Ukko Piesala, the foreign student of PetrSU, has already been to Russia eight times. He has visited Karelia, the capital on the Neva, and Perm. The young man decided to learn Russian so he could freely and easily travel around Russia and communicate with its citizens. He is also planning to use it in his work as, at his time, did his great-grandfather, an entrepreneur and a farmer Viljami Piesala. At the beginning of the 20th century he sold dairy products, mainly butter, from Finland to shops in Saint-Petersburg. The knowledge of the Russian language helped Viljami to forge relationship with customers.
Ukko’s first encounter with the Russian language was in gymnasium. Later he continued studying the language at the university, but according to Ukko the course was so short and the desire to study was so great that he decided to take part in the exchange program between Petrozavodsk University and the University of Helsinki. Back at the home university, he is the student of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and at PetrSU he studies at the Faculty of Agriculture. The young man also takes classes of Russian as a foreign language at the Faculty of Philology.
“When I first started learning Russian it was very difficult for me, mainly because the letters are different. When I opened books I couldn’t understand a thing, now all is different,” tells Ukko. Though he admits that he still has difficulties, for example, with paired letters “æ” and “ø”, “ç” and “ñ”, “ö” and “÷”: “When I write something I start doubting which letter I should use”.
Sometimes it is difficult for Ukko to understand lectures because of professional words and terms being used. “When I understand what the lecturer says I’m interested. When I don’t, I wonder what he is talking about,” says Ukko. Fellow students and teachers give explanations and help him understand the material.
The foreign student hopes that on his return home he will be able to read and understand professional literature in Russian with ease and won’t have to switch to other languages when speaking Russian.
When he started his studies here, the future agrarian and forest worker was surprised that there are more young men than girls among the students, and that the lessons are taught in small groups, while at the University of Helsinki up to 300 students can attend one lecture.
But these are not the only discoveries Ukko has made here. He has taken a liking to kalitki with potatoes and pirozhki with cabbage that he eats almost every day. Ukko regrets that he can’t take them to Finland, but he hopes that a hand-made souvenir will be a good remembrance of his time in our university and town.