I’ve never got so many friends and learned so much about myself
Milla Niemi from Finland studied abroad at Prince of Songkla University in Phuket, Thailand during 2011. Read her interview below.
Who are you and where do you come from?
My name is Milla Niemi, 23, and I study at the faculty of Law at the University of Turku.
What was your study abroad destination and what made you decide to go onan exchange there?
My study abroad destination was Phuket (PSU). I decided to study at Phuket, because I was looking for a study place with atotally different culture frommy own. Other requirements were that the destination should be warm, not too big a city and a place where you can combine living, studying, travelling and holidaying.
Which things were the highlights of your exchange?
The highlights of my exchange were livingand travelling alone in a different culture, all the activities together with Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian students, all the studying, living and staying with foreign people and also the self-discovering I got to do.
What do you think about the balance between schoolwork and free time activities?
I had a great balance between school work and free time activities. My purpose was not only the studies and that`s why I chose only three courses and got a lot of free time. It is possible to get as much studies as you want, so there`s an appropriatescheduleforeveryone.
Which have been the most interesting things in your studies?
The most interesting things in my studies were to study together with Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian students, to do together different group works and performances and to join all the student activities, which were totally different than in Finland (more cultural and religious).
What is your opinion about AE’s charity work (currently done in Bali and Phuket)?
I can`t say anything about that because I didn`t have the opportunity to get to know AE`s charity work.
Have you discovered new things about Asia while doing the exchange?
I discovered a lot of things about Asia because I had never been in Asia before. I still suppose that people who have visited in Asia before will also discover a lot of new things, because it is totally different to live in Asia than only travel there for a while. You will see the country in a much more local way than normal tourists and you will also see the problems of the area more clearly, not only the paradise side of things.
Have you discovered new things/learned something new about yourself?
I discovered and learned a lot about myself, and that was perhaps the greatest thing I got from my exchange. I realized that I can live, study and succeed also on the other side of the world. I also learned that problems will always exist;paradises won`t make you happy. Happiness comes mostly from inside you – though sun and beaches dohelp a lot.
Where have you been traveling during your exchange? Which places have you visited?
Before the semester began, I travelled two weeks in Thailand. Places I visited were Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Phi Phi -Island and finally Phuket. During my studying period I was again at Phi Phi -Island and made a trip to Krabi and a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After my studies I travelled to Singapore and Bali, Indonesia.
Why do you think Asia is suitable for studying abroad?
Asia is suitable for studying abroad because it`s a politically and economically growing area, it`s possible to use English whenstudying and it`s possible to combine travelling and holiday with your studies. Asia enables youto get to know and live in a totally different culture.
Why do you prefer doing an exchange to backpacking in Asia?
Backpacking is a great way to get to know Asia, but it`s still not the same as exchange or working in Asia. Exchange makes possible to get to know better to the local life and local people, do exactly the same things local people are doing and live as a part of their normal life. Still exchange makes possible to travel and backpack, so taking part to the exchange makes possible to combine many things and takes you deeper in Asian life.
Does your home university accept the credits you get abroad?
Yes, my home university accepted all the credits I got abroad. Though there wasn`t that many courses that I could have chosen, due to the fact that I study law in Finland and PSU is totally different from that.
Did you get some funding for your studies? If yes, what?
Yes, I got a scholarship from my university.
Tell us your slogan of your exchange period!
This is the time of my life!
Would you recommend this study program to other students?
Yes, I could recommend this study program to other students, because it gives opportunities to get to know Asia, live local life in Asia, get to know many new people, speak English and also travel at the same time.
What are your greetings to Asia Exchange?
You`re doing important and great work, because Asia will be amore and more important area in the future and there are not that manyopportunities to do exchanges at Asia through other channels.Keep it up.
What would you like to tell people that are planning to do an exchange?
I would like to tell that the exchange was the best time of my life. I have never got that manynew experiences, new friends and learned that much about myself. If you have any kind of apossibility to leave, do it. Just take an open mind with you and enjoy every moment, it’s over before you even notice.