Monthly Archives: March 2019

While in Slovenia

Hi folks!

It has been almost 3 months since my stay in Slovenia for internship. It has been such a worthwhile experience!

Sorry for not introducing myself first 🙁 My name is Hang, from Vietnam. I am studying Energy and Environmental Engineering degree programme in Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK). I started my internship for a company in Slovenia this January and it is a 3-month internship. I worked as a digital nomad in Slovenia so I could combine my travelling hobby with working. I also took time to travel to some countries in Europe, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, sometimes with acquaintances.

Slovenia is indeed a small country in area, but it is here where many of my first times occurred. I gained a huge amount of knowledge while living here. I met new people, made new friends with people from all around the world. I learnt valuable lessons. And the most importantly, I realized many new parts of me that I have never discovered before. I now understand what are important in my life. The melody of song ‘Catch & release’ by Matt Simons just poped out of my head. I recommned you guys to hear this song before starting any adventure. To sum up, I appreciate my opportunity to work and live here in Slovenia!

I do miss Finland so bad. I miss my friends, the snow (yes desperately), my private room, public transportation, and many more. But the thing I miss the most turns out to be my whole life in Finland. It includes the atmosphere I was breathing in, the people I used to meet and talk to, the jobs I used to have, the road I used to walk under the snow, the lakes I used to swim every day in the summer time, the apartment where I used to live in, all these good and bad memories. I guess what the wise man said that you only what you got once you lost it is true in this case. I realize how much I love my life in Finland only once I leave it… Such dilemma, isn’t it? But life is constantly moving forward, not even waiting for anyone. I also need to move on, leaving the past behind and keep rolling 😀

I have changed my mindset a lot since my stay in Slovenia. All these stereo types, all these misconceptions, all these unrealistic ideologies, all turn into ashes. 3 months is not a huge period of time, but it is enough to make a man become much wiser and even enough for him/her to transform. Btw I grew my 3rd wisdom tooth here in Slovenia 😀

I highly recommend everybody to have their study abroad, with exchange programs, degree programs or woking abroad. By doing this, you can know exactly how strong you are and how stronger you can become! I literally live like I am going to die tomorrow, a bit rusher than my normal life, I got sick in Slovenia here in 3 months more times than my life in Vietnam and Finland … But that is okay, another adventurous life!

Student,

Hang Nguyen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello from beautiful Seoul

After hearing that I got accepted to do my exchange in South Korea, I was beyond excited. I had never traveled to Asia before so I was excited to explore the new country and culture. I studied at Konkuk University in Seoul. Konkuk University is one of the leading private universities in South Korea. My studies consisted of business courses as well as Korean language and culture courses. Konkuk has a great selection of courses in English, especially for business students. However, managing to get into these courses is hard and stressful. All the courses fill up in seconds and only lucky ones manage to get into courses they want. I was lucky enough to get into couple of the courses that I wanted.

Student life in South Korea differs quite a lot from Finnish student life, especially studying. Konkuk University as well as the dorm had study rooms that were always full of students when the exam week neared. Many students would spend hours and hours studying for exams. Overall studying at Konkuk University was really different from studying at TAMK. Much more effort had to put in to studies and attendance was stricter. Studying in your own time was required because it wasn’t enough to just listen at the lectures to pass exams. Studies consisted of more individual work rather than group work which I was used to at TAMK.

My spare time consisted of exploring around the city and eating lot of delicious food. Seoul is a mixture of new and old so there is lot of historical places to visit alongside of modern shops and cafes. Seoul has lot of different coffee shops and restaurants where you can spend time when you are not exploring sights. Seoul had so many beautiful places to visit so I was never bored.

In the beginning Seoul seemed very overwhelming but nearing the end it felt like home. I definitely recommend Seoul as exchange destination for anyone who is interested in studying and exploring Asia.

Seoul is definitely my favorite city that I’ve ever been to.

Szia from Budapest!

Time really flies. It´s hard to believe that it is already my second month here in Budapest. The weather turned to be sunny and pleasant although some locals said this has been the warmest winter in their memories. Suits me well that the spring is on the doorstep and sunglasses have been needed already for a while. These warm days has given me a reason to enjoy terraces alongside of Danube where my university is located too.

I was kind of forced to come to Budapest since other TAMK´s partner universities didn´t offer that much of master level studies. But I don´t regret at all. I could even say that I felt in love with this city in the first sight. It has been super easy to relocate here. I can guarantee that it is easy to like this city. I really don´t wonder why Budapest has been voted as the best European destination 2019. Budapest has so much to offer. Just to mention that it is called as the city of spas. I already have visited in 4 spas and there is more to go.

Hungarian language is quite tricky like the name of my university which is Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem. It can be shortened as Elte. It is the biggest university in Hungary. I am studying at the Faculty of Social Sciences. I have attended the courses, such as, Advanced issues in human rights and Measuring wellbeing and social progress. I chose the following courses, Interculturalism in practice and Intercultural training courses from the Faculty of Education and Psychology. That faculty had a lot of other interesting courses as well which made study planning a bit complicated.  

Budapest is nicely located in the middle of Europe. That offers great possibilities for traveling. So far, I have done a day trip to Vienna, Austria by car. It is somehow unbelievable that after driving couple of hours you can reach another country. During the spring break I´m traveling to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. In addition to this I thought to celebrate my birthday on May in Belgrad, Serbia. I´m into traveling but I also really enjoy meeting people. I´m glad that it has been easy to socialize and find people to hangout even I haven´t participate almost any of those Erasmus events. In the beginning of the semester I joined for Parliament house tour, Buda Castle & Basilica sightseeing and for welcome weekend which was held in the city of Eger. These events were organized by student union. I kind of felt been over aged in Erasmus crowd so later on I discovered other ways to socialize.

What else about Budapest?! There is plenty of nice cafes and restaurants which are reasonable prices. One of the most interesting and unique one was robot café where the drinks were served by robots. As a vegetarian, I have found several vegan and vegetarian restaurants which has made me happy although I was scared in advance that the situation wouldn´t be that good. I haven´t cook that much at home since I´m eager to eat out and try different things. I share a flat with a student from Bangladesh who is super nice. The flat feels home and it is centrally located but still without been middle of the buzzing city center.

I will be here for a one semester which started on beginning of February. Elte has spring break on April. After it the semester continues until mid of May which is start for an exam period. Luckily, I don´t have any exams. Most of my courses requires some essays, reflection papers or presentations. I already kept one presentation and two more to ahead. I attend to university 2 or 3 times per week which leaves me enough free time. Life feels good and can´t wait what this spring brings with it. Greetings from BP 😊

 

Greetings from Shanghai!

I have been in Shanghai for three weeks now. Shanghai is one of the biggest city in the world and I really have been enjoying my stay! I have had a lot of time to explore around SH. I have visited many beautiful places like Qibao Old Town, Tianzifang, Xinchang and Gucun Park. You can find some pictures from my first weeks below!

 

I am studying at Shanghai University of Medicine & Health Sciences. I have attended the courses, such as, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tai Ji, Herbs and Spoken Chinese at school. I have also participated in CT-class with local students. Group size here is 60 students whereas in Finland it is half less. The study rooms are large and there is much more training facilities than in Finland.

From Monday to Wednesday I am working at Zhoupu Hospital which is located about twenty minutes’ walk from the University.
At the hospital I have noticed many differences to Finland. I think the biggest difference is the number of patients. In Finland, there is more time for one x-ray examination and you really have chance to work calmly and talk with the patients. In addition, there are some differences with ergonomic and hygiene rules compared to Finland. But there are lots of similarities also. Imaging machines are same I have used to use before and patients positioning is pretty similar I have learned in Finland.

The people have all been so friendly and welcoming, I’m grateful to be here and happy that I have a lot of time left!

My time in Munich

I chose Germany as my exchange destination since I have studied the language for a couple of years and because I have been snowboarding over there at the alps.

My school was located about five kilometers away from where I lived. I traveled to school every time by bicycle. The school itself was nice and they had very good food but the prices were very expensive..

Since I only had school 3 days a week I had lots of spare time. Most of the spare time I spent with a close Belgian friend. We went to the gym together, watched movies and went to parties, it was awesome!

We also went to Oktoberfest a couple of time and had really good times!

Also spent one entire week in the Alps in Austria, the weather could not have been better!

 

 

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO SCHOOLS IN FINLAND

In Munich the school was very punctual, all the lessons and lectures started exactly on time. School food was much more expensive and the only way of paying for stuff in school was by first uploading money (cash) to your student card.

 

 

To be home – Vietnam

This is the last week of my internship in Vietnam, which is my home country. It has been two months, and I am finishing up with my documents and also this course. Since it’s my home country, I’ll try to write this from the most open perspective as possible and makes it easier for you to understand my culture, my job and my life in Vietnam.

My internship started from the middle of January for approximately two months. It’s done in Goshu Kohsan Vietnam held in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and is also my home town. Goshu Kohsan (hereby GKVC) is a leading company in Wastewater and Water Treatment and is very well-known among industrial companies such as Panasonic or TOTO. They were all our clients and we have installed wastewater treatment systems for them so that the discharge wastewater meets the national quality. My job is based in the Sales department where we receive orders from the clients and forward them to other departments, although I prefer working with the Laboratory department. In the laboratory, I was able to practice the skills I learnt from TAMK and learnt so many other techniques that has not been taught in TAMK. The ladies who work there are very friendly and they answered every question I had, because there were so many things that were unfamiliar to me.

 

My workplace/office

To be home, is the best feeling ever, and that is also why I wanted to do a short practical training in my home country. I wouldn’t lie, I have gotten a bit bored with the coldness of Finland, so I decided that I want to do my internship at home. And it was worth it, I had mom and dad always there to support me, and being home also relief a lot of stress. I work from 8am to 5:30pm, which requires me to wake up at 6 to go to work in time (since my workplace is in an industrial park that is 15km away from home). Working the whole day and return home late in the evening, I don’t think I would be able to do it if I were in another country. I don’t really have much time for other personal issues since in the evening I can only have dinner and go to sleep to get up early. If I were in Finland, I don’t know if I could cope with that as easily as I am now.

During my free time, I maintain my habit of going to the gym. I usually go after work, thus I go home very late. But in the weekend I am free, so I love roaming around the city on my motorcycle. Hanoi is a very big and eccentric city, so there is always a lot of things to do at anytime of the days. The movie ticket is very cheap, will blockbuster movies released all year round. There is a free walking street where people display all sorts of cultural activities and play folk songs. It’s a really great event to get to know Vietnamese culture. If you’re interested in museums, you can always check out the Museum of History, or Museum of Women. There are also plenty of historical monuments that scatter around the city as proof of our independence. Vietnamese people are very proud that they have defeated the Chinese, the French and US to defend for their freedom. Therefore, the monuments are a great example of our courageous past, and is something that we are all proud of.

My stay in Vietnam is soon coming to an end and I must continue my journey to Japan for my next intern exchange. But no matter how far I am, my soul remains in Hanoi, the heart of Vietnam.

See you soon!

Wonderful life in Prague

Living and studying in Prague has been great. I fell in love with the city at first sight. Even though it’s the capital of Czech Republic it feels relaxed and very easy to get to know. The buildings and nature are gorgeous and that alone makes it great to live in Prague. The city is full of culture, one of my favourite things here has been going to a jazz club to listen good music in cosy atmosphere. I’ve seen a lot of stand up (in English), almost every evening there is stand up at some club for only 4 euros. Prague is full of cheap restaurants with great vegetarian and vegan options, which was a nice surprise. One of the best things is that here are a lot of dogs without a leash. They put a smile on my face every time.

The studies here have been great. I study film in FAMU (Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) which is located right next to Vltava. From the classrooms I can see the Prague Castle. I have a lot of classes which remind me of my years in university. The teachers are very enthusiastic and they really know what they are talking about. We have discussions in class and we watch a lot of films. Studying here have been a very inspiring experience. Comparing the courses to TAMK, it’s more theoretical here. In TAMK we do a lot of projects. It is possible to join the other students’ projects here, too, but I’ve really enjoyed the university-styled studies.

All in all I feel really good living here and hopefully I can return here after the exchange, too.

Sverige är bra

I went for exchange to Sweden.

Not the obvious choice to go to from Finland, but I guess – I just like nordic countries.
And want to visit them all 😉

Sweden greeted exchange students (and first years) with 10 day event called Nollning, during which we are considered zeros and basically nobody 🙂
Nollning is full of fun activities, games, parties and many many more. It is hard to describe this experience – you just need to take part in it, cause it’s just amazing 🙂
We were even greeted by the Mayor of the city himself. Touching.

Nollning was probably the best part of my stay in Sweden, cause I met a lot of amazing people and got to hang out with them. That event definitely helped to kick off my exchange in a right way and with the right people.

BUT they made us try Surströmming – canned fish that feels more like a nuclear weapon!
If you ever will be suggested to try it – do it at your own risk. Just a warning 🙂

Some pictures of Nollning:
  People who made it happen. And me hanging out with the bear 🙂

Studies there I don’t want to cover much, cause it is about the same as in Finland. Although, sometimes I had so free schedule that I had to figure out what to even do.

Great thing about my courses is that I had project work and study trip to Copenhagen, which is win-win: visit this beautiful city and get some knowledge and credits from it.

Here is me with other exchange students in Copenhagen 🙂

In my free time, I organised the futsal team to participate in the Student League. Even though we did not get high place after all, we enjoyed our time together, that’s for sure!

My futsal team, good boys 🙂

I liked as well to go to the beach in my free time – just sit there and enjoy the view 🙂

Another good thing about my stay in Sweden is that I got to visit Norway and Denmark, interestingly enough. It is just so close from there, that it would be a crime not to go travelling around! So I did.

Copenhagen is beautiful and has a lot of places and thing to go to and to look at.
In Norway I took my time I went hiking to Preikestolen. If you have never heard of it – it is not great at all. Everyone should visit this amazing place, I’m sure of that!

View from the Preikestolen is just breathtaking! Pure joy to experience it!

 

As a small conclusion, I must say that I went to the exchange in Sweden for new experience and meeting new people. And I got exactly what I was looking for.
It was just right. Sad that it’s over though.

Konnichiwa from Beppu the onsen city!

The view from our dormitory lounge.

My exchange studies began well in Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. The city of Beppu and region itself have been delightful and the life is so different here. It has been quite a learning process to get hang of everything (and a money sink) but nonetheless, it has been a nice experience.

The pictoresque twin towers of APU

In TAMK, I’m a media student but here in APU I’ve been studying more common topics: Japanese language, history and multicultural studies. The university offers some media courses but they are more analytical than practical ones that we have in TAMK (well, APU has media lab courses but they are in Japanese). My media studies here have been about analysing media theories and its history. Basically we have been watching movies and reading texts and then analysed them by discussing or writing essays about them. It has been interesting change of study style. And even though I ended up studying more non-media courses, it is nice and interesting to acquire common knowledge about this part of the world – I also think that the knowledge is very valuable if I try to get into Japanese media market in the future!

The lunches are very nice and tasty in APU cafeteria.

The study style is very different in APU when compared with TAMK. APU is an academic university so the studies are more about listening to lectures and writing essays. It took some time to get used to it. The class schedule can also be quite daunting: earliest classes start around 9 a.m. and last ones end at 8 p.m.! The school days can be quite long, depending on what courses you pick (I’m still wondering how the actual degree students here cope with it because they have even more courses than I!). APU does not have separate lunch hour for students and therefore, we have to schedule our lunches or snack breaks by ourselves – which might be hard if you have multiple subsequent lectures on a day. It is not a surprise that multiple third-party food stalls dot the university yard, providing grab-and-go sustenance for the busy students.

Beppu offers multiple nice activities to do during my spare time. The region is especially famous for its big number of onsen (hot springs), e.g. “Hells of Beppu”, but there are of course many other tourist attractions like the monkey mountain, aquarium, shopping centers etc.

The monkey park in Beppu
Otherwordly hot spring at Hells of Beppu attraction.

The area is also very beautiful: it is nice to stroll around the city and check out the Japanese architecture and nature because it is so different in comparison with Finland. There are always interesting new side alleys, little shrines and nooks to explore. I’m not a big foodie person but it is still very delightful to try out the local restaurants because the price level is a lot cheaper here! Obviously, the food tastes crazy good too – even though I have to evade seaweed and raw fish almost all the time (not a big friend of those).

Lots of sweet and snack stalls were present at the Christmas fair of Beppu

See you!

 

別府からこんにちは!Warm Greetings from Beppu!

Did you know that in Finnish Beppu really sounds like a soft way to say butt? Needless to say, my exchange has been full of bad jokes on that accord!!

Welcome to Beppu!

Jokes aside, my study exchange in Beppu and in Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) has been an absolutely amazing experience. Initially, I had the choice between Beppu (APU) and Kōfu (Yamanashi Gakuin), both quite small cities but Beppu in the south and Kōfu a couple of hours outside of Tokyo, and I was wondering if I should have chosen to go to the Yamanashi prefecture after all. Now, after living in Beppu for half a year I’m glad I chose this way since I got to experience so much, both in and outside of the city.

Photoshooting kimonos at the neighbouring beach

Beppu in itself does not seem to offer much, given it is a small city in the Oita prefecture, but during these past months, I discovered loads of interesting things to see and do. Beppu is famous for having approximately 2,000 hot springs or onsens across the area. We were lucky enough to have our dorm right next to a large, a rather modern onsen with both inside and outside baths, and needless to say, it became a regular spot for us to visit.

View to the next door onsen (on the left) after Typhoon Trami

In addition to bathing onsens, there was also a famous area called the Hells of Beppu, Beppu no jigoku, which held eight large natural hot springs of various colour that were too hot for people to bathe in. The jigoku area was covered in awfully sulfur-scented steam but offered some of the most beautiful views in the city.

Path to Umi Jigoku

Our massive campus was located on top of a nearby mountain and offered a breathtaking view down to the city – as long as it wasn’t foggy!

View from campus on a sunny day…
…and on a foggy day.

Studies in APU were very different from the ones I had gotten used to in TAMK and quite curiously the university did not offer us any actual media and art subjects, meaning we had to assemble our study plan from language studies and a variety of subjects that kind of supported our topics back in Finland. I didn’t personally agree on all the teaching methods of the professors in APU as for me it felt like they didn’t have a common guideline for the lesson structures or especially for the exams, but I also found some subjects I really enjoyed! One of them was the Japanese language course I took, and I am determined to keep studying the language in Finland as well! Compared to TAMK, the days in APU could get tiringly long (I had from 10:30 to 19:30 twice a week + commuting to campus 30min one way) and we often got tons of homework, resulting in less exploring during weeks than I would have liked to do. In that sense, I am really glad to be back in a practical university!

Studies starting in 3 2 1!

As it’s common for students in Japan to join in one or more extracurricular activity circles in the university, I was also looking forward to finding an interesting circle to join. APU had a reputation in that accord as it had tens of circles to choose from, including a traditional taiko drum group, large and loud dance group Yoshha-Koi and several other dance groups and others. In the end, I joined a Japanese archery (kyūdō) circle and was the only Western student to do so! I was really happy that I was allowed to join and practice with them, especially after hearing how some universities have banned Western students from joining their more traditional circles.

Training on a makiwara target

When I think back to all the adventures I had during this past half a year I am really happy I chose to come to Japan and to Beppu. As commuting to the nearest bigger city Oita was cheap and took only fifteen minutes by train, we could explore there during weekends and even after shorter days at uni. In addition to the Oita prefecture I had a chance to visit Fukuoka, Hiroshima (a tour arranged by APU), Osaka, Sapporo and Tokyo. I made countless of amazing memories and most importantly, met people from different backgrounds and made friends who I know I’ll be keeping in contact with.

It wouldn’t be an exchange without all the group selfies!

I feel that even though I got to see so much, I have yet only scratched the surface of what all Japan has to offer and I know I will be coming back in the future.

またね、日本!