Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Last Friends

Happy autumn everyone!

It must be autumn since they've started selling advent calendars in shops.

Today, I wanted to tell you about something I realised recently after watching a Japanese TV series called Last Friends. But first, I am going to tell you why I was watching Last Friends!


A long time ago, I set myself a life goal to visit all the continents. I've so far visited several European countries, and set my foot in North America, but there are still five to go. So since I've been enjoying Asian food recently, and because Asia is not as far away as some of the other continents, I figured it could be my next destination.

My next thought, however, was that I've never visited a country where I haven't been able to understand the local language at all. After studying Swedish, English, German and French it wasn't difficult to understand most of what I needed to understand when I visited the Netherlands and Spain. I have even managed to have a conversation with Tennesseans.

I think, being able to understand the local language - even a little, gives you some valuable insight in the culture that you're visiting. It allows you to understand the things that are not specifically aimed for foreigners and therefore written in English, but also the things that are there for locals. I also don't expect there to be signs written with latin alphabet in countries that don't use the alphabet, and being unable to read anythging sounds like a very scary thought. You also get a lot more respect from the locals if you try and say even a few things in their language instead of just assuming that they will speak English to you.

But I don't understand any Asian languages! Not even a word! I've only studied Indo-European languages before and would be very interested in learning a language that belongs to another language group. Fortunately, my mother tongue is Uralic so that should give me some perspective and make my language learning a little bit easier.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

But there are so many Asian languages to choose from!* I wish I could study them all, but that's impossible. It's better to start with one.

First, I decided that I would want to choose a living, lively language! With a lot of speakers, so that I wouldn't spend a lot of time learning a language I could not actually use in real life. I've spent some time over the past years doing some background investigations in languages such as Sami, Mari, Inuktitut, and Old Norse, but those are not really good choices for me, if I actually want to speak to real people.

I used to want to study Russian. There were a lot of language courses available in my country, but while I was living there, I was focusing on French and German. But now, I haven't started learning a new language for over 8 years, and I feel like it's time to pick a new language in order to improve my language skills. Unfortunately though, because of the current political situation in Russia, I no longer feel inspired in learning that. And I already decided to pick a non-Indo-European language.

I own a book in Thai. I can't read it. But when my dad and brother went on a holiday in Thailand in 2007 and asked me what I would like as a souvenir, I asked them to bring me Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in Thai. And they did! I treasure it in my book-case and enjoy how cool the writing in it looks. So, I considered learning Thai, but because of its tones, I would probably be really bad at speaking it, with my very mono-tonic language background. I'm not brave enough to try and learn it quite yet.

I also did not feel particularly inspired in studying languages of countries where they would be likely to kill or arrest me just because of who I am, so that cut out some options. Then on the basis of the food I enjoy the most, I ditched Indian and Chinese. I may have eaten slightly too much Indian and Chinese take-away recently and am not really feeling it anymore.

Lately, I've been really enjoying sushi and Korean cosmetics. Because I know some people (such as the two I live with) who also study Japanese, it felt like a better decision than Korean. Being able to practise a language with other people will make learning it a lot easier and definitely more fun. But if I decide to learn Korean later, Japanese will still be helpful, because they are from the same language family.

I definitely wouldn't starve in Asia.

To be fair, I don't know much about Japan. I know where it is and what the flag looks like, but that's about it. I don't even like manga or anime (which is why I never even considered studying the language before).  Apart from Pokèmon, of course! Sometimes I walk around town with just Pikachu in my backpack. It makes me feel like I have a friend.

Sometimes we go out for drinks.

Sometimes I feel like I probably should have grown past this stage 15 years ago. But maybe they will understand me in Japan. I've heard that they have a lot of weird things in Japan. I look forward to learning more about Japanese culture while I study Japanese.

I started learning hiragana (the Japanese phonetic symbols) last Friday, and am about to start learning katakana (the other phonetic symbols). I've also been watching the Japanese TV series Last Friends -  as I mentioned earlier in this post - in order to get used to hearing Japanese and to learn about the Japanese culture.

I really like the TV series! There are 5 friends who live together in a share house and face problems with life, love, work and relationships. They are there for each other. I don't like watching sad TV series, but this kind of reminded me of Gilmore Gilrs or Friends.

Last Friends!

Although there is a lot of dark things in this TV series, such as, domestic violence, manipulating, threatening and stalking - I enjoy watching their life in the share house. They are happy together and that makes me feel happy too.

But what I realised when watching the series is that: it doesn't matter how miserable some people might make you feel - when you're with the right people you can be yourself. And when you can be yourself - you will be the happiest. And those people who make you feel rubbish don't matter anymore. There's nothing they could do to take that happiness away from you.

It probably sounds simple, but this is actually the first time I've really thought about it. I've always focused too much on the people who don't like me, and it's made me feel like I'm not worthy enough to be happy. But when there's a happy place - like the share house in Last Friends - none of those people aren't there. And none of that feeling should be there either. The friends in the share house protected the house from all bad things getting in. That's how it always should be in life. I wish everyone could live in a happy place. When you're feeling miserable - you're not really yourself. But when you're happy, you can do the amazing things you're capable of doing. And you will be able to shine that happiness to other people.

Giraffe, Aberdeen.

Anyway, smiling is the easiest way to spread happiness around us. There's no language barriers there either.

Is there a language you would like to learn?

* I understand that many of the "languages" I mention, are actually not single languages but larger language groups that contain several languages. At this stage, however, I was only intending to choose a language group that I could choose a language within.


  1. Voi kun kiva blogi, ainut parantamisen vara on mun mielestäni kuvissa, ne voisivat olla suurempia :)


    1. Kiitos kovasti! Pitääkin harkita tuota kuvien kokoa sitten vielä. :)

  2. Kiva blogi, samaa mieltä Riikan kanssa, kuvat voisivat olla isompia :)


  3. tosi ihanan oloinen blogi! kirjotat hyvin :):)


  4. Upee postaus, kirjotat tosi hyvin! Mielenkiintoinen blogi, minäkin kannatan noita isompia kuvia vaan :)

    1. Kiitos vierailusta ja palautteesta! :)

  5. Voi, olen jo katsellut joulukalentereita. Viime vuonna mulla oli Jonnan lähettämä Robin -kalenteri sekä Puolasta ostettu suklaakalenteri. Mäkin haluan vierailla kaikissa maanosissa! Kielen osaaminen on toki ihan hyvä juttu, ja on hienoa, että tahdot opiskella. Kulttuuria ymmärtää paljon paremmin, kun tajuaa jotain sen kielestä. Mutta tosiaan, Euroopan maissakin voi olla tilanne, että englannilla ei pärjää eikä muitten kielten alkeista ole apua, kun kirjaimet ovat erilaisia. Joutuu piirtämään junan kuvia ja kelloja paperille, jotta voi kommunikoida. Olisi ihanaa osata monia kieliä, ja vielä sujuvasti. Olen vähän kateellinen sellaisille ihmisille, jotka osaavat. Ja musta jotenkin tuntuu, että se olisi pitänyt jo saavuttaa 23 -vuoden iässä, että ei enää voi (vaikka totta kai voi, jos oikeasti tahtoo). Oudot asiat ovat ihania.

    1. Japani kyllä vaikuttaa koko ajan vaan oudommalta paikalta. :D Kieliä oppii helpoiten, kun niitä joutuu käyttämään. Onneksi niitä aakkosia ei ole hirveän montaa Euroopassa käytössä. Arabialaiset ja kyrilliset pitäisi ehkä joskus opetella ainakin vielä. Ja kreikkalaisia kerrata ennen kuin menen sinne rantalomalle. Laura tuossa katseli jo lentoja.