The Language Center Linginno at the University of Vaasa, in collaboration with the Finnish National Agency for Education, has organised a Finnish Language and Culture summer course from July 7th to July 28th. The course was attended by 24 students from ten different countries, including the United States, Germany, and Romania.
These students are studying Finnish Language and Culture as either their major or minor subject at their home universities and came to Vaasa to strengthen their language skills. Apart from language studies, they also got acquainted with Finnish culture and visited UNESCO’s World Heritage site, the Kvarken Archipelago.
Finnish language students share their experiences
Laura Czernysz and Florian Huzar came to Vaasa from Poland. Both Laura and Florian are studying Finnish as their major at the University of Gdansk. Their friends had attended a similar course in Turku last year and recommended it to them.
Laura’s interest in learning Finnish started from Finnish culture, particularly movies and music. She mentions Käärijä, Hassisen kone, and Apulanta as her favourite Finnish artists. Florian ended up studying Finnish by accident but has thoroughly enjoyed his studies. Both of them are considering a career as translators.
Anete Puusta from Estonia was inspired to study Finnish by her Finnish teacher. She is majoring in Estonian language studies and learning Finnish as a related language, which has offered her new perspectives on her mother tongue. Anete has long contemplated a career as a teacher, and currently, there is a demand for Finnish language teachers in Estonia.
Julia Lorenz from Germany became interested in Finnish when she came to Finland for a half-year trip after high school. She fell in love with how distinct Finnish sounded compared to other languages. However, she acknowledges that Finnish is not the easiest language to learn.
All four students agree that grammar and word inflection are definitely the most challenging aspects. Their favorite words include “ihanaa” (wonderful), “pyöreä ruokapöytä” (round dining table), “kuperkeikka” (somersault), and “sielunmaisema” (soul landscape).
Finland’s friendliness and nature captivates
The friendliness of Finns makes a strong impression on the students. They appreciate how often Finns use the word “kiitos” (thank you) in various situations, such as when exiting a bus. The proximity of nature in Finnish cities also delights the students, and Anete emphasises that the walking and cycling paths in Finland are in excellent condition and seem endlessly long.
However, some things have left the students puzzled, like watermelon in salads and the variety of products in supermarkets, ranging from food to hair dyes.
All four students are already planning their return to Finland after the course ends. Some of them have upcoming exchange studies at the University of Jyväskylä, while others’ plans are still taking shape. One thing is clear, though — they will come back to Finland, at least for traveling.
The Finnish Language and Culture summer course has been organised in Vaasa for over 10 years. The most recent course was held in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.