A final cheesy dot to end my journey…or not

Every great journey has an end..

Another year studying in university has finally end. It could leave me with so much lessons to be learned. Not only about the academic stuffs, but a handful of experiences, a bunch of great new international friends around the world and much more about life – to live, to adapt, and to grow up within yourself in a whole new environment, a whole new cultures that you have had few idea what it could be like. Even if you try so hard to plan, to organise, and to prepare for every single things that possibly stand in your way, that would never be enough. It’s all about the twists and turns that make you enjoy the adventure, not a smooth-to-go and carefully planned to reach the end peacefully – safe and sound. It would force you to change every single day to face new challenges, to overcome with strength, wisdom, and of course, mistakes along with failure. Only then you could realise who you are, who you want to become and what voice inside you that shape your drives and make you try harder and harder. It’s not about demotivating or depressing you. Yes, it could be frustrated from times to times, but I assure you it would worth in the end. You would be able to see how much you have changed – your ego, your identity, your understanding, your behaviour, your attitude – everything for your own good.

Personally, this year has much meaning to me than anyone else. I was torn between right or wrong for over a year and could not make things right with my life. Finally, I could make one thing right. Leaving France, it’s like I feel alive again. For such a long time, I forgot how to enjoy life as it is, to immense myself in social life and to wear a bit less clothes (JK). I feel somehow lost love could be found again. And I feel there are amazing people out there – great friends – even with language barrier – we still definitely understand each other souls without saying. My soul was lost, and then found, and eventually, saved..

I shall finish my post here before I bore you with my lengthy stories with all the dramas and upside down. C’est la vie. I am so grateful to be able to have this amazing chance to discover the world, understand human beings and most importantly, dive deep in the journey of finding who am I and what I wanna be.

Thank you JAMK for giving me such a great privilege to be able to study in Finland as well as in France. I owe you this to you for my whole life!

Thank you so much!

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Learning, just keep learning…

I have lived in France for almost 7 months so far, and I started to speak French and understand French, not the whole conversations but I could guess from what they are saying. Such an awesome feeling when you get to understand another language and start to understand the French way. I also started to pronounce every word I see, and it was kind of too much that affect my English pronunciation. At that point I said to myself I must stay clear between the these languages. Soon it became easier than I thought, and I began to love learning French.

The key here is that I found joy in learning French. That makes the major difference. Learning French through Duolingo on my ipad, I realized the reason that  I could not learn Finnish for almost two years. Too much focus on grammar rules had demotivated me from learning by heart everything. Instead, I should be learning something relevant to my everyday life, something I found so important and valuable to me when I start to speak. I remembered when I traveled to Dune du Pilat, people do not speak English there since it is a small town at the low tourist season. Then I started to make conversation, asking the way and where I could the bus to the dune. My travel group has 6 people, but no one could speak French so everything they counted on me. After all, I felt so proud that I could be the one who helped and led  the whole group to such a memorable trip. At the same time, I watched a TED talk by Chris Lonsdale – How to learn any language in six months? Since I experienced the same feeling when I learned French, I truly believe that this time when I come back to Finland, I could master the language to intermediate level (B2) in two years (still quite long compared to six months in the video).  Anyway, I will include the link to the talk here to be a useful future reference.

About the school schedule, I looked at the schedule.. We will study busy as hell, no vacation in between, from middle January until end of…March or early April. And that’s it. My exchange year ends just like that. 8 months – 60 credits. The second term I chose to study International Tourism track, as I assumed it would be a strength of the faculty instead of Food and Beverage track. Also, since I already learned Food Service in Practice and Management of Accommodation Services – in total 20 credits from JAMK, I want to learn something new here to diverse my knowledge. It turned out I was right! The track was so meaningful and informative. The teacher was nice and so passionate about the subject, and I’m talking about Mrs. Keller and Mrs. Beatric. There was a small hiccup at two course. One is  in which the professor “forgot” that he had a course to teach in our school, and that’s our course. He was a great teacher, but we only had him for 15% of the course, but 15% worth it.

I also met new exchange students this term. There is one Finnish girl from Tourism program in Haaga Helia UAS. More people from Canada, Mexico, US, etc. I got a lot more motivated to go to class, because of friends and great professors. The most annoying part is when the exam came. One full week is for 7 exams, each took 3 hours to complete. Another week is for smaller exams and final assignments. I was totally torn in the end.. Hopefully JAMK will only took the credits because if not, I would be dead by the marking system on the scale of 20 in Sup de Co… Every journey has an end, and it seems like mine was about to..

And I don’t wanna leave France so soon…

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Fall Semester Review

I find it so difficult to make room for just some post in time during the semester and the holiday came and it was kind of “geek” just to stick with the computer to do all the assignment left with some review on the last semester. That is why I decided to relax a bit before head back to the game!

Enough of going around the bush, here is my last semester reviews:

– Finally I could understand some about French culture, lifestyle and its elegance. Social life is appreciated and people tend to enjoy the time talking, enjoying the food, appreciate the art and fashion, which is very distinct from all Western countries. Normally, the concept “Time is money” usually refers to the developed Western culture, where life is so busy and people tend to be workaholic and deal-oriented. I found French is a great mixture of Western and some Eastern culture from this perspective, who treasure the social time and have a sense of life enjoyment.

– About the language, I did attempt to speak French. At first, it was so frsutrating to learn while I have difficulties in daily life and social attitude pressure towards my terrible French is so high that I felt lost for a short while. However, after trying harder and harder, I realize that despite the difficulty, it was so fun while learning a new language, especially in its own native-speaking-country. People tend to become more open and friendly to you and become so helpful, that’s what encourage me to learn by myself the language everyday.

– While Finland seems to be a bit far up North, La Rochelle has such an advantage location. It definitely attracts a great more people from different countries, which offers me a golden opportunity to have new experience working with new colleagues like: the Swiss, German, French, Indian, Chinese, Afghan, so on and so forth.

– It would be a lost if I did not mention the great Business Game course I had at the beginning week of the semester. Basically, it is a simulation business environment working in the same universe and each team is a entire company. We have General Manager, Marketing Manager, Financial Manager, Human Resource Manager, etc. and we have to make real business decisions, prepare strategic plans, take care of projects during “8 years”. After every year, there will be a report (in real life called “competitor surveys”) on how each business doing and their sales and profits in order to learn from success as well as failure to make the right decisions for the coming year. Lucky and pressure enough, I was appointed as General Manager. Our business lost the most in the first few year and at the end of the game, we are the second in profits, sales and market shares! In short, it was a very exciting course that I hope JAMK will include in the future curriculum (as my friend studying business in Saimaa UAS also had this course last semester).

– I also had such a hard time with Yield Management course! In fact, most my classmates did. A lot of forecast tools and formula, and numbers and we barely had enough time to go into details with enough practices for them. There came the exam! I sweat like a pig during the exam, try to finish everything with my basic instinct! Everybody went out of the examination room with such frustration, afraid that exchange students like us would have to take re-sit exam, which will be in June 2014!! Hearing from my classmates, I checked the exam results last week and it turned out that it is the course I earned the highest grade! Some friends told me half the class scored 15 to 19 out of  20 while the rest could not make it to 5/20. Such a mysterious case!

– It seems that I found out personal interest in Marketing, Relational Marketing, Customer Service etc. When I came to college I still wonder what exactly the path for me is, eventually there is some hints for me, which I feel so happy about and cannot wait to try out for internships. Maybe after the surprise for the Yield Management, I would also want to try some for some hotel I think haha.

– Thanks to the French, I can see there are so much more to learn about the place ones live in and realize the importance of knowing the surroundings, facts, figures to look out for opportunities. In addition, I understand how ambition can lead you somewhere great thanks to a very ambitious and “hardcore professional” (who introduce herself like that rather than being a college teacher). Now I read the news everyday and thanks to that I enrich my conscious about the world really fast and effective. Awesome!

– I had a chance to make new lovely friends and awesome trip to Cognac. It is a small city renowned for tourists to visit brewery and wine making tour. We visited Martell, famous for its Cognac in France though it was such a pity that Remy Martin did not open that day.

– It captured my attention that many French has come to Vietnam for internships, and many of them have great interest in he country and culture. It is understandable that just half a century Vietnam was colonized by the French, but thanks to its, more and more French people nowadays know a lot about Vietnam, which is very interesting to share the cultures.

– Realize many the opportunity in the field of study, especially in touristic country like France- it’s critical to try your best in the field with some faith! There would be a potential investment!

– The sad thing: Study from 9am til 6pm, sometimes as early as 7.30am and lasts until 8pm makes me really tired. Therefore, I have no time to participate in favorite sport – TKD – like in Finland, which makes me feel so distressed and desperate. Health going down a bit for sure.

– Good thing: Sunny almost all the time! The weather is just perfect with its moderate temperature even in winter. Awesome choice in food, cheese and obviously wine! The price of wine is lovely as well. Cannot ask for more! My studio is right at the train station so I can see everyday how many people come and leave La Rochelle, and I have to admit this is such a popular place to visit for the French people!

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Orientation Week – First Impression

The week start with an Opening day in the big Auditorium. Introduction about La Rochelle city, the School, the Professors and Staffs, etc. Boring but might be useful in the future..

The whole week is the French Language Intensive Course. From 9am til 5pm. Very tired but really useful and handy! The last day we have a walk around the city center. The city of La Rochelle is not a big city as I imagined. You can enjoy the walk in one afternoon to see the most important land marks. However, if you want to enjoy the beach, beautiful ocean view and visit the three nearby Island, that would take a few days discovering. At the end of  week, we have an escape to a nearby theme park Week’n Go to participate in three activities: Laser Guns, Volleyball and most interesting the Tree Climbing adventure. I was thrilled by taking the Red route, which is the second difficult just before the Black Route! Again I experience the feeling of loneliness in adventure and sole conquest of my own fear. I love it! Although at that moment I don’t think I wanna do it again but now I wanna comeback to finally try the Black one! Joining the trip, I met a lot of new people coming from very different countries that I have never had a chance before! Namely French, American, German, Swiss, Indian, Greek, Spanish, Dutch, etc. which is a lot more diverse.

So about La Rochelle!

I love how the sun shines here in La Rochelle. It seems I have saved two years of sunshine in Finland to get it here in La Rochelle. I walked through the coast of the sea nearby the school and I could spend hours sitting there, maybe have lunch, or have some beers with my friends or just simply alone and think about anything. At sunset, the port is so beautiful with the sky full of color and the sun looks like a tasty egg yolk. Generally, the city is more historic  rather than modern. Yes, it has its own history and you gotta find out about it yourselves 🙂

Transportation here is quite cheap compared to Jyvaskyla. One bus ticket is only 1.7 euros and in peak season – summer – only 1 euros. Monthly ticket for student is 23 euros/month. There are also yellow bicycles scattering around the city for renting at 25 euros per year! (100 euros deposit).

I cannot complain anything about the food. They are so varied and a little cheaper than in Finland. Everything looks delicious, especially the desserts. Now I have to buy less desserts since it costs even more than my other food LOL The only I would regret is I know so little about gastronomy, and also my poor student pocket. I’m so impressed that the French knows A LOT about food and food processing and particularly, how to enjoy it as an art, not a daily necessity! As I observed, the French definitely know how to enjoy life better than any other countries!

Gotta learn a lot more….

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So it’s set! France one-year exchange (and good food) is waiting for me!!

Eventually I got the acceptance letter from Groupe Sup de Co La Rochelle – La Rochelle Business School. Remember just three months ago I still wondering what could be the destination for me. Anything could change at the last minute and I learned that sometimes life does not lead the way we plan.. Some just turned out to be.. better 😉

When I first come to Finland and know about the exchange program, I would love to go to Italy (thinking back, the reason is again the same: Great FOOD haha). Looking for an Italian language course at JAMK, I was so disappointed to find out it is only taught in Finnish. Okay, so I know what is next for me. Spanish! I started to learn Spanish and really love the sounds of the language. Until the day of filling out online application for exchange on Asio, I still have no doubt about Spain as my exchange place, although the economic situation bothered me a bit. The final turning point came in when I realized that due to the downfall of economic, school in Spain paid less attention and made less investment on English program. At that time, I really don’t think my Spanish is advanced enough to have lecture in Spanish and also assignment and exam written in the language…

At the last minute, I think about French. Never in my life I would imagine I’m gonna (have to) learn the language. Some says it’s like the pain in the ass, some claims such a beautiful language it sounds. For me, it’s just too brand-new. The main reason for the choice of France again is the rich in beauty, wonderful architecture, and Gastronomy – Great cuisine and food (wine also)! It also has to mention that my last Interrail trip around Europe, I had already fallen in love with Paris, with the Louvre, the Seine River, Arc de Triomphe, so on and so forth. Besides, the program majoring in Tourism, in a touristic city La Rochelle. What could be better for my degree of Hospitality Management as well as the life of a totally new and interesting city!

At the moment, the only thing I know is that I gotta learn French fasttt this summer! I feel that French is way better than in the past about the English-speaking attitude..But I got a chance to learn, and that seems to be a destiny, so why not? I don’t know how La Rochelle would be like and could the people there speak English. Hopefully, it would be more alike in Paris.

One more thing is the paperwork. I got some reminder from friends that it would be lengthy, tiring and complicated like in my home country Vietnam. I just hope it would be better than what I already know about my hometown administration..

That’s good for now! The whole summer at home is waiting for me! It’s great that Finnair has just newly open a direct route to Hanoi.

So just 10 hours, I’ll be home, closer than ever. ^^

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