Author Archives: mdower

Study in Finland

(c) Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

(c) Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

Many people come to Finland to study or find it is a good opportunity to further their education while here. Many Masters programs at University are conducted in English.

Currently there are no tuition fees charged for higher education, although you will be expected to be able to support yourself in terms of accommodation, food and other expenses.

For more information, visit: Study in Finland

For information on having foreign qualifications recognised in Finland, visit:

The Finnish National Board of Education

Practising Finnish


There are many useful sites where you can practise Finnish exercises and learn more about life in Finland while you do. Try to use a mix of written, reading and audio exercises to improve your Finnish on all levels.

Unilang – Finnish for Beginners

Ateneum Art Museum – audio guides

Finnish Language and Culture for Foreigners

Tests and quizzes on the Finnish natural environment

Understand Finnish!

Working Life Finnish

Exercises and quizzes 

Finnish reading comprehension

Learning Finnish (Suomi)

Minna Sundberg

Minna Sundberg

Despite the fact that most people in Helsinki speak English (and other languages), there are many good reasons to study Finnish. It will help build relationships with Finnish people as well as make many daily activities, such as shopping and reading menus, easier. You will also find that most official correspondence and signage is only printed in Finnish and Swedish.

Don’t be put off by people telling you how difficult it is. Even knowing  a few words is invaluable in certain situations. If you have never studied a language before you may benefit from doing a pre-study course on how to learn a second language.

Just as there are many reasons to learn Finnish there are also many ways to approach your study. Some people will choose to attend class once a week, while others will prefer a more intensive approach where they attend class a few hours everyday. Similarily, some classes are taught mainly in English (or another language), while some are taught only in Finnish from day one.

Whatever you decide remember it is always okay to change your approach later and to seek help with enrolment. If you are linked with the TE-Office you may also find the fees for some classes are subsidised.

Useful links:

Finnish Courses – a great place to start in your search for the right course for you

Ilmonet – Adult Education Centres

Finnish for Foreigners – Helsinki University’s Language Centre

Looking for Housing

You can search online for housing and then contact the agent or landlord to make a time to view. Sometimes an open viewing time will be included in the advertisement.

Finnish homes are advertised by the number of rooms, which includes living rooms and bedrooms. For example, a 2 room home is likely to mean a living room + one bedroom. This is written as 2h, where h stands for huoneet (rooms).

Kylpyhuone (bathroom) is shown as kph and keittiö (kitchen) is shown as k. Parveke (balcony) is shown as p.

Therefore, an apartment advertised as 2h + k, kph, p has one living room, one bedroom, a kitchen, bathroom and balcony.

You will generally find a stove and fridge freezer in place. Many apartment buildings come with a storage room, a shared space to store bicycles and maybe a room to store strollers and prams.

Bath tubs are rare but some apartments include their own sauna, or their may be a communal one in the building.

You will most likely be asked to pay a deposit when you rent although the amount can vary. Water is usually charged per person on top of rent, as well as internet and electricity.

Helpful search terms:

Helsinki is in the area of Finland called Uusimaa.

Furnished – kalustettu

Vuokra – rent

Vuokra/kk – rent per month

Autopaikka – parking space

Oma sauna – own sauna

Pesukone – washing machine

Jääkaappi – refrigerator

Vuokrakohteet – rental properties

For a full list of words, visit Expat Finland or The Dictionary for Rental Property Ads

Useful sites for accommodation searches include: Vuokraovi Oikotie Jokakoti  Sato

Facebook group: Vuokra-assunot Helsinki

You can also sign up for early notification of places for rent at Vuokraturva

Public Holidays & Sundays


It’s worth knowing when Finnish public holidays will fall as generally businesses and services will close or have shorter hours.

Christmas Eve and Midsummer Eve are perhaps the two most important holidays on the Finnish calendar. Although not officially called holidays many people will not work these days and stores will close early.

May Day or Vappu is also an important event in Finland and celebrations begin the evening before. Easter dates are decided each year depending on the first full moon after spring equinox.

Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May) and Father’s Day (first Sunday in November) are de facto holidays. This means some stores close while others have shorter trading hours.

Finland also has what is known as ‘ski week’ – a break rotated around Finland so that everyone doesn’t go on holiday at the same time. Usually in February, many people do use the time to go skiing, while others take the chance to fly south for some sun.

Shops have shorter hours on Sundays and are usually open between 12.00 – 18.00, if at all.

New Years Day – 1 January

Epiphany – 6 January

Maundy Thursday – the Thursday before Easter (not an official holiday but often marked by shorter working hours)

Good Friday ( Pitkäperjantai ) – moveable dates

Easter Sunday ( Pääsiäispäivä ) – moveable dates

Easter Monday – moveable dates

May Day ( Vappu ) – 1 May ( Celebrations begin on the evening of 30 April)

Midsummer’s Eve – the Friday before Midsummer Day

Midsummer Day ( Juhannus ) – the Saturday following 19 June

Ascension Day – 39 days after Easter Sunday

Pentecost – 49 days after Easter Sunday

All Saint’s Day – the Saturday following 30 October

Independence Day of Finland – celebrated 6 December. 2017 will mark 100 years of Finnish independence.

Christmas Eve – 24 December, when Finns hold their main Christmas celebrations

Christmas Day – 25 December

St Stephen’s Day – 26 December

New Years Eve – 31 December, not an official holiday but often marked by shorter working hours

Public Transport

(c) Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

(c) Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

Helsinki has a very efficient public transport system. It consist of trams, trains, buses, ferries and the metro (underground subway system).

Access to Helsinki’s metro and trams is trust-based –  it is up to you to pay for your ticket before you use them. Random inspections are done and if you are found without the correct ticket you may face a large fine.

Currently, children under the age of 7 travel for free. So do adults who are travelling with a child in a stroller.

For more information on tickets, prices, timetables and rules visit

Dental Care


Public dental care is provided by your municipality of residence. 

The Helsinki dental care appointments telephone number is (09) 310 51400. You can call the number Mon–Fri 8am–3pm. If you need emergency care, phone early in the morning. If you want to make an appointment for non-emergency care, call the number after 10am.

For non-urgent dental care you may have to wait a few weeks for an appointment. The cost for services is very low however compared to the private sector.

Private dental care

There are plenty of private dental clinics in Helsinki. You can visit a private dentist even if you are not entitled to public health care services. Private dental care is more expensive than the public. Some people may be eligible for a partial refund from Kela for certain dental care services. 


Public dental care is free for children up to the age of 18. A letter will be sent to their home inviting them to attend regular check-ups.

Useful links

Emergency Dental Care – Phone (09) 310 51400 between 8am – 2pm.

Outside these hours, on weekends and holidays phone: (09) 310 49999.

Kela – info on reimbursements

More information on dental care in Finland

Good to know

The Finnish word for dentist is hammaslääkäri (hammas – tooth, lääkaäri – doctor).

What’s On

Photo: Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

Photo: Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki

Helsinki is a city with four distinct seasons. Life doesn’t stop over winter however so don’t let cold weather keep you inside. Good places to check out what’s on in the city include:

Visit Helsinki – the official tourism website for the City of Helsinki

Hel Yeah! – events and suburb guide for Helsinki

Creating Helsinki – interviews and tips from Helsinki’s creative people