Monthly Archives: May 2016

EPISODE 4: The language war continues

Following the plan, in this session we continued the language training. As told before, the main big difference between Catalans and Madrilians is the language. In the first language session we learnt the TOP 10 words that couldn’t be missing in a conversation if we wanted to look like a real Madrilian/Catalan. After that session, we thought that ten words were not enough to make us look like locals, so we decided to elaborate another TOP10, but now with the most useful expressions and idioms. These are the ten expressions that Fernando gave me:

  1. “Me la estás liando”: you are puting me in a difficult situation. It is used when another person does something bad to you and you have to face some difficulties because of that.
  2. “Ir a escote”: to share something. Used in bars, restaurants or wherever.
  3. “Estar en cero coma”: to be done imediatelly. It is used when you want to tell someone that a concrete action will be done very fast.
  4. “Más castizo que el chotis”: when something is very traditional. It is mainly used when you want to say that something is popular.
  5. “(Tener/haber algo) a cholón”: to have something in large quantities.
  6. “A punta pala”: it means to have a lot of something.
  7. “No me ralles”: it literally means don’t bother me, don’t annoy me.
  8. “Tener mucha jeta”: to be shameless or opportunist.
  9. “Estar muy cachonda/está muy chonda”: it is used to name a girl that is beautiful.
  10. “Ser una movida”: to be something difficult or complex, specially a situation.

I gave Fernando a similar list but with Catalan expressions. I didn’t know what to expect before the meeting but, based on the previous sessions, I had a thought that Madrilian expressions would be related to make things bigger, greater or more exaggerate. And I think I confirmed it.

After reading and commenting them, we spent one hour practicing and using this expressions in different contexts in order to understand better when we can use them or when we can’t. It was interesting because, with this teaching method, we understood better the way the expressions should be used and learnt a bit more about the culture itself. Now I am more capable of speaking with the most Madrilian person because I have learnt more vocabulary and language resources. I am also better at teaching because I faced some difficulties every time I tried to translate from Catalan to English. But with practice, I overcome those difficulties and we could continue with the plan. At the end, it has been a very interesting meeting with many outcomes and a lot of fun!

I just wanted to finish this post with the following videoclip. This was a very famous Catalan band and this particular song talks about the difficulties to translate Catalan expressions into Spanish. I felt a bit like this…

EPISODE 3: Our Holy Water… the beer!

We meet in the afternoon to do one of the things we like the most: sit and drink beers while talking about some interesting topic. In this case, though, the topic is the beer itself. In Spain every region has its own beer and it is usually very important to define the culture and the character of the people of the region. It was hard to find Spanish beers in Tampere but we finally did it!


On one hand, Fernando offered me a Mahou. This is supposed to be the most popular and important brand in Madrid. Fernando told me that, for madrilians, this is like the legacy of the older people. It is the beer that your father drinks and the beer that real madrilians drink. He used his laptop to show me some ads and videos about Mahou’s beer and I realized that this brand represents the tradition, the ritual that every real Madrilian has been doing since the beginning of time. Here is an example of these cultural values.


On the other hand, I tried to taught Fernando the importance of Estrella Damm in the process of defining the Catalan identity. Basically, I explain him how this brand has become a cultural symbol for our generation. I also taught him how to ask a beer in a Catalan and some other sentences even though it was not planned.

After this session, I feel that now I am capable of going to a bar in Madrid without looking like a stranger. I know what to ask and how to do it. Bars are the most important thing in Madrid, so it was essential to learn what do people drink there and how do they do it. Thanks to Mahou’s ads and Fernando’s tips I am know capable of doing it.

I could have read thousands of articles about the importance of Mahou’s beer for Madrilians but I would had never understood it as well as with Fernando and the ads he showed me. Due to this teaching method, we realized how important is the local beer to define the character and the culture itself. It was incredible to see how these two beers reflected the values and philosophy of life of the respective cultures. I didn’t expect that. I also discovered that Madrilians use particular movements and words to order drinks and food in bars. And they can actually know if a person is from Madrid or not depending on the use or not of these movements and words.

Finally, I proved again that the Spanish culture is more based on the past and the traditional elements rather than the Catalan culture, which is always redefining its identity. While Estrella Damm uses young and energetic people that goes to cultural events, study/work in fancy jobs and aim to start some new adventure, Mahou uses memories, the legacy and the past.

EPISODE 2: A comer contras!

The second session was one of the best for me. I love Spanish gastronomy and I was looking forward to discovering the main traditional dishes of Madrid. I went to Fernando’s place to cook and share our gastronomy because he has a bigger kitchen. Fernando had prepared two menus for me. This was the proposition:

Winter menu
Starter: Nothing, you have to be empty to get ready for the “cocido”.
First: Sopa de cocido.
Second: Garbanzos del cocido, tocino, chorizo, morcillo, jamón y patata.
Desert: You won’t need any dessert.

Summer menu
Starter: Vermut + torreznos
First: Ajoblanco
Second: Rabo de toro
Desert: Naranjas a la madrileña

After cooking some of these dishes I realized that Madrilians love heavy and warm meals. They just try to put in one main big dish as many products as possible. So, the result is a meal based on a main warm dish that usually contains meat and potatoes. Madrid is in the middle of Spain, they are away from the sea and thy have more “extreme temperatures” than in the sea side. That explains the absence of many fresh products and the use of processed meat.

The main ingredients of the cocido. We spent a lot of money.

On the other hand, I proposed Fernando two different menus with the most traditional dishes of Catalonia: one for the summer time and another for the winter time. I tried to combine different cooking techniques and products to show Fernando the variety that characterizes the Catalan gastronomy. I tried to make Fernando realize that the Catalan dishes show the coexistence between the sea and the mountain (because of the products that we use) and also that our dishes are based on using leftovers.

While we cooked some of the dishes I explained Fernando how we obtain the food in Catalonia and where do we buy it. I think he got the point and understood the importance of local products and traditional markets. We also faced some difficulties. It was hard to find some of the ingredients in Finland and, unfortunately, the quality of the food (and the price) was worst here in Tampere than in Barcelona. However, we could follow the plan and also improve our cooking skills. For me it was the first time cooking these dishes (my mom usually cooks them for us), and that made me learn more about the traditional cooking methods as well as made me feel more Catalan.

We tried to cook Ajoblanco but we realized we are very bad at it.

So, while Catalan traditional dishes are characterized by the variety of cooking techniques and the combination of “sea” products and “mountain” products, the Madrilian traditional dishes are characterized by the use of a lot of products at the same time, the warm temperatures and the use of all sorts of meat. This actually says a lot about the cultures themselves and let me understand a bit more our differences.

EPISODE 1: Language battle

Soundtrack of this post: “Pongamos que hablo de Madrid – Joaquín Sabina”

For this first session, Fernando came to my apartment at 9:00 ready to start with one of the most difficult topics: the language. During the whole morning we spoke about our languages in general and then we decided to write a list of the TOP 10 words that could not be missing in a conversation with a local person in other not to sound like a stranger or foreigner.due to the fact that grammar is almost common in our languages, we went straight to the vocabulary. And that was the result:

  1. Jeta: face.
  2. Piños: Teeth
  3. Peluco: Watch
  4. Chinar: To make someone angry
  5. Mazo: a lot
  6. Kelly: Home
  7. Tronco: Friend, confident person.
  8. Cerveceo (and many other words ended with –eo): to go to drink beers.
  9. Canteo: a good or bad surprise. Something that is incredible.
  10. Gallumbos: Men’s underwear.
  • Th letter b is not called “b alta”, is called “be” and the letter v is not called “be baja”, is called “uve”.
  • You shouldn’t write “i” as a conjunction; you must use “y”

For the Catalan words I looked for some tricky ones. Some words from Catalan are similar to the Spanish words, but there are some that might sound like Spanish words but mean a completely different thing. Is what we call: False friends.  Is the biggest mistake among the non Catalan speakers. If Fernando wanted to look like a local, he had to learn this list of false friends:

  1. Acostar-se: it sound like “acostarse”. In Spanish “acostarse” means to go to sleep. In Catalan it means to get closer to somebody or something.
  2. Ampolla: it sound like “ampolla”. In Spanish “ampolla” means a rash. In Catalan it means bottle.
  3. Brut: it sound like “bruto”. In Spanish “bruto” means rude. In Catalan it means dirty.
  4. Cama: it sound like “cama”. In Spanish it means bed while in Catalan it means leg.
  5. Escoltar: it sounds like “escoltar”. In Spanish means to escort or guard. In Catalan it means to listen.
  6. Llevar-se: it sounds like “llevarse”. In Spanish it means to take something away. In Catalan it means to wake up.
  7. Pany: it sounds like “paño”. In Spanish it means a towel. In Catalan it means latch.
  8. Vaga: it sounds like “Vaga”. In Spanish it means a lazy girl. In Catalan it means a strike.
  9. Tasca: it sounds like “Tasca”. In Spanish it is a bar. In Catalan it means a task.
  10. Pujar: it is written like “Pujar”. In Spanish it means to ascend. In Catalan it means to go up.
  • The graph “ny” doesn’t sound like “ni”. It sounds like “ñ”
  • The letter “ç” sounds like ”ss”
  • The graph “l·l” sounds like a long “l”
  • The letter “j” sounds like “sh”, and not like “y”
  • The graph “tx” sounds like “ch”

Last Meeting.

Time flies so fast. This was the last meeting. We met again and took icecream to the park. We talked about our future plan and exchange life. For me, i am in Tampere since august so it was almost a year far from my country. I miss everyone around me and everything in Japan. Now i think about decision of coming to finland was the most big decision i ever had. But i have met lots of amazing people from whole world and had really good experience in Finland. I learned lots of culture and skills of communication. This should be some special in my life.

We live in Japan and Germany so it is hard to meet up again soon but we want to keep in touch and see each other at some points and wherever we can.


9th meeting

This was 9th meeting for us. We met again in Koskipuisto. The winter has gone and finally we saw sun again. we saw lots of people in the park for chilling or picnic. we talked about finnish people tried to have great time in summer time as much as they can.

Winter time was so long, actually for me it was since october. Since October when i go out, i take my jacket and scarf. I had real finnish winter experience. One day i forgot scarf and gloves, it was – 30 degree and i was frozen. Usually people stay inside and spend time with family or friends. So i did not have opportunity to meet new people at some points. But now, when i go to the park, someone talk to me always. everyone is happy and try to enjoy with sun.

we will come back to our country in the end of may so we will not see real summer in finland. but we wish we could come back here next 10 years in summer.



9. International dinner

For our 9th meeting we decided to make an international dinner with our different dishes as first, second and dessert. The plan was to go to the groceries all together, learn the different ingredients in Spanish, Italian and Dutch, and then cook and eat in our dormitory.

We prepared the following menu. For the first dish we had Valeria’s pasta with pesto (as in Italy it is usual to have pasta first), for the second dish I made a Spanish omelette (a.k.a tortilla de patatas) and then for the dessert Jamila made a delicious banana bread.

Once in the supermarket, we bought:
One pack of pasta – un paquete de pasta – un pacco di pasta – een pak pasta
A jar of pesto – un frasco de pesto – un vasetto di pesto – een pot pesto
5 potatos – cinco patatas – cinque patate – vijf  aardappelen
6 eggs – seis huevos – sei ouva – zes eieren
4 bananas – cuatro plátanos – quattro banane – vier bananen
A pack of flour – un paquete de harina – un pacchetto di farina – een pak meel
A pack of sugar – un paquete de azúcar – un pacchetto di zucchero – een pack suiker

Then we went back to TOAS City and started cooking.

Valeria boiled the water, added some salt and put the pasta in one pot. Then she drained it and added the pesto and some parmesan cheese on top.

I peeled and cut the potatos, then fried them until they were soft. After that I put them in a different pan and added the beaten eggs until the omelette was done on one side and then I turned the omelette in the pan to cook the other side.

Jamila prepared the dough of the banana bread, put it in the baking tin and then she put it in the oven until it was cooked outside but still a bit soft inside.
They were all simple recipes but all the dishes were really good! One of my favourite parts of living in an international dormitory is that I have learnt tons of different recipes that I’m sure I’ll make when I come back to Spain. For sure my family is going to be happy about this!


Cooking Korean food and picnic with friends

On Monday it was our last meeting! We cooked some Korean food with friends and after that went to Koskenranta have some wine. Looking forward to meet Jisoo again in Seoul next spring when im going there for exchange!


We also studied weekdays and months, it was pretty simple. Weekdays have always same ending, -“juil”. Woljuil, hawjuil, sujuil, mokjuil, kumjuil, tojuil, and iljuil.
Basically months are counted with numbers and added “wol” in the end. So January is “first month”, February is “second motnh”, etc..
Il wol, e wol, sam wol, sa wol, yu wol, yuug wol, chil wol, pal wol, gu wol, sib wol, sib il wol, sib e wol.

27.5 Ninth meeting

Wow, its been a month since the last meeting huh. Everybody has been rather busy since last time. Well, anyway, this meeting was at 11:00 AM at Tiia’s place. So yeah, super early. I think everyone was so tired that we didn’t end up doing much of studying, mostly just exchanging news and stuff. I guess that makes this good post for that self reflection stuff I should have probably done more in previous posts… Well, besides that now after a month’s break its kinda hard to remember stuff.

Well, I guess that is a good segway to reflect about learning Russia(since I have really hard time remembering how to speak Russian :’D)… I probably would have much easier time with that if I had figured out a way to use it everyday and otherwise be more active in terms of studying it at home. Though that probably applies to all courses during this spring, I’ve been rather passive and felt really down during whole spring. Well, at least now I have decided to ask professionals opinion on matter, would be nice to get self esteem tips even if I don’t have depression. Well, anyway, I did manage to recap some really basic things, so thats nice. Now on teaching side of things…  Well, I did try my best when it came to explaining Finnish stuff and ways to say stuff, but I did have that problem in that my way of speaking is less casual than most people’s, so I had to be corrected a lot in terms of “What people would actually say”. Umm… Well, thats about what I remember right now about eight last meetings in terms of that subject .-. Guess thats about it for now, maybe by next time I have remembered something else to ponder about. Next meeting should be 6.6 if I remember right.

The tenth meeting – Time to say goodbye

We met in Vohvelikahvila with Qian.  The feeling was little sad because this was our last time we met before Qian would go to China. But we didin’t let it matter so much and talked something else because we could keep in touch via Whatsapp and Facebook after she had gone to China. This was Qian’s first time in Vohvelikahvila and how good the waffles were!











We went through something she had learnt during this course. This easy dialogue we could talk in Finnish:








This course has taught me so much. I have noticed that Finnish isn’t very easy language to teach and learn, because we have all long vocals and hard letters like ’r’ and ’ä’. I’m still  very proud of Qian’s learning and also her English has improved so much during this course. I think my English has also improved and now it’s easier to start talking it to new people. I have learnt so much about Chinese culture and got new perspective for life. Even though I have only stayed here in Finland, I feel like I would have travelled to China and seen all the things Qian has told me. We did and studied everything we had planned during this year. I’m very proud of our job together. But I think the best thing in this course has been the friendship I have got via this. Qian has become a very good friend to me and I’m going to miss her so much. It’s nice to know that we can still keep in touch although she’s in China. Maybe she comes back some day or I’ll go to China, let’s see what future looks.


Thank you for this course and thank you Qian for sharing it with me. I will remember this all my life.




Merituuli Lehtimaa