A tough spring but a rewarding summer – A double degree student’s experience with Learning Lab at TAMK
It wasn't the nicest weather when the Chinese double degree students came to Finland and began their studies at TAMK. They arrived in January, one of the darkest and coldest months. Most of the students had challenges in terms of language barriers, cultural differences, and even managing their daily lives. '
Just when the students tried to adapt to life in Finland, the pandemic hit and they had to move their studies online. Chengji Yang, a double degree student in Bioproduct and Process Engineering, told us that he was looking forward to the sunny and warm summer after such a tough spring.
At the end of the spring semester, Chengji found something interesting for the summer:
– Learning Lab caught my attention, so I decided to participate. I was hoping to improve my language skills and working life skills and have a taste of real working life in a multicultural environment. I have never heard of activities like this in China, so I was excited to make the most of this summer by challenging myself with Learning Lab.
In Learning Lab, interdisciplinary teams develop prototypes or fully finished products or services. Students and other professionals, with expertise for example from engineering, design, journalism, production, computer sciences, social sciences, sales and marketing, hospitality management, education and health and well-being, as well as other fields of expertise, are working together.
This year’s Learning Lab was a bit different as it was held online. Chengji expressed how embarrassed he was when no one said anything during the first online team meeting. But he soon realized that he should step out of his comfort zone and try to improve the situation by starting to talking to his team members and getting to know them.
– It was uncomfortable talking to strangers online but the situation got better after a while.
For a month, he worked office hours and dealt with people from different backgrounds. He worked at the back office, providing support for and coordinating with different teams.
– It was really interesting to work with people of different ages, disciplines and cultures. Working with them makes me realise that I had so much to improve!
The biggest challenge, according to Chengji, was that he was responsible for organising a section of a team day on wellbeing. Organising events was a new thing for him and he was nervous. Thanks to the support from his team, he worked hard and held a successful meeting. Moreover, he presented in front of over 50 people!
– It is hard to describe how I felt when I got positive feedback from my team. It was a success and I cannot believe I was able to talk in front of so many people. I don’t think I will be afraid of public speech or class presentations anymore.
Chengji highly recommends Learning Lab as it provided him with the real work experience in an international environment. It also helped him overcome his fear of talking to strangers and public speaking.
– I appreciate the opportunity of studying at TAMK. The double degree programme offers me a new world to explore and I cannot wait to have more exciting experiences in Finland.
Speaking of the future, Chengji is interested in applying for a master’s degree in Finland when he finishes his studies at TAMK and his home university, Qilu University of Technology.
– Studying abroad is fun but challenging. I try to enjoy the challenges that come along, from taking care of yourself in everyday situations to dealing with conflicts, problems and other impossibilities.
Written by Stella Xu