Vaihdossa Costa Ricassa

Paras matkamuistoni on ehdottomasti vaihtoreissu Costa Ricalle. Lähdin sinne syyskuussa 2022 syyslukukauden ajaksi. Pääsin kokemaan muun muassa surffailun huumaa, tutustumaan paikallisiin riippusiltakansanpuistoihin ja näkemään upeita maisemia, kuten auringonlaskuja ja -nousuja sekä vesiputouksia, uusien kavereiden saamista unohtamatta. Espanjankielen taitoni kehittyivät myös huimasti näiden muutaman kuukauden aikana.

Olen itse adoptoitu Kolumbiasta ja kohteeseen saapuessani kävi ilmi, että myös isäntäperheeni jäsenet olivat kolumbialaisia! Alkuun tuli yllätyksenä, että he eivät osanneetkaan englantia lähes ollenkaan, mutta alkukankeuden jälkeen päivittäinen espanjaksi puhuminen alkoi sujumaan.

Perheeni tuli myös Suomesta vierailulle siellä ollessani, ja lähdimme yhdessä elämäni kolmatta kertaa Kolumbiaan viikonloppuvisiitille. Kolumbiaan paluu tuntuu aina jollain tapaa kuin olisi palannut kotiin.

Suosittelen lämpimästi vaihtoon lähtöä ihan jokaiselle jos vähänkään tuntuu siltä! Itse lähdin yksin, sillä en halunnut lähteä ulkomaille vaihtoon puhumaan suomea suomalaisten kaverien kanssa. Olen iloinen tästä päätöksestä, sillä koen, että sain koko reissusta enemmän irti, kun ei ollut tuttuja kavereita, joihin tukeutua. Kv-vaihto oli heittämällä elämäni yksi parhaimpia kokemuksia!

Teksti: Elsa Helasmo, Matkailuliiketoiminnan opiskelija
Kuvat: Pixabay

There is a lot to experience and see in Hasselt, Belgium!

We, our classmates and a few students from Croatia visited PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hasselt as a part of an international school project.

Hasselt is a beautiful place to visit, especially during the winter season. We travelled to Hasselt during December, so it was a bit weird for us to not see any snow on the ground, as we had just left Finland, a place which was filled with snow.

All of the people we encountered during our trip were polite, helpful and social! We loved every second of getting to know more and more people, some of whom had visited Finland or had Finnish friends.

Cultural differences

The biggest cultural difference for us was the lack of snow, but also the architecture and the school life. For example in Finland, it is customary to call the teachers by their first names whereas in Belgium it is customary to call them madam, Mrs, Mr, etc… When thinking about the differences, we realized that even with all of our differences, in tourism and in our personal lives, we were all clicking instantly and gaining new friends.

The university was great, the people were really friendly, as well as the teachers and personnel. Their university was modern and the cafeteria/restaurant was in really good shape, they also served amazing food.

Their way of teaching is different from ours, as they have big auditoriums for every lecture and seminar, whereas we, in Finland, have cosier and more welcoming classes.

Learning and making friends

During our exchange in Hasselt, we learned some things from the speakers, for example information about the Castle of Leut, MICE tourism, SMART theory, SDGs, and Pink flamingos. When visiting the Castle of Leut, we could experience it first-hand, and immerse ourselves in the surroundings of the it. For us, it was a great place to visit, and we would recommend others to visit there too.

Helen: From my point of view, the most impressive activity at the Hasselt exchange was the visit to the castle, as it was the first time I visited a castle and it is a beautiful place!

Overall, we think this experience was great, as it has taught us a lot about different cultures and different people. We made great memories and friends in Hasselt and we would all go back there anytime, just to seek around the beautiful country of Belgium, as the time was a bit limited in the short exchange week we experienced.

Every second was enjoyed, until the last, and we are really thankful for this opportunity and will definitely take part of similar projects in the future.

Text: Alexa Marin, Jasmin Rosengren & Helen Wan, second year International Tourism Management students
Picture: PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts

My Erasmus exchange in Finland

I chose Finland as my Erasmus exchange study destination because Finland is a country known for its educational system, which is very different from Belgium. I heard so much about it that I thought I would try it by myself and make up my own mind. Moreover, the Finnish population is known to be one of the happiest in the world – so I went to buy some warm clothes and packed my bag!

The Finns

Once I arrived in Finland, I discovered that the cold was not just about the weather: the Finns are very aloof and like to have their own space. But once I got to know them, I realized that it was only a facade and that in the end they are kind, benevolent and you can even have a lot of fun with them.

Life in Finland

Life in Finland is gentle, everything here is very natural. I realized that Finns spend a lot of time outside, even in winter! There are a lot of infrastructures like barbecues, benches and shelters, which are available to everyone. It is common to meet around a fire to drink hot chocolate, grill a sausage, or cook pancakes, even under the snow.

I had the opportunity to go for long walks in the forest or on the beach. Here I also discovered the sauna culture: almost all Finns have a sauna at home and if not, they just have to go to the city pool. And contrary to their usual shyness, in the saunas there is no more shyness, they drop the swimsuits!

Studying at SAMK

A very important part of my Erasmus is the university, after all, that’s why I’m here! The first time I visited the university, I was impressed by the modernity and the possibilities. There are places to relax, to work alone or in groups and even to have fun with a pool table.

The teaching is indeed very different from Belgium. Here, the students call the teachers by their first name, the timetables are light and group work is encouraged. What I find most interesting is that students can really choose their study program according to their interests, they don’t have to take the same courses as everyone else and there are many alternatives such as concrete projects that can be included in the credits. The school also places much importance on well-being, there are a gym and group classes that are open to everyone.

The Erasmus experience

Being on Erasmus means leaving your comfort zone, going to a country you don’t know and living with people you don’t know. But thanks to this challenge, you grow, you discover a new culture and you meet great people of all origins. You learn to be independent, to live in a community and to accept each other with our differences.


Being a tourism student and therefore a travel enthusiast, I have taken advantage of being here to visit Finland and also the neighboring countries. We organized trips to Tallinn, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Of course, there were a lot of us so I was able to practice my travel planning skills. I think it’s good to take advantage of these four months to see as much as possible because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.   

Text and photos: Camille De Borman, exchange student from Haute École Galilée University of Applied Sciences in Belgium