Languages

Another funny thing came into light again this week where Finns and Eastern-Europeans differ a lot. OK, I can't say this applies to most Slovaks but definitely to most of my team here. Holidays. 

In Finland we work for the sole reason of having a long, lazy summer vacation. I started here last summer and people were being told to use their vacation days from 2013... I can't imagine how that is even possible?! And still, before Christmas people were really being told that you absolutely HAVE to take days off. I mean, if people here really aren't that eager to have days off I volunteer to help them by taking those days from them!


But anyway, we had a funny incident in a grocery store this week with my neighbour/colleague: we were queuing behind an elderly woman talking in English, of course. When the woman got to the counter she started talking to the salesperson about us. My neighbour translated to me: according to the woman it is so important for some people to speak these foreign languages in order to distinguish themselves. She was also enquiring if the salesperson recognized the strange babbling. 


This woman summarizes what I discovered about English language when I moved here; not all countries in Europe even know what it sounds like. Naive me hadn't even considered this to be possible. Also the view that languages are learned, not in order to enhance one's chances in work life, but more in order to stand out from the crowd in a boasting way was completely contrary to how we in North (at least) see knowing more than one language.

Funny thing is also that in primary schools we were told to be proud of the fact that we have to know at least three languages: Finnish, English and Swedish. It was portrayed as a very rare skill in the world... Bullshit. Here knowing three languages is not special at all, and also the range of languages that people speak here is unbelievable; among them such exotic languages as Danish or Finnish, Greek, etc. You may think as I did, "What's the point", but in fact these people can get hired in any big global company because they know these languages. Cool.

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