Tenth meeting (Robin and Heini) – Similarities and differences between French and Finnish culture

This is our final meeting with Heini and for this one, we wanted to look at the similarities and differences between our respective cultures.

  • In France we kiss each other’s cheeks when meeting someone. This has always been part of the culture and it’s just a common habit. As a man, we mainly do it with women but we can also do it with men (if we are close to them. For example, your family or your inner circle of friends). However, this seemed very odd to Heini because this is not part of their culture and it would make her feel uncomfortable.
  • In Finland, Saunas are part of the culture and it’s completely normal to go naked in a sauna with other people. In the same way, kissing each other’s cheeks  can be strange to foreigners, I think that being naked with other people in a room that’s smoking hot is a little weird as well. But, once again it’s because I’m not used to it and it would make me uncomfortable at first I think.
  • Christmas is equally important both in France and in Finland (we love gathering the family, cooking the dinner, eating, drinking and opening the presents under the Christmas tree and we also celebrate it on the 24th of December and eat the leftovers on the 25th). The only difference between the two cultures is the food.
  • In Finland, the weather is pretty much the same throughout the country (only the temperature varies) whereas in France, the weather changes a lot depending on where you are. For example, in the mountains (and we have quite a few), it will be snowing all winter. If you go to the west part of France (Brittany) or the north, it will be raining a lot and if you go to the south near the French Riviera, it will be sunny most of the year. Also, since we have a lot of coastlines, the weather changes a lot within one day because of the winds. But It will never be as cold as in Finland. Finally, in Finland, they have very short days in the winter and very long days in the summer. That’s something that we don’t have either because we are located more in the south.
  • In Finnish, they have more letters in the alphabet. For example, in French we don’t have the letter “ä“.
  • The people in Finland are somewhat different from the people in France. For instance, they are more patriotic than us I think and they don’t really talk to strangers. They can seem a little more reserved than French people.
  • Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the EU. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of forest and lakes. 
  • The finnish schooling system is one of the best in the world and children don’t have that many homework and they also have shorter days at school (which I am envious of). In France, we put pressure on children and students to get good grades so that they can get into a renowned school and get a decent job. But I think this is wrong because students are forced to do it (or because they want to please their parents when they come home with good grades). They don’t really do it for the sake of studying and learning things and I think this is a major difference between the two schooling systems.

We could go on and on but these are the main similarities and differences that I noticed between French and Finnish culture.

Unfortunately, this was our last meeting but I really enjoyed this course because I think it was a fun and entertaining way of learning things. We have covered subjects that we wouldn’t have covered in a regular course so I am thoroughly thankful for that.

Finally, I loved the fact that we could teach and learn whatever seemed relevant to us. It just gave us more room for creativity and therefore, we were more involved in the teaching and learning!

Thank you for the course and thank you Heini for your time and involvement.

Ninth meeting (Robin and Heini) – Christmas time / celebration and food

Since we are approaching the Christmas period, we decided that, for our ninth meeting, we would talk about how we perceive Christmas in our respective countries.

France

Christmas time is very important in France, it is anchored into the culture. We might not have as much snow as in Finland but if we’re lucky we can have some every now and again. 

Weather will most probably let us down but at least we’ve got food to make it up for it.

A typical French Christmas menu would be: 

  • Foie gras (it can be eaten on different kinds of bread toasts, brioche bread), I really it. 
  • Smoked salmon 
  • Turkey roasted in the oven with a generous chestnut stuffing
  • Fish 
  • Cheese platter 
  • Bûche de noël (or Christmas log). They are traditionally shaped to represent the real wood log placed in the fireplace on Christmas eve, bûche is often made of garnished swiss roll topped with buttercream or ganache and decorated with tiny figurines. (This is a go to for most families in France). 
  • Champagne and wine (all the way through dinner) 

It depends on family but, we usually have a dinner on the 24th of December (in the evening) and one on the 25th (from 12:00 / 1:00pm). 

Finland

Christmas is also a very important time in Finland. It’s usually very snowy and people start playing their favorite winter sports like skiing, skating… They also take their sled to ascend the hills with it (ohhhh that looks really nice). 

In Finland, Christmas is usually spent with their closest family and it’s celebrated on the 24th of December. On the 25th, they usually get together one more time to eat the leftovers from the Christmas dinner. (It looks a lot like our Christmas in France).

On the 24th, they eat rice porridge as breakfast and they spend time together preparing Christmas food. They usually eat around 16:00 and 18:00 and once the dinner is over, it’s time to open the presents hidden under the Christmas tree.

Finnish Christmas foods:

  • Rutabaga, Carrot, potato and liver casserole
  • Rosolli, Salad with diced beets, carrots and pickles
  • Mushroom salad
  • Ham
  • Smoked fish
  • Pickled herrings
  • Rice porridge
  • Christmas pastries

 

I personally love Christmas time! It’s that time of the year that I really look forward to (I love everything about Christmas: the snow, the decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas movies and the vibe).

Therefore, I was really happy that we could talk about similarities and differences in our respective countries and cultures. It’s definitely something that we wouldn’t have been able to do in a regular course so I’m really thankful for this course (each one teach one).

Our Future Travel Plans

In our last meeting, we decided to talk about our plans for the future in terms of travel. Daria and I are both very interested in travelling to Scandinavia or Finland. We would both like to discover the nature there, as it always looks so beautiful in pictures. We felt confirmed by Elina, as she herself says Finland is the best country to travel to and she has no real interest in travelling outside Finland. She says that she would like to go to Lapland again, because she was there as a child, and it was wonderful. I have never been there, but it sounds so dreamy that I will definitely go there. Especially Heini’s travel plans surprised me a lot and I was very excited about them. She has already travelled to several countries in Africa and would like to get to know many more, because she loves the people and cultures so much. She is currently planning to fly to visit her husband’s family in Gambia at the end of 2022. I also have big plans for next year because a friend invited me to go to Colombia together next summer. I don’t like warm temperatures at all, but I would love to travel to South America to get to know the culture there. The vocabulary we taught each other about travelling was as follows:

Russian:

Plane-samol’yot (самолёт)

Train-poyezd (поезд)

Travelling-puteshestveeje (путешествие).

City-gorod (город)

Plans-plany (планы)

Finnish:

To travel – matkustaa

To abroad – ulkomaille

Train – juna

Plane – lentokone

Germany – Saksa

Russia – Venäjä

Finland – Suomi

Holiday – loma

Overall, I really enjoyed the course, and it was a different way to learn about the cultures of the other team members. Finally, I wish all my team members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Seventh meeting (Robin and Heini) – Culture and customs

From this meeting on, we won’t be talking about the language anymore but instead, we will focus on the culture.

In a first place, Heini told me a little bit about what Finnish people were like.

What are Finnish people like?

From my point of view (based on Frenchy who has been to Finland), I thought that Finns were grumpy, quiet and did’t really talk to strangers and finally they liked having their personal space. As a matter of fact, Heini agreed with me on most of these points but she came up with a more elaborated list:

  • Finns are jealous of each other and meddle into each other’s businesses. They even have a saying in Finland: “Finnish neighbour would pay 100 euros so that his neighbour wouldn’t get 50 euros”. I think that was funny!
  • They love their personal space (Heini does it too!). And they don’t need to talk to each other or their neighbours.
  • Heini thinks that Finns are not that grumpy. She thinks that it depends on the person you are talking to. (I can relate to that as well which French people)
  • Finns don’t hug and kiss when they meet (she even said that she would feel very uncomfortable if she had to hug someone when meeting).
  • Finns are very stubborn people.
  • Finns are really patriotic.

Finnish culture

  • Sauna is their life force.
  • She said “Our Sauna culture is one thing I really enjoy. We go to sauna naked, and we don’t find it weird. It’s very common to have a beer or soda with you in sauna as a “sauna drink”. In sauna you use Vihta, which is sort of whip made from branches, to hit yourself on the back with it”. I found it very interesting as a French person to get to know this part of the culture. 
  • Finn’s love drinking and it’s a big part of our culture. We have this thing called little Saturday that we spend on Wednesdays. (Apparently it’s just another reason to drink haha).
  • Their culture is also lot about nature, and they all have a very deep connection with nature.
  • In their culture, it’s common to have your immediate family close to you but they don’t really keep contact with their extended families. For examples, Heini hasn’t seen her cousins for years.

 

Here is what I managed to come up with regarding the French culture.  

What are French people like? 

There are so many clichés about French people but, I’ll start things off with a list of the positive character traits. 

I would say that French people are: 

  • Elegant: I think it’s part of the culture to look classy / good and I know that a lot of foreigners think this way.  
  • Joyful: French people love going to restaurants and cafés and enjoy a good meal with wine / cheese and friends. We love eating and drinking a lot in France, everything can be a motive to go out and have a drink / dinner, we really like celebrating. (I feel like this is a common thing regardless the country or culture). We also love the “aperitif” which is basically a time where you start eating and drinking before dinner (after the “aperitif” you’re usually a little tipsy).
  • Good-natured: I would say that a lot of French people are really nice and convivial.
  • Open-minded: I’d say that French people are becoming more and more open-minded nowadays but it hasn’t always been like this (if you come to France, you’ll see that the past generations are rather close-minded, which I think is lame).  
  • Social: We love interacting with people.

Now I’ll list the not so positive aspects: 

  • Grumpy: sometimes French people can be a little grumpy and complain about everything but it usually doesn’t last very long. 
  • Undisciplined / unruly: That is a fact, we’re not very good at following the rules. For instance, if you happen to be at a pedestrian crossing and the light is red and there isn’t so much car around, you will see pretty much everyone crossing the street… In fact, even if there is a lot of cars sometimes.  Here is another example (still on the road); if you’re about to take an exist on the motorway and there are cars queuing, you will see other cars trying to take this exist at the latest moment possible (overtaking all the cars obviously). 
  •  Coarse / Vulgar: This doesn’t mean that French people are not educated but we do say quite a lot of swearwords without even noticing sometimes)
  • Not very good at languages: I think we managed to build ourselves a bad reputation for languages and it’s a fact, there are a lot of French people that cannot say a word in English or very little making a conversation a little tricky sometimes (or in any other language). 

Now, here is a couple of fun facts about French culture.

French culture (fun facts)  

  • We love restaurants, food, cheese, wine… indeed, this is part of the culture (Not for everyone though, I’m not a big fan of cheese and red wine). 
  • France is the most popular tourist destination in the world. 
  • France is the largest country in the EU.
  • We have lots of landmarks and historical monuments because history is very important in France. 
  • Nuclear plant account for 71% of the electricity production. (Renewables account for 22% and fossil fuels for 7%). 
  • France has a lot of railways; you can cross the country pretty easily by train and public transportation is pretty good in big cities. Though, in rural areas, it is not so good (only buses every now and then)
  • Family dinners in France last for ever. (it’s common to start eating at 12:00 and finish at 16:00 or 17:00 because we have a lot to eat and we make pauses). Luckily, it’s only a few times in the year.  
  • We have something called “la bise” which is weird for a foreigner but when we meet someone (that we know but not necessarily) we give each other a kiss on the cheek (it’s either two kisses or three depending on the region of France).

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this meeting because we learnt a lot about each other’s culture and I really liked our discussion as well. I tried to summarize as best as I could what went down during this meeting but I’m sure I forgot some things because we talked a lot.

I think this was the best session so far because we talked about each other’s culture in a natural way. We also gave some examples and personal experiences which I think made the whole thing a lot more interesting.

After this meeting, I really felt like I had learnt a lot about the finnish culture. (And if it wasn’t through this course, I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to exchange and learn about the Finnish culture).

Fifth meeting (Robin and Heini) – Basic questions

For this meeting, we wanted to learn some basic questions both in French and in Finnish.

Here are the questions that we came up with:

(French part) 
  • Où ? / Where? 
  • Quand ? / When? 
  • Comment?, Combien?, Quel?  / How? 
  • Qui ? / Who? 
  • Quoi ? / What? 
  • Quel ? Quelle ? / Which? (“quelle” is feminine and “quell” is masculine, it depends on the context) 

Examples (where?) 

Where can I get some water? Où est-ce que je peux avoir de l’eau ? 

Where is the restaurant? Où est le restaurant ? 

Where is the restroom / where are the toilets? / Où-sont les toilettes ? 

Examples (How?) 

How are you? Comment vas-tu ? 

How old are you? Quel âge as-tu ? 

How many siblings do you have? Combien de frères et sœurs as-tu ? 

Examples (Who?) 

Who are you? Qui es-tu ? 

Who is your English teacher ? Qui est ton/ ta professeur d’anglais ? (“ton/ ta” depends on the sex of the person. “Ta” is feminine and “ton” is masculine)

Examples (When?) 

When did you go to the supermarket? Quand es-tu allé au supermarché ? 

When did you graduate? Quand as-tu été diplomé ? 

Examples (What?) 

What sports do you like? Quels sports aimes-tu ? 

What colour is your hair? De quelle couleur sont tes cheveux ? 

Examples (Which?) 

Which one do you prefer? Lequel préfères-tu ? 

(Finnish part)
  • Missä, mistä,minne/ Where? 
  • Koska/ When? 
  • Miten, kuinka/ How? 
  • Kuka/ Who? 
  • Mitä, Mikä,minkä/ What? 
  • Kumpi/ Which?)

Examples (where?) 

Where can I get some water? Mistä saisin vettä?

Where is the restaurant?  Missä ravintola on ?

Where is the restroom / where are the toilets? /  Missä on vessa/WC?

Examples (How?) 

How are you? Kuinka voit? 

How old are you? Kuinka vanha olet? 

How many siblings do you have? Kuinka monta sisarusta sinulla on?

Examples (Who?) 

Who are you? Kuka olet?

Who is your English teacher? Kuka on opettajasi?

Examples (When?) 

When did you go to the supermarket? Koska menit kauppaan (markettiin/supermarkettiin)?

When did you graduate? Koska valmistuit?

Examples (What?) 

What sports do you like? Mistä urheilusta pidät?

What colour is your hair? Minkä väriset hiukset sinulla on?

Examples (Which?) 

Which one do you prefer? Kumpi on parempi? Kumpaa suosit?

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this meeting because I felt like I had actually learned something useful in Finnish. I’m happy to now be able to ask some basics questions in Finnish, even if it’s not a lot, if I can come to Finland during the second semester, I will be able to ask the basics stuff without using English. I think, it really shows your capacity to adapt to a new culture.

Finally, I really liked the way that we went through these questions and sentences, it felt very natural and it’s also something that we don’t necessarily learn in a regular course. So, I think it was very valuable for both of us.

French culture and customs

This was our 7th meeting with Robin! Robin told me about French culture and customs, which was super interesting! I have always loved France as a country and the people in there. It has been amazing to hear about there culture and customs!

So this is what I learned about French people..

They are elegant and, this is what Robin used, bon-vivants, joyful. I do agree with this statement! They love to go out to eat and drink, which is the same in my culture, they are social people but not so good at different languages. When visiting France I did notice that not many people speak English in there.

French people place a very high value on history and ladmarks. For myself I love it since I am a really huge history fan and France is full of history and museums!

Colors

In our 6th meeting we were learning about colors. We both teach each other the same colors in French and Finnish.

  • Red / rouge
  • Blue / Bleu
  • Orange / orange
  • Black / noir
  • White / Blanc
  • Yellow / Jaune
  • Pink / Rose
  • Purple / Violet
  • Green / Vert
  • Grey / Gris
  • Beige / Beige
  • Brown / Marron