Category Archives: Tourism, Catering and Domestic Services

Hospitality Management, Management of Service Business

Greetings from sunny Malta!

Hey everyone,

My exchange took place here in Malta. I had been here working in this language school called Sprachcaffe Language Plus. I study hospitality management and in this language school I work in the reception of our campus, we also have option to rent rooms from booking sites like AirBnb and booking.com. I mainly check people in and out and help with all the questions they might have.

I love tanning and beaches. Usually in my spare time I visit sights and chill at the beach or pool. I also spend time with my friends, I have met so many people from all around the world and I have learned a lot about their cultures as well as about maltese culture.

Work ethic here in Malta is quite different than what I have used to in Finland. People don’t care about time that much and sometimes places could be closed even if they should be open and people can be late from work and that is totally okey to everyone, this wouldn’t be okey in Finland. Sometimes there only have to be someone, they don’t have to be even working good just to be there to show that someone is available, so mostly the customer service is not the best.  Payments are usually lower than in Finland which is shocking to me because the cost of living is high in Malta.

Munich during Covid-19

After doing an exchange in France the year before, I decided to apply to another exchange program. This time my destination was Munich, Germany. After my arrival to the city we had an introductory week at the school where we would get to know the different classrooms and buildings of the school. We also had an opportunity to get to know the other students during evenings. After the first week the government shut down the school because of the corona pandemic.  The beginning of the semester was moved with a couple of weeks so I spent that time hanging out with the other exchange students.

(Student housing in the Olympic Village.)

After a while we were told that the classes would be held online through Zoom for the time being, and the government implemented stricter rules in Germany. At this point we were only allowed to move around within a 2 kilometer limit from our homes.  I spent that time seeing the sights close to my apartment. Thankfully my apartment was in the Olympic Village of Munich, so I had great places to go biking, right next to my apartment.

(Olympiapark.)

We didn’t do any online classes in my school in Finland so that was a whole new thing for me.  Otherwise the classes would be pretty similar to Finland, except that in Germany we had to do a lot more work. For every course we had a presentation and an essay and some courses had exams on top of that, so I must have written around 150 pages of essays that summer.  A couple months after the lessons started we were told that the rest of the semester would be online so I saw my opportunity and returned home to continue my online classes. This exchange experience was certainly different than the first one, but I’m still glad I went.

Memories from Lyon

I did my first ever exchange studies in Lyon, France in the fall of 2019. I had been in France before a couple times, but never in Lyon. So the city was new to me. I got an apartment right by the river with another exchange student from my school, so we had a nice view from our balcony.  On spare time I would meet up with other exchange students to hang out or go sightseeing. Studying in France was more relaxed than in Finland. I expected more work and stricter rules, but we hardly had any homework, except for a couple projects. We also went for a school trip to Italy to visit milk farms and Parmigiano-Reggiano factories. It was fun to see how cheese was made, and a good opportunity to get to know our fellow students.

(View of Vieux Lyon)

For school we mainly did practical studies, for example we made chocolate pudding in the school’s laboratory to figure out how to decrease food waste in the process. I would also take advantage of Lyon’s position in the map to visit other cities close by. Almost every other weekend I went to a new city to experience a different atmosphere. I had a lot of fun during my exchange and I’m very glad I chose to go to Lyon.

 

(Mount Blanc, seen from the city of Chamonix)

Hello from Buges, Belgium

I got to spend my exchange in Bruges Belgium. And I was in luck to have that time before the pandemic. I actually didn’t have any other beside Belgium, because the teachers visited in our school and told about Vives university and I liked it. I applied and it was actually pretty easy to get in there. I was the only Finnish person in there.

I was in study exchange so most of my weekdays went at school, studying. I study hospitality and management but there it was mainly business and we also had some basic knownledge about Belgium itself.

Spare time went by with exploring Bruges, tasting beers and eating. A lot of fries with good sauces, clams, different waffles and of course beer. My favorites!

And longer weekends and holidays by visiting other cities. Bruges was so beautiful city!

 

 

Greetings from Bruges

When I first walked in the Bruges city center I was enchanted. The architecture of the city is medieval and the whole city is like it’s from a fairy tale. Cute buildings, canals,  small shops and the atmosphere of the city is magical.

 

I really enjoyed my time in Bruges. I like the Belgian lifestyle and culture. My school, Vives, was nice, and all the teachers spoke very good English. I had an unprecedented motivation to study and I had some nice people around me. Unfortunately, the corona virus situation messed everything up, and I decided to go back home after spending just 2 months in Belgium. My Erasmus experience continued online, so I got all the credits of this spring.

 

 

Even though Belgians are very punctual, hard working and formal, they know how to enjoy their lives. They are very nice and chill. Even when I was in somebody’s way in the supermarket, or if I had blocked the way with my bike, they just smiled at me and minded their own business. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and I really like that attitude.

I really liked studying in Bruges. The teachers spoke very good English and I attended very interesting courses. I learned a lot about Belgium, Belgium’s history and culture, the EU and European- and International laws.

Belgians are very punctual; they don’t accept delays in School, and you have compulsory attendance in class. If you were  more than 15 minutes late, you were not able to take part in class. If you were absent you needed a doctor’s certificate of it. That’s probably even why I was early at School.

I usually spent my free  time with the other exchange students. I lived in b/kot, which is residence own by Vives, so all the other exchange students lived there too. I lived on the same floor with 7 Spanish girls, so there was noise and action all day and all night, and they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to club every night. Regardless, I still loved their company.

 

 

 

 

I went to the gym and jogging weekly. I also did Hot Yoga, when my schedule matched with the yoga studio. We also spent time in the pubs, played pool and tasted Belgian beers. Sometimes I went to the club with my Spanish friends. There is also some good cafées in Bruges, and there is a place that serves the best turmeric latte in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In normal circumstances Belgium is a good country to see western Europe, because everything is so close. Me and my friends went to Amsterdam, before corona hit.

 

Salutations de Lyon!

I went on a study exchange to Lyon with my friend from the same class. On our course (sustainable development in food industries) we have quite similar classes and assignments (lots of teamwork) as in TAMK. Also we get to take part in a case that is given by a real company in France. Course consisted of a class trip in nothern Italy in the end of September. We visited companies such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Lavazza, Granarolo, Parma Ham and Alpina Savoie. We got to spend the nights in a hostel that used to be monastery, which was cool and different.

There are different choices to move from A to B, you can use public transport (bus, trams, metro + even one funicular) and electric scooters or city bikes. Every now and then there’s some manifestations (mostly calm), so some public transport lines might be cut off because of them. In the beginning of December started a strike which affected a lot on public transport.

Lyon is the food capital of France and you can sense those nice vibes especially in old town. Praline pastries are the specialty and you can find all different kinds of versions of it all around the city. One of the big attractions of Lyon is definitely Parc de la Tête d’Or, which is a very big park that includes a lot of different things: open zoo, normal park area, botanical greenhouses, rose garden, several kiosks etc. On Saturdays there were nice outside markets, where you could buy vegetables, fruits, meat, cheese, fried chicken, clothes, flowers.. and mostly cheaper than in stores. Our place (rented apartment from a private landlord) was located right next to Rhône river, which was very splendid and convenient at the same time.

One weekend in November we visited Nice, Cannes and Monaco. We used cheap Flix buses and trains to travel. Nice was my favourite, with the turquise sea water it was breathtakingly beautiful. It also wasn’t really the turist season, so it wasn’t so packed with people.

Studying methods were mostly familiar, as we use a lot of same ones in TAMK. Teachers and students have a different kind of relationship, feels like it’s a little bit more distant in France. Communication between teachers and students is also not as good as I’m used to, but I think the language barrier is the biggest issue in this case. Eating breaks are longer in France, they could be 1,5-2 hours, so with many other exchange students we asked for small possible change in that (after that we started evening classes about 0,5h earlier if it was possible for the teacher).

Au revoir!

Saludos desde España

I started my third year of studies by doing my exchange in Madrid. I started the semester in the beginning of September and now four months later it is my time to return to Finland. My stay in Madrid has been mostly studying, doing sports and meeting new people. I had six courses in total and some of the courses were a bit challenging, so I was studying a lot. In TAMK I am used to have quite a lot of tasks in groups but during my exchange we barely had assignments in groups. It was a nice chance, but also it was more work for each student. Most of the courses had mid-term exams, so during one course we could have three mid-term exams and then at the end of the course a final exam.

Rey Juan Carlos University

Studying in Finland or in Spain is not that different but I noticed some differences too. For example, an exchange student without a knowledge of Spanish might have some problems living in Spain. Most people I met working in the customer service in Madrid did not speak English. Some of the teachers and the staff of the university did not speak English, exception of course the teachers that teaches the courses in English. In Finland I think the knowledge of English is better, if you go to the supermarket and speak English to the staff, they will understand you and probably will be able to answer you in English. And in TAMK nearly all of the staff has a good level of English.

My schedule included lectures from Monday till Friday, mostly from eight to 12 or 14. My apartment was not really close to the university, so I needed to get there by bus and a metro. The easiest way going around the city is going by metro and the public transportation in Madrid is good and also cheap. On my free time I was either going around the city, going to the gym, but mostly studying. I saw many nice places in Madrid, tried nice restaurants, went to watch football in the stadium and went around the beautiful streets and parks. Something I founded really nice in Spain was the weather. The first couple months it was over 20 degrees, nearly 30 and the last months it was from 5 to 15 degrees. The nice thing was that it didn’t rain much, and it was not as dark as in Finland, actually it was sunny almost every day.

All in all, my stay in Madrid went well and I can finish my exchange with some new experiences and good memories.

Saludos,

Jonna

 

My Adventure in Seoul, South Korea

My time in Seoul in coming to an end. I can count the days I have left with my fingers. I have been studying in Kyung Hee University for the past semester. My major is hospitality management. I have had a lot of fun and I have met new people from all over the world.

Kyung Hee University, The Grand Peace Hall

Studying in Korea has been surprisingly easy for me. I have five courses and they have all been going well. Right now, I only have my finals left and I only have two of those. Registering to courses is very competitive here so I had to wake up at 4.15 to be able to register to the courses I wanted. I also needed to change few courses and got one more added before I traveled to Korea. I haven’t had any problems with the language of the courses, and I got to keep all the courses I registered to. Kyung Hee has a lot of international students so those courses that have a lot of international student and exchange students don’t have to worry about the language. I have had very few assignments during the semester, so I have had quite a lot of free time.

Library in the mibble of the COEX Starfiled mall

During my free time I either wander around Seoul. I have also traveled to few cities inside Korea and I also traveled to Tokyo during the semester. Busan and Jeju island are a must visit in Korea. Both are beautiful places and are very different compared to Seoul and each other. I also won tickets to a music bank concert so for that I had to travel to another city. But at that time, I did not have time to see the city itself. Seoul has a lot of places to visit and it is easy to travel in Seoul. There are many popular areas to go to clubbing or shopping. I had spent most my free time going to cultural places and going shopping all around Seoul. There are also many cultural places that are nice to visit in Seoul. The food is good and cheap in restaurants. I eat in a restaurant almost every day because we aren’t allowed to cook in the dorm and there is no kitchen in there. There are only few microwave ovens, few toaster ovens and a toaster. One tip if you want to travel to Korea there are very few options for vegans and vegetarians. So, if you don’t eat pork, beef or chicken you should think very hard about if Korea is the right option for you.

Geongbukgung

Comparing the education and studying to Finland. In Korea university is very competitive because grades are given in cumulative so only a certain percentage gets an a and so on. But most English courses are not like this. They are mainly point based grades. Because in Finland the grade is always point based and everyone gets a grade based on their effort. In here sometimes you fail a course because you just didn’t fit into the percentages. So, it’s very competitive and grades are very important here so getting the best grade possible is important. That is why many people spend most their time studying and not having fun the closer to the exams we get. Classes here are mainly lectures and it is not encouraged to ask questions during class you can questions after the class from the teacher personally. And you should always try to take notes because you don’t always get the lecture material for yourself to review.

I have had a lot of fun during the past semester. I have Made new friends and traveled to new places. I think Korea was a good choice and Kyung hee university has been a great place to study at.

Greetings from Malaysia!

I have been studying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia almost three months now. Time has passed very quickly. I have five different courses at the uni and I feel like some of them are similar that we could have in TAMK. In TAMK we do almost everything in groups but here we have more individual assignments which I prefer more.

Sunset at Pangkor Island

I spend my spare time usually with my friends, the other exchange students. There are approximately 70 exchange students, mostly from Europe but also from the United States, Mexico, and Australia.

Swimming with my friends

I have been traveling quite a lot around Malaysia so far. Almost every weekend I have been to different places inside Malaysia and it has been a lot of fun. I have visited for example Georgetown in Penang, Perhentian Islands, Tioman Island, and Langkawi. All the trips have included many hours on a bus. I still have many places where I want to go to Malaysia. During the past month, I have been visiting also in Cambodia, Borneo, Brunei, and Singapore.

Perhentian Island
Melaka

 

During the weekends I feel like there is not that much to do at home. Sounds crazy- I live in Kuala Lumpur. However, I live quite far from the city centrum and you have to go by car every time you want to go somewhere because there are highways all around. There is not that option to walk from one place to another. That is something, what I really miss from Finland.

View from my window

I live in a student house where most of the exchange students and local students are living. It is ten minutes walk from the university and a mall, where there are places to eat. In my opinion, it is cheaper to go to eat than cook food yourself. I usually eat at least once in a day in a restaurant at the university area. In Finland the student lunch is 2,60€ and here you usually pay approximately the same amount of a good meal.

This is my second time in Asia so I already had some experience with cultural differences. I think you will really get inside the culture and habits after years of staying somewhere. Malaysia is a Muslim country and you are able to see that in your everyday life, for example, women wearing scarfs and the Islamic call to prayer. At the university, I feel like some things are more strict, like the way you talk to the teachers and the dress code. It might be also because it this is a private university and students have to pay for their studies and also because some of the students are so young.

Overall, this has been a great experience and I still have one month to go!

Petronas Twin Towers

 

Love,

Maria

 

All pics taken by me 😊

Greetings from Kuala Lumpur

Time has just flied past really quickly here in Kuala Lumpur. We only have a few weeks of classes left, and after that we will have our exams. Even though this autumn has been pretty amazing, I’m actually looking forward on getting back home to Finland.Taylor’s University

The school system here is quite different than in Finland. In TAMK you will get a lot of credits from one course, but here the courses are divided to smaller units which means more exams. The local students are younger than in Finland, and you can see this for example in their behaviour, but also in the responsibility for their studies. It feels like the students are not responsible for their learning and the teachers and parents are the ones who are in charge of everything. For me this has been a challenge, because I’m used to being independent and being the only one who has the responsibility for my studies.

In Finland it feels easy to reach a teacher. They seem to be on the same “level” as you, but here In Taylor’s University you can really feel the ascendancy between students and teachers. You never call the teachers by their first name. Using Mrs. or Mr. when talking to them is almost always mandatory. It has not been once, twice or even three times during this semester when the teacher never showed up for the class, and without any notice for the students. The local students are used to this, but for me it felt kind of rude. If the teacher don’t show up in 30 minutes, the students usually give up and leave the class.

On the first orientation day we had a health check and we weren’t informed about it at all. They took blood samples, x-rays etc. but no one knew why and what they are would do with all the information of us. In total the health check with all the waiting took more than nine hours. This tells something about Malaysians way of handle things: nothing is done the easiest way. For example, I wanted to drop out from a course, and in total the process took over a month. I had to fill up several papers, run around the school and get signatures and also get an official confirmation from TAMK.

Luckily, we have a lot of free time, so we don’t have to be annoyed at school more than a few hours a week. We had to submit our passports on the first week because of the visa process, and during the five first weeks we only travelled within Malaysia: we saw the cool art street city Penang, “Asia’s little Venice” Melaka, Langkawi island and the paradise island Perhentian.The Perhentian Islands

Our campus is located around 15km from the city center, and since we are living on the campus there are not much to do on the free time. Some people spend time at a huge mall which is located close to the university and there they might do groceries or have dinner. You can’t walk ANYWHERE since there are no sideways (expect from our apartment to uni) and you have to take a Grab (Asia’s Uber.) Luckily, it’s really cheap, but sometimes this campus area feels like a prison because you just can’t walk anywhere. Of course, sometimes we take a Grab to the city center, and there you can spend a lot of time. Walking around the countless skyscrapers and trying different dishes from all over the world is really nice.

When we finally got our passports back, all the travelling started. The first destination was a weekend trip to Krabi in Thailand. After that I was travelling for almost three weeks nonstop. We didn’t really have any weeks of from school, but we made a “Leave of Absence” application for one week. There were also several public holidays which made this possible. We went to Cambodia, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei and Bali. I hope I will have time to spend a weekend in Singapore before we have to submit our passports to school again.

As said, this time in Asia has been great and I’m really happy I’ve had the possibility to travel and experience different Asian cultures. I’m glad that we still have some time left here in Kuala Lumpur, but at the same time I can’t wait to get back to Finland for Christmas.