Author Archives: chinguyen

About chinguyen

I am a Vietnamese student studying International Business at Karelia University of Applied Sciences.

Exchange study in Ghent, Belgium

Belgium was not my first choice

Exchange study is a precious opportunity to explore a new country as you will spend several months living in that new place. In reality, at first, I got accepted to be an exchange student for a university in the UK. Many people asked me why I chose the UK. It’s very simple, I have never been there and I love hearing their accent, also want to practice my English in an English-speaking environment.

Long story short, I had some issues with documents so in the end, I had to choose another place to apply. It was pretty sad, but everything happened for a reason and I am glad that my second decision was even better. I paid more attention to the courses that those partners offered instead of the country itself. Since I was interested in the digital marketing field, HoGent provided many courses that support my major and without hesitation, Belgium was on my list.

HoGent is awesome

View from Gent Belfort

I had some friends studying in the Netherlands, sharing the border with Belgium and all of them were struggling with room searching. The accommodation was quite expensive there and not so many options for short-term tenants which made me really worried in the beginning. Fortunately, HoGent arranged a furnished single room in the dormitory for exchange students at a reasonable price so that I could enjoy my semester in Gent at its best. Every room was equipped with a single bed, a table, a chair, a drawer, a wardrobe and a sink. The kitchen and bathrooms were shared by all students on the same floor. Sounds great, right?

Talking about schoolwork, the courses were very diverse, I can get to know about creating a website, doing basic design tasks, learning about Belgian culture and practicing marketing projects. I could work with students from many countries, understand their mindsets and deal with conflicts caused by cultural differences. Honestly, the workload for exchange students was plausible, I was not under pressure all the time because HoGent wanted exchange students to enjoy Belgian beers as well 😉 Some parties were organized at school or in the dormitory to engage students from all over the world coming to Belgium to study. If you concern about anything, the student counselor will reply to your email promptly, therefore, do not hesitate to tell them your issues.

Social life 

Me and my Irish girl

Exchange study also gave me a chance to meet and make friends with students from all over the world. Never would I expect to talk to a random Irish girl at a party when we were both so drunk and somehow we became such close friends till now.  Áine was definitely my party partner back then, we had been to almost all the bars and tried so many types of beer that I cannot even count.


My international family on Christmas day 2018

I would never, either, imagine that I could meet people from El Salvador, China, Poland, France, Mexico all in one country and make so many wonderful memories together. We gathered during Christmas, cooked traditional food, and shared our childhood story. We usually made jokes about how full our stomachs always were when we celebrated something together. My exchange study experience is such a precious present, with new lessons, laugh, tears and of course, new friends that I treasure for life.

For those who find my experience interesting and want to write your own story, check out this link for exchange application instruction: In case of further questions, don’t hesitate to contact your student counselor or leave a comment, I would love to give you as much information as I can.


Chi Nguyen

A touch to Finnish culture – Part 2

As an international student studying and living in Finland, I have always been curious about the culture, the people and all the secrets about this country. There are things that we can learn from reading, however, making friends with local people is the best way to understand them, based on my own experience. For sure, socializing sounds so easy for extroverts but it doesn’t mean that introverts will forever be stuck in their room. Thanks to our school, I and many students have made such a great relationship with our Finnish friends/ families within the Friends Family Activity.

My “partner in crime” is Liisa, who is the same age as me. Liisa is a sweet and honest girl who

Skiing at a very low pace

loves horses and doing outdoor activities. We became friends in an… awkward way due to the pre-arranged match by Karelia UAS. BUT… guess what, we turned out to be a “real match” in many ways, sharing the same sense of humor, in love with clubbing and always making our stomach full when meeting up at a buffet restaurant. 😀 Liisa is also my very first skiing and horse riding tutor.

Another experience I couldn’t forget was riding a

I kinda look very calm and happy on the horse

horse at Liisa’s favorite place where she usually visits a few times a week. Honestly, this is one of the scariest experiences in my life. Getting used to this horse was not easy, but Liisa was there, made her walk around calmly so I could enjoy the moment.  After 10 or 15 minutes, I gave up (how embarrassing…haha) and let my friend rule the show.

Not so surprisingly, Liisa was also my “party-mate” as we spent several times a month having fun in the club. How funny it was when we were always the last one leaving the parties. We share the same crazy spirit for parties, and that’s how we become even closer.

Not only me learning about Finnish culture but Liisa also had the chance to try Vietnamese things. She sometimes visits my place to taste Vietnamese specialties. It was so funny when I taught her to use chopsticks for the first time.

Learn to be a Vietnamese

It was very challenging for her to try Pho (noodles with chicken) with those chopsticks and we laughed way too much. Non-stop fun moments kept going on when she tried to make spring rolls, bubble tea and dumplings. Honestly, I am really proud of Vietnamese cuisine, hence I absolutely appreciate her effort spending time and cooking with me. However, time to say goodbye is coming soon as we both have plans to move to new places, but I will, for sure, keep in touch with her and looking forward to seeing her again in Finland.

Friend family program is one of the reasons that makes me miss Joensuu so much. For new-comers, don’t miss out this wonderful opportunity, you never know an amazing person will come into your life when you least expect it 🙂

Chi Nguyen

Winter in Joensuu

Vietnam is my home country, and I was born to get adapted to the humid and subtropical weather. During the summer, the high temperature drives us crazy. Don’t be surprised,

        Vietnamese covered themselves due to strong               sunlight. (Source:

the sun is our “enemy” and everyone tries to cover themselves during day time. You may wonder if I have temperature shock and why I choose Finland as my study destination. Well, since I was a kid, I had always wanted to see snow and experience below-freezing temperatures. Finland turns out to be an awesome place with snow and real Santa. Let me tell you why I am in a love-hate relationship with the cold weather in Finland 😉

My first time admiring a snowy day was so unexpecting as I was on my way to Helsinki with some friends. The seven-hour bus trip was believed to be so long and tiring, however, none of us knew we would see the first snow at that moment. Trust me, that was the most precious memory that I couldn’t forget. Just close your eyes, imagine a forest covered with white color when the bus is going, everything looked like a scene in fairy tales. How is it possible that someone hates snow if they can see that moment?

But, to be honest…cold days make me homesick. Studying abroad is always a challenge, even for a tough one. For sure, I can enjoy my personal space, do anything at any time I want, I can party till dawn but when all is over, loneliness is the worst feeling that no one wants to experience, including me. I miss it when my family gathers to have a warm dinner and talks about our days, all the old songs my dad loves listening to every morning, also my brother’s happy face when he gets home with a good grade. The cold in Joensuu during winter sometimes makes me want to come back home, cuddle with my mom on a big and super warm bed then tell her how I am afraid of growing up. Cold days may make me want to be a child, but everyone has to grow up and experience something even more wonderful than a snowy day.

My Vietnamese classmates

Chi Nguyen