Bergen or Helsinki?

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fri'chickenisha
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I have the option to spend a year studying abroad (all in English) and I've narrowed it down to two choices: Bergen or Helsinki (I really like Scandinavia and I've heard that Norweigan/Finnish/Swedish are really easy for native English speakers to pick up - I should note that I like learning languages, cos nearly everyone speaks English in Scandinavia ).

Could anyone possibly give me pros and cons of either city?

Thanks
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HJV
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Finnish will be much harder for you to learn, but Helsinki is a nicer city - bigger, more things to do, more things to see. Norway is also more expensive, so you'll be hard pushed for money. In Finland, the price levels are only a little higher than Britain, in Norway a lot higher. Both of them will be fairly crap in the winter as it'll be semi-cold and slushy. Helsinki is warmer in the summer. It rains a lot more in Bergen (4x as much) - so you'll feel just like at home in Britain . Helsinki also has the bonus of being well connected - you can take a 2-hour ferry to Tallinn for a day trip, 3-hour train to St. Petersburg, or a ferry to Stockholm.

All-in-all, as a city I'd recommend Helsinki, but the language is considerably harder for you to learn (it's not closely related to English, unlike Norwegian).
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fri'chickenisha
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(Original post by HJV)
Finnish will be much harder for you to learn, but Helsinki is a nicer city - bigger, more things to do, more things to see. Norway is also more expensive, so you'll be hard pushed for money. In Finland, the price levels are only a little higher than Britain, in Norway a lot higher. Both of them will be fairly crap in the winter as it'll be semi-cold and slushy. Helsinki is warmer in the summer. It rains a lot more in Bergen (4x as much) - so you'll feel just like at home in Britain . Helsinki also has the bonus of being well connected - you can take a 2-hour ferry to Tallinn for a day trip, 3-hour train to St. Petersburg, or a ferry to Stockholm.

All-in-all, as a city I'd recommend Helsinki, but the language is considerably harder for you to learn (it's not closely related to English, unlike Norwegian).
Oh I see, thanks for that!

How many people speak Swedish/English in Finland?
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fri'chickenisha
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(Original post by Luceria)
Finland isn't in Scandinavia, it's a Nordic country. Just saying, if you visit Norway etc. The definition of Scandinavia in Scandinavia is Norway, Sweden and Denmark. I haven't been to Helsinki, but I strongly recommend Bergen. It's a very beautiful city. I guess Finland might be cheaper though, if that's the most important thing. Mild winters, warm enough summers. Though it does tend to rain a lot. The climate on the west coast is very similar to Britain.

I doubt Finnish is easy for English speakers to pick up. It's not a Germanic language like Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. . Those three languages would be easier.
Hey, thanks! Ooops - sorry, assumed it was Scandinavian too!

Is there lots for a young person to do in Bergen? Are the people friendly?
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HJV
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(Original post by fri'chickenisha)
Oh I see, thanks for that!

How many people speak Swedish/English in Finland?
5% speak Swedish as a native tongue, whilst I guess about 25% speak it fluently. Most of the speakers are down south, so for Helsinki it's probably more like 10% native/40% fluent. I just made up the "fluent" figures because most people learn it at school - but that doesn't necessarily mean they speak it.

Practically everyone below 50 speaks English well enough to have a conversation.
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fri'chickenisha
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(Original post by HJV)
5% speak Swedish as a native tongue, whilst I guess about 25% speak it fluently. Most of the speakers are down south, so for Helsinki it's probably more like 10% native/40% fluent. I just made up the "fluent" figures because most people learn it at school - but that doesn't necessarily mean they speak it.

Practically everyone below 50 speaks English well enough to have a conversation.
Haha, great, thanks a lot!
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username540122
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(Original post by Luceria)
No, it's definitely the Scandinavian definition. It's not just about languages, but about the unions and heritage etc . Speaking a Scandinavian language does matter though, when it comes to being Scandinavian. People mistake Nordic for Scandinavian. Not that Wikipedia is the most trustworthy site in the world. But the Swedish, Danish, English, Norwegian and so on articles describe Scandinavia as "Norway, Sweden and Denmark.".. And you'll find the same information elsewhere as well. I've never met a Dane who considered Finland to be Scandinavian, and I haven't met a Finn who thinks Finland is Scandinavian. Just because Scandinavia is often used a synonym for Nordic in English doesn't make it right.
Ever read Scandinavia and the world? It's made by a Dane, and in the comics Scandinavia only includes Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
I have met some Finns who consider it part of Scandinavia, and some who don't. In the colloquial sense, most Norwegians, Danes and Swedes would refer to Scandinavia, as Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Linguistically that is correct. Geographically it isn't, as the Scandinavian Peninsula is made up by Norway, Sweden and parts of Finland. Culturally it's hard to accurately say whether or not the three Nordic kingdoms are more closely related to each other than to the rest of the Nordic countries.

Anyhow, I'm a Scandinavian, and I don't mind Finland being included in the term Scandinavia. It's the same as when you hear Turkey being called an European country. In the periphery of how far the term extends, not common, but not really incorrect.
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ahpadt
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(Original post by fri'chickenisha)
I've heard that Norweigan/Finnish/Swedish are really easy for native English speakers to pick up
Not so sure about this. Our grammar is full of exceptions and rules. :P

My dad is from abroad and still doesn't quite grasp the language, after 20 odd years.
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Manitude
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This is a hard choice! Both seem to be very nice cities, a lot of bands I like come from Helsinki or the surrounding area and play there frequently, but there's a few bands I like from Bergen too (none of whom still play there as far as I know).
Both cities are going to be expensive (though people on this thread have stated that one will be more expensive than the other)
Norwegian would be easier to learn as it shares similarities to English, whereas Finnish doesn't from what I can tell.

On the basis of language I would personally go for Bergen, but I don't think I would dislike Helsinki at all.
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Erich Hartmann
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(Original post by fri'chickenisha)
I have the option to spend a year studying abroad (all in English) and I've narrowed it down to two choices: Bergen or Helsinki (I really like Scandinavia and I've heard that Norweigan/Finnish/Swedish are really easy for native English speakers to pick up - I should note that I like learning languages, cos nearly everyone speaks English in Scandinavia ).

Could anyone possibly give me pros and cons of either city?

Thanks
Been to both, was there for work purposes.

If money is not an issue, Bergen is 100x better than Helsinki. Cost, if you are careful with your money (like how most of your Norwegian student friends would most likely be) then you will find it to be about the same as being in West London.

Bergen really is a beautiful city and you will enjoy it a lot more as it is far more cultural.

Not saying Helsinki is bad, but somehow or rather it just doesn't have the flavour of Bergen....... one thing for sure.. you must never ask a Scandinavian which country he/she prefers as they would only say their own country

As for the language, I was an exchange student in Sweden for a semester. I already spoke German fluently at that time, so in theory I thought I could pick up Swedish quite easily...... it didn't happen Most of them knowing you can't speak Swedish will automatically speak to you in English. Did pick up some but nowhere near enough to hold a decent conversation.

Norwegian is a lot harder to pick up than Swedish and they speak it rather fast so it's hard to catch what they are trying to say.

Finnish, it's just alien.
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fri'chickenisha
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Thanks so much to everyone for the replies.

(Original post by Erich Hartmann)

If money is not an issue, Bergen is 100x better than Helsinki. Cost, if you are careful with your money (like how most of your Norwegian student friends would most likely be) then you will find it to be about the same as being in West London.
Hah, what a coincidence - I am a west Londoner

I think I will be choosing Bergen guys!!!
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