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Groeten uit België!

Greetings from Antwerp, Belgium!

My exchange in Belgium began at the end of January and is now coming to an end.

I studied business management at Artesis Plantijn at the Meistraat campus right next to the famous shopping street of Meir and also very closeby to the central railway station of Antwerp. I had courses in marketing, finance and environmental management. Studying in Belgium is definitely more demanding than in Finland, but it was all worth it as the subjects were mostly very interesting and useful for me. For example the course of content marketing is something I can implement right away in my current job.

As courses were more demanding, I did spend a good chunk of my spare time studying, too. However, I did have time for fun things as well! Sometimes we would go shopping and to have coffee with my friends, other times I would be going to different kinds of events. For example, I went to a chocolate fair in Brussels (the dress in the picture is made of chocolate!) and to Ru Paul’s drag show. I participated in a few workshops related to coding that I had found through Facebook. It was fun, as coding is something totally new to me but it interests me a lot. I also visited the Tutankhamon exposition in Paris, which was absolutely spectacular. I would totally recommend going to see it if you get the chance – it’s extended until September of this year!

I feel like students are quite relaxed in Belgium – which really is curious as teachers can be a lot more strict and courses a lot more extensive. It was not uncommon that students came to class somewhat unprepared, even if there was a presentation for example. Of course it was not the case for all students but this laid-back attitude was a lot more common there than in Finland. A lot of times, my fellow Erasmus students and I were more stressed over assignments and such than the local students appeared to be. The “hierarchy” between students and teachers was also more noticeable in Belgium than in Finland, which is not necessarily a bad thing but just something that I noticed.

Overall, my time in Belgium has been nice. I believe Antwerp has a lot to offer for students. It’s a  nice city with a nice mix of different cultures and generally very friendly people.

Tot ziens!

P.S. Sorry that my card is arriving a bit late! The Finnish postal system is not always the fastest… 😉 

Can lah!

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!

  • Emmi

  

Photo credits: Emmi Korhonen

 

From Saigon With Love

I left for Vietnam in 2018 to do my five-month practical training after two years in Finland. Not until I came back to Vietnam did I realize how much I miss the country and how much everything has changed in the last few years. I also have learned a lot of lessons myself, especially related to my career path and future goals. 

I did two different internships at two different companies in Ho Chi Minh City, one from start-up and one from global cooperation. At the start-up company, I was working as a Digital Marketing intern who would perform tasks related to planning and strategizing the marketing campaigns, copywriting, graphics; handling Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and other marketing channels to increase branding, engagement, and conversion or managing social media channels of the company. The start-up was the placement where I took on the responsibilities with my creativity and flexibility. It was also the place where I found out that I was not really into the marketing field, and I needed to seek an alternative. However, I did learn something here and nothing wasted. Specifically, I could demonstrate my design skill and use my imagination to make creative products published on social media platforms. I was delighted to see many audiences get interested in the content created by myself.

Meanwhile, I spent another three months as a Research Analyst intern at a management consulting cooperation. I was in charge of conducting desk research related to projects; building up potential respondents list; handling in-depth interviews, and transcribing and translating interviews. The practical training at the global organization gave me a lot of experiences. More importantly, I recognized my career path in the future. I would follow management consulting industry and become a business consultant. I am interested in working for projects in various business sectors from the automotive industry to the construction industry from which I have acquired a large amount of knowledge and specific skills.

During my return to Vietnam, I usually spent my spare time discovering the city and hanging out with my friends. We gathered together at some famous cafes in Saigon, then went for shopping or buying foods. I often shared my stories about my life in Finland to my friends and most of the time, they tended to get curious about how life would be when living abroad and how I could get over challenges or culture shocks. Besides, I did travel. My family and I traveled to Thailand in early June and to Danang, Hoian, and Hue in July. What I remembered most were the food and the sceneries of the tropical countries with sunlight and warm atmosphere. I love the beach. I always feel peaceful and calm in front of the ocean waves. The fresh air and the wind makes me feel fresh and relaxed. 

Saigon in the morning. Source: Google.

It is difficult for me to point out the differences in the working environment between Vietnam and Finland, perhaps because I did not pay full attention to what happened around me or I made quick adaptation to the environment. However, the most significant difference I recognized was related to high context versus low context. At my companies, people tended to avoid telling straight about mistakes and problems to co-workers. Instead, they would try to suggest that everybody should look at other directions and start new plans. People rarely gave feedback on the work that I was doing although sometimes I had to ask if there was anything wrong and what I should do to correct my mistakes. Now and then, I find it confusing to understand the case and solve the case. I thought that the best way to go through these obstacles was to focus on my work and leave the problems behind. 

It was time to leave Vietnam for Finland. When I got back to Finland, I missed Saigon a lot. Saigon was the city where I had a lot of memories with my friends as well as unforgettable experiences that made who I am today. 

 

Hallo, from the oldest city of Germany!

I have been in Trier for the past three months and I am happy that I got to experience this part of Germany better. The area has plenty of vineyards, and Trier is located right next to Mosel river, so the nature is very beautiful here too. Being here in central Europe, many other nice countries are so close that it is easy to travel around so I made a few trips to Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels and Bruges.

On my free time here depending on the weather I might have a coffee, go eating out or have drinks by the river with friends. Our weekly get-togethers are usually on Thursdays and Saturdays when we party together or just have a good time chilling at nice places around the city.

What comes to studying, it has been quite relaxed here as I only had three courses: Intercultural Management, International Economics and German language as well as a seminar of Asian economy and Asian companies. Studying at Hochschule Trier for Erasmus students is very laidback as the teachers want us to enjoy our time during our exchange. Observing the local students and their studying, I would say that German people start to prepare for exams a bit earlier than students in Finland and here people are always on time to lectures. In general, there aren’t too many differences to studying in Finland though.

Now that my exchange is getting closer to its end, I feel like I should have gone for an exchange for a whole year, since the time spent living abroad is so special and different than living in my “comfort zone” in Finland. During my exchange I feel like I’ve become more independent and self-confident, and the best part is to realize that you are capable of living alone in a foreign country and in a city where you at first knew absolutely no one. Living abroad has also taught me a lot of new things about myself and I’ve also started to figure out better what I want to do with my professional career. It is true that sometimes you have to distance yourself from your daily life back home, in order to see your life clearer, how and with whom you are actually spending most of your time there. This helps you to see if that is truly what you should be doing.

All in all, I am very grateful of this experience and journey I’ve had here and also very proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone. I encourage everyone to go for an exchange when they have the chance, it will open your eyes in so many ways, to many new things. Life is good 🙂

Viele Grüße aus Trier – Salla

Sziasztok!

I am so happy that I chose this beautiful Hungarian capital for my exchange semester. My university, Budapest Business School the Faculty of Commerce Hospitality and Tourism, is situated in the heart of Budapest two blocks from the Parliament house and Danube.

I have been studying marketing, communication and organisational management. BBS offers courses that I have not possible study in TAMK, such as Advertisement Psychology. Because I am interested in events and fairs, I also took one tourism course called MICE tourism which I found one of the most interesting subjects during the semester. Unfortunately, our university did not offer Hungarian language course even though they promised in advance. It would have been useful to learn at least the basics of the language. I can speak only couple words in Hungarian, but I have not ever had any problems because majority of the people speak passable English language.

One of the reasons why I chose Budapest was that it is situated middle of the Europe and good connections to many countries and cities. I been trying to travel as much as possible in my spare time in Hungary and neighbouring countries. Here is so much to see in Budapest too so I have spent many weekends enjoying the atmosphere of the city. Every day is able to find different cultural events, music theatre and dance. It was so positive surprise that here is organised stand-up comedy gigs every second week in English. Those gigs have become tradition among friends.

Studying in Hungary differ from studying in Finland. Classrooms are simpler, the teachers use less technology during the lectures and we have had more individual assignments than in Finland. The schedules of the courses usually do not hold up, if there is any schedule, and teachers can change the plans middle of the semester. I have learnt that nothing works here but everything will be taken care of. Despite the mess at the beginning all the teacher have been helpful and especially the international coordinator has helped a lot!

Greetings from Austria!

Greetings from Wiener Neustadt! I have now spent almost 4 months in Austria and the time has flown by. It is quite sad to think that this experience will soon be over.

I study business administration at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt. I have now finished most of my courses, but during the exchange I normally had classes two or three days per week. Sometimes there were classes from 9 in the morning up until 8 in the evening but having some days entirely off during the week was quite nice. We had a lot of work to do also outside the classes so between travelling and sitting in classes you had always something to do. I have noticed that here the teachers focus more on the fact that they want us to learn more specific details about to subject where as in Finland I think the teachers want us to be able to apply the learned knowledge to different situations.

I live just a 5-minute walk away from the university in a student dormitory. Since all of the exchangers live in the same floor, all 25 of us live right next to each other. This has been really fun since you always have someone to hang out with and it has been easy to get to know everyone. My roommate is from Uruguay and it has been an interesting experience to live with someone who is from a totally different culture.

     

 

During my free time I have travelled a lot with the other exchangers. We have gone to Italy, Slovenia and Czech Republic. We have also done trips inside Austria. Going to Slovenia and making trips to see the Austrian nature with its beautiful mountains have been my favorites.

 

When I am not travelling I usually just have a normal daily routine with some studying, going to the gym and hanging out with the other exchangers. Our dormitory is in the middle of an industrial area and for example on Sundays there are no busses to the city center, so we try to come up with something to do at the dorms. Maybe watch a movie or play cards together. The best thing during the exchange has definitely been all the people I’ve met. They have made this experience unforgettable.

– Alisa

Bisous from Paris!

I have now been studying here in Paris for a few months now and I love it. Paris seems to be a place that needs a bit more time to be fully understood and appeciated. A small holiday here just isn’t enought. I am so happy that I got the chance to experience this beautiful city with time and that I could really dive in to the culture. I have enjoyed seeing beautiful architecture, going a round small galleries, all the little book shops as well as eating amazing food.

I have been studying marketing as well as luxury retail and have been pleased with my studies. I enjoy the topics and have made alot of new friends. These courses will help me in the future with my up-coming jobs, for sure. During my spare time I enjoy drinks and good food with my friends, take a lot of pictures and just relax.

Studying here is pretty different when you compare it to studying in Tampere. Tampere is so much more relaxed as a city and you can’t really feel that people are in a hurry or that they are stressed. Paris is very hectic and it seems that the studying culture is too. It is much more fast paced here in France.

I hope it is sunny in Finland!

Best regards from Paris,

 

Milja

Tallinn is a city with an allure of its own

I saw the title written in some tourist guide book, and I have to say that I agree. In Tallinn like in the rest of the Estonia, the past centuries are layered in architecture and culture. Kristian said in his blog text that he liked to visit the old town in his spare time, and so do I. The old town of Tallinn is a beautiful example of a medieval city with lot to discover. Every time I visit, there is something new to find. There are more interesting museums, lovely cafeteria and good restaurants than there is time to visit.

On the other hand, Estonia is also land of controversies. The country’s past decades can be seen in the architecture outside the old town. There are side by side very old buildings, soviet era apartment blocks and modern buildings. I would say an incomplete is more interesting than perfect.

I study business in adult education and I am doing my international internship in Tallinn, Estonia, where I work in a bank. If I would have to compare Finnish and Estonian work culture, I would say the both cultures are very similar. The moral and work ethics are based on the same principles. We both are taking the work seriously, but Estonians from my perspective seem to be more considerate towards others. Here, colleagues are very helpful towards each other. They remember everyone’s birthday and like to commemorate them with flowers, and the one who is celebrating brings sweets for everyone. Estonians by the way love flowers. You can see them everywhere and there is always someone carrying flowers in the city center.

This week has been very active, because I got visitors from Finland. We went to see the Katariina I ballet by Toomas Eduri in the Rahvusoopper Estonia, which was elegant experience. Another day we visited the Kadriorg park, where trees, bushes and flowers were blossoming. One of my favorite things here is going to the great outdoors, which is easy and fast even with public transportation system. Especially now during the spring, the nature is very beautiful. After the Kadriorg visit, we went to the Nomme Adventure Park that is located in a beautiful green oasis in Tallinn. They tell on their brochure that adventure trails are suitable for everyone, but I think it is not true. From my own experience, I can say that they need new trails for chickens.

Tomorrow we are going to have dinner in the Old town into a restaurant called Leib resto. Their philosophy is to make Estonian food out of local ingredients and everything they have on their list is locally produced. I really look forward to visit there, because I have eaten local food only in our workplace’s canteen.

All memories have been written to my mind forever.

 

Cheers from Portsmouth, UK!

Life in Portsmouth has been swell. I liked the city the moment I stepped out of the train and it has been a very rewarding exchange destination as it is a nice smaller town close to the sea, where sceneries are beautiful and small-town people are friendly.

Portsmouth

The studies here have been, to say the least, confusing. I had three courses I had to choose, overall and most of them have classes that only last for 60 minutes, while in Finland, I am used to much longer lessons. I have a marketing course, where one has to learn at home by oneself all the case studied, PP slides and online seminars for next class alone and then we go into class just to quickly discuss what we learned at home. I do not think this is a good way fo teaching, as one can fast have confusion or misunderstandings without the support of classmater or the teacher, when learning something new. Another difference here is the obsession with referencing. Of course, in TAMK referencing is important as well, but here it feels like the main thing of learning, whereas I feel like the content of the course should be the thing. The good thing is that I have a lot of freetime, as I only have school three times a week. The bad thing is that I do not like the teaching style here, at all. But it has been a learning experience, me being thankfull I get to study in a school like TAMK, rather than here. Of course, I also did not have as much options of courses to choose from as the students coming here during their autumn exchange, which might also affect the courses and the styles they are taught with! I have enjoyed the marketing course in a sense that it has taught me so much new things about the subject and the teacher is tough, but fair and I like her.

Bath Spa

My spare time has been spent a lof on travelling with my roommates. I was super lucky to have three girls whom I absolute adore to live with and we have travelled England a lot during our freedays. We usually have a trip booked for every week. This has been a wonderful chance to travel and see cities, where I might not take the chance of travelling to otherwise, because they are smaller cities or quite far away from normal travel destinations in England. The furthest I have been to was in Inverness, Scotland. This has been an amazing journey of seeing the country and really experiencing the English culture to its fullest. I feel time is flying way too fast!

me in Oxford, happy to hunt for Harry Potter locations

Compared to Finland, the studying style here is not as good, in my honest opinion. In Finland, I feel more effort has been put into the teaching style and methods and it is easier to learn in class with others, not at home, by yourself. As an international class, I also feel that in TAMK, the english language level has been a bit higher than in the international group here. Still, it has been a nice learning experience personally to live alone in a completely new environment and I have enjoyed the English way of life wholeheartedly. Also, experience with how the teaching in other countries is like is very valuable for me as a student. I will miss the pub culture and the kindness of total strangers, two big parts of the English culture and lifestyle!

Windy day in Portsmouth by the sea

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.