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My student life at Korea University

When I first got the notice that I will be attending one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea I could barely contain my excitement, yet at the same time feel the weight of this opportunity resting on my shoulders. SKY universities are the schools all Koreans with high academic aspirations strive to get into and where only the select few, the brightest and the most hardworking actually qualify for. They were going to be my peers and the standard all my professors were going to be expecting.

The first two weeks of my autumn semester were spent attending classes which turned out to be completely different from what I had expected, then hastily scouring through the school’s course selection and enrolling to new ones. After a 4G high speed online competition for those few vacant seats in highly sought after courses, signing permission slips and dealing with a constantly changing curriculum I was finally enrolled to courses that were at least going to award me enough credits to not get me kicked out of the school before my semester even begun. To anyone planning a semester in South Korea, during the preliminary enrollment period be sure to read the course descriptions and syllabuses VERY carefully before you enroll and have your plan B, C and D ready.

Regardless of my early hurdles I was able to attend interesting courses and study subjects unavailable to me at Tamk. I had preconceived notions of students having to spend hours every day in the library cramming knowledge in to their over worked brains from an amount of related literature that vastly outweighs any doable level of effort that could be considered humane. Thankfully they turned out to be ill placed, at least on my part. While the materials for my courses still exceeded anything I’ve had to digest at Tamk during exam weeks, I still managed to pull through without a hitch.

Seoul is an unfathomably massive city for a young man who grew up in a city of not even 200 000 people. Thoroughly exploring the city, let alone the country is going to require a stay longer than just 4 months.

I have eaten pretty much everything I came across. I have seen the tourist attractions and accessed secret places only known to locals. I explored the concrete jungle, made my way though forests, hiked up many mountains and laid on beaches all over the country.

  

And yet I still have so much more to do…

Love from Turin

I chose to do my Erasmus exchange in the University of Turin. Turin is an industrial university city in the north of Italy, near to the Alps and the boarder of France. There are roughly 900,000 inhabitants in the city and it`s well-known for their delicious chocolates. Within the university there is multiple campuses and my courses are luckily in just two of them, which makes going between the campuses a little bit easier.

I arrived here on September and now it`s already December and time to leave. The has gone by so fast by getting to know to a new country and most importantly to a new city. I had already visited a lot places in Italy but I have never been in Turin before I moved here to do my Erasmus. The city is full of historical things and me as an historic enthusiast, enjoy the view of the old buildings and museums I see every day, on my way to the university.

 

When someone says Italy, people usually think of a sunny country with people being happy all the time and eating a lot of pizza and pasta. People are eating pizza here for sure but the climate is totally different in Turin than you would think. It has been raining 90% of the time since I arrived here. A couple weeks ago the river was floating so badly that some of the restaurant next to the river had to be shut down due to water damage inside and making sure no one would get hurt. Being a runner myself, it has been real interesting to run in the rain for the last couple months to put it nicely.

In addition, of doing sports like already mentioned, I`ve visited some historical and cultural sights like Villa Della Regina which is a beautiful castle on top of a hill.

Villa Della Regina from the top of the hill

Villa Della Regina`s beautiful inside decor.

The city had some really nice sunsets which I was lucky enough to see from my own window and also got to admire when I took a walk next to the river Po.

Living in Turin was really different than in Finland and especially studying. The school system is not exactly the best one, so bending the rules and being really creative was something I had to learn. When you are used of things working pretty smoothly in a Finnish school, adapting the “rhythm” of an Italian school was not the easiest task first but little by living I got the hang of it.

 

Until next time Torino

Experiences from Tallinn

My studies in Tallinn have been an insightful experience into a different kind of education culture and to a top 3% technical university. My goal in question is to take advantage of the course offerings available for BA students on environmental economics and a plethora of law studies.  The courses have been far more difficult than anticipated, so it has definitely been a fit challenge and it has taught me a lot about study ethics.

Due to the nature of my exchange, I spent my spare time mostly at the academic hostel. Otherwise, since I’m not into partying, I prefer walks around the iconic, historical and beautiful old town and other places of Estonian cultural heritage. Obviously, there are the non-party related activities at the hostel with other exchange students, especially my Italian roommate Gaetano.

The studying culture is different from Finland, more formal and strict in practice. The teachers are just as approachable as in Finland and do not need to be addressed any more formally, but the in-school processes involve a lot of bureaucracy and the teachers themselves seem to have much less “power”, since most things – even the smallest exceptions – must be negotiated with the dean of the faculty.

Above is a picture of the old town from an aerial view!

Just a kid from Finland exploring America

Hi everyone! So, I’m in the United States of America, in the state called Minnesota, and the city is called Bemidji. It’s pretty up in here in north. I’ve been here since August so, over 4 months already. It’s been amazing at so far. I want to separate this ”postcard” to two different parts. First one is that I’m going to tell you about my campus life, and the second one is about my travelling experiences.

My studies have been really easy, because I took courses which works for me, for example the best ones are Sport Marketing and Sport Management. As a business administration student, I wanted to take courses what we don’t have in TAMK. Mostly, we had presentations and some group projects, but also every week smaller tests about chapters what we went through in that week, so it really keeps you to pay attention where we are at the moment and what is coming. Compared to Finland where we usually have couple of assignments in course and end of it we have huge final exam. I’m not sure which works better, sometimes I like this way that I don’t have to stress in the end of the semester that am I going to pass the course or not. In the beginning, we got the list of everything what we are going to do on this semester, so basically you have chance to do assignments on your own time. Like how I did, I did almost everything in September, so I had chance to travel in October and November.

 

So, campus life in here is something unique compared to Finland. Everything is so near, and we have like our own community. I love that it takes couple of minutes to walk to the classrooms, or to the gym or to restaurants. I realized that I have so much more time for everything when I don’t have to use it for moving from place to another. One senseless thing in here is that we have tunnels underground, so when it gets really cold, people are using those to move around.

 

My normal day includes lectures, sport and chilling with friends. Sport facilities here are so great. I don’t have early classes, like my earliest class starts at 10 am so there are good hours in the morning to use for whatever I want. Also, I had approximately 2 hours classes per day, so yeah, there is lot of free time. We have here some restaurants, the best one is buffet place where is all you can eat all the time. We have own currency here called Beaver bucks, and we had to load those on our student ID, so we can use it here at the campus. So, if it’s just a normal studying day, there is enough time for homework and classes, enough free time to be active and do sports and enough time to chill out, relax and sleep.

 

We have almost every day some events here for example movie nights, live music, free food and chilling, whatever they make up + all the groups like sports. If I would involve in every event here, I would never have problem to think about, what should I do to not get bored. I like mostly to watch college sports like football, hockey and basketball. It’s nice that we have every week games here and our fan culture is so supporting.

Finally, we get to the main topic and it’s travelling. I think I did that in the best way as it was possible. I got to know awesome exchange students from Switzerland and Denmark, and together we have done unforgettable trips. First, we started to explore Minnesota, we wanted to see whole state. Later in October we went to Canada, so that was little bit bigger step to rent a car and cross the board. It took only 4 hours to drive to Canada, so that was one must thing to do here.

After 3 months being here we got so used to this place that we wanted to travel somewhere else and see more states. Two swiss guys and I decided to rent a car for 10 days and drive from here where the Mississippi river starts flow, along it all the way down where it ends in the New Orleans. It took 4 days to drive there, but we stopped in Cedar Rapids, St. Louis and Memphis. We made plan for what we want to do in every place and what we wanted to see. After couple days in New Orleans we decided to ahead to Nashville and after that to Chicago. We saw so many things and places on our journey that is for sure my craziest and also the best memory of all time.

 

So, it took 10 days, we drove over 5000 kilometers, and we sat in the car over 50 hours. It was totally worth it, and idea wasn’t just to get from place to another, we wanted experience the freedom while driving to new states and see roads and nature. We visited 12 states! Sometimes crazy ideas end up being master plans. I’m very thankful that I had this opportunity to do this and also that I found those two as openminded people as me to share this experience with me.

Greetings,

Aukusti

Bonjour de Nice!

I started my exchange semester at IPAG Business School, Nice, in the end of August 2018. The time has gone by so fast and now as it is already December, my study exchange has almost come to its end. That’s why, as a tip number one: you should enjoy the exchange while it lasts because time flies when you are having a great time!

And indeed, I have had the time of my life in the French Riviera. Studying at IPAG has been quite nice, although you should be prepared that it is not even closely as organised as in Finland. My favorite courses at IPAG have been French Culture & Civilization and the French classes, and I would definitely recommend them for anyone who is going to study at IPAG. Especially the French classes have been the best language classes that I have ever had in my life – the teacher was extremely entertaining but at the same time I was able to improve my French skills more than ever before. The teacher talked only French during the classes, which was also a very effective way to learn French.

As mentioned before, studying in France is a bit different when compared to Finland. For me it took some time to get used to the French style of the lectures. For instance, when having an exam, some of the teachers expect you to remember everything that they have said in the class, but what cannot be found anywhere written down in the course materials. After I learned this, I started to write everything down that the teachers said during the lectures.

When it comes to free time, the French Riviera has so much to offer. I’ve been enjoying especially the vibrant student life and the beautiful city of Nice in general. During the first two months the weather was unspeakably gorgeous with the temperature of up to +30 (or more) degrees Celsius. Most of this time I spent lying on the beach after school and getting to know the sight-seeings, as well as the lively nightlife of Nice. Something worth to mention too is la cuisine française, which will never let you down. I have tasted the most amazing things in France, and cooked delicious meals together with my roommate. What I have learned is that the French food culture is so much more than wine and cheese, and it will always keep surprising you positively.

In my opinion, it is hard to run out of things to do in the French Riviera. Nice has many beaches and other stunning places to see and it is surrounded by beautiful villages which are easy to get to with paying only 1,50 euros for the bus. So far I have been to Monaco, Antibes, Èze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Marseille. In addition, it is very easy to travel to other countries from Nice and it is possible to do so even by bus or train. For example, I was in Italy together with some of my classmates (which was awesome). We travelled by bus and train only and visited Venice, Florence and Milan. As Nice has a broad variety of cultural events as well, I went to Maître Gims‘ concert, which was held at Palais Nikaïa. Maître Gims is a Congolese-born French singer and my favorite artist at the moment.

Something that everyone should know who are interested in living in France, is the French culture of protests and strikes. Especially during my exchange semester, there have been many protests in the whole France, including Nice. So far it has been safe in Nice during the protests, but you should take into consideration that the public transportation may not work during those days and furthermore, you should definitely not reserve a trip to Paris when the worst protests are going on (like I did, though couple of weeks beforehand and without the knowledge of the future events).

What I didn’t know before coming to Nice is that it can be a bit rainy and cloudy in November–December. So if you plan to stay here during the autumn or winter, I recommend you to bring an umbrella with you (because I didn’t)! What also surprised me is that there are many type of activities to do in Nice also in the autumn/winter time. For instance, my friends and I have been ice-skating multiple times and there is also a beautiful Christmas market and Christmas lights decorating the streets in December. We have also been swimming in the sea still in December, which is quite unusual for me. The sea water is still quite warm, around +17 degrees Celsius.

All in all, I would definitely recommend exchange studies in Nice. I can guarantee that you will not get bored easily and you will definitely have the best time of your life, as I have. Once you settle to live in Nice, the city will never leave your heart.

 

Bonne chance avec votre expérience étrangère,

Elina Oksanen

Servus! (from Munich)

I have been in Munich for nearly two months, the time has passed really fast. At first it took time to learn everyday things and learn to know a new hometown. On Weekdays I am studying and also try to do sports. On weekends I also try to keep some free and do nice things. My friends from Finland have visited here.

I’m studying here on a master degree program business. My campus is only 4 km from my home, so I will go to campus by bike or bus. I have chosen some interesting courses and I am trying very hard to learn the German language. Studying here is a bit different than in Finland. Seminar papers are wider and usually they are done in groups of 3-4 people. In Lectures are also done in a various of assignments in addition to the theory.

At the beginning of October I was running the Munich marathon which was a very fun event, then there was still +23 degrees warm and the sun was shining. A couple of times I have went to hike to the Alps . It’s easy to take a train and go anywhere. Also railway tickets are very cheap here.

The Munich city is really beautiful, where are lots of old buildings and culture. The public transport is easy to use and here is very safe.German is almost similar to Finland. A few things surprised me, cash was used here more than in Finland, it is only way to pay in many restaurants and kiosks, local food and organic products is used more than Finland and selections are really good. Stores are not open on Sundays, except very rarely in special cases (for example, Christmas or even Mother’s Day).

Last weekend here opened the first Christmas Market. The center of the Christmas market here is the historic Marienplatz square. Sale of the stalls spread over several streets around the old town. Many tourists will come here to look at the Christmas market.

Happy Christmas time! / Fröhliche Weihnachtszeit!

Groeten uit Rotterdam!

On this very day, I have stayed in The Netherlands for exactly 3 months and I’m about halfway on my exchange studies. Yes, here in The Netherlands the semesters are quite long in comparison to Finland.

I am studying in Rotterdam, the second largest city in The Netherlands (Roughly 625 000 inhabitants, located in South of The Netherlands). My typical school week is quite short, for instance, currently I only have 3 days of school in a week but this is balanced by project working and other homework. So having “easy weeks” definitely does not mean that you can slack off during your day-offs. I have had way more individual assignments here than in Finland, also the project working is much more demanding.

Rotterdam skyline in the city center
Markthal, the Rotterdam market hall

Although I am studying in The Netherlands, my degree programme’s (International Business for Asia) focus has been on Asian business culture – making my exchange studies very unique. I have had the pleasure to meet so many students from Asia during these studies and inspired by this, I even took a Japanese language course to learn the basics of Japanese.  Speaking of languages, it is very easy to get by with English in your every day life, especially in Rotterdam as it is a very diverse and multinational city.

There is not really a culture shock to be experienced when living in The Netherlands, maybe some homesickness every now and then – definitely missing the sauna as well haha. Otherwise, be prepared for some very direct communication with the Dutch, they get straight to the point with things. This is something that I have really enjoyed actually, I also like to get straight to the point. Nonetheless, it was really easy to get to know new people here and I have made so many friends during my stay already.

During the weekends, I have traveled around, visiting the major cities of The Netherlands and I have even been to Brussels twice. I still have some places left on my go-to list, such as Antwerp, Utrecht & Delft. I might even travel around in January or February if my school ends early enough, my rental agreement is still active until 8th of February.

Amsterdam central station
The Hague peace palace
Brussels at night

If you actually read this far, I would lastly like to give out some general tips for those heading to Rotterdam/The Netherlands for studying:

  • Generally, a Finnish bank card will not work here. You most likely need to apply for a Dutch student bank account, however, this is free of charge. You only need to register for the municipality and receive a BSN (burgerservicenummer) to apply for the bank account.
  • Accommodation is expensive and hard to come by in Rotterdam. Easiest way is to apply for a student housing (SSH), but keep in mind that you need a down payment of two months and the apartments run out very quickly during the application period.
  • The cycling infrastructure is great in The Netherlands, each city usually has dedicated bike lanes for cyclists. Public transport is more expensive in Rotterdam than in Tampere, but it is very extensive with metros, trams, buses and trains.
  • School for the business studies in Rotterdam was relocated to the city center, around 3,5km away from the student housing.
  • Food is around the same price as in Finland, however, more selection on some groceries.
  • It is easy to travel from Rotterdam to other cities, so have some spare money for traveling!! 🙂

你好,来自上海! Hello from Shanghai!

Two months have flown by so quickly and my exchange is nearing its end in the grand metropolitan city of Shanghai. In Shanghai there are roughly around 24 million people, which shows in everyday life. There is not a moment where you are alone and the lines in TAMKs cafeteria look very short after living in Shanghai. I had never been in China before coming here and boy oh boy has it been an experience.

I am studying in Shanghai University or SHU or ShangDa as the locals like to call it. Shanghai University is the most popular university among young people in Shanghai because of the good teaching and high-quality research. I have five courses, Chinese language, introduction to the Chinese economy and society, social changes is contemporary China, Chinese culture and foreign trade of China. University life to local students is hard, but not for us foreigners. Mostly our courses have only very long lectures (around 3 and half hours), group presentation and final essay, only in Chinese language we have an actual final exam. When compared to TAMK, the lectures are pretty similar. Communication within school is done mostly in WeChat since the school’s tabula-like environment is only in Chinese, which is a bit of a bummer. All in all, the school is pretty nice, except for the classrooms. They have benches attached to tables and are not built for anyone taller than 165cm.

To me, China and Shanghai have shown its beauty in a very spectacular way, the old and the new. I have admired the city’s old architecture in Yu garden while distancing myself from the never sleeping megacity. I also have admired the futuristic area of Pudong, named to be the “Wall street of Asia”, during nighttime and been to the worlds’ second tallest building. I have enjoyed my coffee in the biggest Starbucks in the world and also sipped my tea in the oldest teahouse in Shanghai.  During my spare time I like to visit different districts of Shanghai and get to know the local life. Unlike many think, Shanghai and China is very western and not that cheap, except for food. Food is cheap, it’s delicious and there’s a lot of it. You can find any type of cuisine from around the world in Shanghai, because of its history of being a port city. Sadly, the true Shanghainese food is a bit too sweet for my taste and I have to admit that I still prefer Cantonese cuisine over Shanghainese.

In general, if you are up for an experience and willing to step far away from your comfort zone, I can recommend Shanghai and China. Just last week we experienced one of the biggest “unrestricted internet” blockades on the year, which was hilarious and annoying at the same time. Luckily, it only lasted a week and now everyone is back at finding good academic sources from google for their final essays. It has been nice to experience a completely different culture and get to understand China, but I am still more than fond of Finnish culture. I appreciate the quietness I have not experienced here in the past two months and the Finnish cuisine of not adding sugar and fat to every dish imaginable.

  • Emmi Haapasalo

안녕하세요! Greetings from Seoul!

I am now halfway of my exchange, so I thought to give you my thoughts and experiences so far. I am studying in Seoul in Sungkyunkwan University, which is the oldest university in Korea, founded in 1398. Here I am doing mostly studies related to Korean culture, such as Korean language, political and economic development and contemporary society of Korea. As I am very interested in the local culture, I have enjoyed my studies here a lot, and I have done pretty well so far. Studying in a very prestigious university is different than studying in TAMK which is a university of applied sciences. Lectures are longer, and a lot of studying is required on our own time. And of course we have had exams. I was a little afraid on how my midterms would go, as I have not done essay exams in a long time and also a lot more is required. Week before exam week all the Korean students spent all their time in the library or cafes getting ready for the exams, and me and my friends decided to do the same.

On my free time I often go visit stores in Myeongdong, a shopping district that is only few metro stops away from my dorm. Another place I often go to is Hongdae. They also have restaurants and cafes me and my friends like to visit pretty often. One of the most exciting things for me here is the food. I love going out eat and drink with friends, Korean BBQ is one of the best things I know and I can’t understand why we still don’t have KBBQ restaurants in Finland. We also visit many historical places on weekends, there are many very beautiful palaces in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung palace

I really have enjoyed my time, and even after spending two months here already, there is still so much to do each day. Seoul is my favorite city in the world.

Olá do Porto!

Porto is a “capital of northern Portugal”, sized about the same as Helsinki metropolitan area, it is not too large nor small! I arrived a while ago for my International Business exchange and oh boy things are different in here! I’ve always been keen to know foreign cultures, and this time I wanted really to know southern Europe, hence the location: Portugal.

Let’s start with the Uni. All institution have their flaws, and before leaving TAMK I thought that things in Finland were far away from perfect, now I think that TAMK is a perfect school! 😀 Communication with the school has been more than troubling, the first day of school they cut credits from courses and shortened the exchange time! What a pleasant surprise. The facilities are, well, let’s just say that from the last century without renovation so you get the idea. But as in yin-yang, there is always something positive in bad, and it is not all bad! The teaching is good, in my Business English course and the Marketing Communication especially have been pleasant surprises all-in-all, and the tests have been way easier than in Finland so far, can’t complain about that!

Finding an apartment hasn’t been a problem for any friends that I have made, just prepare to pay around the same as in Finland and you are good to go! This brings the blog nicely to the prices, it is cheap here. With the grant provided, you will survive just fine. I had my expectations a bit higher just in case but the reality is that everything is cheaper. I cannot recommend enough to come to Portugal if you wish to travel during the exchange, Marocco, Malta and Madeira are all just 20 euros away, and by plane! I have already been to Spain and have trips booked to Malta and Madeira for the near future, and that is something!

To make it short, it is nice to experience a new culture in day-to-day life but I can now say that the culture in Finland is unbeatable. Here people are always late and almost nothing works at a general level, thank goodness people are super friendly! After the exchange, and already, I appreciate Finland more than ever!

Now I am just going to sit back, relax and try my best to adapt to the culture for rest of the time in here!

Atte Hurme