Monthly Archives: January 2017

Greetings from South Korea!

Hello!

Korea is an amazing country, no doubt about that. Everything from food, people and culture was awesome. This was my first time in Asia and during my stay I managed to visit also Hong Kong and Tokyo.

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I studied in Ajou University, Suwon which is about 30 km south from the capital Seoul. I managed to get enough courses that supporty my studies, but more courses taught in english would have been nice. Studying in Ajou University wasn’t that different from TAMK. Sure the professors had their own teaching methods, and the english skills of some professors wasn’t very good, but overall studying wasn’t particularly hard.

Living in the campus was really nice. I lived in the newly build International Dormitory, with a Korean room mate. All the facilities such as cafeteria, laundry room and convenience store were just a stone’s thrown away from the dormitory. Also eating out was relative cheap compared to Finland and there were many good restaurants just outside the campus.

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All in all I would definitely recommend going  to Ajou University for exhange studies. It has been a life changing experience for me and it has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

P.S. here is a video about all the things we did during the semester.

Merhaba from Istanbul <3

Cheers from Istanbul it is January but sky is blue and white even though temperature is around +3. This is an amazing city and after all these months I have still so much to see. I am so happy to tell you about my life in Istanbul and to give a sneak peek to the travels that can be easily done from Istanbul.

 

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Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet, Phosphorus…. And the list goes on and on. If you are going to see everything here you will not have enough time for school! I thought that when you live six months you have time to study and explore a massive city thoroughly but I am afraid that I was wrong! In everyday life I love our neighbourhoods Friday Bazaar. Fresh fruits and vegetables with very cheap price and salesmen shouting something that I can barely understand.

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And of course the night life. There is something for everyone on both sides (European and Asian) of Phosphorus. I have preferred bars of Kadiköy on the peaceful Asian side. The clubs of city centre Taksim are not that much my piece of cake but Ritim roof is exception in this. A small cosy piece of rooftop and the few stars you can see above you when the club music plays. I am still a bit bitter that I did not manage to see when they light the bar desk on fire while staff is dancing on it.

 

Travels

Cappadocia, Ephesus and Pamukkale trips organised by ESN Marmara and scuba diving trips to Marmaris and Kas together with scuba diving club Müsas. Also a small weekend trip to Athens. Looking at the pictures feels unreal and I will caress these memories for my whole life.

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School

Istanbul is the city of cats and this is also very visible in our school. Looking at cats chasing each other while having a cup of coffee in one of the many cafés inside the relatively green school area is something that I will miss while having coffee at Campusravita. Environmental engineering studies are here highly focused on water treatment, water transportation etc., it is hard work if you take all the same courses as locals but by choosing some technical elective and elective course you will also have some time to ”live Istanbul”.

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I hope that my diary has given you a bit brighter picture of Turkey than what you read from media. Despite of the terrible things that have happened life in here goes on. Living here in general might be a bit out of Finnish peoples comfort zone but the amazing city and lovely people make it absolutely worth it.

Selamat petang! My Malaysian exchange.

I spent four warm months on exchange in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, accompanied by one of my classmates from TAMK. While there, I studied Mechanical Engineering in Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, “a leading private education institution” in Malaysia.

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Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus

For me, the exchange in Malaysia came as a big surprise, as Malaysia wasn’t on the original list when picking the possible destinations for the exhange. I had actually already accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be going anywhere this time around, when I got the email from TAMK’s international office, saying that I could go to Malaysia.

After some issues with the student visas, we were able to fly to Malaysia in the beginning of September, and it was a very fast start when we got there.  We actually joined the modules two weeks after the beginning of the semester, so all the modules were on the way already and we had some catching up to do.  Luckily all the lecturers were very understanding and we got the hang of things very fast. We also ended up swithing two modules after the first day, since they wouldn’t really have benefitted our studies back in Finland.

At the beginning I was a little worried if I would be able to understand everything the lecturers were saying, but I soon realized that was unnecessary and the lecturers were at most parts really clear with their teaching. Altogether, at most parts the teaching in Taylor’s University was really good and the lecturers did a great job giving us clear instuctions and encouraging us to do our best. The modules were mostly interesting and we had many different individual and group projects, which were challenging and often pretty fun. For example, in our Malaysian food heritage module, we traveled to Terengganu in northeast Malaysia to prepare a traditional Terengganu dish Rojak Kateh. While there we cut away tendons from cow’s legs, to make the dish, all part of the school project.

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Rojak Kateh
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Cutting cow legs

On my spare time I tried to utilize the different sports premises at the campus area by going to the gym and using the swimming pool. I also spent time getting to know some of our local classmates and other exchange students in our school. Other than those, I also tried to travel and see as much of Malaysia and Asia as possible. One of the highlights was when we traveled to Indonesia on our semester break and rented some scooters to drive around with, and went surfing and deepwater fishing in the ocean. We also spent many days just walking around the Kuala Lumpur area and visiting different shopping malls and different attractions.

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The studies in Malaysia, or at least in Taylor’s University, were really different from what I had experienced back in Finland. The modules we had, were heavily project based, consisting of designing our own solution to some sort of engineering challenge, designing and 3D modeling a working wheelchair lift for a van, and starting our own crowdfunding campaign on our own selected idea. The way the modules were designed and the guidance from the lecturers, really taught us how to work independently on our own and in a team. That, and just the style of projects were something we hadn’t experienced in our previous studies in Finland.

Wheelchair lift we designed and modeled
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Using CNC machine to make an aluminum part for one of our projects

Like mentioned, our studies in Malaysia differed a lot from our studies in Finland. One big reason was the fact that instead of being part of a Building services Engineering programme like in Finland, we were part of a Mechanical Engineering programme. This meant that the modules we had, didn’t really involve any topics closely related to Building services engineering. Still, there is no doubt that many of the things I learned during the exchange will prove to be benefitial and useful at some point in the future.

Terima kasih! Thank you.

Japan times from Oita

Happy new year from the beautiful small (in Japan terms) city of Oita, Japan! I have been here for three months now, and there are only two left. I will definitely miss this place, my second home! As a TAMK business student, our choices are limited to Ritsumeikan in Beppu and Oita University. I chose Oita University due to wanting to experience a more rural and exclusively Japanese atmosphere – compared to Ritsumeikan where around half of the students are foreigners, in Oita University there are only a handful of us westerners.

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Commuting to university every day

I arrived at the end of September and for the entire month of October the weather was around 30 degrees, which was way too hot for me! In addition to the temperature, the air humidity is very high, thanks to the subtropical atmosphere. Now in December it has finally reached around 7-12 degrees, and as soon as the sun is out it’s a bit chilly. The courses and studying here aren’t much different from TAMK, except maybe when it comes to the amount of homework. Teachers are respected much more than in Finland, and unfortunately this also means they do not take well to any kind of criticism. This is the same when it comes to any workplace, as the hierarchy rules are much stricter than in Finland. The first week was intense with everyone having to go through a lot of bureaucracy at the city hall, get our own hanko, and take part in a physical examination.

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Places close to our university & Kokonoe rope bridge

The study programme in Oita University is mostly about Japanese language and culture. If you were interested in international business, and learning skills and getting international contacts, I suppose Ritsumeikan is the better alternative. But for me, Oita has been perfect so far. Out of my eight courses, five are Japanese language and the other courses are more about Japanese culture, like the “Ethnographic study of rural Japan”-course, where we have been doing overnight study trips to a few places. It’s a great course to experience rural Japan and eat many delicious foods!

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One of the mysterious ghost buildings close to University…

Every new student’s Japanese language ability was tested on the first day in a written test and a subsequent interview. My own ability was intermediate as I thought, and I took the level 3 courses out of 6. The higher courses are for very advanced people though, so I didn’t mind. My language has improved and I’ve gotten encouraged, even though the first two or three weeks were incredibly intense and I felt I might not be able to keep up! Don’t worry if you don’t know any Japanese, you will start from the basics at level 1, but many students told me that it was a really fast and intense course, so you should definitely learn hiragana and katakana at least before coming here. It will make your exchange experience infinitely better!

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Every week we write one essay for writing class by hand – improved handwriting…?!

There are three different accommodations in Oita University, and I was placed in Kishukusha, a dorm for international students located on campus. The rent is very cheap, approximately 18 000 yen a month including internet, water, electricity and gas. My room is quite small but includes a Japanese toilet (a washlet with all the regular functions like butt shower), an AC, fridge/freezer, and a very tiny kitchen. The showers are shared per floor but very private, so no worries there even if I was scared at the idea at first myself. The other options are the general student dorm Gakuseiryo (most expensive), and another international residence downtown called Kaikan (cheapest but far from school).

 

I have experienced so much on my exchange so far, and I can’t imagine it getting much better than this. During the first month we had a school trip to Kokonoe rope bridge, had a cultural festival where we made food to sell for others, and I visited and explored many many areas including a beautiful Buddhist temple and endless rural living areas. I even had time during Christmas holiday to make a short trip to Taiwan! Nowadays I spend most of my free time at the dorm’s common room, and try to study (but am often distracted…), but especially the first two months I spent a lot of time exploring the city, playing at arcades, going to the movies (expensive here) and eating at various restaurants. I enjoy life here and would prefer to stay!

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A crossdressing competition at cultural festival at the university – this wasn’t the winning team

If there’s anything negative about Oita University, it’s that I haven’t been able to get any kind of contacts or help regarding a possible internship from here. For this reason, I believe Ritsumeikan might be better for many people, as I know many foreigners end up working at some place in Beppu, and they encourage people to even start their own business in Beppu/Oita area, and give support to this. Still, my own main goal of gaining Japanese experiences has been fulfilled, but I guess none of this is directly related to international business. When it comes to finding part-time work, knowing really good Japanese is a must except for English teaching jobs, but those require one to be a native speaker so I couldn’t do anything except help out as an English tutor for the Japanese students. I’m going to return to Finland in two months and this has been one of the greatest experiences in my life! Consider Japan for your exchange too!