Planning my period abroad

Hi and welcome to my exchange blog! I’m Joonas and I study Sustainable Gastronomy for the 3rd year in JAMK, so among other topics I will cover some things related to food in this blog. I start publishing this about in the mid-point of my 3-month study period abroad, and I will publish a new post here every two weeks from now on. In this first post I am going tell how the whole process before leaving Finland went, and I will start with some background.

I knew I wanted to do some kind of an international period already before I started studying and that eager just strengthened overtime. Even when this pandemic situation had obviously set a big uncertainty over this plan (too), I felt that I really want to do this if it’s possible to do responsibly. After a lot of consideration and weighing and since any of the institutions in Finland or Hong Kong didn’t forbid it, I decided not to cancel my mobility program at any point. The main factor that affected my decision to go after all was that the pandemic situation was very good in Hong Kong even compared to Finland which was also mostly in a relatively good state before I left. Safety arrangements had been taken care of very well, so the risks were really minimized and leaving seemed actually safe. One of these safety arrangements was quarantine of 21 days, which I will tell more about later.

Preparing

The practical arrangements for this started already in the early 2020, after I had decided where I wanted to go. I compared destinations all over the world, but since the diverse food cultures of China have interested me a lot and Hong Kong offers studies in English while being far away and exotic enough, the decision was easy. It was a perfect opportunity to do my first trip to Asia. It was an incentive also that the School of Hotel and Tourism Management of Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been ranked the best in the world in the Hospitality field, so it felt really interesting to see what the teaching is like there and I have to say at this point that the quality of studies has been very good. At first I was planning to go abroad in the autumn semester 2020 but it turned out that there are better course options for me in the spring semester, so we decided to move it there. It was a good decision because therefore I had more time to be prepared and also it would have been cancelled anyway from the autumn because of the pandemic that was just starting at that point. For some bigger and smaller practical reasons, I was planning to be abroad for not more than three months. These reasons are that I had three months of student allowance left, I had to leave my partner and cats home, I didn’t have to take new insurance and I didn’t have to change my address.

Applying process

The application process included many steps and multiple application forms and a lot of waiting, but it also created a lot of joy and excitement to get each thing accomplished and get closer to the goal step by step. The process also included sending a lot of emails with both the host and home universities. As a whole though, I basically just followed the instructions of both institutions and all of the arrangements went well. I would just advice to get all the documents you need as early as possible, since I got a bit busy with some of those. Especially visa procedures should be done early since they can take some time, because you possibly have to send some international physical letters too. Also bank documents can take some time to recieve. Then when I finally received my student visa and other documents a few weeks before the planned departure, the feeling was very thrilled. It was soon to be real.

Below two symbolic pictures that represent this process:

 

Next week I will tell you about starting the studies from the distance and finally arriving in Hong Kong.