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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.

Porto – I am back!

This is my second time in the most beautiful city in Portugal, Porto. I was doing a study exchange last year for one semester and I felt like coming back – so here I am! I am studying and doing my internship and thesis here. This time it is different – I am doing my internship and not just studying.

The internship company is different compared to the average company in Finland. I am working as a lean engineer in a quite small manufacturing company. In Finland there isn’t many small manufacturing companies anymore because it is too expensive, the automation is on and the bigger companies have taken over. It is really interesting to see how it is done here and how a small company can still run independently.
The working culture is different, people are working really hard in Portugal and the manual working phases are still there, and by that I mean a lot of paper, for example. Working days are longer and vacations are shorter.

I haven’t had too much spare time since I am studying, doing my internship and also working from here for a Finnish company too. The spare time I have, I love to spend in the garden enjoying the sun and going to the beach, having long walks in the city and meeting friends. It is an amazing country and I am really grateful being able to be here and I have learned a lot.

Finnishness for me

Finland… What a great country. Finns are little bit shy or introverts but we are also loyal and kind. Sometimes even funny! In three points I will tell you little more of Finland’s nature and important stuff.

Sauna

In Finland, we have this thing called Sauna. Sauna has room for two or even twenty people. There are hot stones on top of which water is thrown and it will warm you up. Finnish people are usually shy and maybe even inward but in sauna, everybody are friends with each other! In many familys, women and men goes to sauna together and naked. Yes, naked. And the best part is, we love to “beat” each other with the birch twigs. Then ofcourse have to go to swim in the lake! We take turns who is in the sauna and who is swimming.

 

 

Berries

Nowadays it’s cool to eat “superfood” all over the world. The more vitamins and trace elements there are, the more cooler it is. People pay for this staff. A lot. People buy for example goji berries, chia seed, tried buckthorns or other berries. They can but it from abroads or order online. But in Finland we have these kind of superfood in forests as much as you can it! Many Finns collect different kinds of berries for winter. There are strawberries, blueberries, buckthorns, lacquer, raspberrys and goodeberry. They mature at a slightly different time so there is always a good time to go to forest. Did you know that in lacquer has more C-vitamin than an orange?

 

 

 

 

Seasons

In Finland we have four season; summer, autumn, winter and spring. I like them all! I love that seasons change. Every season has their own special thing. The springtime nature comes out of bloom. Everywhere is so pretty, snow melts and the sun shines more day By day. Autumn leaves are beautiful in color and you can start burning candles (I’ll burn them all year round though). The best part of winter is definitely sledding hill! Then the summer… What can I say? It’s short. Every time. Every summer I plan to do this and that and then in August I realise that I’ve done nothing. But maybe next year…