Kristine from Vietnam graduated more than 3 years ago with a degree in International Business. She accomplished her international studies at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) in Rauma. She opted in Australia at first to follow her sister but decided to focus her time and chose Finland instead. She selected Rauma as the town is also a harbor. She loves nature, very much infatuated with lovely old town’s charm and peace. She decided to study in Rauma campus, as she fell in love with seashore, coastal scenery, and holiday resort feels of the town. Let’s check out her study in Finland journey!
I graduated in 2016. Back then, my sister studied and graduated in Australia and at that time I was thinking about following her path to go there. However, during the period that I was training for IELTS, I discovered Finland so I changed my mind and direction, I chose to study in Finland instead because Australia was too expensive. I also love the country’s weather. The weather in Finland is amazing. The country is best known for excellent education it offers to international students!
Did you always know you wanted to study abroad?
Well, I already have a plan to study abroad since I was in High School. I really wanted to study in school, not just for travel purposes. I really wanted to study in a foreign country!
How did you choose your program at SAMK, what was your study program criteria?
There were two main reasons I picked SAMK. The first reason was SAMK offered the exact program I wanted to study which is “International Marketing, Business, and Logistics.” But the program just lasted until 2017, the program was canceled. Now it’s called “International Business” like any other study programs. That time the tuition fee was free. The second reason was I love the town city that is near the coast – the town of Rauma. It was near the sea, located west coast of Finland. We have the chance to live near nature that’s why. I love the campus location.
How did you immerse yourself in Finnish language?
Well, in the beginning, it was a little bit difficult because it sounded totally different from the languages I was taught or speak. But slowly it sounded interesting and it’s good to learn a new language of course. If you plan to live and work in Finland, well the language is important.
How long did you adjust and can converse fluently?
I got the level B1: language skills of an independent user (itsenäisen kielenkäyttäjän kielitaito) I have been learning in 7 months, it was an intensive course. Eventually, I can converse and can speak the local language. It takes practice, dedication and daily interactions with the locals and your friends at school.
How safe did you feel in Finland?
Totally! Safe for me. Yeah, I enjoy the people and the surrounding and nature! Even though I was an hour late, I didn’t feel any fear. Like, I feel comfortable to work late and to go out early in the morning and even I don’t need to be careful enough on my belongings like in Vietnam or another Asian country. A lot of incidents, even if you pick-up the phone here in Vietnam, you need to be careful here. But in Finland, If I dropped my phone on the bus, I can still get it back later from the driver. I did not feel I can lose anything in Finland. It was really good!
Are there any unexpected expenses during your studies and how did you manage?
None. Really from the beginning, we knew we did not need to pay for the school, except of course the living costs and accommodation costs that we need to take care. There was no extra fee during that time that I need to worry. Just the daily cost of living e.g. miscellaneous expenses for food, etc.
What housing option would you be able to choose during your studies?
For students, that time it was a shared apartment. That’s the most common accommodation that students preferred. But on shared apartments, there were 3 types. The first one is studio, second is the 2 BR with a common kitchen, the third one which is 3 BR, space is smaller but with nice rooms and a common kitchen. In Finland, it’s not common to have a host family. It’s not like America and Australia. I think in the USA and Australia, the host family will let you stay at their home. But in Finland, it’s really rare, because in Finland, privacy is really important in Finnish culture.
How did you stay in touch with your families and friends in Vietnam?
In my case, usually I talked with my family on Skype or via phone once or twice a week. But usually, I chat with my little brother via Facebook Messenger, like we keep talking every day. Even now I came back in Vietnam, although I live on a different house, we still talk every day thru Facebook Messenger, the same way when I was in Finland. For me, family is really important, I could not easily disconnect with them.
What did you learn as a Vietnamese while living in Finland?
Well, Vietnamese culture and Finnish culture are different but somehow, there are common things I observed. When I was living and studying in Finland, like, on being shy. Finnish people, they’re really shy and would not talk to you if they don’t know you. They respect personal space. As Vietnamese, we are shy but somehow, we would like to open ourselves to talk to people. I guess it was different but somehow the same. We are shy in a different way. But when we get closer, we get to be friendly, willing to talk to you and willing to share with you, willing to help. That’s about people. About the food, it was different. Asian food, of course, is somehow tasty but Finnish food somehow is healthier! If you would like to be fit, if you would like to live healthier, I think Finnish food is good because it wouldn’t be so salty or couldn’t be so sweet compared to Asian food or Vietnamese food.
Finland experience in 5 words / The takeaway
Practical, useful, realistic, joyful and new! That’s 5 adjectives I should say about my experience studying in Finland. Because for me, I wouldn’t like to study in Vietnamese universities. Because at that time, for me, I wanted to study at an international school and I was also working that time, so I realized – Okay, I need to come back and study but abroad. Although I was a little bit afraid, at the beginning because I have this flashback of studying in Vietnam, like what if I chose Vietnam instead. I thought in Finland, it would be the same but it was totally different! I like to go to school, I wouldn’t like to have a break! I’m happy I chose to study and experience Finland.
The student life in Finland? It was amazing for me! When you go to a strange country, friends and adapting to a different country is important. That you need to have friends, otherwise you don’t have your family with you, it will be lonely. Adapting to a foreign country and their culture and creating your routine makes a difference, you wouldn’t be lonely. Finland provided opportunities and great experience.
Photo credit: Kristine Chau
Kristine Chau (Chau Khiet Dinh) is now in her home country, Vietnam and currently works as a Marketing Manager at Bombus VN Co. LTD. The global graphic outsourcing and leading market in Vietnam and has a branch office in Seoul, Korea.