Hi! I’m Kimberly – a Filipino student here in Finland from Davao City. I’m currently studying in Vaasa as a Cook and planning to complete my studies in Restaurant and Catering Services in June 2021.
Travelling to other European countries has been a lot easier and more convenient. If you are studying in Finland, we have a student visa and it enables us to travel to other EU member states, it’s easier and practical to travel to nearby countries.
FINLAND VS NEW ZEALAND
I was thinking of studying in New Zealand before but eventually chose to study in Finland because my husband wanted to be together with her sister who is currently living here in Finland with her Finnish husband. We heard about this vocational school that offers a culinary study program. Studying a culinary program in the Philippines would entail a huge amount of money (around PHP 100,000+ per year). We thought of it as a great opportunity, so we grabbed it.
ARCHITECTURE TO CULINARY
I’m not considering it as a career shift – instead, I am taking Culinary as another career path. I still practice Architecture with my sister (whose also an Architect) doing collaboration projects together in the Philippines.
Studying culinary arts was one of my childhood dreams. I was passionate about cooking since I was a kid and I can say my Dad was my greatest influence because he was a great home cook. I always wanted to pursue cooking as a profession but didn’t got the chance because it was so expensive. Coming from a middle-class family in The Philippines, pursuing a career in Culinary Arts meant that you also have the resources to build your own restaurant and become an entrepreneur in the future and we just couldn’t afford it.
STUDYING IN FINLAND AND EXPLORING EUROPE
Studying in Europe has been a surreal experience! Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to see if I’m still dreaming or not. Every season, all the scenery changes into something you usually see in the movies. Travelling to other European countries has been a lot easier and more convenient. If you are studying in Finland, we have a student visa and it enables us to travel to other EU member states – that way it’s easier and practical to travel to nearby countries.
SMOOTH STUDENT APPLICATION FROM HOME COUNTRY
Visa Application process for me was quite easy. I just sent my application together with other required documents by the school I was applying to. After 2 months, I got the result that I was accepted. After I received my acceptance paper, I then processed my Student Visa. I provided the required documents, e.g. the required amount for a year stay in Finland as a student (or as they call – show money). Once all your visa requirements are complete, and you can prove to the Migri that you can support yourself during your stay in Finland – they will grant you the student visa.
Studying in Europe has been a surreal experience! Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to see if I’m still dreaming or not. Every season, all the scenery changes into something you usually see in the movies.
Studying in Finland is really flexible and practical. You don’t need to sit for so long in a classroom for theory classes (e.g. memorize lessons during your studies). Here in Finland, teachers allow the students to learn at their own pace. Classes are so relaxed in setting that students don’t feel any pressure and in return they become more efficient and productive. One important thing to remember though is you have to be serious in attending your classes and be time conscious – always be on time (time is greatly valued by the Finns). The teachers will check the progress of each student along the way. The style I guess seems more encouraging and gives the student more freedom and flexibility.
I’m studying the Culinary Program which is a total of 2.5 yrs according to their curriculum. Every semester is divided into 9-week study terms – during this time frame, the program prepares you for your working life. After studying a year, we can already apply for part-time jobs relevant to our course since we already have a good working knowledge on food preparation and we have spent 9 weeks practicing in an actual restaurant.
There are training schools on learning the Finnish language and you can immerse and practice speaking at work too. Challenge would be Winter season – winter season in Finland is from November to March. My school is just 30 minutes away by walking and 10 minutes by bike. Our usual mode of transportation are bikes – it’s more convenient aside from taking public transportation. But you can adjust and find your routine during this season.
STUDYING IN FINLAND AMIDST COVID-19 CRISIS
Most schools in Finland have subsidized meal programs provided by the government. In our school, we have free lunches at the cafeteria. Since the pandemic started, our school launched a program to convert the lunch budget to weekly groceries for students who signed up for it. We got food bags for 8 weeks. Inside the food bag would be food items such as eggs, ham, bread, milk, cheese, vegetables and fruits. These food bags would sometimes last us for 2 weeks instead of just a week so it was helpful for us.
ADVICE FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS/WORKING PROFESSIONALS PLANNING TO STUDY IN FINLAND AND OTHER EUROPEAN STUDY DESTINATIONS
If you plan to study in Finland, students can work 25 hours/week. Also, you can find plenty of work opportunities that can support your living expenses during your stay in Finland. Other than that, make friends and reach out to everyone.
More Filipino student stories here.