Apocalyptica is famous for its unique cello-metal worldwide.Heavy metal, love and business, what do they have in common? They are likely reasons to immerse you in learning Finnish.

FORGET about love: metal is the answer. At least that’s the case for the majority of international students when they are asked about their motivations to study Finnish, according to a report by the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO). The organisation cites friends and family relations, rally driving, ice hockey and the Moomins as other important reasons for students to engage in the adventure of adding proficiency in Finnish to their qualifications.

According to CIMO, more than 350 exchange students enrolled last year in Finnish intensive courses during the summer in educational institutions in Helsinki, Joensuu, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Tampere, Turku and Vaasa. Students from Hungary in Joensuu have the particular motivation of attending courses particularly designed to explore the similarities between the Finnish and Hungarian languages, which are thought to have a common origin.

Top 5 reasons of HT followers to learn Finnish. Some comments have been edited due to formatting reasons.


Amy: I worked two winter seasons in ski resorts in Lapland and there I met my boyfriend who I’m marrying this summer!

Ben: I married a Finn, and though she speaks perfect English, I want to be able to speak with her and our kids in her language!

Tom: I am moving to Finland in a year to spend the rest of my life there with the woman of my dreams. Language is key to understanding Finland and its culture.


Elizabeth: I need a better job and adding another language to my CV gives a better competitive advantage in business world.

Yang: To run business here. But after learning it, I like it more and more for its unique grammar, flexibility and mathematical beauty.

Family ties

Ben: My mother is Finnish but she didn’t teach my brother and I as kids. When I did my military service they sent me to Tammisaari which is Swedish speaking, so no help there. Over a decade later I am finally making progress.


Jenn: I’ve always been in love with Finnish rock music and heavy metal. Then I spent a study semester in Helsinki and travelled to Lapland. This country gave me so many wonderful moments and I definitely want to work there once.

Yaniv: I don’t study it officially but I learnt a lot from the great Finnish music I listen to often, especially to the amazing Suvi Teräsniska and Jenni Vartiainen.

Social interaction

Liang: Initially I found it very complicated to buy groceries, but then I learned a few words from the Internet and I think it helped me a lot to understand. I don’t mind learning Finnish because I love Finland.

Among the general population, love, business, family ties and social integration are the most common motivations to learn Finnish, according to an online poll conducted by Helsinki Times. Our survey collects touching stories of foreigners moving to Finland to start a new life with their loved ones, entrepreneurs who consider speaking Finnish to be both a necessity and an advantage in the working life, sons and daughters of Finnish expats coming back to Finland, and people who simply want to be able to shop at the grocery store or to understand what people are talking about in the streets.

Love of metal music inspires international students to learn Finnish.Whatever your case is, motivation is always important when learning any foreign language. Finnish is renowned for being a hard language to learn, even though Hannele Branch, lecturer in Finnish at the University of London, considers it to be “[not] difficult but different”. The most important thing about learning the language is to keep studying it outside the classroom and to do your homework, Branch says. “Finnish grammar can be learnt logically. The greatest obstacle is the vocabulary, which requires memory; and the teacher cannot memorise for you.”

Be that as it may, the reputation of Finnish to be a difficult language to learn is widely spread and this (mis)conception was also joked around in our poll. To quote one of our respondents: What language will be spoken in Heaven? Finnish, because it takes an eternity to learn.


Worldwide famous Finnish metal acts

Nightwish: Symphonic metal band from Kitee, formed in 1996. Famous in Finland since the release of their debut album, they achieved worldwide recognition in 1998 with their release Oceanborn.

Stratovarius: Power metal band formed in 1984, they have released 15 studio records and one live album. They are considered to be one of the leading groups of the power metal and symphonic metal genre worldwide.

Sonata Arctica: Power metal band from the town of Kemi, Finland. Originally created as a hard rock band, they often include symphonic metal elements, and their later releases contain several elements typical of progressive metal.