Cep cep kūku – What learning Latvian has to do with a cake to bake

In all my blog entries I have shared some stories about learning languages and my own experiences. And today I want to tell you a story about somebody who has learned Latvian as a foreign language and now is very known in Latvia. The guy standing next to me on the picture is Jöran Steinhauer from Germany. He comes from the same German  city where I live and participated. Watching the Eurovision Song Contest 2000 he saw the group Brainstorm performing for Latvia which is a very huge star there also better known under the Latvian name Prāta Vētra. It was this performance which aroused his interest for this small nation in the middle of the three Baltic countries. Here we are both standing in front of the Freedom Monument which in Latvian is called Brīvības piemineklis. In his school time he decided to make a school exchange and came to Latvia. He started to learn the language which is not the easiest one. As most of the Slavic languages the two Baltic languages Latvian and Lithuanian also have a very complex declension system. It was the time when Latvia became a member of the European Union and he could observe how the country changed and developed. In January 2014 Latvia introduced the Euro as currency which removed the lats which has been Latvias currency before. In December 2013 Jöran and his band Aarzemnieki which in Latvian means foreigners recorded a song dedicated to Latvias old currency. The song was called Paldies latiņam which means Thank you, lats. (You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15_8Rf-RwJ4). Jöran and his band became popular in Latvia and in 2014 when Riga became the European city of culture Jöran himself went to represent Latvia with his band at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen 14 after he saw Brainstorm performing. (you can watch the perfomance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0D1Ya3NBQs.) It was the same year when Conchita Wurst won for Austria. His funny song was called Cake to bake and dealed about how we manage hard challenges in life but fail to do banal things like baking a cake, Jöran came to a foreign country and managed to learn a foreign language. I met him in Riga and it was really interesting to listen to his story and to hear about his daily life in Latvia. We sat down in a small restaurant in the old city of Riga offering typical Latvian cuisine. It was really delicious or as they say in Latvia: GARŠĪGI!

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