Does everyone really speak English here?

“Oh I would love to move to Finland but I can’t. I do not know Finnish.”


That is a bad excuse! English is more than enough.

If you go to the countryside, things might be a little different, but in the cities, you basically do not need Finnish at all. Nearly 20% of the students at Aalto are not Finnish. Considering only Masters students, the number is much higher. In practice, this means international events and parties almost daily!

-20 degrees outside but so pretty!                         21 Jan 2019, Aalto campus

Finns are among the best English speakers in Europe, apart from English, of course. Finns start learning English from a young age in school like in many other countries but I think the main reason is the “Netflix and Chill” generation. Movies, series and ads are not dubbed in Finnish – it is simply too expensive. If you go to the movies or turn on a TV, everything will be in English! Hence, Finns are forced to watch everything in English and I think it is the best way to learn a foreign language.

Nevertheless, when you move here do yourself a favour and learn a few basic phrases in Finnish. Finns know how difficult their language is and always appreciate foreigners’ efforts in trying to learn it. Basic Finnish will not only help with grocery shopping but might also simplify the job seeking process. Also, a hyvää päivää (good day) here and a paljon kiitoksia (many thanks) there, and you will bring more joy to the locals than they would probably admit to.

Ekaterina Sakarinen


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