My time in Seoul in coming to an end. I can count the days I have left with my fingers. I have been studying in Kyung Hee University for the past semester. My major is hospitality management. I have had a lot of fun and I have met new people from all over the world.
Studying in Korea has been surprisingly easy for me. I have five courses and they have all been going well. Right now, I only have my finals left and I only have two of those. Registering to courses is very competitive here so I had to wake up at 4.15 to be able to register to the courses I wanted. I also needed to change few courses and got one more added before I traveled to Korea. I haven’t had any problems with the language of the courses, and I got to keep all the courses I registered to. Kyung Hee has a lot of international students so those courses that have a lot of international student and exchange students don’t have to worry about the language. I have had very few assignments during the semester, so I have had quite a lot of free time.
During my free time I either wander around Seoul. I have also traveled to few cities inside Korea and I also traveled to Tokyo during the semester. Busan and Jeju island are a must visit in Korea. Both are beautiful places and are very different compared to Seoul and each other. I also won tickets to a music bank concert so for that I had to travel to another city. But at that time, I did not have time to see the city itself. Seoul has a lot of places to visit and it is easy to travel in Seoul. There are many popular areas to go to clubbing or shopping. I had spent most my free time going to cultural places and going shopping all around Seoul. There are also many cultural places that are nice to visit in Seoul. The food is good and cheap in restaurants. I eat in a restaurant almost every day because we aren’t allowed to cook in the dorm and there is no kitchen in there. There are only few microwave ovens, few toaster ovens and a toaster. One tip if you want to travel to Korea there are very few options for vegans and vegetarians. So, if you don’t eat pork, beef or chicken you should think very hard about if Korea is the right option for you.
Comparing the education and studying to Finland. In Korea university is very competitive because grades are given in cumulative so only a certain percentage gets an a and so on. But most English courses are not like this. They are mainly point based grades. Because in Finland the grade is always point based and everyone gets a grade based on their effort. In here sometimes you fail a course because you just didn’t fit into the percentages. So, it’s very competitive and grades are very important here so getting the best grade possible is important. That is why many people spend most their time studying and not having fun the closer to the exams we get. Classes here are mainly lectures and it is not encouraged to ask questions during class you can questions after the class from the teacher personally. And you should always try to take notes because you don’t always get the lecture material for yourself to review.
I have had a lot of fun during the past semester. I have Made new friends and traveled to new places. I think Korea was a good choice and Kyung hee university has been a great place to study at.
I am doing my practical training in Tokyo. My work place is small cafe and shop. The unique thing about this shop is that it’s a Finland themed. The owner of this cafe loves Finland alot and was an exchange student in Finland in 1989. She speaks finnish a little bit and speak english well. This is a lot easier for me because I don’t speak japanese fluently. I know some japanese and I understant a little bit of japanese. Sometimes I am little embarrassed that I speak japanese so little, but that has not been a problem so far. Sometimes I do customer service at the cafe. It is little diffucult but I am usually told what to say and how to act. I am lucky that I found a place where it is not that big problem. Of course I should have studied japanese a little more, but so far it has not caused any problems. My main job is probably cooking and helping in the cafe. Another big thing I do at the shop is helping packing product to department stores and customers. Sometimes even making or altering products. Like making paper fans (uchiwa) or fabric frames. I also keep one cooking lesson per week with the help of my boss Michiko-san.
My daily life in tokyo maily revolvels around work. I eat breakfast before work and after work I eat dinner. In the evening I am too tired to do anything so my sightseeing and shopping is left for free days. On my free days I rest or I have something planned for those days. With the help of my boss Michiko-san I have been to some great palces and have had company to those places. Few times I have been to sightseeing with Michiko-san and few other people through work. I have also visited few places with a girl from the finnish language lesson that is kept at Michiko-san shop. I have not been to many places alone because it is a little scary to go alone. Because Michiko-san had a meeting in Nasu in the beginnig I also got to go there.
Working here has been a good experience. Mainly because the service culture is different. Everything is so different that I can not possible tell everything. I think the biggest difference is the way we think about customers. I have heard that in Japan the customers is like a god. I have seen this to be almost right. Another way I think I find a difference is the way japanese people treat customers. This is the thing a want to learn but I have only been able to grasp a little bit it. I have had few conversations with Michiko-san about these things. For her these things come naturally and I have hard time with them. In reality she sometimes has hard time with customers and customers service. Because she has to be kind to customers and help but not only that sometimes she has to act and this is hard for her. One example comes to mind right away. This old lady that lives near comes to the shop every week and she is a kind lady, but when she comes to the shop, she drinks beer and want us to have a conversation with her even though we have other things to do. We have to be nice to her and serve her because she is a customer. She is probably the hardest customer we have. In Japan I think this is the biggest thing. Serving a customer and having a conversation with them even though it might take time of other things.
I have tried my best to discribe my experience but there is just too much that I can not possible write everything. I tried to write the most important and memorable thing. I hope you got so kind of grasp of what kind of experience I have had.