My Antwerp journey started in the last weeks of January 2019, and my exchange is about 5 month long. My expectations from Antwerp were little, since I knew nothing about this city nor Belgium as a country. I was very pleasantly surprised on how nice people are on the streets, and how in a way everything is kinda similar compared to Finland. My school here is AP university, which actually is a bit tougher than I anticipated. We have a lot of work. A lot. Gladly they are done in teams, which takes the load off my back a bit. Even though the studies are tough, I’ve enjoyed the vast selection of very very very good beers.
On my spare time we hangout with other exchange students, usually in bars, go out, do sports and just stroll around the city. I would say one can’t experience Antwerp only during a holiday. The real thing is to live here to actually and truly experience it.
Our exchange student organisation is gladly hosting different kinds of events, ranging from museum visits to pub crawls. I can’t tell much of the museum meets, but the pub crawls were fun! They also hosted a beer pong tournament which me and my team almost won. 😉
If you ever want to visit a very nice city with lovely street architecture and good vibes, you need to come to Antwerp.
My 2,5 month internship period in Kathmandu is halfway through. So I guess it’s time to put my digital postcard out there.
I am working in a documentary production company. Our main focus is to make short promotional documentaries for different kind of social businesses around Nepal. I’ve enjoyed working here, because I’ve had a chance to do many different things. For the most part, I’m doing cinematography tho.
On my free time I usually go wander around places. Skateboarding around streets is pretty fun, because there isn’t that many skateboarders here and I bet they don’t see white scandinavian boi skating in the traffic too often. If there’s no filming trip scheduled for weekend, I have time to go visit other places. I’ve spent two weekends in the tourist area Thamel. Next weekend I am gonna go for a quick one day hike with my co-workers.
Working in this company has been quite different than what I’ve used to. It’s quite a new company, and the people in it are self-educated. We have a very fast and efficient way of working, but that also has a downside; we don’t plan things too much. We just go and do, and try to learn from mistakes. For me it’s sometimes frustrating, because some of the things could’ve been so much easier if they were planned better, but at the same time I’ve enjoyed this way of working. Not worrying too much, just going for it.
It’s been great times here and at this point I’m pretty well settled here, so I’m just gonna enjoy the rest of the time and try to learn and challenge myself as much as possible.
After my internship period I’m gonna go for a little Annapurna basecamp hike and after that spend another month somewhere else before heading back to Finland. I’m excited about rest of the internship and my near-future travels!
I went on exchange to Cyprus and studied the field of business administration in University of Nicosia. The experience was very pleasant overall. Teachers were mostly very expressive and passionate about their own subjects. The atmosphere was quite chill but students were expected to actively take part in the lectures. I studied two language courses and two management courses and I found that in Cyprus solo work is more common than group projects. In one of the management courses we had to do two case studies and presentations in small groups while in the other one all the work was done solo apart from some in-class discussions.
Pic#1: Nicosia. Pic#2: Nicosia at sunrise.
University of Nicosia was in general way easier than Tampere University of Applied Sciences is. I and another Finnish student scored straight A’s with ease while in Finland neither of us does. However for local students and some exchange students from other countries the exams didn’t seem to be that easy. Often the exam questions would have answers straight from the study material written in the same exact words and we didn’t need to apply the information into practice in any way.
Pic#3: Buffavento Castle, North Cyprus. Pic#4: Golden Beach, North Cyprus.
I mostly spent my spare time with other exchange students. There was an organization called Erasmus Society Nicosia (not to be confused with the official ESN) which arranged lots of events for Erasmus students every week, so many of us got together in the evenings, usually multiple times a week.We travelled around both Greek and Turkish Cyprus and the adjacent countries such as Jordan, Israel and Greece. We visited all the cities in Cyprus such as Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos multiple times. We also spent a lot of time sunbathing on the beautiful beaches of Ayia Napa.
Pic#5: Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa. Pic#6: Ayia Napa Sea Caves.
Going on exchange to Cyprus was the best decision I have ever made and I strongly recommend choosing Nicosia as one’s exchange destination.
Time here has passed faster than I could have imagined, even though I had very high expectations. I’m studying at the Seoul National University of Science & Technology and the semester is coming to an end. The studies have moved on with good pace, but stressful during the exam periods. For every course there is a high attendance percentage mandatory, what firstly was a shock. At the beginning it was hard to get enrolled for
the courses, but after the beginning things have been moving on well. Every professor of every course speaks good English and the teaching has been good.
My time here has been a great combination of studying and traveling the city. Living at the campus is a dream for a student. It is so easy to just get down stairs and walk for five minutes (maximum) to the lecture. The facilities are great too. At the first floor is a cafeteria, a convenience store, a gym and a coffee shop where you can hang out. The campus is located relatively far away from the city center, but with such a good metro system it is no problem to just hop on a train and travel anywhere in the city before you know it.
There are so many great traditional palaces as there are modern buildings. I have seen lots of things in one semester, since almost every week we have discovered something new from this city with friends. Personally, it was really easy to adapt to the life here in Korea. In here one might feel like been followed, because of the camera surveillance, but most definitely this is a safe place to live in. This city is exciting and full of adventures. I’m going to miss Seoul.
I am writing from the faraway land of Japan, more specifically from the southern main island of Kyushu. The summer here has been brutal for a northern boi like me, but somehow I have survived thus far. The nature, culture and food over here is pretty much reasons alone for anyone to travel to this place. I have been able to go on field trips to remote areas deep in the mountains of Kunisaki peninsula, where one could find an old samurai castle town of Kitsuki, which still has many old buildings, original or rebuilt. Going there was instantly a trip back in time, much like any old temple one might bump into when exploring the countryside. I have found so many Shinto shrines by just jumping on the bicycle and going somewhere. Many of then are luckily marked on Google maps, but I have been doing more of the rogue exploration with nothing to guide me.
The studying here is a lot more intensive than back home, and the campus library is full of people studying till the closing time and even on weekends. People seem to take their studies a lot more seriously, but also they are given a lot of homework, which I’m not used to at all. Of course we international students have different courses for the most part and the teachers are pretty chill, so I don’t think we are doing nearly as much work as the Japanese students are. Also, here a course only has a single 1,5h lesson a week, so in my case I have 8 courses and 8 classes every week.
As a film and TV student I pretty much had nothing here that would strictly connect to my studies, but I don’t regret coming here for a second as the cultural experience has totally been worth the effort. As I said before, international students have a pool of courses to choose from, and I think most of them are catered towards people who study economics, with minor overlap with other majors. Still I would recommend Oita for anyone who wants to experience Japan, especially if you are into the countryside and exploring remote places like I am. Any city dwelling folk could maybe benefit more from going up north into a bigger university.
We got to participate in a local rice planting festival, where people would assemble in a row to fill a section of the field with rice, then everyone would step back and fill another row. This way a rather large field was filled pretty quickly and the end result looked something like this. Pretty cool huh.
In between a mountain valley was a ton of rice fields and these lonely houses, humbly sitting beneath the towering mountains all around.
I would say this university is best for people who want to learn Japanese or perfect the skills they already have. There are other courses that one could find interesting, like popular culture (manga, anime etc.) and history. If you want to advance your studies or career plan maybe this place is not the best place for you, but for me it was just fine as a cultural experience and a cool new view into a bigger world than Small Town Finland where I’ve spent most of my life.
I spent my study exchange in Paris for almost five months in the spring of 2018. My exchange was at the ESCE International Business School, which is one of the few schools and universities that have their campus in central Paris, located 1 km from the Eiffel Tower. The campus is relatively small with 2500 students and for each semester around 100 exchange students.
The courses I undertook were a mix of bachelor and master level courses in interesting subjects like international mobility and EU lobbying, with credits mostly ranging from two to four per course. My courses were all in English and mostly with other exchange students, because local students tend to choose the French teaching. Lectures are similar to TAMK, with quite much group work and projects, but that is all dependent on the teacher’s style. Compared to Finland more work is done individually outside school hours and exams are more comprehensive and demanding.
However, the relaxed schedule at university gave me the opportunity to explore Paris and surrounding areas very well! As a self-proclaimed foodie, I spent my spring eating my way through Paris, and exploring all the corner bistros offering wines sold by the term piscine aka pool, the closer to summer it got. My home area, 11th arrondissement, became very familiar, and nearby Coulée verte René-Dumont is my favourite park in Paris, with Jardin Des Plantes close second.
Overall, Paris is not all of France, but its own entity with fast pace and endless opportunities. I strongly advice everyone to travel outside of Paris to see the difference in lifestyle and of people’s attitude to life. I would recommend exchange in Paris to anyone, even if your French is not very good, as a simple “Parlez-vous Anglais?” will result in French people actually communicating fully in English after the initial proclamation that they speak “a little” English only. Paris will forever have a piece of my heart!
My exchange in Belgium began at the end of January and is now coming to an end.
I studied business management at Artesis Plantijn at the Meistraat campus right next to the famous shopping street of Meir and also very closeby to the central railway station of Antwerp. I had courses in marketing, finance and environmental management. Studying in Belgium is definitely more demanding than in Finland, but it was all worth it as the subjects were mostly very interesting and useful for me. For example the course of content marketing is something I can implement right away in my current job.
As courses were more demanding, I did spend a good chunk of my spare time studying, too. However, I did have time for fun things as well! Sometimes we would go shopping and to have coffee with my friends, other times I would be going to different kinds of events. For example, I went to a chocolate fair in Brussels (the dress in the picture is made of chocolate!) and to Ru Paul’s drag show. I participated in a few workshops related to coding that I had found through Facebook. It was fun, as coding is something totally new to me but it interests me a lot. I also visited the Tutankhamon exposition in Paris, which was absolutely spectacular. I would totally recommend going to see it if you get the chance – it’s extended until September of this year!
I feel like students are quite relaxed in Belgium – which really is curious as teachers can be a lot more strict and courses a lot more extensive. It was not uncommon that students came to class somewhat unprepared, even if there was a presentation for example. Of course it was not the case for all students but this laid-back attitude was a lot more common there than in Finland. A lot of times, my fellow Erasmus students and I were more stressed over assignments and such than the local students appeared to be. The “hierarchy” between students and teachers was also more noticeable in Belgium than in Finland, which is not necessarily a bad thing but just something that I noticed.
Overall, my time in Belgium has been nice. I believe Antwerp has a lot to offer for students. It’s a nice city with a nice mix of different cultures and generally very friendly people.
P.S. Sorry that my card is arriving a bit late! The Finnish postal system is not always the fastest… 😉
I have now been Singapore for my internship since January, so almost six months now. Singapore is mostly as you would expect, clean, efficient and hot and humid, but it is also much more than that!
My internship at the Embassy of Finland in Singapore has given me the perfect opportunity and place to learn, work and network in an international environment. The team is small, but super efficient and together with other embassies and the local EU Delegation, you actually work with a bigger group than just your own office. Together with other embassy interns, I have formed a solid group of friends with people coming and going at different times of the year.
Singaporeans love to shop and eat, which also gives them a great opportunity to enjoy the ice-cold air-conditioned indoors, instead of sweating outside in +32 degree heat with over 80% humidity all year around. If you have to go outside, you better avoid the sun under an umbrella as getting tan is not desired. And then there’s me trying to enjoy the sun and evidently burning myself every single time, but that’s what you get if you want to experience all of Singapore in just six months. It is not as small as people think, and there is much more interesting things to see than just three days split between Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa. My top tips for tourists now include a trip to Pulau Ubin and Haw Par Villa, with the must-see rooftop bar views at sunset.
Working culture in the embassy is a mix of mostly Finnish with some Asian or international elements. With such a small team and most of us being Finnish, hierarchy is really low compared to any other office in here. Only our local staff addresses the Ambassador by the title and not their first name. Working hours are also quite Finnish and all of us go home relatively early (by 6pm) compared to other offices always working on (mostly unpaid) overtime even until 8pm sometimes! It is difficult to compare the working culture to Finland, as I have never been in a similar position or even worked in an office, but I feel the embassy is not really the most striking comparison to Finland anyway. Everyone’s attitude in the embassy is very optimistic and hardworking, and as Singaporeans might say can lah!
I left for Vietnam in 2018 to do my five-month practical training after two years in Finland. Not until I came back to Vietnam did I realize how much I miss the country and how much everything has changed in the last few years. I also have learned a lot of lessons myself, especially related to my career path and future goals.
I did two different internships at two different companies in Ho Chi Minh City, one from start-up and one from global cooperation. At the start-up company, I was working as a Digital Marketing intern who would perform tasks related to planning and strategizing the marketing campaigns, copywriting, graphics; handling Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and other marketing channels to increase branding, engagement, and conversion or managing social media channels of the company. The start-up was the placement where I took on the responsibilities with my creativity and flexibility. It was also the place where I found out that I was not really into the marketing field, and I needed to seek an alternative. However, I did learn something here and nothing wasted. Specifically, I could demonstrate my design skill and use my imagination to make creative products published on social media platforms. I was delighted to see many audiences get interested in the content created by myself.
Meanwhile, I spent another three months as a Research Analyst intern at a management consulting cooperation. I was in charge of conducting desk research related to projects; building up potential respondents list; handling in-depth interviews, and transcribing and translating interviews. The practical training at the global organization gave me a lot of experiences. More importantly, I recognized my career path in the future. I would follow management consulting industry and become a business consultant. I am interested in working for projects in various business sectors from the automotive industry to the construction industry from which I have acquired a large amount of knowledge and specific skills.
During my return to Vietnam, I usually spent my spare time discovering the city and hanging out with my friends. We gathered together at some famous cafes in Saigon, then went for shopping or buying foods. I often shared my stories about my life in Finland to my friends and most of the time, they tended to get curious about how life would be when living abroad and how I could get over challenges or culture shocks. Besides, I did travel. My family and I traveled to Thailand in early June and to Danang, Hoian, and Hue in July. What I remembered most were the food and the sceneries of the tropical countries with sunlight and warm atmosphere. I love the beach. I always feel peaceful and calm in front of the ocean waves. The fresh air and the wind makes me feel fresh and relaxed.
It is difficult for me to point out the differences in the working environment between Vietnam and Finland, perhaps because I did not pay full attention to what happened around me or I made quick adaptation to the environment. However, the most significant difference I recognized was related to high context versus low context. At my companies, people tended to avoid telling straight about mistakes and problems to co-workers. Instead, they would try to suggest that everybody should look at other directions and start new plans. People rarely gave feedback on the work that I was doing although sometimes I had to ask if there was anything wrong and what I should do to correct my mistakes. Now and then, I find it confusing to understand the case and solve the case. I thought that the best way to go through these obstacles was to focus on my work and leave the problems behind.
It was time to leave Vietnam for Finland. When I got back to Finland, I missed Saigon a lot. Saigon was the city where I had a lot of memories with my friends as well as unforgettable experiences that made who I am today.
I have been in Trier for the past three months and I am happy that I got to experience this part of Germany better. The area has plenty of vineyards, and Trier is located right next to Mosel river, so the nature is very beautiful here too. Being here in central Europe, many other nice countries are so close that it is easy to travel around so I made a few trips to Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels and Bruges.
On my free time here depending on the weather I might have a coffee, go eating out or have drinks by the river with friends. Our weekly get-togethers are usually on Thursdays and Saturdays when we party together or just have a good time chilling at nice places around the city.
What comes to studying, it has been quite relaxed here as I only had three courses: Intercultural Management, International Economics and German language as well as a seminar of Asian economy and Asian companies. Studying at Hochschule Trier for Erasmus students is very laidback as the teachers want us to enjoy our time during our exchange. Observing the local students and their studying, I would say that German people start to prepare for exams a bit earlier than students in Finland and here people are always on time to lectures. In general, there aren’t too many differences to studying in Finland though.
Now that my exchange is getting closer to its end, I feel like I should have gone for an exchange for a whole year, since the time spent living abroad is so special and different than living in my “comfort zone” in Finland. During my exchange I feel like I’ve become more independent and self-confident, and the best part is to realize that you are capable of living alone in a foreign country and in a city where you at first knew absolutely no one. Living abroad has also taught me a lot of new things about myself and I’ve also started to figure out better what I want to do with my professional career. It is true that sometimes you have to distance yourself from your daily life back home, in order to see your life clearer, how and with whom you are actually spending most of your time there. This helps you to see if that is truly what you should be doing.
All in all, I am very grateful of this experience and journey I’ve had here and also very proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone. I encourage everyone to go for an exchange when they have the chance, it will open your eyes in so many ways, to many new things. Life is good 🙂