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What language do you speak? All of them!

Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
1 Kudo
Finland is officially a bilingual country: everyone learns Finnish and Swedish in school, and government operates in both. Additionally, just about everyone learns English, and Russian seems pretty widely used too. It's quite shocking going from Russia where English signs or announcements are quite rare (other than in St. Petersburg) and few speak any English to a country where all signs are in English and even workers in food courts speak four languages, because, of course they do. The Finnish language itself might not be the most useful -- and is interestingly most closely related to Hungarian -- but the education system makes up for it.
Story Details


Helsingin päärautatieasema
This is a stunningly high-tech & high-speed train. The station in St Peterburg even has a special (air conditioned!) waiting room and ticket counter for this service. Customs & border control for both countries are done while aboard without stopping. Very interesting to see such cooperation on this joint Russian-Finnish project while travelling through an area they fought over before and during WWII.

Points of interest

A fortress island a short ferry ride from downtown that played a large part in Finland's history in the tug-of-war between Russia and Sweden.


Old Market Hall
This is the historic market building, where there are counters selling different sorts of food. Despite being touristy, it isn't very expensive. We ate sandwiches with reindeer and seafood.

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