For the eight meeting, we met up again at my apartment. I’d told everyone about a nature trail in Hervanta that goes around Suolijärvi-lake, and they wanted to go and walk there. Everyone was very interested in Finnish nature, and the trail had a lot of lovely scenery to see and talk about. We ate at my house, and then left for the walk.
We went around the entire Suolijärvi nature trail, which took about an hour and a half. The weather was being typically Finnish – rain one moment, and beautiful sunshine the next. Suolijärvi offers a good view of different types of nature areas. It has a trail that goes right next to the lake, with swamp areas, picturesque streams, crags and old forest around it. There is also a beach for swimming in one part of the lake, but it was too cold to go into the water.
While we walked around the trail, we talked again about Finnish nature, such as different wild animals near here, the different sorts of plants we saw, and what edible berries and mushrooms there would be later in the summer. Haley and Mariona were fascinated by the idea of having blueberries in the forest to pick for free, and thought it was great that Finland has so many different wild berries to try. I taught the difference between the forest strawberry and the field-grown strawberries, the forest blueberries and the bush grown blueberries, and then explained as best as I could about some of the less known berry varieties, such as cloudberry (hilla) and sea-buckthorn (tyrni) berries. We also talked about the weather in our own countries and what’s the best part of the year to visit.
When we got back home, I remembered I had some cloudberry in my freezer that my sister had picked from up north. I defrosted it and made a quick dessert for everyone to have a taste. While it’s sometimes difficult to think of special, Finnish cuisine to serve people from other countries, it was interesting to notice how much of a specialty a simple berry could be. Cloudberries are horrendously expensive outside of the northern countries and aren’t even available in every country. I’d had a steady access to these berries for several years thanks to a sister who lives up north in Norway (and enjoys long walks in the tundra, especially during cloudberry season), so I hadn’t realized how exotic it must be to other people. I was happy I was able to provide a small taste of the exotic berries in this part of the world, especially since everyone seemed to like them a lot.
Other thoughts about this meeting: I prefer having active things to do while learning something new, because it helps you to remember easier and have a good, concrete experience of another culture and the land. While we didn’t have a vocabulary section again during this meeting, I felt that I was still able to impart a lot of good experiences about Finnish culture and about what makes the country special. I always do try to slip in new Finnish words, like the names of the berries and plants we saw, but sometimes just learning about the culture of a country can help to get more interested in it. Being more interested in the culture also makes you more motivated to learn the language, and gives you the best experience in the long run.