Groeten uit België!

Greetings from Antwerp, Belgium!

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.

Tot ziens!

P.S. Sorry that my card is arriving a bit late! The Finnish postal system is not always the fastest… 😉 

Can lah!

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!

  • Emmi

  

Photo credits: Emmi Korhonen

 

From Saigon With Love

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. 

Saigon in the morning. Source: Google.

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. 

 

Hallo, from the oldest city of Germany!

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 🙂

Viele Grüße aus Trier – Salla

Dobrý den!

The FAMU main building by the Vltava river. Image from FAMU website.
When lazyness kicks in or I just want to avoid the tourist-filled narrow cobblestone streets on my 20-minute walking route to FAMU I’ll take a metro to Národní třída.

My studies in Prague in FAMU have kept me quite busy. They have consisted mostly of either more academic and analytical courses on film theory and history, or intense shooting periods doing various student films. Many of the more academic courses have focused on the New Wave of Czechoslovak cinema in the 1960-1970, taking also into account the turbulent political situation of the times.

I feel that diving into this period in Central Europe through these films has really helped me understand and grasp what it means, and what it has meant, to be European. Prague is literally in the heart of Europe, while even in these days Finland can feel almost like an island. To anyone doubting this I suggest first traveling without flying from Finland to anywhere in Central Europe and then from Prague, for example, to any of the neighboring countries. The world seems a bit smaller here.

The shooting periods, on the other hand have been a great way to meet people, local and foreign, and also to see places that a regular tourist or maybe even a exchange student wouldn’t necessarily end up seeing. I’ve had the chance to shoot projects with very different kinds of people, from legendary underground rock heroes of the 60’s to modern day Czech drag queens and everything in between. I’ve also had the chance to shoot the projects in all kinds of places imaginable, from the centre of Prague to remote nudist beaches and weird underground clubs, from elementary schools to traditional pubs in the tiniest of villages. Below is one of my favorite shooting locations from this semester, a remote cabin a few hours south from Prague. Finnish people might guess why I found this scenery soothing. (Lakes in the Czech Republic are not that easy to find.)

Prague itself is beautiful but quite crowded and touristic. I live in the heart of Old Town, Prague 1, in an old building that has a nice vintage feeling to it. Though I appreciate the views, I tend to spend my free time somewhere a bit further away from the hectic Prague 1. Free time, though, for a film student can be a quite ambiguous concept.

A view from the window of a film student. At the intersection of the busy Dlouhá and Rybná, where one’s faith in humanity is truly tested by the nightly orchestras of drunken tourists.

Of all the choices I’ve made in life so far, coming to FAMU for my exchange was definitely one of the good ones. Working with, and more importantly befriending people from all over the world has made me richer, and I think that is what I’ll take with me from here when in few weeks I pack my backbag and hop on the train.

My exchange experience in Seoul, South Korea

Greetings from Seoul, South Korea!

I have spent over 5 months now in South Korea and the final week at school has started. I wish I could stay another semester because I have been enjoying living in here. I have had an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.

I studied Film, TV and Media at the Sungkyunkwan University. I knew how hardly people study in Korea so I was surprised to see how similar studying was compared to Finland. I was expecting to see a lot of stressed, hardworking students but instead people went out a lot after their studies. Earliest classes started at 9 AM and the latest class ended at 5.45 PM. There were mornings when I could just sleep as long as I want and go to class at 3PM which is very opposite to my own university, where most of our classes start in the morning. We had a lot of home works to do outside the classes so between traveling and sitting in classes you had always something to do. I have noticed that the pace in teaching is a lot faster than back at home and sometimes it was hard to keep up with everything teacher was teaching. Also, 3/4 of my classes the teacher talked in Korean, even if 35% of students would be exchange students.

I lived 5 minute away from my Campus in a local house. It is usually very unlikely to get a studio as an exchange student but I got very lucky. I really liked the neighborhood. In Seoul the neighborhood around schools are cheaper than anywhere else in the city, since mostly students live in the school area. There were a lot of places to eat and I didn’t have to pay more than 5€ from my lunches or dinners.

During my free time I spent time traveling around the country. I travelled a lot of cities in South Korea like Jeju island, Busan, Ulsan and Gangneung. Since I have visited South Korea few times before I didn’t experience any cultural shocks and I had the benefit of knowing the language which made it easier to live in here.

When I wasn’t traveling I usually just spent time with my boyfriend by exploring the Seoul itself. We visited a lot of exhibitions, mountains and tourist attractions, and tasted a lot of different kind of foods and drinks. 

I haven’t regretted going to South Korea. This experience gave me a lot of inspirations and it widened my view of how much opportunities there is when you leave your comfort zone. The best thing during the exchange was getting to know this culture I have liked for many years by actually experiencing the local life. I made a lot of amazing friends around the world and we made a lifelong friendship through this exchange. Korea is amazing country with a big history and culture, and I can’t wait to come back.

Sziasztok!

I am so happy that I chose this beautiful Hungarian capital for my exchange semester. My university, Budapest Business School the Faculty of Commerce Hospitality and Tourism, is situated in the heart of Budapest two blocks from the Parliament house and Danube.

I have been studying marketing, communication and organisational management. BBS offers courses that I have not possible study in TAMK, such as Advertisement Psychology. Because I am interested in events and fairs, I also took one tourism course called MICE tourism which I found one of the most interesting subjects during the semester. Unfortunately, our university did not offer Hungarian language course even though they promised in advance. It would have been useful to learn at least the basics of the language. I can speak only couple words in Hungarian, but I have not ever had any problems because majority of the people speak passable English language.

One of the reasons why I chose Budapest was that it is situated middle of the Europe and good connections to many countries and cities. I been trying to travel as much as possible in my spare time in Hungary and neighbouring countries. Here is so much to see in Budapest too so I have spent many weekends enjoying the atmosphere of the city. Every day is able to find different cultural events, music theatre and dance. It was so positive surprise that here is organised stand-up comedy gigs every second week in English. Those gigs have become tradition among friends.

Studying in Hungary differ from studying in Finland. Classrooms are simpler, the teachers use less technology during the lectures and we have had more individual assignments than in Finland. The schedules of the courses usually do not hold up, if there is any schedule, and teachers can change the plans middle of the semester. I have learnt that nothing works here but everything will be taken care of. Despite the mess at the beginning all the teacher have been helpful and especially the international coordinator has helped a lot!

Finnishness ?!?

The country, Finland, is  really nice country. It’s not that popular in China, so I only know when I really arrived in Finland. At the day when I came into Finland, I got suprised by the European style. This style isn’t just the style the house had been made, but all types of style.

Living style:

The first thing makes love Finland and feel the finnishes is the life style. I came to Finland and living in a Northern town. The people there are mostly elder people. I had many trouble not only on studying but the living as well. Sometimes, even the elder lady can’t speak and understand English, they still tring to help me with my troubles. This makes me feel so close to the people living there when I first get there.

After that, I moved to Tampere. Because I didn’t find the student apartment, I had to live in a private apartment with 5 females in it. It made me too nervourse. But even some of them are busy and having their own work, I can still get some help when I really getting troubles. For example: forget the key…

Even though Finnish people don’t  care too much on Famous Brand Products, but the promotion did effect on them. My living view is buying Famous brand Products and wasting lots of money even I don’t really need them. But I change my mind slowly after I had living fewyears in Finland. My friend also told me one story of her: She wastrying to find a shoe for running. She asked the waiter if there are some famouse brand shoes for running. The answer is “The most famous shoes for running is which can make you feel comfortable during your exercise.” Finnish people don’t foucus on the Famous Brand that much and this also causes less comparing.

Environment style:

The Finnish environment is the best of Finland. Finnish people has their mind and thinking to protect their environment. The recycling and separating the trash makes the environment clean and easy to reuse the resourses. In Finland, people separated the trash into different types of trash: paper waste, compost waste, glass waste, and other types of waste. With the different waste type, the trash will be separated already before enter into the waste factory. It’s efficient and clean for the people living in Finland. Because most of Finnish people had their own summer cottage, they don’t want to live in a forest surrounding by the waste.

Student Nurse in Operation Theaters at Scotland, Ayr.

How wonderful life can be to having this kind of an opportunity..!

About me: I just turned 35 during my placement here in Scotland. I’m studying for my second occupation, to become a Nurse. I used to be an entrepreneur for 14 years, and I remember thinking what an awesome chance it is for those who can go abroad during their studies.. 😀 And look at me now! You never know where life might throw you.

I’ve been to Scotland once before, maybe 7 years ago, with my sister. We were on a holiday for a week. And during that time my I fell in love with this country. It makes sense now why I’ve always loved rain and small, quiet places, and kind, helpful people. -It’s how this is!

So when it came to my knowledge that there is a chance to go abroad the first thing I had to find out was – could it be Scotland? And ’cause it could, that was my aim.

The process of applying started in Autumn 2018 and we had a placement, with my class, in Finland at Christmas that i had to skip so I would have few options for Placement in here. That made some difficulties, personally, to understand what I’d be doing in here.. And because of that I understood, we do have this strict way of doing things and wanting to plan and know how things will go ect… 😀 But the worry was totally unnecessary. When I came here everything solved out the best way possible and people are at ease for adapting a new  situation.  I had to embrace that ability as well.. 😉

My sister came with me here(, of course, again. She loved the place just like I did.) to escort me. We had the chance to get familiar with my new hometown, find out where my new beautiful home was, how to get around and – most of all, enjoying Scotland.

Placement started on Mon 22nd of April, that was Easter Monday and I didn’t know at all what I would be against with because it was a day off for most people. Of course Emergency Theaters are always running but I didn’t yet know how.  Everyone were so welcoming when I walked in and took me with them. My own supervisor came to back shift, but ’cause there was another student for a first day ass well, I got the first tour just like any local would have it. Anyhow the day was quiet (good thing for mankind) until in the afternoon.. There was a planned patient coming for washing of an Necrotising fasciitis. The washing was made under a General Anaesthesia. (This may sound awful for most, but for those who are in Nursing or in other Health -field, this is amazing..!) That was a great first day. (And FYI the Patient had the needed help and was doing better. ) 🙂

There will be more of those Operation later, but I’ll try to write the way how normal people write and are able to read. Without gagging.. 😛 -And of course, no one can be recognized.

But for now, cheerio!

-Henna 🙂

Ciao from Italy

I have been in Italy almost two months now, and I am in love! Here are so many things to learn about the culture and so many new perspectives to gain. I am living in the middle of most beautiful landscapes and I recommend if you are going to visit Italy, you must visit Barolo area.

A little town called Verduno, is where I live now, has 600 habitants with lovely restaurants and wineries. Pelaverga wine is smallest DOCG certificated wine in Italy. This unique wine can be exclusively produced only in this little town!


Luxury villas

There are a many other little villages nearby worth to visit! For example Roddi, La Morra, Serralunga and Barolo.

I am studying Hospitality management in TAMK University of applied sciences. For my last year internship I came to work here in Monvigiliero Vineyard Villas. We have four beautiful luxury villas which can accommodate up to 40 persons, or individually up to 13 persons.

I came here in the beginning May and I will leave in the middle of August. I am sad realizing that my internship is almost over. Even though I love Italian hot summer, I would love to see Italian magical autumn as well. Especially because in the beginning of October starts famous Alba white truffle- season and harvest in the vineyards.

I wanted to come here, because I am interested to work in a hotel business. After I finish my studies, I would love to find a job in a hotel’s reception. On my spare time I am sunbathing, relaxing and spending time with my boss. Usually I have 2 – 3 days off. Everything is doable if I want to travel somewhere; for example, I visited Genova last week and I before spent one night in Torino as well. I have a small apartment at villas, so it doesn’t take a long time for work.

I didn’t have any special expectations for my trip to Italy. The only thing that I considered as a difficulty was the language barrier. I did not speak Italian when I came here, only English. Now that I have been here almost two months, I know some words and I have started to understand some Italian.

In Finland it is quite rare to drink even one glass of wine in a lunch break. Here it is normal to drink one glass of wine while eating. It is actually vice versa; if you don’t order wine, everybody looks at you like you are sick! Of course, it is okay to drink one glass of wine, but I have not never seen that quite often. Overall this trip has been my best thing ever, I have learnt something new every day and I can’t believe that I need to return home so soon!

-Nora