Monday, 6 April 2015

Learning Finnish in the sauna

When I arrived to Finland in August 2013, I immediately started to learn Finnish. First I took the staff course 'Survival Finnish', but I was looking for other opportunities as well.

When I went to swimming pools in Hungary, I always liked to take sauna, so from the second day of my stay I regularly went to the public saunas of Kortepohja student village. I'm really happy that I gathered a couple of friends there so I find a good company whenever I go to sauna. Our university has many exchange students and researchers from abroad, so the sauna is a real multicultural place where I always enjoy listening to many languages.

Illustration from the University Yearbook: I, enjoying sauna. – Photo: Petteri Kivimäki (

At the beginning, I basically communicated in English, but then I started to use more and more Finnish. Now I have a couple of friends who encourage me in learning Finnish: I can learn a lot from our conversations. However, I think that the situation in itself that I'm exposed to an enormous amount of Finnish talk around me can help me greatly.

One day, a journalist requested an interview on my Finnish language learning habits. The editors of the University Yearbook wanted to include a section about the opportunities and the challenges of international staff members in learning Finnish, and about the efforts the university makes in order to help them in achieving their goals. The interview session went in a very friendly atmosphere, using English and Finnish equally. It's funny that the other interviewee who appeared in the yearbook, Stephen Heap from Australia was my group mate in staff Finnish courses.

You can read the yearbook online here; the chapter 'Finnish as a second language for the university staff' can be found on pages 20–23.

1 comment:

  1. I commend you for learning that difficult language so easy. I have a hard time with Finnish. I have tried everything Rosetta Stone and other classes. I think women who speak the language are very attractive you should enjoy your multi lingual experience. The only thing is, it would have been strange sitting in a hot tub with strange speaking men around.

    Ronni Casillas @ JNH Life Styles