Name: Ethan Wang Yisong
Course Studied: Exchange Studies in Hospitality Management, 2014
Studied at: Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland
What made you decide to study in Finland?
Because Santa Claus lives in Finland! Well, actually it was in the 4th semester of my bachelor’s degree back in Malaysia, I was tired of all the routines and in seek of an adventure so I decided to apply for an exchange study programme to Finland. I wanted to discover what is on the very far north tip of this earth.
Why did you choose to study that course at Tampere University of Applied Sciences?
As a matter of fact, I didn’t get to choose what I wanted to study. As it was an exchange programme so pretty much the major was assigned to me as the closest to my original field of study – Culinary Arts.
What did your family and friends think of your decision to study abroad?
They thought I have made a bad decision for going to study at the “North Pole”. They warned me it’s gonna be cold, like real cold. But in fact Finland is not that cold. Especially when you are always, constantly wrapped under such warm-hearted crowd of folks, you barely can feel any coldness.
What were the main differences you found between studying in your home country and studying in Finland?
Studying under an Asian community, most of the time you are fed with knowledge. Teachers talk, you listen. Whereas studying in Finland, you are always motivated to speak up, share your ideas and make a difference. It was more like you, together with your peers and the teacher, discover the new path, rather than being straight away shown where the path is. I noticed that games were always introduced in the Finnish way of education.
How did you adapt to living in a different country?
It was hard at the beginning. Since I knew nobody and everything was a “culture-shock”; but you need to have this sort of “Whatever, I am a foreigner!” attitude to move on and make the best of everything abroad. Of course, I am not suggesting here to break the rules/laws in Finland.
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
The connections. The connections among different relationships within a community and the connection between human-beings and nature. Everyone treats everyone with honesty, respect and hospitality, whereas you can really find the solidary harmony between mankind and nature here in Finland.
Finnish people live in the Forest.
What advice would you give students thinking about studying in Europe?
Europe is very well developed, especially the northern part of Europe. People are very friendly there and you rarely find any extreme racist. However, frankly speaking Europe is very expensive. The currency is expensive and when you compare with the currency from your home country, you feel pain buying anything at all! My advice is spending Euro like how you spend your home-currency! Don’t compare, understand the value of Euro as how it is instead of using another currency to constantly measure the value of it.
A much more practical advice would be: “Always cook at home!”
How do you think your time abroad has helped your studies and/or your career?
Having spent a time overseas would always add a bonus to your résumé, be it studying experience or working experience, the majority of companies would value candidates who have much more overseas experience compared with those with nil experience abroad. You learn practical things while you are abroad and I believe you can always apply those things in your later life and career.