All posts by Christopher Specht

German-Russian | 10th Meeting

Meeting on December 4th, 2020, 2.0 hours

Above you can see with which Puschkin I grew up with. Next to it you can look at a painting of the Puschkin Daria grew up with. Well, honestly I never thought about if there was a special meaning or connection behind that name. But Daria told me that Alexander Sergejewitsch Puschkin actually is one of (or even the) most famous poet(s) in Russia. Apparently, in the beginning of every school year, Russian pupils read his works and learn about his history. Daria could tell a lot about Russian literature society. What stayed in my head the most was that indeed a lot of people in that group of society died by getting shot in an official duel which happened to Puschkin as well 🤦🏼‍♂️

Of course we had to chat about famous German poets like Goethe and Schiller as well and then came to the Grimm brothers which are also internationally well acquainted. But by retelling different German fairytales I had to slowly realize: A lot of them are inappropriately cruel, the Struwwelpeter stories by Heinrich Hoffman for example, in which children face drastic consequences after naughty or childish behavior, e.g. “Paulinchen” who burns to death in front of her cats after playing with matches. At last (and because we were already in a dark mood :D), Daria told me about Baba Yaga, a supernatural being/witch who kidnaps (and in some stories eats) young children.

In the end, we both agreed that nowadays there are way better methods and metaphors to convey values and rules to your children.

So, unfortunately that was our last official meeting for the Each One Teach One course 2020. To sum up my experience with this course I would like to say, I really enjoyed all the meetings with Daria. I learned a lot of the Russian basics and got comfortable with the Cyrillic alphabet. Today, I am always happy when I can recognize Cyrillic anywhere and read (and hopefully understand) for example ingredients on a packaging 😀 In my opinion, even more important than that, I had the chance to learn a lot about Russian culture and peculiarities. In the beginning to be honest, I was quite skeptical about the method and the ongoing course, because Daria and I exclusively talked via Zoom or Discord. But the learning and experience output was surprisingly good! At first, I also struggled with teaching German of course, because I never taught a language before. But pretty soon we came up with a fitting system for both of us by distinguishing between vocabulary, certain grammar rules, conjugation, declination and useful phrases.

Now all that’s left for me to say is I am very looking forward to finally meeting in “real life”, spending even more time and learning further things about her home country together with Daria!

German-Russian | 9th Meeting

Meeting on November 30th, 2020, 2.0 hours

Ты пчела — я пчеловод, а мы любим мёд. These famous words were sung by RASA, a Russian musician duo. Well, ‘profound lyrics’ would be probably the wrong description for this chorus as translated it means “You are a bee – I am a beekeeper, and we love honey.” Nonetheless, we had to acknowledge the song Пчеловод (“beekeeper”) has over 300 million views on YouTube with a professional produced music video and seems to be trending quite high in Russia. Although Daria had to laugh a little, for me this was perfect. Simple and short sentences are ideal for learning plenty of new basic vocabulary like пчела, пчеловод, мёд, Луна (“moon”) and повезёт (“lucky”) for example.

Then we listened to Capital Bra, a famous German rapper with Russian-Ukrainian roots. We translated his German-Russian-mixed lyrics for each other but to be honest, the result was quite disappointing (and predictable): Drugs, luxury fashion, cars and women are most likely the main topics here. But hey, apparently Gucci stays the same – wherever you come from 🤷🏼‍♂️😂

Daria showed me so many other artists (e.g. Alla Pugacheva, Мельница and найтивыход) that day and even worked out a playlist for me. I ended up listening to it the whole day although I can only understand fragments. For example in Alla Pugacheva’s “Million roses” I understood миллион (“million”), роз (“roses”), влюблен (“in love”) and Из окна (“from outside the window”) from which I rather suspected a story about a stalker than about the tragic love story it is. But fortunately Daria corrected me so my opinion about Alla Pugacheva got fixed in the end 😀

German-Russian | 8th Meeting

Meeting on November 26th, 2020, 1.5 hours

Today at first, we talked about the level of English speaking in our home countries and, of course, in Finland. Well, clearly Finland is the top dog against this background and both of us agreed it would be much easier for everyone if this stage was reached in our countries as well. But at least in my opinion, Germany seems to be on a good way to “englishify” everybody as all of us are learning it in school. Daria on the other hand told me she has been to a special language school and only therefore is able to speak that good English.

Then she talked about sights and places-to-be in Sankt Petersburg and now I want to visit it even more 😭. I desperately hope the pandemic situation will improve next year so that I could get there some day. Like especially the Eremitage sounded extremely interesting and the pictures looked amazing. This place was added to your travel list successfully ✔️😂.

We also showed each other different YouTubers from our countries which was a great suggestion by Daria. I think вДудь is quite useful on my side because his videos also have English subtitles. It is an interviewing YouTube channel with guests from all over Russia and therefore has another advantage because it is simultaneously introducing other famous Russian YouTubers, authors, etc. to me. I think the most striking thing I watched so far was an interview with Alexei Nawalny after his poisoning. I will definitely have a closer look at their videos in the future! My favorite YouTube channel I presented Daria was Kurzgesagt – In a nutshell, a German education and entertainment channel with really nice animations about many interesting and important topics like climate change but in our case, we watched “What happens if you nuked a city” – well, better stay informed 😂

For me, watching Russian people speak (in that clear way) extremely helped understanding the word and pronunciation flow and is oddly satisfying. Also, modern (casual) idioms and terms (like ну типа того – “sort of, something like that”) were included which will be very helpful as well. So all in all, again a very nice meeting!

German-Finnish | 3rd Meeting

Meeting on November 4th, 2020

I believe this is a Tampereen classic: The Vapriikki museum (center). And it indeed hosts many exhibitions and smaller sub-museums like the Natural History Museum, The Media Museum Rupriikki, an exhibition about Ostia and about Finlayson, the Finnish textile manufacturer. By now I have seen them all but, on that day, Niina and I spent probably most of the time in the Finnish Museum of Games.

I never could imagine how somebody can get lost at a “boring and old” arcade machine (e.g. Flipper). However, now I know. We tried out every of those (approx. 14 to 18 machines) and although most of the game engines were super simple, they somehow all manage to hold you in front of the screen. Simply fascinating.

Then we came to a time period from which we both knew most of the games (from our childhood). But there were also some unique Finnish / northern European games I did not know. Hugo for example from the Danish developer studio ITE which Niina seemed to know quite well.

A thing that was quite interesting (yet shocking) was that there were some old Finnish board games, too. These included old geographic maps and old flags, for example, the German Kaiserreichsflagge (imperial flag) which was also used as the Reichskriegsflagge (empire war flag) and later on as the Reichsdienstflagge in Nazi Germany (until it was fully replaced by the swastika). That is why these colors (black, white, red) have a bitter aftertaste. Especially, because today some groups within Germany who call themselves “Reichsbürger” (“empire citizen”) tend to use this flag again as they are not accepting democracy as well as the German government and wish back monarchy 🤦‍♂️

After that, we went to see also the Rupriikki Media Museum and the Mineral Museum. Both were really interesting (and visually appealing), too. In the end, we had coffee at the Museum’s café, shared our thoughts about the day again, and made plans for gaming together, possibly with some other people from our course of study soon as we both have been enjoying video games since we were children. So again, time flew by and I am still glad to be able to make these interesting and exciting experiences!

German-Finnish | 2nd Meeting

Meeting on October 24th 2020

This time Niina came to my apartment. We initialized a shared word document in which we henceforth put all our vocabulary and grammar exercises. But as my apartment here in Tampere covers an impressive space of 12 square meters and has one wooden chair in it, we soon went outside, starting with a walk by Näsijärvi, the lake which is very close to my apartment.

Because I am not only going to learn the Finnish language but also to get to know the country, culture, and people as well as I can I have to voice a few thoughts about this lake. First: It is huge, and it is beautiful. “The land of the thousand lakes” did not promise too much and I could watch it all day. Just some numbers: In Hannover, we have the Maschsee (“Masch lake”) which is 0.78 km² big. Näsijärvi covers 256.12 km². That’s for that 😂

But back to our meeting: We mainly taught each other the numbers, weekdays, colors, and useful phrases. Later that day we decided to head to a café again (🌝) and settled there for a while, working further on our document, and talking a little more about our past travel destinations and current travel goals. The only thing that still confused me a little at this point is the – in my opinion – only as “abusive” describable use of ‘i’s and ‘ä’s. But hey, I think I kind of got used to it by now 😀

We also talked about some traditional holidays and events as well as history and current politics in our countries. Of course, I also told Niina about our German Schützenvereine or “marksmen’s clubs”.

“Although they have their origins in town militia, today they are revolving around shooting as a sport but rather have a more social than sporting purpose. They have absolutely nothing to do with the German military and most commonly historic weapons together with air rifles, air pistols, and crossbows are used. Very important are the local, annual Schützenfeste (“marksmen’s feast”). Almost every city and smaller village have their own Schützenverein and own Schützenfest. People of all age and population groups are attending it in the summertime to celebrate.” – from German-Russian | 7th meeting, published on November 23rd.

One thing that stayed in my mind was Vappu on May 1st, which here is also a celebration for spring (this starts earlier in Germany of course), students, and workers. Students wear their colored overalls (haalarit) from which you can tell to which course of study they belong (I still must get myself one of those). Then there is dancing and singing and there even is a famous song, ikuinen vappu, just about this day which I learned in a later meeting of ours. All in all, it sounds pretty cool and I am super glad I was able to extend my stay here in Finland until July next year, so I can take part in this one. I am definitely looking forward to it!

German-Finnish | 1st Meeting

Meeting on October 7th, 2020

Niina suggested having our first meeting at the Espresso House Ratina which I think was a pretty nice idea (with huge consumption consequences, but more about that later 😂).

First things first: As I was quite new in Tampere at that point in time, I must admit I had problems finding the café. I did not know there are two buildings that belong to Kauppakeskus Ratina which was the reason I spent a significant amount of time in the wrong one asking Niina via WhatsApp for directions. Fortunately, I was able to find them (Niina came together with her sister) after I went through various furniture stores and probably illegally crossed a construction area :D.

We three are all Media and Arts students here in Tampere why we of course immediately had many topics to talk about. It was very fun and interesting getting to know them and time indeed flew by. We talked about our school paths, where we lived before and then started with some basic vocabulary in each other’s languages. Hei, Kiitos and Perkele! were probably the most valuable outcomes of this very first meeting for me. At first glance, it seems easier for me to learn Finnish than learning Russian because we share a very similar alphabet and pronunciation is also easier. Furthermore, both languages share the quality of building extraordinary long word constructions like Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz which is an official German word for the “Beef Labeling Supervision Task Transfer Act”.

But back to my introduction topic. October 7th was the first day I have drunk coffee for a couple of years. I never used to be that kind of “coffee drinking person”. Today, one and a half months later, I am taking the precipitous road to addiction and I am not ashamed 😂 But honestly: I began to truly enjoy the Finnish kahvi culture and really do not want to miss it anymore.

German-Russian | 7th Meeting

Meeting on November 18th, 2020, 2.5 hours

Christmas time is approaching! This time we had a long conversation about our Christmas and New Year’s Eve traditions and even some other official holidays.

But still, the most drastic difference certainly lays in the Christmas celebration. Similar to Finland, in Germany we are celebrating it on the 24th, 25th, and 26th, most likely together with your family on the evening of the 24th. There usually is a big meal together and all give each other presents. New Year’s Eve is celebrated together with friends and it is rather a party (mostly also geared towards alcohol) than a family get-together. And it really can last until the morning hours of January 1st.

On the other hand, Russian-(Orthodox) Christmas is celebrated after New Year’s Eve, on January 7th. Here December 31st is the family get-together with presents and stuff while Christmas is not celebrated that big as in Germany.

Other than that, I also told Daria about our German Schützenvereine or “marksmen’s clubs”. Although they have their origins in town militia, today they are revolving around shooting as a sport but rather have a more social than sporting purpose. They have absolutely nothing to do with the German military and most commonly historic weapons together with air rifles, air pistols, and crossbows are used. Very important are the local, annual Schützenfeste (“marksmen’s feasts”). Almost every city and smaller village have their own Schützenverein and own Schützenfest. People of all age and population groups are attending it in the summertime to celebrate.

Then Daria told me about День Победы, Victory Day, on May 9th which actually is a holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. As even written before, the Second World War is a very important topic in both of our countries. Today this celebration is seen controversial. With its good original intent, today it is predominated by huge military parades and national forces’ showoffs. In 2015 for example, the 70th anniversary of Victory Day was boycotted by Western leaders because of Russian’s military presence in Ukraine (while e.g. China and India still attended).

After all, there is a chance for us finally meeting in real life soon. Daria is going to take an exam here in Tampere and I am definitely looking forward to meeting her, hopefully even together with some other classmates!

German-Russian | 6th Meeting

Meeting on November 4th, 2020, 1.5 hours

Today we spent more time learning each others’ languages again.

I started with teaching Daria the pronouns now – and their cases of course. Like almost everything else in German, it is not only “my” and “mine” but as before it gets distinguished by singular and plural forms as well as the four cases. Now multiply that with “his”, “her”, “its”, “our”, “your” and “their” and you got plenty of new vocabulary 😄

After that we discussed question words and – you can guess what – their cases either. But in the end, Daria impressively was able to form simple questions in German and to understand these.

Like in the meetings before I felt a little behind because of my Russian skills but hey, this time I also learned the different pronouns. At first, I have been struggling with understanding that the pronouns change depending on the following noun’s gender but at least there were nice exceptions. Take “hers” for example: It is just “ee” for every case. I think I might be able to remember that 😅

Other than that, I finally learned the months and seasons (a thing that has been planned since meeting two or something like that, but over all the other stuff we always forgot about it :D). We also talked about how to tell someone your age, again because in the first place I only learned how to say my own age. There actually is a quite comprehensible system for that. The verb at the end of the sentence depends on the last digit of the number: 1 – год; 2, 3, 4 – года; 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 – лет.

Enough material to memorize for today, already looking forward to next time 😁

German-Russian | 5th Meeting

Meeting on October 28th, 2020, 2 hours

It has been a little while now since we have met the last time. But that means there is a lot more to tell!

Daria has been in Russia during the autumn break, visiting her relatives and friends. Fortunately, she got home safely and just in time – a happy end, especially when you got the text message “I wasn’t allowed to enter Finland again and I have no Wi-Fi at the moment” in-between, just on the last day of the week 😀

We talked about differences between the German and Russian movie culture/industry. In my opinion, it was quite striking that releases of international blockbusters seem to be postponed in Russian cinemas because of simultaneous releases of Russian (produced) war movies. Other than that, it is probably quite like the German movie industry: In comparison to the international one, way fewer budgets and therefore, of course, lower quality – although there are exceptions.

Furthermore, somehow we talked about German allotment garden culture (“Schrebergärten”), small gardens which are not next to your house but located in an allotment colony somewhere inside the city, and that – especially a few years ago – some Germans really spent their whole free time in there during summer. And that these gardens belong to the very few places where you can actually find German flags because usually, Germans are quite careful about showing strong patriotic feelings (mostly only during football world championships) – history things 🤷🏼‍♂️ 😂

That was it for this meeting, next time we are going to do some more language learning again.

German-Russian | 4th Meeting

Meeting on October 8th, 2020, 1.5 hours

Hey, this time we learned absolutely nothing language-wise. Nonetheless, in my opinion, it was the most exciting meeting so far! Originally, we just wanted to meet up for a couple of minutes, but we ended up in a deep conversation about Russian and European politics and problems, war conventions and the development of international relations.

Daria told a lot about Russian domestic politics, e.g. that there are no real elections (fake results), that the LGBTQ-community gets rejected and even persecuted more and more. Of course, we also talked about the attempted assassination of Alexei Nawalny – who has been hospitalized in the Charité in Berlin. And oh yeah, on top of that there seems to be an economic crisis.

I mean I heard a lot of this before but never knew it got so bad during the past few years.

Again on the other side, I talked about my doubts regarding the situation in Germany. For example, that also during the past few years, especially after 2015, right-winged politicians received increasing popularity among the people. A trend I am definitely seeing with disapproval.

I could’ve continued talking with Daria for hours probably but unfortunately I had another appointment just that day so we had to end our meeting once again. I’m looking forward to the next one even more!