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Exploring Creativity and Culture: Honoka’s Journey

As a first-year student at Häme University of Applied Sciences, Honoka Naka has embarked on a fascinating journey studying Smart and Sustainable Design bachelor’s programme in autumn 2022. Living in Hämeenlinna has allowed her to explore Finnish culture deeply, from the snowy landscapes to the vibrant Christmas markets in Tampere, which she fondly recalls as her favorite Finnish experience.

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Watch Honoka’s interview in Japanese – ほのかのインタビューを日本語で見る

Studying ceramics

At HAMK, her days are filled with creativity and learning, often stretching from early morning classes to late nights in the ceramic studio. “This is a ceramic studio. I’m a student of ceramics and glass, so I’m here every day after school and when I have time, I make ceramic pieces,” Honoka shares, highlighting her dedication to her craft.

Through her practical projects, Honoka not only hones her design skills but also connects with her heritage, creating pieces that reflect her Japanese background and her fascination with Finnish design. “My customer was my grandmother, and my grandmother wanted a Finnish-style aurora design, so I drew an aurora on this plate and a silhouette of Santa Claus Village,” she recounts, illustrating the personal touch she brings to her work.

Honoka showing her glass work, which she has made during her practical projects in her first year studies.
Another Honoka’s first-year work piece

Joining HAMK’s International Friendship Program has been a highlight for Honoka, offering her the chance to forge new friendships and immerse herself in the local culture further. Her experiences reflect a journey of adaptation, learning, and joy. “I feel like I’m having a lot of experiences that I can’t do in Japan, and I’m having fun with my Finnish friends,” she says, capturing the essence of her study abroad experience.

Finnish life – Interesting and different

Honoka’s transition to Finnish life has been a blend of new culinary adventures and embracing the cold, Finnish winters with essential gear like down jackets and knit hats. “Finland has a lot of snow, so it’s quite different from my city. However, if you prepare essential items such as a down jacket and a knit hat in advance, it will be enough,” she explains.

Adding more to Honoka Naka’s journey at HAMK, she also shares insights into Finnish cuisine, contrasting it with the flavors of her home country. “I think the biggest difference is the amount of seasoning used. I feel that Finnish cuisine is often simpler than Japanese cuisine,” she observes. Despite the differences, Honoka embraces this aspect of Finnish culture, experimenting with local dishes while also finding comfort in making Japanese food at home, sourcing ingredients like rice and soy sauce to stay connected to her roots.

Safety in Finland is another aspect that Honoka appreciates deeply, highlighting the country’s security and the supportive academic environment at HAMK. “Yes, I think Finland is a very safe country. I have never had my valuables taken away,” she notes, appreciating the availability of guidance and counseling services. This sense of security and support has been instrumental in her adaptation and has allowed her to focus on her studies and personal growth.