You can live quite comfortably in Finland without speaking Finnish, and indeed many expats do, because services are widely available in English. Also, most Finns speak English, so you can communicate with the locals. However, if you‘re planning to stay for a longer period and really want to understand the local culture, learning Finnish will open your eyes to many new things. And if your kids go to a Finnish school, it would be nice to understand what their report cards say, wouldn‘t it? The below content has been provided by BiCortex Languages (https://bicortexlanguages.com/).
"Living as a German expat in Finland is not that much different from living in Germany, mostly because of the relatively similar cultures of the countries. Nevertheless, there are some cultural differences which can be seen after a while of living in Finland.
Finns can sometimes be a bit introverted and quiet, especially at the beginning. There is normally no need for small talk in meetings or in business dealings and therefore it is fine to get straight to the point.
We also like to have our own personal space in our private life as well as in our working life. For this reason, getting to know new people in Finland at the beginning of the relocation process can be a little bit challenging. But when Finns get to know someone, they will be very helpful and friendly, also to foreigners.
When it comes to working in Finland, there are some behavioral aspects which are good to know. Generally, Finns are quite informal with their colleagues, but also with their superiors (i.e. formally addressing is rarely necessary, using only first names, titles are not generally utilized, etc.). It is even normal to meet business partners or colleagues in the sauna!
When comparing business life between Finland and many other countries, the most significant difference is the flat hierarchy, meaning a relatively low number of levels between employees and superiors. The communication is direct but casual at the same time, i.e. in meetings.
Also the following concepts are highly valued: punctuality, trust, honesty, individualism, modesty and equality. All this, however, always depends on the size and corporate culture of the company.
One thing which will always help to adjust to a new culture and adapt in a new country, is the willingness to learn the language of the country where the relocation takes place. Even though you can communicate very well in English almost everywhere in Finland, it is extremely important to learn the target language. Not only because it will help you with everyday life like grocery shopping, but also because of the feeling of social cohesion with others in the workplace.
Learning the target language will make you feel at home faster and it will also give you more understanding of the culture and people. Besides, it is a way of showing respect to the new country. As Finnish is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world, everyone who makes the effort to learn our beautiful and rare but at the same time difficult language, deserves some respect and admiration!
You can learn Finnish either online or in person. I am sure we would all prefer face-to-face language training over virtual language courses, but due to the global situation and covid-19 pandemic, online training is a great alternative.
My name is Laura and I come from a small and tranquil Lappish town called Kemi, only 30 kilometers away from the Swedish border. I am bilingual, having Finnish as my first native language and Spanish and German as my second.
I am a private teacher, giving German language classes and Finnish lessons. I work as a Finnish language business trainer for BiCortex Languages. I teach a German expat couple who relocated to Finland, very close to my hometown. The Finnish training is online, one-to-one classes. As I know the region and its culture, I am able to tell them about the way of life and the people in this region of Finland as well as give some special tips about the area and what to do there.
Written by Laura García Aspegren
Keywords: Finnish classes, language training, relocation, cultural differences