This is my cool hubby diving into lake Näsijärvi in Tampere, Finland with his brand new Go Pro camera.
Where have you been?
It's a fair question. If you still care to remember, I started my blog very vigourously indeed back in January, posting new content every couple of days and then all of a sudden, I stopped. Life got in the way :)
This spring turned out to be quite eventful. Since I last shared stuff with you quite a few pretty big things happened to me. I was proposed to , I passed the Finnish Language test, started a new job, travelled to Italy and ate like a horse, did a professional "Happy Couple" photo shoot and began organising our small slim Scottish-Russian wedding ;)
Everything is under control. Wow, and summer is here. Life is beautiful.
I started cycling to work and back a few days a week, which is an 19km round trip. It's exhilerating and liberating to feel the wind in your face (except when things fly into and get stuck in your eye) and to know that you are free and rely purely on yourself to get to where you need to go.
I started baking bread. This is a great recipe for sundried tomato soda bread baps. I typically make a batch and it does me every morning for nearly a week for breakfast. Yum.
I got BodyBalance back into my fitness routine as I know that stretching (a core benefit of that class, in addition to building strength and felxibility) is something I'm really bad at doing on a regular basis.
We bought ourselves a food processor and it has been the absolute best investment ever. We churn out smoothies from it all the time and use it for making the bread dough and slicing/chopping/whisking and all that good stuff. Love it.
I will be getting back into my blog, so please stay tuned. Peace to one and all.
As promised, here comes part 2 of the Finnish language test saga!
The test is split in to 4 language disciplines; Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. A recent change in the rules means that in order to pass, you only need to achieve level 3 in one certain combination of these disciplines and there are 3 different combinations accepted. Read more about this change HERE. This is great news, it means they are being more lenient to us poor struggling foreigners :)
The Test in Practice
The process on the day can vary according to the test centre, their own practicalities and the number of people sitting the test.
We were split into 3 groups of 10, or so and each group followed its own schedule. I had heard from friends before about the order of the parts of the test and I was thinking to myself "Great, speaking comes last, so by that time I'll have a lot of Finnish in my mind and I'll be well-prepared." Low and behold....the order for my group was:
1. Listening and Speaking (!)
This made me a little nervous, but what can you do!
Listening and Speaking
This part lasts for about 90 minutes. You will be seated in a room, or language centre equipped with headphones and mics for this part. You sit in your own little booth very close to your neighbours on either side. Honestly, for me this was the most stressful part of the whole test, and I'll tell you why...
For the Listening Comprehension, you are required to listen to several spoken announcements and stories/reports and then answer questions on what you heard. The answers are either in multiple-choice format or there is a blank space where you need to fill in the answer. First you are given a short time to read the task, then the speech will be played to you once in full, then you may read the questions for the first half. Then you will hear the first half of the speech and have time to answer. The same then occurs for the second half. There are a number of different listening exercises with different types of excerpts, such as police reports, train station announcements and conversations.
For the Speaking part, you will invariably feel very rushed and stressed all the time but do your best! This is because there is not much time to read and understand the task, before you suddenly need to speak on the command 'Aloita puhuminen nyt!'. The length of time you need to speak for varies according to task. In some, you only have to speak for 20 seconds, in others for up to 2 minutes where you are required to give your opinion on a given topic, e.g. why it is important that children learn musical instruments in school. In my test, another task asked you to explain what makes you angry. There is a space on the paper where you can fill in some notes to help you when you talk. One of the funniest tasks is the dialogue because you feel quite stupid having a 'conversation' with the headphones, but everyone's in the same boat, so no worries!
Stay tuned for info on the reading and writing sections :)
I voluntarily put myself through a rather unpleasant experience today - a 4 hour long Finnish language test also known as YKI. What's more, I paid 95€ for the privilege!
Signing up for this test is notorious. That is, if you want to take it in a large, dynamic metropolis such as Tampere ;) If you've found yourself among the unlucky ones who start queuing for the registration in lovely sub-zero temperatures at 5am, for the doors to open at 9am, followed by a barbaric stampede of desperate immigrants only to be told...
Pahoittelut, ilmoittautuminen on nyt täynnä.
Tough shit...but fear not! Every cloud has a silver lining.
The test itself is only held a few times a year, so what are you gonna do now? Wait? Nah, it only prolongs the pain of learning Finnish language and you certainly don't want to inflict that on yourself any more than is necessary.
The good news is that you can easily take the test in any nearby leafy suburb such as Valkeakoski, where the fields are strawberry, forever. An added bonus there is the nice factory wafting some delicious sulphurous odours into the air. Pleasant, indeed. No queue, satisfaction guaranteed.
The Finnish Language test saga continues in coming posts...
Sports & Remedial Massage Therapist, language-geek, mum, Nordic at heart. Family, travelling, my bike, fitness and music make me tick.