Hongik Kim a Korean exchange student studying digital marketing has decided to carry out a series of interviews with both exchange students and permanent Metropolia students. Last week he interviewed Eungyung Choi. This week Hongik caught up with Orlando Torrez.
1. What are your thoughts on exchange students in Metropolia?
Being part of the ESN METKA tutoring programme has given me the opportunity to witness, for what to me is, the beginning of a new Europe and in a bigger sense a new world. Meeting exchange students from many places around the world has been an amazing experience for me which has opened my eyes to new ways to do things and get new perspectives I never thought about before. For myself, having been part of such a programme has brought me enormous benefits in a personal and professional way.
In my own personal view, programmes such as the Erasmus programme are there to assist the EU in coming together as a proper Union. I feel privileged to have been part of such a programme and even more while being an outsider (I am from the USA) and witnessing the coming together of European people. English is a strong driver for such programmes to be possible and as exchange students are here to improve both their English and to improve the relations between the member countries of the EU. Let’s not forget about exchange programme students from outside the European Union, they form a very important role in the whole bringing a bigger sense to Erasmus as a global programme.
Besides the academic time spent at school one of the main attractions for exchange students has got to be the bonding with peers from different cultures, different languages and different customs. The first time I was at such gatherings, I was struck at how exchange students could communicate with each other when even for myself it was hard to understand each one of them. For example, there were Spanish speaking with a strong Spanish accent, there were Italians speaking with a strong Italian accent, there were Finnish speaking with a strong Finnish accent, there were Koreans speaking with a strong Korean accent and so many other accents. However even though it was hard for me to understand them, amazingly enough they could all understand each other. It didn’t take long for me to get accustomed to the accents but boy I envy exchange students for the bonds they make during their exchange period as those bonds can be kept for a lifetime.
I miss the exchange students who have gone back home but when the new ones come it’s never the same, there is always something new. This being my last time in the programme, I can safely say that the Erasmus programme times are times I shall never forget, as long as I shall live.
2. What is the difference between a class with exchange students and class without them?
As a full time degree student at Metropolia I have had classes both with my own peers and a mix of both peers and exchange students. The difference in the two is maybe my own personal approach to them. All the same, a class with exchange students tends to be livelier since students tend to be very talkative. A class without them is a bit more centred in local Finnish customs and Finnish related matters. A class without exchange students tends to focus on local issues, a class with them tends to be more of discussions of global themes such as Finance, Marketing practice and business governance law.
In my own opinion, a class with exchange students is way more fun than a class without them.
3. How should exchange students adapt to living in Finland! (advise)!!
Finland is a country that at first may seem cold and distant but once you get to know it, you see it is a beautiful country with many small details worth learning and getting to know. That being said, we can see that in order to enjoy Finland at its fullest, a bit of patience and at times ones own initiative is needed to get to know the people, its culture and its distinct way of life.
One important thing to keep in mind is to understand a bit of the Finnish mind set. Finns are not bad at social settings but rather a bit slow to catch on to someone new and accept someone new. It is true what they say that Finnish are shy and things that may seem trivial to you are somewhat hard for the common Finn. Aside from being shy Finns are really comfortable beings, its not that they wouldn’t want to talk but rather that they wouldn’t want to go trough the trouble of feeling uncomfortable when first getting to know someone, unless it is necessary to do so. We all know its hard and uncomfortable when we first come into the fold, the one difference maybe that Finns do not like to feel that uncomfortable feeling, they rather avoid it.
Exchange students in Finland should remember that Finns have their own way of behaving and at times a bit of effort in getting to know them really pays off in the future.