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.
Today, we had a picnic at sorsapuisto together for celebrating Wappu-eve. Wappu is one of the biggest holidays in Finland. In this period, many Finnish people wearing overalls, a white hat and there are lots of traditional events. We joined to Kiia and her school mates. To be honest, I worried a little bit cause there are so many Finnish students who wearing overalls! But Kiia and her friends warmly welcomed us. Kiia said every faculty has their own overalls. That’s why I could see so many colorful overalls. In Korea University, we also have that kind of tradition. Each faculty has their own jacket.
I’ve never seen such a lively and crowded Tampere before. But it was a very pleasant experience without feeling noisy. I could feel real spring comes to Finland!
Today we gathered in Kiia’s house and had dinner together. We made Kampanisut and Korean Hoddeok and tried reindeer soup which Kiia made! She said it took three hours to make the soup rich. Its taste is similar to beef but a little bit different. I heard that Reindeer meat is not that cheap even in Rovaniemi, so I was so thankful to Kiia. After having dinner, we talked about a lot of things from music to history. Kiia introduced a Finnish old song “Olen suomalainen” sang by Kari Tapio. When I listened to it at first, it’s so funny cause, in Korea, we also have songs which have a similar style with “Olen suomalainen”. Regardless of the country, the emotions of the times seemed to be similar.
Another interesting thing was about housing. In Korea, high deposit and high monthly rent fee are required but the condition of the house is poor compared to the price. There is no exception for students. Rather, students have not enough money to pay for high rent, so most of the students get a part-time job or help from their parents. But in Finland, it’s better cause it offered students a good flat with a low deposit and rent. Personally, everyone thinks buying stuff in Finland or living in Finland is expensive (compared to South or Eastern Europe), but after living for more than four months, I felt it is easier to live Finland with less money than Seoul.
I really wondered. What makes these differences between Finland and Korea? Over time, there are so many things that I want to learn in Finland..
Today, we went to a Korean food party. We found it on the application ‘Meetup’. The host is Crystal who loves Korean culture and food. I thought it is a good opportunity for Kiia to eat various Korean food and also she can meet other people who are interested in Korea in Tampere! I cooked some Korean potato pancakes and other Korean make Kimchi pancake, hot chilly wings. And Kiia brought a traditional dessert of Lapland called Kampanisut. Besides, I was very surprised to find that there were foods that tasted similar to Korean food even though they were not made by Koreans. After having dinner together, we played a Korean drinking game together with Korean drinks.
Today was an amazing day because I didn’t know there would be so many people interested in Korea. Whenever I have this kind of experience, I think that I want to introduce Korea better as a Korean and try to make a better image of Korea.
Today, we gathered in Lapinkaari again to learn some words and have dinner together. But this time, Kiia invited her friend. She brought the board game called “Alias”. It is the game about learning new Finnish words by explaining the meaning of each word. I thought it’s really helpful game to learn words and it would be nice if there is a Korean version. Maybe, I can try to make a Korean version by myself after going back to Korea. It will be a useful and fun way to learn Korea for foreigners.
After playing the game, we cooked Korean food like Jeyuk Bokkeum(Spicy stir-fried pork) and fried rice. I worried at first, but Kiia and her friend really liked them!
Today, we gathered in Lapinkaari, where most of the tenants are exchange students and most Korean students live. After looking around the Lapinkaari, we had tea time and talked about each country’s music. Kiia is a big fan of Epikhigh, popular Korean Hip-hop group, and bought their concert ticket which will be held in Helsinki. I also like Epikhigh, so we can share our feelings about their music.
I’m so surprised that she is a fan of Epikhigh. Cause the people who are interested in Korea are usually K-pop idol fan. And I thought the power of culture is so important. Culture makes people have an interest in new things and can give them positive images. (Of course, sometimes it can be negative images.) But anyway, these images can make us connected.
Today, we went to the Bar. I really wanted to visit the Finnish bar! Cause I heard that Finnish people love drinking and drink a lot. And actually, Koreans are also the same.
Drinking the beer, we did some card games to learn more Korean and Finnish words. We wrote the words and when the host calls the word, the others should pick up that card as faster as possible to win. Through this activity, I could memorize words faster.
Juon = Drink / Kaljaa = beer
Kylmä = Cold / Kuuma = Hot
tämä = This
pieni = small / iso = big
teacher = opettaja
Today, we went to Cafe Pussti together. I heard that the Cafe Pussti has a really good cinnamon roll. And after I tried it, I knew it’s true! And today, a new friend joined us. He is also Finnish and he is studying in Korea as an exchange student! Even the university he is studying at is near my home university. He was pretty good at speaking Korean. He’s from Tampere not like Kiia, so he recommended us lots of good places that we can visit. One of the places is Siipiveikko which is selling hot wings. It’s a funny name. ‘Siipi’ means wing and ‘Veikko’ means mate. So it means wing mate!
Also, I learned some words and their pronunciation today. And I realized that Y sound and A with dots, and O with dots are too hard to pronounce for me! Cause Korean letters don’t have this kind of sound. I thought I should more practice.
Today, we participated in Chines New Year’s Day event which is organized by Chinese students association. Because Korea also has a new year’s day, I think this is a good opportunity for introducing our tradition even though it’s not exactly the same with China. We made dumpling together and talked about each other’s holidays. Kiia said, in Finland, Christmas and the Mayday are the biggest holidays.
It’s not a big surprise that Christmas is a big holiday, but it’s new that Mayday is a big holiday. Because Koreans don’t think of MayDay as a big holiday. But in Finland, Mayday is also called Wappu, and it is a very big day with many events.
Interesting at the same time, I wondered whether Mayday was a big holiday or not, because different countries have different perceptions of working? Or is Finland more balanced than Korea? After came to Finland, I have seen lots of stores closing early. And it makes me wonder about working culture – hours, condition, environment etc.. – in Finland. And now I found out there is Wappu in Finland, so I thought I should learn more about the working culture in Finland.