Hello, fellow language lovers. I'm somewhat new here, as I've been reading threads on here for a while, but I only just made an account. I don't speak any other language too well, other than some German and understanding a bit of Spanish, but I put German on the back burner because the book's layout was awful and I had a falling out with my German speaking friend, leaving me with nobody to practice with. I supposed I'm quite the Newbie on here, as most users here seem to be bilingual at the low end, and a true Polyglot at the high end. For my first real language learning mission, I chose Finnish, as it interests me far more than any other language, and has an incredibly unique sound, plus I'm hoping to go to a University in Finland and possibly live there long term.
So I figured I should come here to ask some Finnish speakers/learners a few questions that I have, as the community here seem quite nice and helpful.
1) How easy would it be to convince a Finn to help me learn Finnish? I've heard that small talk and talkativeness among Finns is the norm (Apart from Karelians and people from Helsinki), and I'm worried that I wouldn't get enough spoken practice due to that, as early on in language learning seems to be comprised of quite a lot of small talk. Plus, Finns have an incredible mastery of English and would probably think I'm silly for attempting to learn their language.
2) Would anybody happen to know of some decent resources for learning Finnish? I'm going to be using a Teach yourself book (No CD's, sadly, but it was super cheap and I couldn't pass it up), Hippocrene Beginners Finnish, Memrise, and a native speaker if I ever can find one. I've tried to use Italki to find a Finnish partner, to no avail.
3) I've noticed that Finnish has a huge amount of cases (15 noun cases, to be exact), are they difficult to use? I've also seen that Finnish strings together huge compound words, are said compound words common in spoken Finnish? Is the grammar difficult?
4) I've read that spoken Finnish is somewhat different than literary/formal Finnish, with changes such as minä becoming mä. Is there a significant amount of difference between the two?
5) I believe it was here that I saw somebody mention that Finnish doesn't use articles or genders, is this true?
6) Last but not least, I have a slightly off subject question. I've heard that Finnish is partially mutually intelligible with Estonia, is this true? Also, how closely related are Finnish and Saami?