Hei! ABC, Ytse, Kaksi, Kolme, Saunas and pancakes on the bbq

Hei! (Hello!)

Please come to Finland with me and share my experiences…here are some photos from the plane to start with. 

20140808_183632“Leaving on a jet plane…(again)”!

View from the plane flying over Finland

View from the plane flying over Finland

120140808_193529220140808_193708 3  20140808_193629 420140808_194207(1-3)The Fins seem to have chopped down blocks and lines of trees to squeeze in towns, villages and roads, making sure they didn’t remove more than what was needed. 4 Tampere airport-very small

I’ve now been in Finland for a week and am enjoying being here. I look at the scenery around me (lots of lakes and pine trees) and tell myself that I’m in Finland many times to make sure I appreciate every minute. I have taken myself for a few bike rides and appreciated the cycle routes and wonderful nature I see.

For those who don’t know, I am here for part of my nursing studies on exchange with Lapland University of Applied sciences in Rovaniemi. I arrived at Tampere airport on August 8th, three weeks before term to immerse myself in the culture and language and hopefully learn a bit of Finnish before I get into the hospital (though I’m told it’s a very difficult language to the English to learn, and now I’m here I can see why! Very different pronunciation with the same alphabet, differences between written and spoken Finnish and the language structure is quite different), and have a holiday. I am staying with a Finnish family who have three small kids, Noel 5 and a half, Naomi 4 and Nerissa one and a half. Their parents are Laura and Miika. I know them through a mutual friend I met during my gap year, who put us in contact as a potential place to stay before I went to University up north. They are wonderful and have taken me into their family, inviting me to everything they do, family and social events. Fortunately for me they speak good English, pretty much fluent. So although we speak in English all the time, I can learn a lot from them asking to translate words and discussing how Finnish works as a language. Here are a few pictures…

Nerissa loved the video on my phone and was quite intrigued!

Nerissa loved the video on my phone and was quite intrigued! She has warmed to me very quickly over the past week and now responds to me when I call her, and answer her with baby talk which seems to transcend language barriers. She’s a good immitator, copying my funny faces and sounds, and laughs a lot when I copy her :).

Naomi and Noel opening a gift from the Uk.

Naomi and Noel opening a gift from the Uk. Naomi isn’t quite at the age where she realises we speak different languages so does talk to me sometimes, but she is quite quiet anyway (apart from when she cries, which is quite often), playing with herself and wondering around in her own little world most of the time. Noel is very aware that we speak different languages. He therefore doesn’t bother trying to communicate, but I’m told by his mum that he does ask about me and wants her to ask me questions for him. After giving them my gifts from home, they both seem to have warmed to me more-presents always help!

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The family on the trampoline

The first day I was there (I arrived about 10pm friday night (8pm uk time)) we went to the Mall in the morning to get a Finnish phone and a few other pieces I needed (my shower gel had somehow opened during transit so I lost most of it, but fortunately it was contained in my wash bag!). Late afternoon we travelled about an hour or so to Miika’s family reunion at a church retreat house on the lake. I met his parents who had been missionaries in Ethiopia, some of his cousins and aunts and uncles. They were all friendly and talked to me in English if they could. I did end up being the photographer for their family photo, so was ladened with Canons, phones, ipads and everything else that can take a photo! They were very grateful, and I felt part of the event, if only for a few minutes :). It was a beautiful place, with Sauna, small jetty onto the lake and a small rowing boat which we took out for a short trip. Unlike the UK, Saunas are very normal in Finland (they are Finnish after all) and every family and public swimming area has one, or access to one. Separate male and female though as they don’t wear anything, I have yet to go so far!

Retreat house garden, sauna and lake just visible behind. They had a small bbq on the left where we cooked and ate pancakes and the sauna is the red building. To Sauna, they spend some time enjoying the heat, go and jump in the lake to cool down and then repeat! They say it's good for the circulation and getting rid of toxins etc.

Retreat house garden, sauna and lake just visible behind. They had a small bbq on the left where we cooked and ate pancakes and the sauna is the red building. To Sauna, they spend some time enjoying the heat, go and jump in the lake to cool down and then repeat! They say it’s good for the circulation and getting rid of toxins etc.

Panoramic view of the lake we took the row boat out on and dipped in after the sauna

Panoramic view of the lake we took the row boat out on and dipped in after the sauna.

Church on Sunday was in the afternoon at 4pm. It was Lutherin but somewhat relaxed, with a bit of formality doing communion, but modern worship and a few songs in English. Laura was kind enough to translate the sermon for me, pretty much word for word. The people were friendly, but shy, though I did take the opportunity to speak to Laura’s mum who was a missionary in Indonesia. She spoke fluent English so I wanted to hear all about it!

Many people who say hi (not a lot because Finnish people are quite shy) always do so in Finnish, I smile at them and then say “Hello!”, which is followed by a laugh and a smile from them, and repetition of what they’ve just said into English. I don’t like not being able to converse even at the most simple level, but hopefully at some stage I will be able to hold a basic conversation.

My weekdays are spent at home trying to learn Finnish from a course book I bought in Tampere and listening to the accompanying audio. I’ve managed to learn the alphabet with Finnish pronunciation, numbers, and some basic words. I am gradually being able to pick up familiar sounds or words when listening to conversation, but written and spoken Finnish is different- spoken shortens words- so when I learn/read from the course book it’s different to hearing conversation, increasing the challenge.

The family goes out between 7/8am and come home around 4pm, which is good for me as I have a good part of the day in quiet and then by the time I need company again they are around. The kids do seem to cry a lot though, mostly when they don’t get their way, and Noel has loads of energy and seems to shout most things, so it’s quite noisy, but I enjoy them being around.

I managed to meet up with my friend Laura (yes same name as host mum) whom I met during my gap year. It was great to see her after two years and catch up again. I visited her place in Tampere, getting a lift in with Laura when she went to work, and then we went into the centre, where I bought the course book and other bits. The town is quite European looking, with an open square, all cobbled. There is a council building and theatre, independent shops and then larger shopping centres off side streets. I will take some pictures next time I’m there are post them.

A few more pics to save you reading more…

View of Tampere from the viewing building 165 metres high

View of a section of Tampere from the viewing building 165 metres high

The lake beach where we spent one of our evenings. It was beautiful and the water reasonably warm. We took a light dinner and bought a roast chicken, which the kids devoured! (ok I helped a little!) (The panoramic photos don't seem very clear when blown up, sorry)

The lake beach where we spent one of our evenings. It was beautiful and the water reasonably warm. We took a light dinner and bought a roast chicken, which the kids devoured! (ok I helped a little!)

Relaxing in my bedroon which also has a projector and screen to watch films. #chilloutime. I have used to so far to watch films with Finnish subtitles and try and pick up familiar words from my self-taught course. It's helped, sorta!

Relaxing in my bedroon which also has a projector and screen to watch films. #chilloutime. I have used it so far to watch films with Finnish subtitles and try and pick up familiar words from my self-taught course. It’s helped, sorta!

Inside a very traditional Lutherin church

Inside a very traditional Lutherin church

A Finnish spread-mixture of sweet and savoury like ours. The circular cake is made with syrup and a Finnish speciality, the brown bread a the front of the second picture is also very Finnish. It's quite dry and a bit hard, a little bit like bread that's been left out, but the Fins like it! They also had a huge tray of Finnish candy, I have yet to try them (I took some home!)

A Finnish spread-mixture of sweet and savoury like ours. The circular cake is made with syrup and a Finnish speciality, the brown bread a the front of the second picture is also very Finnish. It’s quite dry and a bit hard, a little bit like bread that’s been left out, but the Fins like it! They also had a huge tray of Finnish candy, I have yet to try them (I took some home!)

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I hope this has given you a flavour of my first week in Finland. Of course there’s much more I can write, but I hope the pictures say more, and I don’t have to write as much! 

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