As we had planned earlier, our last meeting was fun and games while learning. It was challenging for the both of us, but we both enjoyd the night. We played games that involved explaining, panthomiming and drawing and guessing the words. We used some cards of a pre-existing games and also make up words by our self. I think it was a perfect last lesson. It wasnt always easy, but we had fun still 😀
Final meeting for Mona and I, we decided to go have drinks and cake on Pella’s Café terrace, as the weather was warm and lovely. I ordered “yksi kylmää kahvia ja passionjuustokakku” all in Finnish for once, Mona proudly looked at me saying that I “just graduated the Each One Teach One course”! But when came time for me to pay, I said in English “By card, please”. Later on, I asked her how to ask it in Finnish which is “kortilla, kiitos”; now I’m ready to truly order anywhere in Finland!
Mona’s hand situation is getting better! She happily showed me how she could almost use it normally, and told me more about the healing process overall. We mentioned how the student health services have been quite helpful and efficient, as we both required them in the past few months. As an international student, I never felt like I was left out which made me feel safe and cared for, even in a foreign country. All I had to do was to pay the 70e fees at the start of the year, and I never had to pay anything else for all the appointments I had afterward. We were truly grateful to be able to use such services.
As it was the last meeting, we discussed about the whole EOTO experience, to talk about our first expectations and the outcomes of the course. We both agreed on the fact that it was a very pleasing experience overall, we especially loved the relaxed aspect of planning it at our own pace. Being able to meetup whenever we felt like it truly is the strength of that experience, as it didn’t put any time pressure on us. It was fun to plan different activities from the get-go, even though we couldn’t make it all work because of the health situation; but that’s also one of the greatest thing about EOTO in 2020: it got us out of our apartment through the year! As it was getting a bit boring and lonely at times because of the corona restrictions, EOTO actually encouraged us to meet up in town, whether it was for a chill conversation around a cup of coffee, or go play in an escape room with other international peeps!
We came to the same conclusion with Mona: even if we couldn’t exactly do all the activities we first planned, it doesn’t matter that much, because this definitely wasn’t our last hangout. Mona became a dear friend over the course of this year, and I’m really glad we got to deepen our bond through cultural exchange or silly sayings in Finnish or French. I feel like this is what this course is all about, so I guess we succeeded in our own way.
Almost 3 months later since the last EOTO meeting, we met again with Mona, under a totally different weather than the last time. Finnish spring was finally upon us and we decided to get drinks outside, in the Koskipuisto park. We were baffled at how crowded the river banks were, and how hot it actually was IN FINLAND!
That’s how we happened to talk about Finnish summers, and how diversified they can be: Mona reminisced some very cloudy summers with endless rains, while I remembered the first time I arrived in the country, experiencing burning temperatures above 30°C. Mona then told me about this funny “first swim after Winter” which is also known as heittää talviturkki (= “to throw away the winter fur”), I had no idea it was a thing here! Can’t wait to take a dip in the lake soon.
Afterward, we mostly talked about Mona’s condition which was being a real burden at the time: her dominant hand was injured, which wouldn’t allow her to work anymore (or even accomplish very basic everyday-life tasks…). Therefore, she was in contact with FSHS to get appointments with a nurse and a physiotherapist, and told me more about how these services usually work. At the time, I needed to get my wisdom teeth removed and get an overall check-up, so she gracefully offered to help if I needed! As an alternative solution to compensate for her hand situation, she tried to use the speech-to-text option on her phone, which would give her quite weird results at times… Guess these features are not well optimized yet!
Then, I proceeded to tell how the French health system works, as it’s much cheaper and heavily centered around this one “Vitale” card, which is linked to your health insurance, and dispenses you from medical bills if your health plan allows it.
It was a real pleasure to be out on such a sunny day, a few deadlines were still around the corner, but it was a nice change of pace for once!
2021 had freshly started when we met with Mona for the 8th EOTO meeting, we decided to get a warm drink in Puisto, a cozy & fancy coffee place next to Koskipuisto. It had been a while since we had seen each other, and as winter was getting only harder and colder, it was delightful to catch up.
We obviously talked about how dark it constantly was, and I was indeed having a hard time getting used to the harshness of the Finnish winter, especially in the middle of a health crisis that highly encouraged us to stay home.
With some much time to spend at home, we started talking about shows we were watching at home, Mona told me about this Finnish tv show called Mental that seemed interesting, but we suddenly both doubted that I could find it online with English subtitles, which was a problem that I already faced earlier when I was looking for the latest Moomin animated series.
Mona also pointed the fact that dubbing is almost non-existent in Finland, unless the content is aimed for young kids that are yet unable to read properly. Meanwhile in France, the dubbing industry is huge, and almost every single movie/show is dubbed in French, as it is the 7th most spoken language worldwide.
For most of my life, I’ve dealt with classics such as Friends or Dragon Ball Z with French voices, while Mona had directly access to the original voices. That difference between our pop-culture is quite shocking, as it’s much simpler for Finns to get a better grasp on English, since their ear is trained to hear it almost daily on TV. That must also explain why French peeps are much worse at it…
For our 7th meeting with Mona, we decided to take things a bit further by going to an escape room with more international peeps, including Niina (Finnish) & Christopher (German), another EOTO duo.
After talking about everyone’s past experiences in escape rooms, we agreed to go for the Idman’s Hideaway, from “Getaway Room Escape” in Tampere, which was supposed to be average in term of difficulty.
As we started the game, we were welcome by an old typical Finnish cabin in the dark woods, that was supposed to be the lair of Nils Idman; one of the biggest criminals in the Nordic countries. Our mission was to find out what happened to the man, and to his tons of missing money.
We quickly all split in smaller groups to cover more grounds and find hints faster, and shout across the room about our discoveries or items we’d need for specific challenges, but we switched teams from time to time, to get a fresh point of view on some hints and/or puzzles. I really liked the shift in dynamic with every one of our group members; some would be all over the place, trying to connect as many dots as possible, while others were quietly focusing on smaller tasks. Sometimes, we’d ask about items translation in each other’s language, but the focus of the evening was to build teamwork in a multicultural group more than learning about languages.
In the end, we solved ~90% of the puzzles, but didn’t make it out… It was a super fun experience overall, and I guess it only fired our group up for a rematch someday!
The last meeting for the last English-Finnish unit came very quickly. As quickly as the semester abroad began, it is almost over as quickly.
In the last meeting we combined comfort and learning.
In order to repeat and consolidate some of the learning words, we decided on a fun game, similar to Activity. A person must explain, draw, or represent a concept panthomim. The other had to guess as quickly as possible. Not only in English, but also in Finnish. Terms such as numbers, months, animals, buildings or colors could be used. Not every term was easy to guess and sometimes took a little more time.
After our final game we enjoyed a dinner in a restaurant and looked back on the instructive time we spent together.
For meeting 6 me and Pia decided to meet alone, since Tom had already had a meeting with Pia via zoom when their tutor called to check they were okay.
We met at the lake (the ice had already melted so ice skating was not an option) and had a drink while discussing the educational system in German compared to Belgium.
We found that they are actually pretty similar but there were a few differences.
In Germany you go to ‘grundschulle’ until your 12 years old. This is the primary level of education, which is the exact same in Belgium. The big difference here is that in Germany it is forbidden to be home-schooled. In Belgium this is an uncommon thing but is not forbidden.
Then you choose between 3 types of secondary education being: ‘Hauptschule’, ‘Realschule’ and ‘Gymnasium’.
Gymnasium students are the ones who should go to college or uni after they graduate.
The Realschule students can still go for higher education, but they do learn some practical skills, so they do not have to go to college or uni to find a job.
The Hauptschule student are not expected to go to college and will probably find a job after they graduate.
After we where done talking about schooling systems Pia though me a few more words regarding the outdoors life like ‘baum’ (tree), ‘wanderweg’ (hiking trail), ‘im freien’ (outdoors), and a couple more.
Me, Tom, Pia, Annikka and Emiel (a Belgian friend of me and Tom) met up to talk a bit about differences between living in Germany and living in Belgium.
The biggest difference is the size of the country. Since Belgium is so much smaller, we can travel to wherever we want withing the country withing 3-3.5 hours. In Germany that is not the case at all.
Pia told us that she sometimes visits Münster, a city located very close to the Dutch border.
She also sometimes goes to Enschede, a city in the Netherlands.
Annikka lives a lot further to the south of Germany then Pia. This results in her having to travel a lot longer to get to bigger cities. She told us she had only gone to Berlin once or twice because the drive is very long.
To finish the meeting we wanted to also learn a little more German grammar, so we asked if they could teach us how to count till 10 in German. I think both me and Tom found it surprisingly easy to do so because it is very similar to counting to 10 in Dutch.
After we were finally allowed to leave quarantine, me and Tom met up with Pia and another German friend of Pia called Annikka to watch a movie and have a chat.
We chose the movie ‘der untergang’ which literally means ‘the downfall’.
The movies was about the history of the second world war and the downfall of Hitler.
Since we watched the movie in German, with Dutch subtitles we could learn a few words of German, but still enjoy and understand the movies.
After we finished the movies, we talked a bit about the war and what happened in the movie while drinking a beer.
The whole meeting took about 3.5-4 hours and we learned a little German/world history and a little German grammar, all while enjoying ourselves.
Today, Enric and me met in TAMk, grabbed lunch in school. I also met two of his Spanish friends. We ate lunch together and talked a bit with them. I found out that they live in the same city but they only got to know each other in Finland during the exchange.
After eating lunch and drinking coffee, we all sat down and decided to play UNO. He taught me the numbers and the colours and I wrote it down so i wouldn’t forget. We decided to say the number and the colour in Spanish while playing. Thus, Every time i had to pick or throw a card, I pronounced the number and the colour in Spanish and this time, i had three Spanish native speakers help me and i couldn’t be more happier than that. This exercise helped me remember them easily especially because everybody pronounced it while playing.