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Final meeting-travelling!

Our 10th and last meeting! Since we wanted to make it really interesting, we decided to talk about travelling and our plans. Via Zoom, and only making plans, but still exciting!

Of course, it is not really possible these days, but no one can stop us from dreaming, hahah. I shared that I would love to see Scandinavian countries since I have never been there before and it would be such an adventure for me. I see Finland, Sweden, and Norway as some Christmas countries, and I often look at pictures and videos of nature in those countries. It looks absolutely wonderful! I hope I can go there in the next couple of years. Also, I want to go to Switzerland again (I have been there twice with my family, but I was quite young, so I want to go again). We have friends over there, so it would be lovely to visit. I also taught guys some Russian words related to travel:

Plane-samol’yot (самолёт)

Train-poyezd (поезд)

Travelling-puteshestveeje (путешествие)

City-gorod (город)

Plans-plany (планы)

Simon told us that he prefers something adventurous and preferably in colder countries. Apparently, he really wouldn’t enjoy being on a holiday somewhere where the temperature is +30 degrees and over (he said it is actually his nightmare, ahah!). However, his friend invited him to come to Columbia next year, and Simon really wants to discover the culture since he has never been to South America before. He would also love to visit Finland, as he likes colder countries. 

He also told us that it is a common thing for people in his region to go to the Netherlands and stay by the sea for a few days (they can rent a house there and the Dutch coast is only a 2-3-hour drive from Simon’s hometown), so cool! These are also the words that we practiced:



Desire to travel=Reiselust

The opposite of Homesickness (Basically being sick because you want to travel, weird German stuff haha)=Fernweh.

As for Elina, she said she is not really into travelling and she loves Finland, as there are so many wonderful places and destinations she would love to visit! She also doesn’t like hot temperatures, just like Simon, and she would rather visit some beautiful cities and towns than lie on the beach for a week. I agree with them, as I prefer sight-seeing too (and don’t like hot temperatures either). She also said that she is dreaming of seeing Lapland again (she was there when she was a kid and wants to visit it again). These are some words that girls taught us:

To travel – matkustaa

To abroad – ulkomaille

Train – juna

Plane – lentokone

Germany – Saksa

Russia – Venäjä

Finland – Suomi

Holiday – loma

Heini told us about her travel plans. She loves travelling in Europe but after she moved to Africa in 2019, she really wanted to travel around there and see the most of it (she is absolutely in love with the culture and people!) She has visited a few countries in Africa already but she wants to see many more. Regarding future travel plans, Heini and her husband are going to Spain in January, and they are also planning to visit her husband’s family in Gambia, Africa, by the end of 2022. They are having a baby next year too and they would love to visit Heini’s husband’s side of the family all together!

Soo, this is it! We had really fun time having those meetings. We learned many new things about our countries, and enjoyed the course! Thank you for reading and have wonderful holidays! 

Sports in Russia, Finland and Germany

We are coming closer to the end of the course, and we decided to have our 9th meeting about sports in our countries. We also wrote and practiced some words in German, Russian, and Finnish. Since I am from Siberia, it is very common to go ice-skating (katatsya na kon’kah-кататься на коньках) in winter. In my hometown, Barnaul, we have many ice rinks. Everything is nicely decorated before Christmas too. Many people have their own ice skates (kon’ki-коньки). Also, we have a big forest there (no bears though) and a mountain, where we can go skiing (katatsya na lyzhah-кататься на лыжах). It is also very fun and we have some nice little food trucks with tea and some hot food, so people who go skiing can make a stop and just enjoy the views. It has been 2 years since the last time I went to Barnaul but it was really fun because I was there in December and January and could go ice-skating very often (we have a public ice-rink just outside my house).

In the summer, we just have other sports like everywhere else (we go cycling, roller-skating, and swimming).

Elina and Heini shared some interesting facts about sports in Finland. People there absolutely love ice hockey! Many Finnish players play in the NHL. It is also really cool that when 2 popular Finnish teams have a game in Tampere, their fans go crazy! People wear some team clothes to support their favourite hockey club and argue about who is going to win ahaha. Girls also told us that when there are games between other countries, Finns only care about who is going to beat the Swedish team, which I found really funny. 

Also, winter sports really are a Finnish thing. They love skiing in all its forms and often watch it on TV. There are many ski centres in Finland, and children learn to ice-skate and country skiing at school. These are some words that we tried to learn in Finnish:  

Ice hockey – jääkiekko

To ski – hiihtää

To ice skate – luistella

Team – joukkue

To win – voittaa

To lose – hävitä

Simon told us about sports in Germany. It was interesting to know (and something new to me) that football is the number one sport there. They also play tennis, handball, hockey, and track and field, which are behind but also played in Germany. He told us that he used to be in a football club for a long time when he was younger! Now, Simon and his father often watch football together with some beer and go to every home game. These are the words Simon taught us: 

Football=der Fußball

Team=die Mannschaft

Victory=der Sieg

Defeat=die Niederlage

Watching something with a lot of excitement=mitfiebern

Also, sports in Germany depend on a region. Some sports are more popular than others in different parts of Germany. For example, in the Alps, it is very common to go skiing since it is a mountain region and winter sports are really popular there.  

Schooling systems

During our 8th meeting we discussed the schooling systems, as well as taught and learned some words and practiced pronunciation. I told guys that in Russia, children go to school (1st grade) when they are 7 years old and continue going to the same school until the 11th grade (this is when we finish high school). We do have a division by primary, secondary, and high school, but it is rather informal as children stay at the same school for the whole time. The learning programme is very intense and we get so much homework that sometimes it is impossible to complete everything. In many schools, children also have school on Saturdays (in my school, we had around 5 lessons on Saturdays, from around 11.00 am until 16.30 pm). This is very tough since we spend Saturdays at school and do homework on Sundays (it often takes the whole day).

After we finish high school at around 17–18 years old, we can go to university. However, there is also a possibility to leave school after the 9th grade and go to college, where they can start with more practical subjects like construction, cooking, etc. Normally, people choose to stay at school until the end, since it prepares them well for university.

It takes 4 years to complete a Bachelor’s degree and 2 years to do a Master’s afterwards. Some words that we practiced with guys were

university-университет (universeetiet)

student– студент(stoodent)


diploma-диплом (deeplom)

studies-учёба (uchyoba).

Elina and Heini told us about the schooling system in Finland. Children usually start school at 7 years old, but they go to kindergarten before that. The elementary school lasts until the 9th grade, and then children have a few options to choose from. Secondary education lasts for about three years, after which students can apply to a university or university of applied sciences. Some words that we practiced in Finnish were the following:

School – koulu

University – yliopisto

U of applied science – Ammattikorkeakoulu

Student – oppilas/opiskelija (depends on the context).

Education – koulutus

Simon also told us about school in Germany. Chidren go to school at the age of 7 and general education lasts until the age of 18. Then they are ready to go to work or university. Most German schools are run by the government and are free to attend. Parents can, however, choose from a variety of fee-paying private or international schools.

Our hometowns

During our 7th meeting, we decided to talk about our hometowns and tell each other more about them, as well as learning/teaching some key words in Finnish, Russian, and German.

I told guys about my hometown, Barnaul. It is a city in Siberia and has around 700.000750.000 inhabitants, so it is quite big. It is true that many people are surprised to hear that I come from such a big city when I tell them I am from Siberia. I was born there and lived there for 14 years before my family and I moved to Prague, the Czech Republic. It is not always winter in Barnaul, only for around 4 months :D It starts getting colder in October, when temperatures are around +1 degree, but the coldest months are December and January (it often gets to -35 during the day and even -43 degrees at night). But winters are very beautiful-often sunny and we have lots of snow. It is also very dry in winter, so the cold doesn’t feel as bad. During the summer, it is usually around +24 degrees, but it can get up to +35, which is really hot. In Barnaul, we have many universities, museums, and theaters. The Altai State University ranks very high in Siberia, drawing students from China and India to come study in Barnaul. I also wanted to teach guys some words in Russian, so here they are: Музей (muzey)-museum; школа (shkola)-school; кино (keeno)-cinema; зоопарк (zopark)-zoo; дом (dom)-house.

Elina told us about her hometown. She was born in Jyväskylä, a town which now has 144.000 inhabitants. When she was 16 years old, she moved to Tampere, but she said she still misses her hometown as she had a great childhood there. It is also a university town, so many people move in and out all the time. She also told us about the beautiful landmarks: lake Jyväsjärvi and Kuokkala bridge.

Then Simon told us about Viersen, a town that has around 70.000 inhabitants and is located only 10 minutes away from the Dutch border. He was born there and spent most of his life in Viersen. There are many forests, fields, and beautiful nature, so it is perfect for children to grow up there. It is also located close to

Düsseldorf (20 minutes away) and Cologne (50 minutes away).

This is some vocabulary that we learned with Simon:

Living in the countryside – Landleben


School – Schule

Good morning! – Guten Morgen!

Good evening! – Guten Abend!

Heini also told us about her hometown. It is called Ylöjärvi and has around 30.000 inhabitants. It is close to Tampere (20 minutes away) and there is lots of beautiful countryside around it. She moved to Tampere and lives there now, but she really wants to return to her hometown one day!

Traditional festive food

Yesterday’s meeting was our 6th, and the topic was very interesting: traditional festive food! Since Christmas is coming closer and we could already feel this great atmosphere, we decided to discuss what traditional dishes we make in our countries and in our families. To be honest, I got very inspired because I love cooking so much and will definitely make something that guys showed me today! Some of the traditional Finnish Christmas foods are casseroles, and there are also different types of them. Two of the most served ones are Rutabaga (which is a root vegetable) and carrot. They are served hot and coated with breadcrumbs and butter on top, mmmm! Then there are also baked ham, Christmas bread, rice porridge, and really cute Christmas pastries. All in all, everything looked so delicious.

Then I showed guys some traditional Christmas Russian food, which is Olivie Salad, made of vegetables and ham (this is the most traditional Russian dish ever and everyone makes it for Christmas and New Year’s Eve), baked chicken (or duck) with potatoes or apples, caviar on buttered bread, and many other salads, like Dressed Herring Salad and Mimosa.

Then Simon showed us some German Christmas foodthis is where the hunger was unstoppable. There are so many great dishes, such as Roasted pork, beef rouladen, potato salad and pork schnitzel

We also shared how to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in our languages. In Finnish, Merry Christmas is “Hyvää joulua, while in German it’s “Frohe Weihnachten. In Russian, we say “С Рождеством!” and for New Year’s Eve, we say “С Новым Годом“.

It was a very nice meeting, and we are looking forward to Christmas already!

Holidays in Finland, Russia and Germany

Today we had our 5th meeting, and we met on Teams again. We had a small talk at the beginning and then started with the discussion about holidays in our countries. Firstly, I told guys about our national holidays and also about the fact that while in school, children have 3 months of summer holidays (officially starting on the 1st of June, which is also International Children’s Day). I also told them when and how we celebrate Christmas (in Russia it is on the 7th of January). Then Simon and Heini told us about holidays and national days in Germany and Finland. We found out that we all have a holiday on the 1st of May, which is Labour Day. Heini said that lots of holidays in Finland are religious, but they also have some traditional Finnish ones, like Finnish Sliding Festival, called Laskiainen, when they eat traditional pastries with whipped cream and jam. Then they also have some holidays to celebrate the memory of famous Finns. One of them is more popular than the others and it’s called  Runeberg’s day. This person was a famous poet and on Runeberg’s day they always eat traditional Runeberg’s tart.

Anyway, it was a nice Sunday meeting, and we will have another one in a few days!

4th meeting: Simon presents traditional German food!

Today we had another Zoom meeting, and we wanted to know more about Germany! Simon told us and also showed us some traditional German food and also explained how it is made and served (sometimes in a really funny and creative way; I will get back to it later in this post).

These are the traditional German dishes: Currywurst (sausage with curry sauce), Mettbrötchen (bread with raw pork meat), Döner Kebab, Schnitzel, and Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle). He also showed us pictures of each and told us some stories about them. Apparently, people from various regions of Germany claim to have invented the Currywurst first, and the competition is fierce, haha!

Also, Simon told us more about Mettbrötchen, which is raw pork ground meat served with bread, onions, and lots of pepper. Sometimes people can get creative and serve it in a hedgehog shape (sometimes it turns out well, sometimes not really…)

Then Simon also told us about some of the German sayings. For example, you can call someone lazy an Innerer Schweinehund, which literally means “inner pig-dog.” There were other phrases too, and it was cool to see how German people use them in conversation.

Anyway, that was it for today’s meeting! We are planning to have another one very soon.

German, Finnish and Russian cultural similarities and differences.

It has been a very busy period of time for our group and we finally had our 3rd meeting today! We met on Teams again, since Simon and I are not in Finland. We first talked about how everyone was doing and what we have been up to. Then we decided to discuss what our countries are like and how similar or different they may be. For example, Finland and Russia are really close in geographical terms and we were wondering with Elina and Heini if  there are many things that are the same… We agreed with Elina, Heini and Simon that people in Finland, Germany and Russia may seem quite “cold” and distant when first meet new people. But once we get to know them well (if this happens), then we can make valuable friendships for life. Also, we came to the conclusion that we all find it quite weird that people in other cultures kiss each other on the cheek when they greet each other. Honestly, this is so unusual for all of us, haha! Apparently, physical distance is also a thing in all of our countries…

It was interesting to find out that Germany, Russia and Finland are more similar that we thought! We also had some other conversation about other things but it was not really about the main topic of our meeting, so I will leave that undiscovered ;D Anyways, we all enjoyed it and looking forward to our next meeting!

4th meeting Finnish / Spanish.

In the meeting, we focused on learning Spanish. This preoccupied me a bit in advance, as we did extensive translation assignments last time in Spanish class. They were not easy for me. Omar had planned topics for us to write and listen to this time, so my fears proved futile.

Initially, we did A1 and A2 level tests. These tests were good, neither too easy nor too difficult. I got 6 points for the first test and 7 for the next one.

After the tests, we went through Spanish songs and movies that we can listen to in our spare time. Omar had chosen these on the basis that he had learned Finland through slow music chapters and films. The playlist “Boleros modernos” shared by Omar did contain some good songs and reminded me of the times in Spain.

We had this meeting online because we did not have a chance to meet face-to-face yet but we are planning to meet in person next time and We will focus on Finnish language.

3th meeting Finnish / Spanish.

Our group’s schedules crossed and our third meeting was remotely, although we had agreed otherwise. Our purpose in the library was to get to know the Finnish language through children’s fairy tales, but fortunately there are also fairy tales online. We took advantage of

We went through a couple of fairy tales. Omar’s job was to read and translate the passages we chose. We hadn’t thought that the colorful language of fairy tales could produce challenges. One of the fairy tales was also more in the form of a poem, so we may not have chosen the easiest children’s books.

At the meeting, we chat in Finnish with Omar, of course Omar spoke some of his answers in Spanish. It was fun to exchange news and at the same time hear how everyone is doing.

We all liked the live meeting at Espresso House, so next time we had a goal to see live.