I spent my study exchange in Paris for almost five months in the spring of 2018. My exchange was at the ESCE International Business School, which is one of the few schools and universities that have their campus in central Paris, located 1 km from the Eiffel Tower. The campus is relatively small with 2500 students and for each semester around 100 exchange students.
The courses I undertook were a mix of bachelor and master level courses in interesting subjects like international mobility and EU lobbying, with credits mostly ranging from two to four per course. My courses were all in English and mostly with other exchange students, because local students tend to choose the French teaching. Lectures are similar to TAMK, with quite much group work and projects, but that is all dependent on the teacher’s style. Compared to Finland more work is done individually outside school hours and exams are more comprehensive and demanding.
However, the relaxed schedule at university gave me the opportunity to explore Paris and surrounding areas very well! As a self-proclaimed foodie, I spent my spring eating my way through Paris, and exploring all the corner bistros offering wines sold by the term piscine aka pool, the closer to summer it got. My home area, 11th arrondissement, became very familiar, and nearby Coulée verte René-Dumont is my favourite park in Paris, with Jardin Des Plantes close second.
Overall, Paris is not all of France, but its own entity with fast pace and endless opportunities. I strongly advice everyone to travel outside of Paris to see the difference in lifestyle and of people’s attitude to life. I would recommend exchange in Paris to anyone, even if your French is not very good, as a simple “Parlez-vous Anglais?” will result in French people actually communicating fully in English after the initial proclamation that they speak “a little” English only. Paris will forever have a piece of my heart!
Photo credit: Emmi Korhonen
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!
Photo credits: Emmi Korhonen