All posts by Emmiina Lehtonen

City with soul

Hello and greetings from Seoul, South Korea!

For now I’ve been studying in Kyung Hee University for one month. My school is ranked as 15th best university, from 191 universities in South Korea. My major is hospitality management, and courses I study are “principle of cooking”, “basics of Korean language”, “cultural tourism” and “theory of marketing”. I’m pretty happy with courses I finally got, because they are all really different with different teachers, so I don’t get bored during school days.

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Kyung Hee University campus

One huge different to studying in Finland is that every class takes only one hour and 15 minutes! Also it’s a lot of lectures, and not much interaction between students. I think it’s nice for a change, but I couldn’t study like that all the time for 3,5 years.

Studying in here is also pretty competitive, from getting courses to your final grade. I was lucky to get in almost all the courses I originally wanted to take,  but there were lots of troubles on the way. There’s not that many seats to all of the courses, so you really need to be ready when course registration opens. Also, on some courses, professor can give only certain amount of A:s for students, and that might effect on students behavior during course, for example not to help each others that easily etc..

On first week, one professor told us “exchange student compete against other exchange students, and Korean students compete against other Korean students”. I was really shocked about his comment, because that’s something you would never hear teacher to say in Finland! For us it’s always just about competing against your self and giving your best.

On first week it was very common for professors to say “this course is really difficult, so I recommend you to consider if you really want to take this course”. That felt pretty ridiculous for me, because I’ve got used to teachers say for us that “yes, this might be a difficult subject, but we will learn it together”.

My Korean language studies are proceeding well, I have already learn Korean letters. Next step is to learn basic phrases to help my daily life here. It’s surprising that they don’t speak English lot in here.

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After all cultural differences, I’m enjoying school a lot! Usually, I don’t get homework from classes and my schooldays are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, so I have a lot of free time here! I’ve made friends with girls from my dormitory, who I like to explore Seoul and experience all interesting and new things with.

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I like Seoul because there’s so many neighborhoods and they all have their own character, if it’s a good area for shopping, eating or clubbing for example. Weather is also getting nicer all the time, I cant wait for summer in here! One thing I’m really looking forward to is having picnic at Han-river and spending all day outside. Now we are all a bit sick, because we spend long times outside but especially when sun sets weather gets quite cold.

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My Korean friend Jisoo has shown me lots of cool places in Seoul, I got to know her from “Each One Teach One” course last year in Tampere!

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Hiking at Bukhansan National park

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Me & my friends at local spa, Jimjilbang

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Night view of Seoul from Namsan park

Greetings from Oslo!

I’ve been working now for three weeks in Maaemo restaurant, and have one and a half weeks to go. Feeling a bit sad that I decided to stay in here only one month, but already miss home as well so it’s fine I think..
Restaurant is located in centre of Oslo, next to train station. It got its third Michelin star few months ago, first in Norway.

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My working week starts in Tuesday and ends in Saturday. Every day we work from 10am to midnight. I’m working in snacks station, so we prepare many small dishes for dinner. Every day I’ll start my day preparing bowls for oyster dish. 20 bowls needs to be polished, filled with seaweed and oyster shells. After that I prepare tarts for king crab dish. Then we do everything else for what needs to be done on that day. On afternoon we clean the kitchen everywhere from ceiling to floor. Then it’s time for our break and staff meal. After the break we get every station ready for dinner service and have staff briefing. We get to plate every dish durig the service and have some dishes on our responsibility as well. In the evening it’s again time to cleand the kitchen and head back to home and get some rest for the next day.
Even though our days are long, you kind of get used to it.

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I’ve learned lot of new techniques and recipes, and it’s nice to get a bit more challenging tasks and more responsibility all the time.

We have our days off on Sunday and Monday. Mostly I just try to relax during these days. I’ve been at the beach many times, last weekend we went to contemporary art museum and dinner with my work mates, also visited main island wich was really cool.

Workig culture compared to Finland is mostly the same in Norway. Many national holidays for example and similar working hours. Salarys are a lot higher compared to Finland, but obviously living costs are higher here as well.

In the restaurant I’m working everything of course very different because of high level, chefs work even more hours than what we do. Maaemo kitchen is very international, so I cant say that much of Norwegian working culture.

We pay a lot of attention to hygiene and to general cleanliness. Also recycling is really important and well organised in Norway.

The kitchen is run daily mostly by chef de cuisine and sous chef. Methods of management are similar to Finland. We need to always answer “yes chef” or “ja takk” to all messages from chefs. If you do something wrong, you will definitely hear about it. So some things are more exact here, but chefs guide us interns very supportively. They want to keep good mood in the kitchen because we work so many hours a day that it wouldn’t make any sense if we couldn’t enjoy our time there.

Alcohol law is mostly same as we have, but you can’t buy alcohol from stores on Sunday, and on weekdays selling times are few hours less than in Finland. Also I’ve noticed that you need to always have your ID with you if you want to go to a bar, no matter how old you are.

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Glad that I still have some time to learn more and spend time with these people! Really enjoying my time here. 🙂