where used. I really liked it. Different artists had approached the theme differently. Some saw childhood dreams or travelling when others saw addictions, standards of beauty, craving or lust. Very interesting collection.

After exploring the exhibition, we sat down to talk about arts and wrote down some adjectives and art-related words.

  • Deseo – desire
  • Exhibición – exhibition
  • Colleción – collection
  • Empieza – starts
  • Termina – ends
  • El fin – the end
  • Crear – create
  • Imagen – picture
  • Hermosa – beautiful
  • Belleza escondida – hidden beauty
  • Bonita – pretty
  • Lindo/-a – cute
  • Guapo – handsome
  • Guapa – beautiful

We also learned that adding suffix -ito/-ita to a stem indicates affection but it can also make the meaning “small”. So, let´s be careful with it.

EPISODE 10: Unexpected ending

After 9 awesome meetings standing out the differences between our cultures, we planned to end this course with a session where we reflected about all the things we have in common, just to clarify if the independence of Catalonia would be reasonable (from the cultural point of view). Just as a quick reminder, Catalonia (and consequently, Spain) is facing now a difficult moment because of the general discomfort with the Spanish government and the treatment Catalonia is receiving. The result is a process of independence that aims to split Spain and to create a new country for the Catalan people. So, after hours of difficult discussions, we came up with some conclusions or ideas but not with a clear answer.


Despite the language, our cultures are very similar. We both come from big European cities that are connected with the world and so are open, friendly and plural. Even though the Madrilians are known (and have proved to be) proud of their heritage and themselves (they are called “churros”, which more or less means “cocky”), almost all the celebrations and traditions are similar to the Catalan ones. At least, we both love our gastronomy, our traditions and the beer! We tried to make a list with things in common but it was hard because we both want to feel special and different. But even from the language point of view, we share a lot of elements (like words and expressions).

I expected to have a short meeting discussing about the things that we have in common and then creating a list with the outcomes. But, unexpectedly, the session turned out being a discussion about the differences not just from the cultural point of view, but from the political, economical and historical. I realized that the actual problems in Catalonia have been told in a different way in Madrid. It was a very interesting conversation and we even had some tense moments, which is always good because it means we broke some taboo topics. We didn’t expect such a deep meeting and that made us change the preliminary plan because the is experience won’t be finished here. We will continue this discussion that has been started in this amazing experience called “Each One Teach One” out of the course because we would never end posting about this topic. Because as we say in Catalonia: “parlant la gent s’entén” (which means “just speaking people understand each other”).

The last picture we took in the lake, discussing about the independence.


EPISODE 9: More Party

9th session, Fernando came to my place. Before finishing this learning/teaching experience, we wanted to dedicate one meeting to pick up one celebration or one national party that summed  up the essence of our respective cultures. Spain (and Catalonia) are known for the parties and the celebrations. This is probably the most important part of our cultures. So, we decided to select one and explain it in order to understand better and have an overview of the Madrilian and the Catalan character.

Using Internet and our own material, Fernando showed me the party of “Sant Isidro”. This one is probably the most famous and most traditional party in Madrid. During this days, as I could see in some videos, people go outside dressed with traditional Madrilian clothes and have lunch in the hill of “Sant Isidro”. There they prepare “cocido” (see session 2). After that, people walk around the city, sit in bars or cafes (eat “churros”) and enjoy de music and the ambience. At night, there are many free concerts around the city where young people go to have fun and drink beer (Mahou). It is very similar to the way the parties in Catalonia work but with more traditional elements and activities (such as the dresses and the lunch with the family).

sant isidro
Traditional dresses of San Isidro. I would like to see Fernando dressed like this

On the other hand, I thought Fernando about the 11 of September, the national day of Catalonia. Usually everybody goes to Barcelona where a lot of activities and concerts are happening. At the beginning it was difficult for me to make Fernando understand the meaning of this celebration (because we use an historical defeat to celebrate the Catalan culture). It was an easy topic because, even if the reasons of our parties are different, most of the celebrations are the same. That was something I didn’t expect and was good to discover. Now I am capable of going to Madrid during the parties’ period without looking like a totally stranger. I also understood better my own national party and I would be able to explain it again in a better way to make Spanish people understand it better. At the end of the meeting we promised that we would visit the cities during the respective parties. We followed the plan successfully but we are sad because this experience is going to its end.

Demonstration in the center of Barcelona in 2012. One of the first demonstration pro independence.

EPISODE 8: Back to our childhood!

In this session we met to have dinner at Fernando’s place. Why dinner? Because we wanted to watch the most important TV series for our generation. Rosalia and Irene (two media students from Andalusia) also joined because they are nice people and they were interested in the topic. The cartoons you watch when you are a kid influence a lot the way you grow up and are one of the most precious memories for a generation. We prepared a list with just 5 series (in order to cover them deeply and not just superficially) and, unexpectedly, we coincided in three out of five! The only difference is that Fernando saw this series in Spanish and I saw it in Catalan. That might seem a small detail, but we had some “discussions” because the names of the characters and the elements of the series were different. Different names means changing the memory and that is something none of us is going to do (because it’s like changing our past, our identity).


We both had seen Doraemon, Shin Chan and Dragon Ball. For Catalan people this are the three series that influenced the most our generation. It is part of the Catalan culture of the people of my age. Fernando told me that Shin Chan was one of the most important series for Madrilians but also Dragon Ball. The most interesting point were the series that we didn’t have in common. I learned that in Madrid superheroes and magic creatures are always present. The popular series in Madrid usually enhance the proud and epic character of Madrilians. On the other hand, Catalan series are not always Japanese and rely more on crazy topics, not specially superheroes. But that is a very tiny difference, at the end, we all watch the same series.

We spent more than 5 hours watching episodes of the series in Catalan and Spanish and commenting the names and the stories. I could had never imagined that there would be so much difference between the Catalan translation and the Spanish translation. It was a very interesting experience and thanks to that teaching/learning method, we could discuss about the series and I got a new point of view on the series that influenced my childhood.


EPISODE 7: The final battle of the language war


I was looking forward for the 7th session. When we wrote the preliminary plan this one was one of the best ideas we had. I met Fernando at my apartment and we took a quick look at the previous language meetings and revised the Catalan grammar. After that, I phoned a friend of Fernando from Madrid and I made Fernando call one of my best friends from Barcelona. We had a conversation and the objective was to look like locals. The results were really funny. We did not look like locals but we tried our best. Using all the words, idioms and expressions that I learnt in previous meetings I was able to keep a decent conversation with a Madrilian. And, of course, that made me understand better the meaning of all the previous outcomes.

With Sánchez (Fernando’s friend) I spoke about the situation of the city with the new Mayer as well as about the night life and the life of Madrilians. It was very interesting because, while I was practicing the acquired vocabulary, I was confirming Fernando’s information about Madrid’s  culture. I had a second point of view on the topic we had covered before and that made me capable of understanding better the city and knowing mo about the culture. Maybe it would had been better to do it at the end because there are some topic that I would had really like to discuss with Sanchez but we hadn’t covered them yet.

Fernando tried his best to speak Catalan but, even though he has learnt a lot in 7 days, it was difficult for him to follow a conversation in Catalan. At one point they had to change it to English, but he used many expressions and words and that made me feel proud of him. I helped him sometimes and, at the end, he could almost speak full speeches in Catalan. I was awesome! We followed the plan but we decided that we would keep doing some more language during the next sessions because, as we all know, to master a language you have to keep speaking it, otherwise you just loose it.

EPISODE 6: Hang over… Let’s visit the city.

In this session we meet in “Arthouse Cinema Niagara”‘s caffe to change a bit the space. We didn’t prepare anything for this session because it was supposed to be one of the easiest of the whole plan: the main features of our cities. We already knew which are the main buildings, squares or museums that tourist visit and we also knew some features that might not be that popular. But, what we didn’t know is that we had no idea about the places themselves! We knew the name and where were they but we had never been and we didn’t know the history of the place or why they are important.


We started drawing a map with the main features. After that, we both tried to explain more about the features but we realized that we didn’t know much about them. So, we end up looking for videos, images and information a bout the places. Even though we faced these shameful dificulties, it was a nice experience because we learnt more about our respective cities while we taught things about them.


I also discovered that Madrid has more features than what I expected. As I taught Fernando, almost all the main features of Barcelona are related to Gaudi or the artistic movement called “modernisme”. But Madrid has way more diverse features than Barcelona. I was really shocked with the area so called “Madrid de los Austrias”. Here are some pictures of the place, they are awesome. Now I know the most interesting palaces of Madrid and were I should go to see beautiful buildings without a large amount of tourists. And I am also more capable of teaching others about the main feature of Barcelona. I think now I could even make a tour! At the end, it was one of the most useful sessions and, despite the already mentioned difficulties, we followed the plan successfully. And we put some homework: visit our own cities as tourists!

P.S.: While looking for information about the main features of Barcelona I discovered this video which I showed to Fernando. This is one of the things that I discovered while teaching. I hope I will see that one day…

EPISODE 5: Viva la fiesta!

Today was a extremely fun session. The topic of this meeting was the night life in our respective cities and it was supposed to be a session to share the main entertaining activities in the city and the sort of people that do them. But, at the end, we end up sharing funny and epic memories in those places. We couldn’t stop laughing! Thanks to this, I understood better the character of each place/activity and the things that you can expect of each of those places. It is the power of memories! Let’s take a closer look to the session outcomes:

Each of us prepared two lists: one with mainstream, popular and crowded places to go out and another with small, non conventional and special places. Even though Fernando and I proposed many options, we decided to highlight two main and effective options in each list. This is the result:


Mainstream places: Tartufo + Serrano 41
Alternative places: Pubs in Malasaña + Matadero de Madrid

Catalonia (Barcelona)

Mainstream places: Port olimpic (OPIUM) + Razzmataz
Alternative places: Pubs in Gracia (a neighborhood) + Fabrica moritz.

Because both cities are big and European capitals, the mainstream places are discos and the alternative are small pubs or bars in “hipster” neighborhoods. But after sharing memories and experiences there, I realized that in Barcelona the alternative places are usually related to some kind of cultural movement and so they organize many cultural activities there. But, in general, the night life is similar I both places.



After this intense session, I am more capable of going out in Madrid and of moving in the city during the night. Now I know stories of each place and that makes me feel I have been there myself because I can imagine better the place and compare it with other references. It was surprisingly easy to teach Fernando and to learn because we created a relaxed and cheerful environment that enabled a better teaching/learning experience. I am extremely happy with this session and I hope the next will be as fun as this one.

This is Fernando laughing