Category Archives: Tourism, Catering and Domestic Services

Hospitality Management, Management of Service Business

Ciao from Italy

I have been in Italy almost two months now, and I am in love! Here are so many things to learn about the culture and so many new perspectives to gain. I am living in the middle of most beautiful landscapes and I recommend if you are going to visit Italy, you must visit Barolo area.

A little town called Verduno, is where I live now, has 600 habitants with lovely restaurants and wineries. Pelaverga wine is smallest DOCG certificated wine in Italy. This unique wine can be exclusively produced only in this little town!


Luxury villas

There are a many other little villages nearby worth to visit! For example Roddi, La Morra, Serralunga and Barolo.

I am studying Hospitality management in TAMK University of applied sciences. For my last year internship I came to work here in Monvigiliero Vineyard Villas. We have four beautiful luxury villas which can accommodate up to 40 persons, or individually up to 13 persons.

I came here in the beginning May and I will leave in the middle of August. I am sad realizing that my internship is almost over. Even though I love Italian hot summer, I would love to see Italian magical autumn as well. Especially because in the beginning of October starts famous Alba white truffle- season and harvest in the vineyards.

I wanted to come here, because I am interested to work in a hotel business. After I finish my studies, I would love to find a job in a hotel’s reception. On my spare time I am sunbathing, relaxing and spending time with my boss. Usually I have 2 – 3 days off. Everything is doable if I want to travel somewhere; for example, I visited Genova last week and I before spent one night in Torino as well. I have a small apartment at villas, so it doesn’t take a long time for work.

I didn’t have any special expectations for my trip to Italy. The only thing that I considered as a difficulty was the language barrier. I did not speak Italian when I came here, only English. Now that I have been here almost two months, I know some words and I have started to understand some Italian.

In Finland it is quite rare to drink even one glass of wine in a lunch break. Here it is normal to drink one glass of wine while eating. It is actually vice versa; if you don’t order wine, everybody looks at you like you are sick! Of course, it is okay to drink one glass of wine, but I have not never seen that quite often. Overall this trip has been my best thing ever, I have learnt something new every day and I can’t believe that I need to return home so soon!

-Nora

Herkese merhaba!

Greetings from Turkey.

I am happy to say that coming to Ankara was one of the best choices of my life. There is so much to learn in this culture and so many new perspectives to gain, mostly because Turkey differs from Finland quite a lot. One of the biggest differences I noticed is religion, also being the most prominent as there are many mosques and calls to prayers five times a day. These are probably the first things a newcomer will notice here. Also, my exchange takes place during Ramadan, which I am as well excited to experience, although from a perspective of an outsider.  I have been able to visit some of the best attractions in Ankara during my time here, and also places in other parts of Turkey.

 

Inside Kocatepe Camii, the largest mosque in Ankara

Photos from the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – the founder of Turkey

Bilkent University is said to be one of the best universities in Turkey. When we have mostly large, project-oriented courses in Finland, the ones in Bilkent are more theoretical and scattered in many smaller entities. Students here need 52 courses in able to graduate, which seems too much for someone who is used to two 10 credit courses per semester. Although, instructors are knowledgeable and know how to teach, which provides good chances for learning.

One of the more practical courses I am taking is International cuisines, in which we prepare foods from different countries and serve them to the customers. As a part of the course we had also an opportunity to take part in Bilkent Mayfest and sell our products there. That was in fact challenging but fun addition to the course! The final exam will be like ‘mystery box’ from MasterChef, everyone getting different ingredients to prepare dishes from.

-Laura

 

 

Greetings from Akureyri!

I have been studied here this spring and I am totally in love with this place. Akureyri is so called  “capital of north”. Even thought it is a very small town, approximately 18000 habitants, they have their own university.

I am a Hospitality Management student, but I wanted to go to Akureyri even thought they don’t have any courses for my studies. I took some business courses which I found very interesting. I also took courses that are made for exchange students for example Icelandic language and Icelandic Nature.

In Tamk I used to do almost everything in groups, but because now I studied in the university, teaching was totally different. Courses consist mostly lectures and there were only a few group works.

I spend my spare time mostly with my flatmates and other exchange students. Because Akureyri is so small, basically all the foreigners know each others. I have met so many amazing people here and it is gonna be hard to say goodbye. With other exchange students we have done some roadtrips together around Iceland and I have seen many beautiful places.

Before I went to Iceland, I thought that people are similar with Finnish people. Culture is quite similar, but there are also differencies. Finnish people are way more punctual than Icelandic. One of my teacher gave a very logical explanation for that; the weather. The weather can variete during the day a lot and that is why Icelandic people are not good at planning in advance, because it depends so much of the weather can you go somewhere or not.

-Maria

Hallo aus Wien!

Two months has now passed since I arrived to the beautiful capital city of Austria, Vienna. I’ve enjoyed my stay here and even though I still have two months left, I’m getting anxious when I’m thinking that I need to come back to Finland. There is so much to see, discover and do in this old historical city, the weather has (most of the time) been amazing, the people I’ve got to know are awesome and life in general is just really nice.

 Ice skating at Rathausplatz.

The studies are not the first thing to come up to my mind when thinking how I’ve been spending my time here. I’m only doing 22 credits in Vienna, and this means I need to go to school only once or twice a week. I study at FHWien der WKW and the school is mainly focused on management and communication. At TAMK I’m studying hospitality management, but here I’m having courses in international marketing, social media, eMarketing etc. All of my courses are only with other Erasmus students, so I haven’t had the chance to get to know local people. The lectures and study methods are quite the same as in Finland: the teacher lectures about a subject and we do group work and have presentations (which I don’t like.) A few times we’ve had quizzes of the subject that we studied in the last class, and the winner usually gets something sweet to eat as a price. Sometimes the classes are at a weird time, for example one course took place in the evening and ended after 10 PM. Another thing that differs from TAMK is that the schedule changes almost every week.

In my spare time I usually travel, because it’s really cheap and easy here. We’ve travelled to Hallstatt (picture with the church), Bratislava, Cracow, Prague and Budapest and I still have trips to Italy (Rome, Pisa, Florence and Venice), Salzburg, Graz, Munich and maybe some other country in Southern Europe. We also like to go and spend time in some of the cozy cafes in Vienna. When it’s warm we usually hang out in a park or around the Danube river.

     

I never got a culture shock, but there’s few things that I’m still not used to in Vienna and Austria. First of all the public transport works perfectly here. The public transport ticket for the whole semester was only 75 euros and the trains, subways, buses and trams are ALWAYS on time. Another thing that is quite annoying is that grocery stores closes at 8 PM and they are not open on Sundays.

Can’t wait to see what the next two months will look like!

From Narnia with Love

Now, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Slovenia is usually Slovakia. Unfortunately they have nothing else common than almost the same name and almost the same flag. The similarities usually end there, and diversity begins. And Slovenia should be your next destination for a short vacation!

Think of a country which has old culture starting from roman era, beautiful small towns, huge mighty mountains and beautiful mediterranean coast with old towns. Picture caves deep enough to ride a train inside and a ice cold blue mountain river that stays freezing cold during the hottest months of the year. Now picture everything I said, and put it to a size of a country that you can drive through in 3 hours. That is Slovenia, and it is much more than that. And it’s fairytale looks have been captured in the Narnia movie series.

 

I chose Slovenian coast as my destination, since it was a chance to enjoy a mediterranean lifestyle, with the possibilities to go to mountains and bigger cities with little commute. The possibilities to experience all of this was relatively easy since travel times were short, and prices affordable.

My destination town, Portoroz, is a small resort tourist town in the 44km long coast of Slovenia. Located just 5 kilometers from Croatian border, and 15km from Italian border. It is buzzing with tourists during the summer, but silent during the winter. My exchange period is the whole academic year that started from late October, and ends in the hottest month of the year, July.

TAMK hospitality management only could offer Restaurant management, so my interests to study tourism had to come from a another school, and the best place to study was a tourist town with school for this specific study line. I packed my bags, and joined the Erasmus flow and moved to the sunny coast of Slovenia.

Now studying compared to Finland is different. Much less group work, more writing, academic essays and a test season that requires a lot of reading. Methods are more university style than applied sciences, so people who are afraid of writing 15 page essays regularly, should try to research their places of study if this is too hard. I actually welcomed the change and challenge since I needed training for my upcoming thesis work. In the end, it was an rewarding experience.

People here are hardworking, precise, but have a relaxed Balkan attitude towards rules of society. Bureaucracy is a a nightmare, and just a opening of a bank account may require you to visit multiple times to the bank and dealing with clerks that do not speak english at all. But do not let these facts let you down, since your tutors will help you with everything!

Schedules are quite relaxed, and there is plenty of time to plan your life around studies. Travels, excursions and trips are possible. Venice, alps, Croatia and even Hungary are so nearby that you could experience all of these in short time.

I have skied in alps, hiking in the mountains, swam the in the ocean, seen Vienna, and been to Italy and explored olive gardens and vineyards. Tasted the local wine and olives, and explored the coastal towns with great food and cheap alcohol.

Portoroz

The coastal area and Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, are especially expensive to accommodate, so prices can get up to Finnish prices in terms of rent, but life is relatively cheaper otherwise. Student services offer discounts to certain restaurants with student menus, and you can enjoy a nice dinner with less expenses. Eating out is quite the norm and worth trying out!

The mediterranen coast is a weird place in Slovenia, since it really feels like another country than rest of the Slovenia. There is so much variety in just 200km drive from the alps to the coast. Your journey may start from snow and blizzard of Julian Alps, and end up in the sunny palm tree filled Slovenian coast with plus 10 degrees. It is crazy!

The view from my balcony

So, if you want to see the hidden gem of Europe, come to Slovenia and experience it yourself, you will find out that jumping into the unknown can be very rewarding and you will meet people that are friendly and in love with their country’s beautiful scenery.

Ciao!

 

Combination of business and scuba diving!

I made my practical training last spring in Thailand on Koh Tao island. I spent almost three months there and worked as an office trainee in Finnish scuba diving center, Koh Tao Divers.  Koh Tao Divers have another diving center in Malta as well.

Why I chose diving center as a place for my internship? Well, I thought for a long time what would be a perfect place to do my practical training in Finland. I was sure, that I won’t do it at any restaurant or hotel. I wanted some new and different.

It was rainy day of October 2017 and I was browsing my Facebook. There it was. Turquoise advert of Koh Tao Divers, which told that they were still looking for office trainee for next spring. I didn’t think twice, so I sent email and there wasn’t even two weeks and I got to know that Im leaving to Koh Tao island on next March.

After those three months I spent there, I couldn’t be more happy I did it. It was absolutely one of my best decisions of my life.

So, what was my job description at Koh Tao Divers. I was working at the office, so main things what I did was customer service, finding suitable instructor or divemaster for customers, sell our courses and fundives, take care of our accounting and payment of wages, buying retails for our shop and keep in touch with our partners.

The most valuable thing what I learned during my internship was organizing schedules between instructors, customers and boat. Situations will change so quickly, so you need to react quickly as well. Organizing skill is very valuable in any job, so you can exploit it in a future.

I think that working culture at Koh Tao Divers was pretty same that in Finland. It can be affected by the fact that the company is Finnish and most of employees are Finnish. Of course working in scuba diving center is much different than example in hotel or restaurant. Dives are conducted on the terms of instructors and students, when for example in restaurant there is superiors who decide on things. The most important thing in restaurant is that the customer is happy. Of course that is important thing on diving centers as well, but safety is the most important thing on diving.

All though I loved my job in office, it was even more interesting when I got chance to learn scuba dive and do any courses what I wanted.  I did SSI Open Water Diver course, Advanced Adventure course, Deep Diving course and Enriched Air Nitrox course and many, many fundives! It was really rewarding when you really understand what everyone is talking about, you can give advises to customers and be a part of that small diving family. Now I really can say, that I finally found my very own sport what I can be into in future.

If you wanna read more my internship at Koh Tao Divers, take a look my blogpost on their website: https://kohtaodivers.com/blog/108-internship-at-ktd-learning-new-skills

 

 

Bonjour!

I’m doing my internship in Malta for four months. I’ve been here now more than three months and I still have about three weeks left before flying back to Finland. I’m working in a reception of a hotel and I have enjoyed my stay more than I could even imagine before coming here, the weather is amazing and these people I’ve met are so great. Working in a reception is something completely new for me so the first 2-3 weeks were super intensive and I learned a lot of new things, so after the shift I were really tired.

Working in Malta has opened my eyes, here they do some things so different ways and people act different. The working environment is international, we have employees from all over the world, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Africa, India, Pakistan, Poland, Germany, Turkey, France, etc. Everybody is used to different kinds of ways to work and solve problems. It’s so great to have people around the world, you learn all kinds of new things from different cultures and you also learn about your own culture.

I have couple day off per week, so I’ve had some time to travel around the country. Malta is very small country, so I’ll have time to see the nicest places even twice. Usually when I have a day off I travel somewhere to spend the day. The town I live in Malta is very small so I usually walk to the nearest city or take a bus to the other side of the island. Sometimes it’s also nice to just relax at the pool or go to the nearest beach. Although Malta is a small country there are really nice places to visit, beautiful beaches, little villages, big rocks, super clear light blue water, historical places and beautiful cities like the capital city, Valletta. The sunsets in Malta are also worth to see at least once… The nature in Malta is a bit unfertile so I miss the nature in Finland a lot. There aren’t many trees in Malta and the nature is not very green, but the views close to the sea are breathtaking.

I couldn’t be happier that I chose this place to do my internship, I got a lot of new friends from around the world, my German roommate Janine is amazing, it’s like we have known each other always. I learned new things about different cultures, even my own. I got to prove my English and I learned new things what comes to the life at work. In a few weeks it’s going to be really hard to say good bye to all this…

Greetings from Hatfield

I started my internship 14th of May in Mercure Hatfield Oak hotel in Hatfield, UK. I work in Food&Beverage Team, so basically I work as a waitress in the hotel’s restaurant and bar. Very often we also have some occasions which are in the hotel like weddings or anniversaries.

Mercure Hatfield Oak Hotel

Sometimes the work is very hard and stressful. English is not my native language, so at the beginning I was very tired after work, because there were so many new things to learn, new people and most of all that I have to speak English all the time.

Most of my workmates are also young people and students, so I have lot’s of common with them and we have a great atmosphere. I am not the only foreigner working here, we have people for example from France, India, Pakistan, Romania and Brazil, so we all have problems with English sometimes.

In the morning shift I serve breakfast for customers. We have a breakfast buffet, so what I have to do, is keep an eye on everything. There need to be enough food and coffee all the time and the tables need to be clean. After breakfast, staff is allowed to eat what is left for breakfast. After my first week here, I haven´t eaten any bacon…

After breakfast we clean the restaurant and set it up ready for dinner or if there is some lunch meeting, then we set up ready for lunch.

In the evening shift my main job is usually serve to tables in the restaurant for customers. Sometimes when it is busy, I might also work in the bar. Restaurant opens 6:30pm but the kitchen is open for hole day until 9:15pm. After that we need to clean the restaurant, set up the tables for breakfast and polish the cutlery.

 

Hatfield locates 32 kilometres north from London, in Hertfordshire. There are approximately 40000 habitans. I live in Staff house with four other students, whom all are doing their internship in Mercure Hatfield.

Hatfield House
Staff house

When I am off to work I like to walk in town and very often I go also for running. I have been in London few times during my placement here, because it is so easy to go there by train. I also spend my time with my housemates, most of all with my roommate Deby, who is from Brazil. Sometimes we cook together or go out to eat or just spend time outside the house, because we have a lovely backyard. Sometimes I also go to pub with my workmates from the hotel.

Harry Potter studios in Leavesden
Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station
My roommate Deby and me

Life in England is a quite different than in Finland. Traffic was my first problem here, when I came. When I arrived to Hatfield, I took a taxi to take me to hotel, where I was supposed to meet my supervisor. When the taxi came, I accidentally open the drivers door thinking that it is the passenger seat. The taxi driver gave me a very weird look, and I apologized and told that we have a different side of traffic in Finland. But after that I did that same mistake many times. Maybe after a month I finally learn how the traffic works.

Even thought people are more open-minded here and they have the small talk but in traffic they are not very polite. If you are about to cross the road and there is the pedestrian crossing  cars won’t stop. Actually, it feels that they even make more speed when they see pedestrian waiting.

Alcohol law is also very different here than in Finland. Just before I came here, I studied alcohol law in Finland. When working, chefs are allowed to drink. They can ask you or even for the supervisor to bring a beer for them. If the evening shift last until midnight, our supervisor might offer us drinks in the hotel’s bar and then he will drop us all to our houses.

You can buy strong spirits in supermarkets and there are no time limits when you can buy alcohol. I found out that, when I went out first time with my workmates. The pub closed 12pm and after that we went to the petrol station to buy some more drinks. When you buy alcohol shop assistant should ask your ID if you look like under 25 years but very often they don’t do that. Alcohol is also a bit cheaper here than in Finland.

In Finland, I separate all my wastes. Cartoon, paper, plastic, bio waste, glass, metal.. In the hotel they don’t separate that much and I think that also in general they put all the wastes to the same bin. After a month of my staying here they finally bring another bin for food waste to our kitchen in the hotel.

In London, all the tourist places are very clean, but in Hatfield there are lot’s of waste in streets. Lot more than in Finland. In my opinion because we recycle all the bottles we have less waste in nature but in here they don’t have that same system which cause a lot’s of waste.

I have enjoyed my time here and I have met so many amazing people so it’s gonna be hard to say goodbye to all of them in two weeks. But I am also ready to go back home to see my family and friends and most of all that I can eat Finnish foods.

Love, Maria

Konnichiwa from Tokyo

Hello everyone,

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.

I wish I could just stay here

This is my first time in Slovenia and before I came I knew only few people who was been in Slovenia and in Piran where I was heading at. I came to do my traineeship in Slovenia’s coast in the small city called Piran. I came here end of April and I started working in May and I will go back to Finland 17th of July. Everybody is saying that Piran is like a little Venice but for me it is only this place where I go to work. Still I haven’t never been working in so beautiful place than Piran. There is so much sun and the sea is near so basically all that I needed after long winter in Finland. Before I came here I thought that I could have time to go around and see all Slovenia because it is so small country and it has this beautiful nature. I was wrong because I work every time in the evening and I am only free once in a week. Work is sometimes rough because there is only me and four people working and the bar is open every day from 8-22 and there is three on the mornings and then evenings I am working with Milan. In our bar we have so much decoration so when we start closing the bar it takes one hour to close the garden. First, I was only working outside taking orders etc. but now I usually work inside the bar and in the kitchen and only sometimes in the terrace. In here people work so much more than in Finland.

 

On my free time I still have visited Trieste it is only like half an hour drive from Piran. Also, I went to Croatia to this small city Umag but without my renter Tamara I wouldn’t visited these places. Tamara is the one who took me everywhere and told me to see Koper and Izola. Koper is the nearest place where I can go shopping so I have been there five times. Usually on my free time before I go to work I go to beach in Portoroz and for lunch in Lucija. I live in Lucija and it is 5 kilometres away from Piran so I usually spend my free time in Lucija or Portoroz. After work I go with Milan for a beer in Piran or Bernardin which is between Piran and Portoroz. On my free days I see Tamara or on weekends before I go to work and usually we go for a coffee somewhere in Lucija. When my sister was here we went to Ljubljana for a one day and it was so beautiful city.

 

This place really stole my heart. This is my home now so it is going to be hard to leave. Before I came here I couldn’t even think that I could find from here my second family or boyfriend but I did. Back in Finland I was only thinking how hard it is to leave all my friends and come here and how happy I will be when I come back to Finland. It didn’t even come to my mind that maybe I never want to go back to Finland and it is going to be harder to leave this place than Finland. I am still here but I have already booked my flights back in here in August. I am also planning to come here to study maybe in next spring.