Every January, the most exciting winter arts activity, Lux Helsinki lights up different corners across the city. Each year, City of Helsinki chose different district to be the main focus for the annual light arts festival. It is brilliant to bring citizens and tourists to learn the dynamics in different areas of Helsinki.
All my family and my friends in Taiwan are concerned that I will be freezing into an icicle when the snow season starts in Finland. Well, their concerns are not nonsense, considering that the lowest temperature during the winter time in Taiwan is only about +6°.
I thought I would be wearing much more here than what I used to in Taiwan. Actually, not that case. It’s still three layers, but certainly all the clothes are selected to fit the cold climate in Finland. For me, the first layer is the most important one, a fitted long-sleeve T-shirt with quick drying function. The second layer is usually a sweater. The last layer is a proper waterproof winter jacket. In the cold climate, waterproof wear is crucial from head to toe. Helsinki is quite a windy city. The wind can make one feel much colder than the real temperature. These three layers can get me through even -15°.
Last night I went to see the New Year Eve’s show in the Senate Square. When I arrived around 11pm, it’s easy to walk around the crowd and reach a nice position in front of the stage. Comparing to my past experience in Sydney and Taipei, to be able to get a great view, one needed to be there hours before the fireworks started. Only until the fireworks was done, everyone was leaving the square, I experienced the most crowded moment in Helsinki. For the first time, I was pushed around by the crowd in Finland.
This summer was filled with joys, excitements and inspirations because of the five-week summer journey organized by EIT Climate-Kic. I met students and experts who share the same passion to mitigate climate change, the biggest challenge we face nowadays.
Especially after spending time in the corporate world in between studies, it is easy to start prefering it over academia. Although student life has its advantages, sometimes the corporate world simply seems to provide more challenges to tackle in a concrete way every single day. This is one of the reasons I opted for the dual degree combining the CEMS MIM with another Master’s program from Aalto University School of Business.
In short, the CEMS MIM program builds a bridge between university education and working life. The curriculum offers multiple elements where students are provided with the opportunity to work together with corporate and social partners on real-life business challenges.
For me personally, I consider the internationalization opportunities at Aalto University one of its greatest assets.
Because of Aalto University, I have been able to experience university life in two different countries within the past year. Last fall I did my mandatory semester abroad for my BScBA degree. To take advantage of the wide range of partner universities globally, I wanted to go as far as possible. I ended up on a new continent for me; North America and the University of Victoria in Canada. I had grown up watching American tv-series and movies about high school and college life in the states and I wanted to experience it for myself. What I consider my biggest learning from this first exchange is putting things in perspective. No matter how nice the campus is or fun the student life seems, my appreciation towards the high-quality education we receive in Finland grew immensely. Without the comparison to Canada I never actually realized the quality of our university programs and contrary to Canada’s system, for us Finnish citizens it is even free to pursue these programs. Canada as a country surprised me in the sense that it oddly represented all the stereotypes I had heard before. In fact, people were even more friendly than expected. This is something that I truly missed when I returned in Finland, where you rarely face the same kind of friendliness towards strangers.
In the beginning of the first period, I went to the new ceramics workshop in Väre to ask for a working permit. There was a ceramics class going on at that time. I’ve been interested in ceramics course since I tried out ceramics by myself in May. I asked the teacher if I could attend the course and luckily there was still a free spot. Until later on, I realized the course was ‘Manufacturing Technologies and Materials in Studio Production’ and taught in Finnish for undergraduate students in Design Program. Kindly, the teachers gave me instructions in English separately. We learned all the basic skills of ceramics works. It included how to throw on the wheel, hand build sculpture, experiment on glaze and so on.
Professor-student relationships in Finland are not constrained by formal conventions. THERE IS NO HIERARCHY. Well, formally there is. There are titles as usual: MSc (Master of Science), PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), Professor, Head of the Department, etc. But in reality, people are not respected for having any of these titles. They are respected by students for being intelligent, approachable, friendly or even funny.