All posts by Nédime Benbia Richard

Finnish – French | Final meeting

16th May 2021 –

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.

10/10 would recommend, moi moi!

Finnish – French | 9th meeting

20th April 2021 –

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!

Finnish – French | 8th meeting

30th January 2021 –

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…

source: pikist

Finnish – French | 7th meeting

2nd December 2020 –

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!


Finnish – French | 6th meeting

When we established our meeting plan, there was a particular event I was especially looking forward to, and it finally happened: the international full-course dinner!

We made cooking plans with Mona prior to this meeting, I had to come up with a French main dish, and her with a sweet Finnish delicacy. As we were approaching Winter, I was hesitating between two cheese-based dishes that we love to eat in France during the end of the year: Raclette and Fondue.

But as the Raclette needed a special machine that is quite expensive in Finland, I decided to go with a Cheese Fondue with many different vegetarian dips, to go along Mona’s diet. On her side, she offered me the choice between 3 different typically Finnish pastry recipes that she knew, from which I chose Mokkaruutu, as I was already curious about it when she introduced it to me during one of our previous meetings.

As we planned this evening, we also had the chance to be accompanied by Mona’s Spanish SO Iñigo, and Nina, a Finnish friend of ours. The more, the merrier!

We all went shopping together, in the Pirkkala commercial center, to get our ingredients. It was really fun shopping with friends, as we were all deciding together what brands/types of product to pick. The only disappointment we met was about Alko, the Finnish alcohol shop, that closed before our eyes at 18.00 (?!?) when we needed white wine (for the Fondue, of course!). We then decided to buy sparkly low-alcohol white wine-ish bottles in K-Market (and there was no way we would have put that in the Fondue)

With our bags full of ingredients, we came back to Mona’s place, rolled up our sleeves and got down to kitchen’s business. While Mona & Nina were starting to take care of the Mokkapalat, I was preparing each dipping that we’d put in the fondue: cooked potatoes, baguette chunks, cherry tomatoes and even zucchini (Mona’s great idea, that was really delicious!).

Everybody helped in such a fun & positive atmosphere, I had a blast making food with AND for everybody. While we were cooking with Mona, we were asking each other vocabulary about the ingredients we were dealing with, like kananmunat (eggs), voi (butter) or jauho (flour).

We finally sat down to eat. Iñigo took the initiative to prepare a Spanish entrance dish: an authentic gazpacho, which is the coolest soup you can ever have! Then, we all enjoyed the cheese fondue; it had this good white wine taste that I missed so much. It was Mona and Nina’s first fondue, that made me really glad to have come up with it! Finally, with our bellies quite full already, we enjoyed parts of Mokkaruutu, which is such a tasty dessert, the girls really rocked it. Mona gave me some more for home, and I’m enjoying it as I’m writing these lines. Namia!

This Finnish-Spanish-French full course dinner was a royal success.

Just how many Interactive Media students does a Mokkaruutu require?


Finnish – French | 5th meeting

5th Meeting Report – 11th November 2020

We met with Mona in Pella’s Café, in the center of Tampere.

As decided earlier, she came up with a test focusing on the verbs she gave me a few sessions ago, and their variations. I just took it a few days later, and scored 10/16 (if we forgive a few “a” instead of “ä”…). My mistakes were mostly about forgetting double letters (hän ottaa), or not distinguishing the present from the past tense. I’m quite happy about my progress with Finnish conjugation, but I still need to make it better!
Her test is coming next about the 10 French verbs I gave her some weeks ago.

For this meeting, we mostly talked about our previous experiences, and what led us to study at TAMK. From different institutional degrees to working in foreign countries, it was very interesting to share both sides of our life adventures, as a French and a Finn, ending up in the same class. We also shared about the whole online-teaching situation in these challenging times, and how it impacts social interactions with our other classmates.
We ended up talking about Christmas, and I learned more about the way Finns celebrate it, which has many similarities with the French one. Except that we eat snails.

Overall, this meeting was more chill than the others, and that wasn’t a bad thing. It was really nice to get to know more about Mona’s exciting anecdotes in Finland AND Spain, and be reminded of the luck we have to be able to share such moments in these daring times.

Next time, we’ll meet at Mona’s place to cook some French-Finnish food, and cover some gastronomy related vocabulary!

Finnish – French | 4th meeting

4th Meeting Report – 4th November 2020

Already one month since we started our meetings with Mona, here’s out 4th one!

As we already decided to focus on Media related topics, we chose to meet up at Save File, a (dungeon?) gaming bar. It was the occasion to do a bit more than just talking, we took the controllers and kicked each other’s butt in Mortal Kombat as an introduction. My opponent was surprisingly skillful, as she used many impressive attacks that almost got me. Bien joué, Mona.

After these bloody yet delightful quarrels, we started to focus on the media-related vocabulary. We came up with different topics, such as “professional environments” – “video games” – “IT” – “schoolwork”.
It was surprising to notice how many English words Finns use in these fields, as Mona would often answer me that the word is just the same. It was also funny how common it is for Finns to add “työ” (work) in words related to the professional world. A kaveri is a simple friend, BUT a työkaveri is a colleague.  Same for puhelu (phone call) and työpuhelu. Efficient and memorable, love it.

I was glad to start recognizing some words given by Mona on my own, as I learned them from my Finnish course or even during my ventures in Finland. We got from that session a list full of common words used in work environments or school, that would help us making basic statements if needed.

We decided to train our pronunciation on this vocabulary, and both of us seemed satisfied with each other’s spoken skills. Mona is very encouraging, and that boosts my confidence to try more to speak Finnish in my everyday life.

After this vocabulary session, we decided to go on playing for a while, before calling it a day. See u next time! 😀

Damn u, sammakot.

Finnish – French | 3rd meeting!

3rd Meeting Report – 28th October 2020
This day, Mona and I met at the Brewery Restaurant PLEVNA, a fine place that I was curious about for a long time!

Our course began with little surprises from both of us: Mona prepared a list of “Survival Finnish”, with many different expressions such as “Varo!” (Watch out) or even “Missä vessa on?” (Where is the toilet? This one is really important.)
On my side, I brought a little French dictionary, given to Mona by a friend of ours. I also recently discovered a series of funny short videos about French culture in English called “What the fuck France”, from which we watched the episode about French language. It was the occasion for Mona to discover about “verlan”, a stupid French habit consisting of saying words backward to sound “cool”. It sucks, and I could definitely tell by Mona’s confusion that foreigners think so too!

We went on with the topic we agreed on for the day’s lesson: Time.
Mona taught me how to structure a simple sentence, to state the current time, including how to specify “quarters” and “halves” of hours. It was surprising to learn that Finnish mention the hour coming up, when they state “half before 3” for example, as it’s the other way in French.
Kello on puoli seitseman.” – at the time I’m writing this blogpost.

We also went over the different times of the day in both languages and talked a lot about what differences there are depending on the culture. Like, until what time can we say “Good day” and how to differentiate the same hour depending on if it’s the day or night.
The end of the session was a bit lighter, as we talked about some music video we were both expecting, and that ended our session for the day.
Seeya next Wednesday! 😀

Finnish – French | 2nd meeting!

2nd Meeting Report – 25th October 2020

We met with Mona on the 25th of October, in Tallipiha, an old Stable Yard counting many little shops and a café. We visited the place, pet some sheep, appreciated the handmade crafted items in the shops, before sitting around a cup of coffee in the coffee shop.

Beforehand, we agreed to come with a list of 10 most common verbs, and their variations in 3 different tenses/forms. I made a PDF listing verbs conjugated in Present, Future & Simple Past, although Mona mentioned that she used to learn the Composed Past tense. It made sense to me, as it’s also the past tense we use the most in spoken French. I decided to correct the PDF and send her a new version. On her side, Mona wrote down 10 verbs in Present, Past and Negative forms, as I quote her: “Finnish has no future.” *gulp*
We spent some time on understanding the different verb forms, then agreed to have a little “test” in 2 weeks, to motivate us to learn them!

Afterward, we decided to go over basic stuff, such as weekdays and numbers. Mona already knew many of our French weekdays, and I knew my share of Finnish numbers. We ended up giving each other tips on the pronunciation and grammar of those.

Again, these 2 hours flew by and I learned so much from Mona. On to the next meeting! 😊

Finnish – French | 1st meeting!

1st Meeting Report – 13th October 2020

For our first meeting with Mona, we decided to have a drink in the Espresso House, in Ratina, a refined place with a nice & chill vibe. We already knew each other, as we are in the same class, but we decided to spend this first EOTO session getting to know each other more, and plan our future lessons together.

We mainly talked about each other’s experience in a foreign country, as Mona has travelled in Spain in the last few years, and myself in Japan and Finland. We talked about how learning a language can become a vital necessity, especially when locals don’t speak English much, like she experienced it in Spain for example. I considered myself lucky, as we both agreed on the fact that Finland is an English-friendly country, and even mentioned that one of the reason for that might be the lack of Finnish-voice dub in media, while it’s overwhelmingly present in France.

As I recently started to study Finnish in TAMK, Mona went over the basics I learned lately (pronunciation, introducing oneself, numbers etc.), to know better on which topics focus in the next sessions. I also tried to gauge her French level, and I must say she already has a great base to work on, as she already studied the language in the past!

Time flew by, it was a really smooth first meeting!
We’ll focus next time on most used verbs and their most common forms 🙂