Monthly Archives: August 2021

What should I wear today?

We went through names of clothes that are used in Finland especially in the winter time, like coat, hat, gloves and so on. These words are useful for someone living in Finland as one cannot make it through the long winter without wearing them. Also, a sentence that is often heard, especially by parents in Finland is “Pue lämpimästi päälle ennen kuin lähdet ulos!” which means Put on warm clothes before going out. This is probably a very useful advice as normally kids, especially teenagers rebel against dressing up in warm clothes when the weather gets cold. It varies according to a generation towards what items this rebellion goes. In my teenager years we would rebel against hats in the winter and when I look at the youth nowadays, it looks like they rebel against covering their ankles.


Vaatteet = Clothes = Mavazi

Ulkovaatteet = Outdoor clothes =Nguo za njee

Talvivaatteet = Winter clothes =  Nguo za baridi

Takki = Coat = koti

Hattu = Hat =  kofia

Paita = Shirt = Shati

Housut = Pants= Suruali

Kengät = Shoes = viatu

Farkut = Jeans = suruali za jin

Hame = Skirt = sketi

Sukat = Socks = soksi

Pipo = hat for the winter = Kofia ya baridi 

Hanskat = Gloves= Kinga 

Kaulahuivi = Scarf = Skafu 

Pue lämpimästi päälle ennen kuin lähdet ulos = Put warm clothes on before going out=  vaa nguo za koto kabla ya kuenda njee

Ostin tänään uuden paidan = I bought a new shirt today=  Nimenunua shati mpya leo

Mikä on paras vaatekauppa Tampereella? = What is the best clothes shop in Tampere? = Ni duka lipi lizuri la kununua nguo Tampere 

Nämä ovat lempifarkkuni = These are my favorite jeans =  Hizi ni suruali za jiinsi ninazozipenda zaidi 

Time to study

What has helped Finland to give equal opportunities to kids no matter their background has been the school system. The finnish education system is based on public education centers. There are some private centers too, but the vast majority up until now have been the public ones. The level of teaching is very high in finnish schools and so the results of PISA-test used to be top of the world for many years. Some changes are happening and I think that the Finnish educational system is going towards privatization slowly but surely. There are clear threats to this and I think every Finnish person should be aware of it.


An interesting detail that came up during the meeting in that in Finnish there are two different words for students depending on which grade they are in, so students before high school are called oppilas and students from high school on are called opiskelija. There is no such distinction in Swahili, so every student is called Mwanafunzi.


Koulu = School = Shule

Oppilaitos = Educational center = Kituo cha elimu

Päiväkoti = Kinderkarten= shule ya chekechea

Lukio = High school =  shule ya upili

Korkeakoulu = Higher education center = Kituo cha elimu ya juu

Yliopisto = University = Chuo kikuu

Luokka = Class = Darasa 

Opettaja = Teacher = Mwalimu 

Oppilas = Student (in school) Mwanafunzi 

Opiskelija = Student (from high school on) = Mwanafunzi (we make no distinction) 

Luento = Lecture = ukumbi wa mihadhari 

Mihin aikaan luento alkaa? = At what time the lecture starts? Mhadhara unaanza saa ngapi? 

Minulla on koe huomenna = I have an exam tomorrow = Nina mtihani kesho

Matematiikka on lempiaineeni = Math is my favorite subject – Hesabu ndio somo ninalolipenda zaidi

Mihin aikaan pääset huomenna koulusta? = At what time you get out tomorrow from school? = Kesho unatoka shule saa ngapi? 

Let’s do sports!

Sports have always been somehow part of my life and this is why I wanted to have one session related to it too. In Finland the most popular sports has been ice-hockey for many years. Tampere is a special city in a sense that it has two ice-hockey teams in Jääkiekkoliiga, the highest series of men’s ice-hockey. The two teams are called Ilves and Tappara and in my experience the people from Tampere are fans of one of the two and this is not something one can change during their lives.


Urheilu = Sports =Michezo

Harrastus = Hobby = 

Kilpaurheilu = Competitive sports = Mashndani ya michezo

Jääkiekko = Ice hockey = Mchezo wa magongo (barafu) 

Jalkapallo = Football = Mpira wa miguu 

Koripallo = Basketball = Mpira wa kikapu 

Lentopallo = Volleyball = Mpira wa wavu (voliboli) 

Yleisurheilu = Athletics=  Riadha

Kuntosali = gym =  Ukumbi wa mazoezi

Loukkaantuminen = Injury =  Jeraha

= Twende tukaangalie mchezo wa magongo 

Harrastatko liikuntaa? = Do you do any sports? =  Je? Unafanya michezo ipi? 

Mikä on suosikki urheilulajisi? = What is your favorite sports? = Je? no mchezo upi unaoupenda zaidi? 

Menen nyt lenkille = Im going for a run/walk = Ninaenda kutemba /kukimbia 

Modern Family

Just for the vocabulary, it is clear that Finland has some specific things related to how people see family here. The word “perhe” means the closest family that usually is parents, children and partner. Then there is the work “suku” that means the extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. I know that in many languages there is no such a distinction, because family is family, but for finns there is quite a big difference whether someone belongs in your immediate or extended family. 



Perhe = close family

Suku = extended family

Sukulaiset = members of the extended family

Sukujuhlat = celebration with extended family

Montako perheenjäsentä sinulla on? = How many family members you have?

Perheenjäsen = member of a family

Äiti = mother

Isä = father

Sisko = sister

Veli = brother


Isosisko = big sister

Pikkuveli = Little brother

Isöäiti, mummo = grandmother

Isoisä, vaari, pappa, ukki = grandfather

Setä = uncle

Täti = aunt

Eno = Brother of a mother

Serkku = cousin

Pikkuserkku = second cousin





familia ya karibu/close family


mama /mother








big sister/dada mkubwa

kaka mdogo/little brother

little sister/dada mdogo


Aunt /shangazi



my husband/mume wangu

my wife/mke wangu

binamu wangu wa mbali/a distant cousin

my distant cousin**

I love this city!

The theme of the sixth session was city. Sharon was familiar with many places in Tampere that have the word “keskus” in them which means center in Finnish. I explained how keskusta means the city center, Keskustori means the central marketplace in Tampere and Koskikeskus is a shopping mall in the center of Tampere and its name refers to the Tammerkoski stream that runs through Tampere. I told about the importance of Tammerkoski in the development of Tampere and how still the red brick buildings that are situated around it remind of the time when the power of the stream was used as a source of power to the factories.


Kaupunki = City

Missä kaupungissa asut? = In which city do you live?

Mikä on sinun kotikaupunkisi? = What is your hometown?

Keskusta = center

Paljonko matkaa on keskustaan? = How long is it to the center?

Keskustori = Central market square

Koskikeskus = Stream center

Tammerkoski = the name of the stream

Lakes of Tampere: Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi

Näsinneula = The needle of Näsi

Famous marketplaces: Tammelantori and Laukontori





mtu In singular



rivets -mito


market place-sokoni




Animals from the north and the south

Our fifth session was about animals. I told Sharon about the biggest wild animals we have in Finland: moose (hirvi), bear (karhu) and wolf (susi). I think it’s quite cool to have such wild animals living in the finish forest. I told that in the past there were many fatal accidents between moose and cars, but that this situation got better during the past 20 years as there are many fences built next to the highways, near to areas with a lot of moose. Also the cars nowadays are safer so that even if the car hits a moose it doesn’t necessarily mean that the passengers will die of the impact. About bears, they might only attack humans if the person happens to be in between the mother and a cub. As a child I was told to pretend being dead if I encountered a bear in the forest, luckily I never had to use this skill. Wolves on the other hand have a very bad reputation even if they practically never attack humans and luckily in the past years their number has increased in Finland. 


It was very interesting to hear about the wild animals that live in Kenya, such as lions, baboons or cheetah. When Sharon was telling me that lion means simba in Swahili, I remembered my all time favorite movie which is Lion King. Simba was the name of the main character of the movie who, naturally, was a lion. He had a monkey mentor whose name was Rafiki and this means friend in Swahili. I was so happy to learn this because I love the movie and I never knew that some of the characters’ names were actually real words in Swahili. 



animal- mnyama




cork-male hen









male cow -ndume


Food for thought

The theme of our fourth session was food and again, it was easy to find differences between Finland and Kenya. In my opinion Finland does not have a very rich food culture, but there are a few traditional dishes that everyone should know about. I do understand if foreigners are not very eager to taste all the traditional Finnish foods as some of them might look or taste very suspicious at first. 


Something I wanted to teach Sharon was the whole culture of mustamakkara in Tampere, as I am originally from Tampere. I explained that the typical way to eat the blood sausage here is to combine it with lingonberry jam and drink milk with it. The typical place for this would be a summer day in the market place called Tammelantori.


I also told her that the food culture in Finland and Tampere has developed a lot during the last 10 years as locals are more aware of food quality and also international tastes. Tampere is lucky to have many international restaurants run by people from all over the world. One of my favorites is Aloha Ramen that is run by my friend who is Vietnamese-American.


Mitä tänään syödään? What shall we eat today?

Mitä haluat syödä? What do you want to eat?

Karjalanpiirakka = Karelian pie

Karjalanpaisti = Karelian stew

Mustamakkara = Blood sausage


maito = milk

puolukkahillo = lingonberry jam

Hyvää ruokahalua = Enjoy your meal

Kiitos, ruoka oli hyvää = Thank you, the food was good.


food -chakula

Tutakula nini leo?-what shall we eat today

Unataka ule nini?-what do you want to eat?

unataka kula nini ?


Ugali -maize flour


How is the weather forecast for today?

During the third session we discussed the weather. For me this session was very interesting, because both of us brought our countries’ typical weather conditions to the table. As Sharon has not spent yet an entire year in Finland, I was telling her about what kind of weather is typical in each season and that the four seasons in Finland are very distinct from one another. I told her that my favorite season is autumn because of the fresh air and beautiful colors of the trees. Then I went on to explain about the long winters we have in Finland and that probably because of that we have many words to describe different types of snow you can find. 


I actually googled all the different words that Finnish language has for snow and found a total of over 30 words of which around half I was familiar with. This is because some words are used only in certain parts of Finland. The words describing snow I taught were: Hanki (a thick layer of snow in a wide area), Loska (wet snow on the ground, the one Finns hate most), Räntä (wet snow when it is falling to the ground), Pyry (a very dense snow fall, also a Finnish male name).

The words Sharon taught me:

rain -mvua





heat-ni joto sana*

heat/warm/hot -meaning almost the same Joto


weather-hali ya hewa

kesho hali ya hewa ni?

what is the weather like tomorrow?


kutakuwa na upepo,jua kali,ni baridi

kesho kutakuwa na upepo na jua -tomorrow will be windy and sunny





thank you -asante

Basic sentences

In the second meeting we agreed to go through simple phrases and introductions in both languages. We decided that it is easier to do if we go phrase by phrase in both languages. We focused on full sentences in this session so it took longer to go through the whole sentences and how they are pronounced and said in a correct way. We also discussed the situations in which these sentences could be said.


Here are the sentences we learnt:


Hello, how are you? = Hei, mitä sinulle kuuluu?  

Im good  = Minulle kuuluu hyvää

What is your name? = Mikä sinun nimesi on?

My name is Sari = Minun nimeni on Sari

Where are you from? = Mistä olet kotoisin?

Im from Finland = Olen Suomesta

Where do you live? Missä asut?

I live in Kaleva = Sun Kalevassa


Where do you live? = Wewe unaishi wapi?

I live in Kaleva = Mimi naishi Kaleva

I love you = Mimi nakupenda

I love you just like a friend = Mimi nakupenda kama rafiki

Swahili and Finnish alphabet -surprisingly similar!

This was the first meeting we did over a zoom call. In advance we agreed that we will start with the basics, like going through the alphabets and pronunciation. First we went through the Finnish alphabet and to my surprise Sharon was able to pronounce almost all the Finnish letters. The only ones that were very difficult for her were Y and Ö in Finnish. Being from a multicultural family myself I know that these letters might be impossible to pronounce to a foreigner, so I didn’t want to get stuck on them. We continued to practice double consonants and vowels and she did surprisingly well with them too. In teaching the double consonants I used a tip based on something my Spanish friends once told me. According to them, it sounds like Finnish speakers stop for a moment when they are pronouncing a double consonant.

Then we went to go through the Swahili alphabet and to my surprise it was very similar to the Finnish one. This explains also why Sharon was able to pronounce most of the Finnish alphabet correctly. In the Swahili alphabet there were no added letters and some letters, such as H or R were pronounced exactly like in Finnish. The letters Q and X dont exist in Swahili. Both of us practiced further the pronounciation by repeating some words in both languages:


Auto, Lautanen, Pyyhe, Ikkuna, Lamppu, Matto, Kiina, Laajakuvatelevisio, Maitokahvi, Jalkalamppu


Meza, Gari, Dirisha, Kikombe, Sahani, Sufuria, Runinga, Kiti