Monthly Archives: December 2014

MAI PEN RAI – It’s ok, don’t worry

I have been studying in Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, which is the oldest and one of the best and most respected universities in Thailand. However, I feel that Chulalongkorn in general is just well branded and it didn’t really meet with my expectations. The quality of teaching wasn’t that good and I feel that the lack of good teaching methods was the reason for the endless useless group projects that provided nothing new for anyone. Also, Chula is the school for rich Thai kids who have a lot of pressure from their parents and therefore they are after good grades. That means that there isn’t the same kind of questioning of teachers or the freedom to focus on the things that interest you. Teacher’s opinions matter more and the subjects of group projects are chosen to please the teacher.

At school we had to wear uniforms that are said to represent the respect towards the education and are needed to create social cohesion. However, the uniform rules were different for example for first and third year students and postgraduates didn’t have to wear the uniform at all. Therefore, in my opinion the uniform is just one way to maintain the hierarchical community between students as well. People will know your current place in a society by just looking at your uniform. And I hated mine.

At school it was pretty easy to create the schedule that allowed people to travel a lot. Almost all my friends, including me, had only three days of school and the rest of the week was for exploring and traveling and trying to find places from off the beaten track, places where tourists don’t go or don’t know about.

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Traveling in back of a pick up truck in Isan, Northeast Thailand
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Making Som Tam in a local home
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Watching the sunrise in Baiyoke Tower, tallest building in Bangkok

 

Kids in Myanmar
Kids in Myanmar
Surfing in Koh Phayam
Surfing in Koh Phayam

 

I have heard from many people that they hate Bangkok and there is not much to do or see. I agree that if only visiting the city for few days you’ll get to see the expensive tourist attractions, traffic jams, huge shopping malls and annoying street vendors and tuk tuk drivers. However, when actually living there and getting deeper knowledge about the people and the culture is something that made me to fell in love with the city. I love how things don’t work as they do in Europe and how you never get what you expect. That creates patience and acceptance and forces you to focus on things that really matter.

Sangklaburi
Sangklaburi
Sunset in Laos
Sunset in Laos

Rather than just Kimchi!

23rd August, 2014

I live in Korea University’s dormitory rounded by the university and its campus which consisting of so many students and foreigners. Therefore, it’s so easy to find convenient stores, restaurants, coffee shops or bars, etc. I and my friend headed to a small food stall serving traditional Korean food. None of us can speak Korea but luckily there were some images indicating the food outside the stall so we pointed at the dishes that we wanted. The dishes looked quite small in the photos but its actual size was amazing. We didn’t know it so we ordered 3 different dished which supposed to serve for 3 or 4 people. The food were very nice! I ate Korean food in my home country but it tasted quite different when I had a chance to eat those in Korea.

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24th August, 2014
In the morning, I went around with my friend with the hope to find a big supermarket there. Unfortunately, there was no big supermarket near my place. Even though, there were so many grocery stores near there but they didn’t have variety of fresh stuff to choose like vegetable or fruit. But I will go to the supermarket soon when I my T-money which more or less like the bus card.

In the evening I had the meeting with my buddy and her friends. We ate cool noodle again and then went for dessert. After that we went to the Group 6 meeting from Korea University Buddy Assisstant which is as same as International Tutor. In my group, there were 17 Korean buddies and 80 exchange students. It was not the official meeting yet, but there were so many people coming. We ate fried chicken and drank beer as well as tried soju for the first time. All together we shouted out load our group’s cheering slogan: “Six, six, six, six. Six’s on the beach” It was super-fun though. Since I couldn’t drink well, I felt dizzy after drinking only 3 shots of soju. Therefore, I had to leave the party soon. My night was completed by getting a blue cup for brushing teeth from my lovely Singaporean roommates. Anyway, such a nice day!

27th, August, 2014.

“City tour” was the thing that I was waiting for. I and other exchange students had a chance to Royal Palace, The National Folk Museum of Korea and Cheong Wa Dae. We didn’t have much time as we thought so basically, we just wandered around and saw the place where most of historical Korean dramas were made. At 13:00 we left for In-Sa Dong, one of the most bustling are for shopping. We enjoyed a delicious lunch there – in Korea, people often give you a lot of side dishes to eat with! After that, I had free time to walk around before going to NANTA Theater. NANTA performance completed my day. It is a nonverbal performance firstly introduced in 1997. NANTA is an integration of Korea’s traditional rhythm, Samulnori (which is a genre of traditional percussion music originating in Korea), with comedy. The musical plot is simple, it is a story of three cooks who try to meet their deadline for preparing a wedding banquet within a time limit while the manager installs his incompetent nephew among the kitchen. NANTA involves magic trick, comedy, dance, acrobatics, etc. with the participation of audiences as well. It was so enjoyable to watch it. In my opinion, this is the must-watch for everyone who visits Korea for the first time.

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29th, October, 2014

Such a long time I haven’t updated anything for this blog since I was so “busy” for travelling and exploring this beautiful country. My first trip was on 10th of October, it’s a 2 days 1 night trip to Sokcho. It is the nearest city to Mountain Seoraksan National Park which is one of the most beautiful national park in South Korea. Also, the DMZ (demilitarized zone) is only one hour bus ride from the central hub. You can take the train to explore for that area, but it always requires to book for that tour 1 week in advance (if I got it right); therefore I just wandered around city without going to DMZ area. We went to see “Abai village” which is a small village of North Korean expats. The village is famous since it served as a scenery of for the TV drama “ Autumn in my heart”  which later on is considered as a pioneer for “Korean wave”. The other special thing about the village is that you can find the best “squid sundae” here. This is the local specialty and is cooked by taking the intestines out of squid and filling it with tofu, rice noodles, onions, carrots and egg, then the squid is baked or fried and cut into small edible pieces. It actually looks like “sausage”.

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Sokcho also attracts lots of tourists with beautiful beaches. The clear water, white sand and pine forest create a nice view there. Not only the beach, had I also gone to observation tower with a twisted shape shown as in the photo, then watching the sunset and of course hiking. I and my friends visited Seokraksan National Park. The park has a variety of routes which are well marked and lead to different attractive place. Since we hadn’t got enough time, we chose a shortest route which took us two and half hours to reach Biryong waterfall. The view was just so spectacular.

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“Rather than just Kimchi” means the way it is! There are so many interesting things to explore while staying in South Korea. So many traditional festivals to see, experience of “sharing culture” while eating, a lot of delicious dishes – especially BBQ , hiking in autumn is more than just perfect – blue sky, leaves turn red and yellow with a little bit of chill, crowded shopping street with street food, cosmetics, etc. so many that  I cannot even list them all out here.

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My study exchange in South Korea was totally completed. I will never forget all these precious experiences, and always remember all amazing people that I’ve met!

 

Dreampeaks in Madrid

Hola!

Greetings from Madrid, Spain. I am doing my internship here for a company called Dreampeaks. It is a small family owned company which is specialized on climbing and hiking activities. Most of the times i have been just working with my boss and helping him with marketing and finding new potential customers. I have also been able to join the hikes. The hikes i participated were called walk & talk. Hikes were easy and bilingual. The meaning was to see the beautiful mountains close to Madrid called Sierra de Guadarrama and talk spanish and english. We had customers from all ovet the world and hiking routes were beautiful.

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I have enjoyed my internship a lot and i had also time to take some spanish classes to improve my spanish. I was also able to do trips. I went to Barcelona, Girona and Toledo.

Madrid has been wonderful for me. A full of life and good food. You will never get bored in this city. I highly recommend to go there and feel the relaxed atmosphere of this big city.

 

Un saludo,

Marjukka Mäkinen

 

Take it sanuk when your in Bangkok baby!

This is from Bangkok, one the most chaotic asphalt jungles in the world. After five months in this city it feels natural that fresh air is non-existing, cars and motorcycles drive recklessly without rules and the smells are strong and differ from delicious street food to the nasty odor of sewers. And what it’s like to study in this kind of chaos metropol?

Assumption University of Thailand, or ABAC is the first and most well-known international university in Thailand. It’s a catholic private university and most of the students are from high class families because the tuition fees are quite expensive. Most of the teachers here got their degrees from USA or Europe, so their English skills are quite good. I’ve seen that in the big world, especially in Asia, studying engineering can be a tough choice. More than I’ve learned about engineering, I’ve learned about handling stress and pressure on your shoulders. Studying in this Hogwarts of Asia (yes, the campus is like in movies) is an always surprising experience and it’s never boring, even though it can be hard from time to time.

The campus where I'm studying
The campus where I’m studying

What about living in Bangkok? Well, this is a city with a lot of diversion, infinite possibilities and cultural experiences. There’s a surface level of bars, restaurants, malls and tourist attractions where you can spend your time in Bangkok without noticing a big difference. And then if you dig a bit deeper you will find the real Bangkok, with poverty and people struggling to make their living. It will give you perspective and I would put that experience over the actual studies in a country like this. First being shocked and slowly adapting the new environment and way of thinking is something that no-one can read from books or get from a lecture in Finland.

For the final words, everything is pretty cheap here, I pay under a 100e for my studio room and eat in a restaurant twice a day. It will be hard to adapt back to the standard of living in Finland. Still one more semester to enjoy all of this!

-Antti

Greetings from Saint-Petersburg!!!

I arrived to Saint-P finally on 24th of May! Even though my work started on 1st of July I wanted to have some free time and enjoy the city a bit! During my first two weeks I was quite active walking and exploring outside space a lot. So, the first pace I visit was city center, obviously. I did some awesome shots of Kazansky cathedral and Hermitage during the night.
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I started my job in July working in a modern business center which was quite well built and had all of the needed services and facilities.

 

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BZ-1 Some serious stuff going on)

I was working in UPM’s company selling office, environment there was quite active, there were always some meetings and conferences. UPM is a top Finnish pulp and paper company.

3 months in my home country went so rapid and in the end of August it was time to go back already. Overall, I was satisfied with the job done, people were welcome to me and I got skills and knowledge which I expect to. During my free time I tried to be outside as much as I could, so here is good shots of Saint -Petersburg night views across the river with  the opened bridges.1368513722_1DSC_7923

Best regards,

Gennady

Bonjour à tous !

My exchange in Nice, France is about to come to an end and it’s about time to make an update about how it’s been going.

I arrived in Nice on the night of August 26th and woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunshine. From that moment on, I thought that I could not have chosen my destination any better.

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The sunny city of Nice is located on the French Riviera with approximately 348 000 inhabitants. The buildings are beautiful, the coastline is a dream and the views are breathtaking.

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Our school; Ipag Business School, is just a 10 – 15 minute walk from our lovely apartment in the city center. I only chose four courses (24 credits), which meant that I only ever spent around three days a week at school (which is great when you’d rather spend sunny days at the beach!).

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On my spare time, I’ve been traveling quite a lot inside France and elsewhere. Monaco, Milan, Barcelona and London have been the destinations outside of France. As for the destinations inside of France; Antibes, Cannes, Marseille and Paris.

In just a few days, it’s already time to say “au revoir ” to France. With me, I take home a lot of good memories and great, teaching experiences.

Bisou, Sanna

Setlife in Prague

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Picture; First day at Prague on August

Dobrý den!

Welcome to sneak peek inside Prague life experienced by film school student. My name is Lyydia and I am studying at FAMU international as an exchange student. I am here only for one semester, but I have seen and done so many things. I am glad that I chose to live this half year at Prague.

FAMU is an awesome school, which have helped me to evolved as an artist. I gladly recommended it to all film student around the world. Teachers are amazing and there is always modules and special guest lectures going on, where top of the world artists comes to teach. There has been few filmings, but mostly it is more theory basic studies. For me it was okay, because I have lot of practical studies, so it was nice to have more theory now.

Prague is full of life and opportunities to explore it’s culture. I would recommend Zischow. a suburb of Prague at area 3,  it is full of nice restaurants, bars and during summer time there is always small festivals happening. And the prizes are smaller than in the centrum. Everything is cheaper than in Finland, but still remember to have always your ticket for transport, there is surprisingly often inspectors. Food is awesome, but heavy. There is hard to find a great salad for a lunch, but even if you are a meat lover, try vegetarian restaurants. Trust me, you won’t be dissapointed.

I recommend everybody to travel here and also if is it possible to come to study here, even better!

-Lyydia

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Picture; Prague from the hill on September

Éirinn go Brách

My exchange location is in the middle of Ireland, in a city of around twenty thousand inhabitants called Athlone. Being in Midlands, as they are called, it is a rather rural location and as such does not offer exuberant facilities, which is just as well. It is an interesting change of scenery. The Athlone Institute of Technology hosts around six thousand students of which a sizeable number are exchange students from all over the globe. The education itself was quite different from what I was expecting – in my mind’s eye, being in the sphere of influence of the United Kingdom, Ireland was rigid and focused on rote learning, which turned out to only be true to a certain extent. The studies in Hotel & Leisure management are very focused on practical issues and applications, which has been a great addition to my repertoire.

Speaking of scenery, nature is definitely Ireland’s main draw. This semester was a very peculiar one, or so I am told, as we basically had a full on 15+ degree celcius summer here almost until November. It rarely rained as well, so in that regard, the image of a rain-soaked and green-grey Ireland was well and truly shattered. The highlights of my time here have been the trips we have taken with the International Society at the Institute of Technology as well as those I’ve undertaken on my own and the dinners we’ve had at the student-operated teaching restaurant facilities on the campus. I’ll cap this little snapshot off with a couple of images from my journeys on the Emerald Isle!

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Konnichiwa from Japan!

It’s been a very fun, boring, educational, interesting, hot and cold ~2,5 months in the land of the rising sun. My exact location is a small town called Beppu in Oita prefecture. Classes (homework, teaching and contents of classes) at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University are quite similar to TAMK. So far I’ve tackled one case of homesickness and one case of real sickness, so it hasn’t been a very bumpy ride. Beppu is not very vibrant or colorful, but the university and its lovely people are what make me wanna spend more than one semester here. Oh, and the delicious food plus cheap hot spring spas! Oh, did I forget to mention my dorm is next to a sea with a beautiful beach…? Life is treating me well.

Enough of talking, on to the photos…

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Exploring Seoul

안녕하세요! Greetings from Seoul, South Korea!
I’m currently enjoying the last weeks of my exchange study in Konkuk University.

The first time I arrived to Konkuk University was quite a shock because the size of Seoul’s universities is something totally different from the average Finnish ones. If you really wanted, you could spend your whole exchange period within the university campus.

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A huge campus means also a lot of students so the competition from the courses is serious. Despite the promising looking list of courses I was able to get only two courses I wanted. Luckily, I got on the Korean language course which has been a great help in understanding the Korean way of life.

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On my free time I’ve had a chance to travel around Seoul and see amazing places. The school has arranged few trips for the exchange students but otherwise I’ve have had many chances to travelled around Seoul with my new friends. One thing that makes Seoul interesting is that the city never sleeps. There is always something to do no matter what time of day it is.

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This whole experience has taught me many things. Not only I have learnt and experienced the different culture of South-Korea but I have also started to appreciate my own county, culture and education in a whole new way.

-Salla