Student Story - Seekyung Chung
Home country: South Korea
What are you currently doing: Teaching Korean language to employees of Finnish companies
How did you find out about TAMK and what made you choose it for your studies?
While searching for an opportunity to improve my skills and advance my career with the intention of studying in Tampere, I found out that TAMK provides degree programmes in English language. As my ultimate goal was having a regular job in Finland, it seemed that programmes with the most potential for me were the International Business and Nursing ones. I did not get a sufficient score on the aptitude test for studying Nursing, but for the entrance exam of the International Business programme. So I started studying International Business in 2009 at TAMK.
What did you like most about Tampere and Finland?
I was born and grown up in a big city, Seoul in South Korea, in which you could see significantly burgeoning, boisterous and a rapidly developing capital city between the 1980s and 2000s. Now, South Korea is perceived mostly like an advanced nation, though I honestly miss the old times. Rapidly changing streets with new technology, people' s obsession towards wealth and beauty and tough competition did not give rise to my sense of belonging anymore since I have started living in Nordic countries.
Rather, I have appreciated the value of equality of chances and the advanced welfare system established on the robust ground of social democracy among the Nordic countries. There are certain things you will hardly experience and anticipate at least in Finland such as close interpersonal relationship, entertaining places, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. Nevertheless, I often realized how much I am blessed here with my family. I am grateful not only for a clean environment, an honest and tolerant nationhood, a compacted but also flexible education system, but also for many aspects.
I have been living in Tampere for over 8 years now and I am in love with this city much more than other cities in Finland. The infrastructure of Tampere including transportation, housing, health centers, daycare centers and schools, shops, all seem to be friendly to newcomers, although people are always supposed to have an abundant patience in respect to using public services.
Tampere eventually became not only the longest resident place for my three children, but also the most safe and residential place surrounded by good friends and nice people. Over time, Tampere is my children' hometown and my adorable hometown that offers me wonderful chances of improving myself through education.
In what ways have your studies contributed to your professional and personal life?
Even with the motherhood, my ongoing full-time job as a mother and housewife, an academic pursuit has lingered in my head for a long time as I have a potent conviction that learning should be going on for our entire life.
When I got an opportunity to study in TAMK, I was very nervous and clumsy, even though I was a mature student who had another BA degree already. All I can say is that it was extremely challenging, but by far the most joyful and rewarding time of my studying time. During the first year, I was aware of my lack of language skills, especially speaking, interpersonal skills as well as crucial academic ethics. I thought I was familiar with the business field from my academic experience of hotel management but I needed to overcome time and space barriers with the academic English language I hardly used during the previous study. The most challenging part was struggling with another job as a mother of three children.
Notwithstanding, I can say that I am proud of myself for not giving up and did the best. When hard times were eventually gone, I was more comfortable and confident to meet and cooperate with students of different nationalities and I learned a lot from them. In addition, I improved general English skills with plenty of essays, presentations and discussions during the school life. In fact, what I most appreciate about my studies in TAMK is that I could hear my inner voice dreaming of further study. I got an inspiring lesson that what matters are the passion and dedication, not the age. So I am going to take another academic pursuit at the University of Tampere.
Frankly I was not that successful in terms of professional life compared to other students. Nevertheless, I had chances of working for Finnish companies part-time and they were all good tries and valuable work experiences. Without my study experience in TAMK, I might not have been able to have those opportunities. I have been teaching Korean language and culture to employees of Finnish companies. Without my study experience in the IB programme, I would not have been enough confident to speak in front of people and teach the Korean language using some fancy slides.
All in all, my studies with TAMK led me and my family to a meaningful and valuable path. I am delighted to say that it enabled me to shift my limited perspective into a more open and wider spectrum of perspectives.
How has TAMK supported your needs as a student?
I am certain that TAMK has good quality facilities and a cheerful international atmosphere. But most of all, I was sincerely grateful for the support from TAMK lecturers. I was in the midst of an extremely hard time after all coursework. From the time of my pregnancy in a worse physical condition while writing my thesis to the time of a subsequent maternity leave for one year, I was in such a desperate and isolated time. And one day I got a phone call from my study counselor who congratulated and encouraged me to finish my study. If he did not make that call, I might have not graduated yet. Those encouragement and concerns are the most powerful means and driving forces to move people's minds. I like TAMK so much because there are good people who are willing to support and help students with a warm heart and zeal.
What would you say to anyone considering studying at TAMK?
I believe that if you become a student of TAMK, you will benefit from many and unexpected wonderful things. TAMK offers you the opportunity to study in a joyful and buoyant environment. The harder you work, the more you will learn and grow. My final words are: challenge and enjoy yourself with TAMK!
This story was written in February 2016.