my first story from Helsinki involves a small cafe near the train station. we arrived around 8.30 in the morning, as it was starting to get light. feeling it important that i practised my finnish-speaking skills, I went and ordered a hot chocolate.
– Missä on kaakao, kiitos?
– *something involving the word ‘kerma’*
– Would you like cream?
– Oh, no thanks.
So, ok, I didn’t get it all in Finnish, but I was still pleased with myself. This lasted for a good six hours, until I was recounting my success for Q, who informed me that in fact I hadn’t asked if I could have a hot chocolate, but had in fact asked about the whereabouts of hot chocolate in general (“missä on” = “where is”). Fortunately, from my talks with other Finns, it would seem that this wasn’t particularly rude, because I hadn’t asked where my hot chocolate was.
In Finnish, the endings of the words are important, there are a lot of suffixes and postpositions, where English has prepositions. That and the seventeen cases, make it a difficult language for me to pick up, but I’m struggling on. Apparently, (as long as I stick to one-word sentences) my pronunciation is very good. *glows*.
I have been in Helsinki about a month now. I am at the stage where I know my routes to and from school, but I don’t yet know where the metro or the number 9 tram goes. It has been fluctuating between -5 and 2 degrees Celsius. Minus five is lovely, the air is all dry and sometimes it snows. Often the sky is clear. Around 0 – 1 is far less pleasant because the snow starts to melt (so there is lots of water in the air, which actually makes it colder) and then it freezes and so the footpaths are all slippery. Less fun. But I am happily putting up with this for the enchantment of all the snow.
~ precis of