Category Archives: Tourism, Catering and Domestic Services

Hospitality Management, Management of Service Business

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.

Greetings from Onomichi!

こんにちは!尾道へようこそ。

I am currently doing a training exhange in Onomichi, Japan. My workplace is a guesthouse called Miharashi-tei and it is located at the hill of a mountain. The guesthouse has amazing views across Onomichi and the Seto inland sea. This is actually my second training exhange in Onomichi. The first one I did two years ago at another guesthouse, and I fell so in love with Onomichi that I wanted to come back. I am staying here for three months, until mid-August.

My work here includes helping around the guesthouse; cleaning, doing the dishes, helping with the breakfast service and also showing guests around the guesthouse and telling them about the history of the place, both in English and Japanese. It is a great way of learning more Japanese!

During my spare time I’m travelling around the country as much as I can. So far I’ve visited Hiroshima, and next I’m planning to go to Osaka. Later in July I was be travelling for a longer time to visit Kyoto and Tokyo.

Working in a japanese guesthouse isn’t that much different from working in Finland. Of course, these kind of guesthouses don’t really exist in Finland, but the daily tasks are similar to that of a finnish hotel. The guesthouse where I’m working is a very old building, almost 100 years old, so good care must be taken when working here. In the guesthouse there are no regular beds, and guests sleep on futon mattresses on the strawmat floow (tatami). The futons are aired outside daily to keep them clean and fresh.

Customer service in Japan is a bit different from Finland. The customer is very important and must be spoken to extremely politely. I can speak basic Japanese, but learning the polite way of talking is bit of a challenge. I don’t want to offend any of the guests, so I will have to keep studying.

 

 

 

Sawadee kha from Thailand

I have spent almost three months in a small island called Raya Yai (or Koh Racha Yai) in south Thailand. I work as an office trainee in a Finnish scuba diving company, Raya Divers.

Raya Divers has offices in five
locations; Phuket, Koh Lanta, Khao Lak, Krabi and here in Raya Yai. I mainly chose Raya Yai because I wanted to live on a paradise island rather than in the city. I have never visited Thailand before so I wanted to get to know the more peaceful and calm Thailand first.

80 % of Raya Yai is jungle. On the other 20 % there are a few small shops and restaurants, an ATM, a few resorts, some bungalows and a lot of (Thai) diving companies. There is about 250 people living in here. On the road you can meet cats, cows, monitor lizards and water buffalos. Snakes are very common too, but luckily I haven’t met any!

Most of Raya Divers’ clients are Finnish, so I haven’t got to use English that much in here. The much simpler and quite unique-sounding Thai English is very contagious, though. I learned a few words of Thai as well. I actually often find myself mixing the two languages when talking to the locals.

After the sun sets
Office kittens ❤️
Took a ride on the motorbike
Day off

My office tasks consist of customer service, sales, reservations for transfers and diving, keeping the places clean and general helping and organizing. A typical working day is at least nine hours long. Each day is a bit
different, as it always depends on how much customers we are having.

During my training I also got to do a PADI Open Water Diver course, which was free for trainees. I was able to go diving almost weekly, which was great! I will definitely continue diving in the future and maybe do an Advanced course as well.
I have really enjoyed my time here in Raya Yai. We had a small but great team on a small but a great island and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

From Munich With Love

I spent five months in Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany, studying in the winter semester 2017/2018. The semester started on the beginning of September with a two-week voluntary German intensive course.

Marienplaz

Munich is Bavarias biggest city and locates in the southern Germany near the Alps so it offers a beatiful landscape for exhange studies. The highlights of my time in Munich were definitely the Oktoberfest and our ski trip to Austrian Alps.

Munich University of Applied Sciences “MUAS” offers a great variety of courses in many different departments. My courses were from tourism and general studies departments. I choose ten courses in total including the German intensive course before the actual courses. My general studies were business English courses which were quite useful and at the end of the semester I had an opportunity to do UNIcert -certificate in English.

Oktoberfest

In MUAS there is two types of courses: regular once every week classes and so called block courses which can take place for one weekend or two days or for more ETCS’s a week. This makes the course planning and scheduling quite challenging because usually the teachers don’t approve if you miss classes. But I fortunately managed to take all of the courses I needed.

Germany and Munich offers a lot of freetime activities inside the city but also in the near by areas. One of my favourite place in Munich is the English Garden where you can also surf in artificial waves! In the summertime there’s many beergartens everywhere. Before our brake in December we rented a van and drove to the Alps to ski with other exhange students!

English Garden

Compared to Finland, studying in MUAS is a bit more intensive since most of the teachers and professors are very strict with attendance. Ofcourse every course is different and it’s understandable that you cant miss a day from a two-day course. I experienced that I had enough freetime during my studies even some courses were more demanding.  Most of my courses were very dynamic and the teaching style was conversational which was nice.

Austrian Alps

Welkom in België

I am going to be studying here in Belgium for 10 months all together! 5 months behind, 5 are now ahead.

First town that I got to live in was called Kortrijk (literally nobody knows of this city, nobody) and it is a small town that has about 70 000 inhabitants. The area is quite big, but the city center itself is quite small. Some restaurants and shops can be found, but if you would want to do something, smarter to just go to visit for example Gent, Antwerpen or maybe Brugge. Best part about Belgium is the fact that it is such a small country, you can travel to any city with the train at it takes max. one and a half hours!

At home I am studying Hospitality Management, but in Kortrijk my studies mostly contained from business. Nice little change and it is connected in some ways to my own studies.

Course selection was not so big and many courses were cancelled for some reason in the beginning, which was a big disappointment for me, because all the courses I wanted to take and were connected the most to my field were the ones that got cancelled. But anyway I feel like I have learned some new things.

The study part is quite the same here as it is Finland! A lot of team works, quite many presentations and some exams. Big difference is that in Finland in one semester I might have maybe 3-4 courses but here I had about 10-11. Also something new for me was doing an oral exam, never have had those in Finland.

I think that quite sums up my semester! Now getting ready for my next semester which I will be doing in Brugge.

Viszontlátására Magyarország és szia Finnország!

Goodbye Hungary and hello Finland! My exchange is about to end and it has definitely been an experience that I wouldn’t change. I am studying in Metropolitan University for five months for Tourism and Catering services. I had a bit of fuss around my learning agreement and I had to redo it quite a few times and I ended up taking classes from Business as well in Tourism. I also studied Hungarian language and Middle European history to increase my knowledge. So many of my friends questioned my decision to study Hungarian, but to say I didn’t regret it. It was interesting and it is nice to understand at least a bit of the surrounding country.

Heroes’ Square

The teaching in general is very theoretic compared to Finnish teaching. Mostly the studying was sitting at the lectures and taking notes. I had few courses where I had to return an essay or make a presentation. One thing that was considerably different to Finnish school was the exam period. Here we had roughly three months of teaching and then two months of exams when there is no teaching and you can only focus for the exams. Or you could plan your exam period to have all of the exams in the first few weeks and then chill. However you wanted to plan it.

Being a tourist at Margaret bridge

For free time Budapest offers a wide range of different kinds of bars and clubs and you can choose whether you want to just sit down and talk with your friends, or dance and have fun. Here is also a lot of cafés from really fancy and expensive to really cosy and warm places. Maybe you don’t want to spend money, so then you can go see awesome views from Gellert Hill or just walk the riverside of the Danube.

I live with four other Erasmus-students in a shared flat and I can say it’s rarely quiet here. My Spanish, Cypriot and Italian flatmates are always planning trips, parties or just inviting people over. And if not, we are having mental breakdowns over exams and deadlines together.

Me and my flatmates

The great thing in Erasmus is, that you can always find a person who would like to go for a beer, watch a movie, have a party or even go to Vienna with you. (Or maybe just have a brunch all together.)

Greetings from Cyprus

Jassu!

I have been now over three months in Cyprus. Time flies so fast! I started my studies in October, but i came to here in Septemper to spend some holiday before studies.

Mediterranean climate provide great weather for holidays and it is nice addition when seeking for warm and non-rainy circumstances during studies.

Still in October here is approximately +25 degree so you can guess what i was doing on my weekends here 😉 Yes, i went to the beach! Because my school is in Nicosia where  also my flat is, i have explore other cities whenever i had time. Unfortunately Nicosia is in the middle of island so apparently there is no beaches.

Even Nicosia do not have beaches, here is many other things to see and do. Here is many beautiful churches, shopping street called Lidras, Turkish side and art gallerys etc.

Myschool  is Higher Hotel institute Cyprus (HHIC) so its more like high school than university. I study Travel and tourism Management. I am the only one Erasmus-student here in my school, but luckily i found a Facebook group for erasmus students in Nicosia. In here Nikosia is about 5 different universitys with hundred of exchange students all around world! I ALSO FOUND MY OWN ERASMUS FAMILY <3

I study with the last year students so i have many difficult but interesting courses. My lecture schedule is from monday to friday, so its pretty intensive and demanding combaring  timetable to my studies in TAMK. Technology here is little bit late than TAMK aswell. We have Moodle, but teachers dont use that a lot, but they give us notes.

 

Overal, my experience here have been quite educational, since i have put a lot of effort to my studies. I wanted to improve my english skills and that i did. I also have get to now better this culture which is sincerely different than ours. I have tried many variety of local dishes and good wines which i love!

Gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown

“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world” – David Sedaris


One thing was sure to expect; better weather. And yes definitely it was better than in Finland!

Moving abroad and starting over in a new country is one of the most terrifying and gorgeous exhilarating adventures ever. (Even though it was already my third time doing that. Still every time it surprises me again)

When I heard about the opportunity to do an exchange abroad, I didn’t think twice. Mayor problem for me was; Which country will I apply to?!

I started my exchange period in august in my host university “Rey Juan Carlos”  which was located in Vicalvaro. University was okay, literally okay, but that’s mostly all how I can describe it.  I was studying in the university of Social Sciences and law (grado en turismo).

Luckily I got a change to mix subjects so I picked those subjects which were interesting. Mostly from tourism sector and rest of the subjects from marketing. I was slightly disappointed about the education system in Spain, even thought I knew it’s not as good as it in Finland. International students were mixed with the normal class, on the other hand it was nice to get to know with local students but on the another hand teachers changed the speaking language all the time to Spain, so it was quite hard to follow the lessons.

I lived in a neighborhood where I literally were “the only white girl in the town.” I lived in a flat with my Spanish roommate and It was great. I had a chance to increase my cross culture awareness really in an “inside” perspective.

I had a bit of a culture shock during my time in Spain, mostly it was because of the late dinner times, ( WHO EATS DINNER LATER THAN 10pm?)  If I wanted to have a dinner at 5 or 6 0’clock there was only a few places open. People weren’t able to communicate in English.  So it was necessary to start practicing my Spanish. During my time in Spain I travelled a lot and went to see all those heritage villages near by. with a student card you can travel as much as you want inside of the region, FOR FREE ! In a city like Madrid, I bet there will be always something to do to spend you spare time.

 

 

Here are some tips for you, if you’re thinking about going for Erasmus in Madrid:

  • Before your take-off, start learning Spanish! You definitely will need that!
  • Don’t rent a flat, even if it’s a bit difficult, there’s no doubt you won’t find one. It’s better to see first and then make a contract!
  • Take your winter jacket and woolen socks with you, at winter time heating systems in houses are not as good than in Finland.
  • BEWARE with your bags and phones, Sol is a heaven for the thieves at Christmas time when its crowded.
  • …. last but not least, make your intercultural competences tasks on time….

 

 

Greetings from an old Japanese inn

The ground of a narrow hillside path burns my feet through my shoes as I wipe sweat off from my forehead. In the distance I hear a ship horn, closer around me the chirping concert of thousands of cicadas. An old lady  appears from behind a corner, gives a smile and says “Konnichiwa”. I respond with the same and smile back. But the smile doesn’t last long as I am immediately forced to swipe off more sweat from my face. It’s so scorching hot and incredibly humid that even the cats that this town is famous for lay in the short shadows as an occasional sweaty tourist tries to take pictures of them.

Welcome to Onomichi, a lovely small port town of about 40,000 residents in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan. I’ve been working here as a practical trainee/helper staff in a guesthouse/café since mid-June. The place I work for is called Miharashi-tei, a building originally built in 1921 in the traditional Saen(tea culture) architectural style. It stands on a stone wall cliff about 300 steps up from the town. It operated as an inn for a short while after the second world war but had been out of use for almost 30 years before it was renovated into the guesthouse that it has been operating as since March 2016. The guesthouse is run by a non-profit organization.

My main duty here is to help in the reception and give house tours for guests – both Japanese and foreign – after they have checked in at the reception desk in the guesthouse café. I take the guests around the facilities, explain house rules and finally show them to their rooms. I also help in the café/bar and when I have morning shifts I work with the cleaning/maintenance staff.

On my days off I have explored Onomichi and done a few daytrips to nearby cities such as Hiroshima and Okayama. I went to see the yearly Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima on the date of the atomic bomb of 1945. On normal evening shift workdays I spend the morning studying Japanese in the Onomichi Municipal (air-conditioned) Library.

Japanese work culture is known to be strictly hierarchical but a non-profit guesthouse is a slighty different thing. Here even the manager does dishes and fixes drinks. Everyone’s effort is equally valued and, as probably in every Japanese workplace, here also the sentence “otsukaresamadesu” is an essential part of the daily cycle. It’s a ritualistic Japanese expression which translates to something like “you must be tired” or “thank you for your good work”. People say it to each other when someone leaves the workplace.

Living and working in Japan has been my long-time dream and this training period has been a wonderful and useful glimpse into what life here is like in reality. I hope to be back as a trainee and exchange student before my permanent stay.