For several years, Tampere University of Applied Sciences has organized a summer course for Basics of Finnish. This course has been very popular among exchange and international students. This year, the course was held for the first time by lecturer Ella Hakala from TAMK’s language services.
Getting to know Finland during the first week
Basics of Finnish started with an easy atmosphere, as most of the students had just arrived to Finland in the first week of August. Short introductions and basic details about the course were presented before the hard dive into Finnish language started. The course aimed to familiarize students with Finnish culture and give them the basic knowledge of an European language level of A1 in Finnish.
Viikinsaari was the location for the first cultural activity of the course. It is an idyllic nature sight to see in Tampere. The ferry goes very often to the Viikinsaari island during the summer time and the lake Pyhäjärvi is nice to see during the half an hour trip. Once everyone arrived to Viikinsaari, the tour guide, Michel Faas started by explaining what the place was and how Finnish culture felt to a foreigner living in Finland for many years. Michel is originally from the Netherlands and has been working during TAMK’s summer courses very often.
Anett Galántai, Sushma Birdarkote Keshavamurthy, Emma Thirkell, Helena Gregerová, international coordinator Camilla Kalevo, Kehdriah Pearse, Regina Schröter, Hegi Rezhda, Julia Seitz, Razieh Zare, Charikleia Sakellari, Sebastian Roßkopf, Seung Yub Shin and International Services Trainee, Aleksi Jolkkonen with Dino, the dog.
Viikinsaari was one of the many activities offered during the first week of the course. Second great adventure was the kickbiking tour around Kauppi with Michel Faas and a bowling evening on Friday.
The kickbiking gave an even better view to the Finnish nature and culture, as there was a traditional cooking with fire and the much loved sauna. The tour ended at Kaupinojan Sauna, where students had their first experience in a public lake and after, in a sauna. There are actually quite many of these around Finland and Tampere. Rauhaniemen Kansankylpylä is another other option near Kaupinojan Sauna.The tour around Viikinsaari provided the course students with a great idea on how Finns see their nature. Foraging, wondering and being active in the nature is very close to the Finnish way of life. There are great forests everywhere to be explored and visited by anyone traveling around Finland.
The first week ended quite quick as the program was intense and tight. Daily lectures taught Finnish language and the evening activities gave a glace into the Finnish culture and way of life. Most students had arranged travelling plans for the weekend, and Helsinki was one of the cities they visited. The capital of Finland holds many interesting sights to see. For example, Suomenlinna, which is one of the largest sea fortresses in the world and is also an UNESCO heritage sight.
Second week adventures
With the weekend wondering over, it was time to get back to business at TAMK. The Basics of Finnish lecture started every day at 9:15. 15 minutes over is a traditional starting time for Tampere University of Applied Sciences’s lectures. It is often called “akateeminen vartti” or academic quarter in English.
Monday evening was full with adventure, as there was a city challenge with the Action Track application. It is a smartphone app that allows creation of location based tasks for groups or individuals. TAMK has been testing it for multiple purposes, like orientation and self-serviced campus tours. Floworks is in charge of the projects related to Action Track. The track itself had fun tasks related to Tampere, such as going to take a sky-high selfie in the Torni hotel and interviewing a Pokémon player in Finnish, at the Pikkukakkonen playground. The challenge ended with girls’s team winning by arriving earlier at the finish line. However, as it is customary in Finland, everyone received an ice cream in the end.
Finnish culture isn’t usually known for its food, but there are still some traditional home-cooked dishes. Tuesday’s program was about cooking in Finnish style. Baked goodies, soups and a wide variety of stews are usually cooked at home. The ingredients used are sometimes gathered from the forest or grown in its own garden. Mushrooms and berries, for example are some of the traditional cooking ingredients that Finns forage during summer time.
Cooking is always fun in a group where everyone gets to do something and experience new things together. For the evening’s menu there was: salmon soup, mushroom pie, musta makkara, cinnamon buns, Karelian pasties and egg butter, smoked salmon on rye bread buttons, Finnish squeaky cheese and cloudberry jam. Everyone took a dish to prepare that they wanted to learn. The Karelia pastry team had a very tough job, because Karelia pastries are very traditional and must be made strictly according to the recipe. In spite of the challenge, the pastries came out great!
Wednesday was gone and Thursday arrived with no lectures. There was an “all hands on deck” TAMK day at the campus, so all lectures were cancelled for this purpose. For students, this was a great thing as there was time to go to the Särkänniemi amusement park!
The park is located on a small cape along the Näsijärvi lake. The whole amusement park and city of Tampere can be seen from the top of Näsinneula tower which stands 168 meters tall. It is one of the most recognizable buildings in Tampere and is often seen in every picture representing the city.
The tower is just one of many attractions in Särkänniemi. There are many rides from which to get your dose of adrenaline and a terrifying time. The Tornado rollercoaster is everyone’s favourite classic ride, that has given many fast paced and spinning rides for many years. This year, there was also a new ride called X, which went round and round while spinning. The ride was actually so long, that you got over the initial adrenaline burst and started to get really scared for your life. There were many rides to be tried even if there were a couple of rain showers from time to time. Finnish weather can be quite unpredictable.
These two weeks were some of the most amazing opportunities to experience Finnish culture and traditions in such a short period of time. It was also a “strict” requirement ended in a Finnish way, with coffee and cake. Students from all around the world received their course certificates and warm congratulations from Kirsi Jokipakka, Head of International Services and from Ella Hakala, the new Lecturer for the Basics of Finnish course.
Text & photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen