Monthly Archives: July 2018

Finland – a new chapter in my life

I came to Finland when I was 19 and it was the very first time that I was outside of my “comfort zone” – Vietnam. When I was a teenager, I traveled a lot through out the whole country in Vietnam but Finland was the whole new chapter in my journey of exploring the world. Honestly, I never heard about Finland before in my life probably because Finns are too humble to talk about their country on the media, thus I basically have no idea where I was heading to, I just packed my luggage and ” hit the road Jack”.

If I was to ask to describe Finland in one word, I would say – ” peaceful”.  Finland has taught me to slow down and enjoy every little moments that I have. In Sountheast Asia, we live really hectic life- style  especially in big cities. On the street in Asia, there are always some kind of activities, quite time is only last from 1am – 4am. However, in Finland, for an Asian girl like me, it is always quite. At first, I found it hard to cope with the quiteness here but then my Finnish friends taught me to do things that I have never done before in my life – enjoying the quiteness. They took me for a walk in the beautiful forest here in every seasons and in the winter, they showed me how to ” sauna” in Finnish way 🙂 and taught me some winter sports. I started to love Finland from that time on because Finland gave me time to spend for myself in peace.

Pic 1: Walking on a frozen lake

Pic 2: Forest in winter time

Finland is a wonderland in winter but also, it is absolutely beautiful during the summer time. Even though summer is short in Finland and it often rains, the sunny day in summer are worth waiting for. Spending time in summer cottage and grill ” makara” with my close friends near the lake is always my favourite activity in the summer.

Pic 3: Finnish summer dream

Finnish people are quite calm and shy like in this photo 🙂

It is not easy to get close to Finnish friends at first because they do not show emotion but if you just give them time, they will open up and once you are their friend, you will be forever their friend.

Though I have moved on with my life and exposed to many cultures and lands, Finland will still be at special little corner in my youthful heart.

A pianist on exchange

My exchange year in Denmark is reaching its end. I ended up in Aarhus quite randomly – I knew nothing about the city nor the music academy when applying here. However, after being accepted I was really looking forward to a year abroad and ready for a new adventure. I did not know what was waiting for me, but loved the idea of going.

Moving in was easy, I got a lovely apartment very close to the school and Aarhus seemed really nice. My good feeling didn´t really change after the first impression – everything worked great, the school seemed really good, I met nice people and I was very impressed after the first piano lesson with my new teacher. I felt so lucky, how could everything be so well? Well, it could.

My daily life in Aarhus consist of practising, teaching and common classes like ear training, music history etc. Every week there is a piano lesson with my teacher and addition to playing solo, I have studied accompaniment with singers and chamber music with other instrumentalists. Most of my studying time goes for practising and one of the main reasons why I enjoy studying here is the great facilities for practising and having a lot of time for it.

The school also offers the students a lot of opportunities to perform. The piano class  has student concerts about every three or four weeks. In the beginning of the study year we had an annual piano festival OPUS organised by the piano students. This year the theme was L. van Beethoven´s music and I must say that it was great way to start the semester and get into the piano class.

I spend my free time hanging out with my friends from school or doing sports, either at the gym lifting weights or running in a park nearby. I really love to spend time with the piano class. We are different kind of people from around the Europe sharing the same interest. During the year we have had such a good time together, numerous discussions about music and piano, nerdy jokes, dinners at the school´s rooftop, after-concert beers in the local pub, group lessons on Saturday afternoons and a lot more.

Both The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and Tamk in Tampere have their own strengths and weaknesses. The studying follows the same principles in both schools so that in the end there are not any really big differences. The courses are quite similar and my schedule looked about the same in both places. It was mainly the studying environment which made the difference for me. There is something I really like about the music academy here in Aarhus – the physical studying environment, practising facilities, the common atmosphere among the student and the teachers. I can say that the Erasmus year has been the best studying year for me so far. I have learnt so much about piano, music, myself and life overall. But without the great education I got in Finland I would not have ended up here in Aarhus.

How does Finnish Chinese girl think about Finland?

My name is Cuiting Zhang, as you can decide from my name that I am not original Finnish. I have immigrated from China to Finland when I was 10-year-old. I went to Finnish school and I got Finnish friends, so I became a Finnish! I am so glad for being multicultural person and I can learn from both of Chinese and Finnish cultures. For me, Finland means many things. In this part, I just point out some specific of them.

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First, the nature. Looking at the outside we can decide how much Finnish do care about the nature. While I am living in Finland, I have learned to sort the trash and separate metals from the products and I am really proud of the system of Pantti (which means you can have deposit while you returned the used bottles). So, people are very willing to collect the bottles from the street and this very amazed me.

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The second one is independence (Okay, I know that belongs to original Finnish that they like to ask the help and want to do all things by themselves). Most of students are moving from home at 18 years old and start to get the first part-time job. So, I did the same. My high school life was very simple: I went to school on the weekday and worked at weekend. It sounds a little bit hard, but believe me, it was so instructive experience.

*I don’t need help to choose the shirt (or maybe I do…)

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The third thing is personal space. My original country is a very loud place and there is so many people in everywhere. Finland is a opposite from China. While I am taking the bus, nobody is talking loudly and people even don’t choose to sit beside of another if there is a free space around.

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After these many years, I became a Finnish. I appreciate this place and the culture, but I still want to know more about my original country, China, that I choose to go to exchange. I am looking forward to this trip a lot and the experience I will gain from my mother country.

(Pictures belong to Finnish Nightmare -comics by Karoliina Korhonen)