Yearly Archives


Why I returned to school.

Commentary, Finnish Education

Education has always been important to me.

So today I’d decided to blog a post about my decision to pursue a masters in PR in Finland, to let you understand the thought process behind this decision.

It’s obviously not a decision that comes cheap. Let me do a brief cost-benefit analysis for you:

For a year in Finland (My Course is 2 years)

  • Tuition fees– 8,000 Euros.
  • Yearly Rent– 6,000 Euros (500 Euros X 12)
  • Food– 2400 Euros (Est. 200 Euros a month)
  • Transport–2400 Euros (Est. 200 Euros a month)
  • Air tix– 1300SGD
  • Clothes– 1000 Euros

Total– 20,000 Euros (Approx)/year.

So YEA. with 20,000 euros a year, you don’t take this type of sum lightly unless you are still leeching on your parents.

And, guess what? There is a chance that after graduation, I’d be structurally unemployed if I do come back to Singapore. Here’s why:

  • Singapore, being a small and open economy, relies heavily on human resources. Our comparative advantage is precisely in labour, and it’s imperative to keep the price of labour, aka wages, low;
  • This implies that if a PR firm could make-do with young PR diploma holders, they will. Couple that with super duper long working hours and you get my drift;
  • It seems that in Singapore, companies would rather hire two young PR holders than 1 experienced, highly educated one. I guess it’s still the idea that quantity outweighs quality, and afterall if you hire one person, it’s definitely riskier than hiring two.

So I kinda have to shut off my option of returning to Singapore immediately after graduation because if I go the conventional route of returning home, I’d almost certainly be unemployed.

Then what are the benefits? Why do I pursue and insist on higher education?

First and foremost, thank GOD I got the Aalto scholarship to cover my tuition fees. That’s at least 8000Euros off, and leaves me with 12000 Euros deficit. 😛

Next of course, Finland is the utmost place for any learner. It’s ranked No. 1 in the world for education, and I want an education at the best institution in the world. I want to hone my skill sets and train my precision in thinking.

Also, I find it a privilege to do PR because I’d always wanted to see how companies maintain a good image against crisis. I want to study how they scam, cheat, lie, cover-up, as well as how they contribute back to society, cut prices, innovate and embark on R&D. I’m an Econs major at NUS and I’m really excited to be studying PR, something that is perhaps more practical and down-to-Earth.

Is this worth 12,000Euros–you might ask? 12,000 Euros of expenditure, while potentially not being able to work in Finland because I cannot speak Finnish.

Actually, the truth is, I don’t know. The fact is that I never really thought of not travelling while I’m still young. Moving around, travelling, flying abroad– it has all been rather natural to me.

So I guess ultimately, the question morphs into– “If not now, when?” Doing a graduate degree perhaps, is a choice to be made when you’re still young, with low opportunity costs, and nothing much to lose.

I’m glad to have supportive families, relatives and friends too. And I’d study Finnish really hard there so that I can work there after graduation :).

How about you? Are you thinking of going overseas to study today?

Just go. I’d give you all my blessings and support.

One of the greatest meanings to life is to explore places and cultures, after all.

♥Hyvää Yötä Ja Huomenta♥

Finnish Culture

This is one of my favorite Finnish songs. Enjoy!!~

♥ Translation ♥

Stay for tonight; It seems like something is keeping you here
– bulletproof hearts are yet to be invented.

If you are carrying the biggest dream with you
Only this moment remains
And only what you do now is important

Good night and good morning now
Later, you’ll have the time to sleep
The hours, 24 of them are wishing you lots of luck

Good night good morning, now
Just don’t give up, not just yet
Everything does have its price ; But nothing is yet impossible

You know when they say,
“no, you cannot bring back the past” or “it is not worth it”
“to lie in the ground”; “waiting for the coming?”

If there’s someone you whom you really care for
Well, hang on to them
Just don’t listen to those cynics, no

Bulletproof hearts are yet to be invented
Doesn’t make sense being afraid of a shot
For loneliness will carve the same hole in you

Modified from Source

Lunch with Juha!~

Finland Wedding, Finnish People

The Hieno! did an interview with Juha Sompinmäki, a distinguished Finnish photographer, currently operating his wedding photography business in Singapore.


Juha Sompinmäki is an international wedding photographer based in Singapore. He is known for beautiful documentary style actual day wedding photography. Do visit his website and amazing porfolio at .

Enjoy the Interview!~ TH represents The Hieno! and JS represents Juha:


TH: Hi Juha! Thank you for accepting this interview with The Hieno!

JS: Thank you for featuring me. I’ve been following The Hieno for a while now and happy to be part of it.

TH: You are such an awesome photographer, and we love your works! Tell us, why do you choose Singapore to set up your photography business?

juha blush

JS: Luckily online nobody can see that I might be blushing for all the praise here!

Due to a string of events back in Finland, I decided to relocate at the end of 2011 and explored various options.

Singapore had been at the back of my mind already since 2007 when I first visited. Of course in 2007 relocation was not on my mind, but when the opportunity came, I thought “why not”.

I had a few good friends already in Singapore, so that made the decision a little easier as well. From a business point of view, I have to say I like the compactness of Singapore. There is roughly the same number of people as in whole of Finland, but they are all located in one city.


TH: What do you think distinguishes your work from other photographers in Singapore?

JS: When one is hiring a photographer, you are not hiring a person with a camera, but a person who has a vision.

I would also say that it is all your past that contributes to your photography style and as I’ve lived most of my life outside Singapore, I’m sure it affects my perception and approach to any given situation.

And I guess my education plays a role as well; I graduated with masters degree in arts and media-culture, so that gives me a certain edge to produce compelling images as well.


TH: Do you think being a Finn gives you a unique perspective in photography?

JS: Oh definitely. When your background is from another culture, you can’t really avoid the fact that you see things in different fashion.

Often, I’m fascinated by something that would appear very common and ordinary to a local photographer. Then I just need to convince my clients that the images will look cool even if they don’t see my point at the time of shooting.


TH: So why wedding photography?

JS: Wedding photography is my first love since that is how I started doing photography professionally.

wedding ring

Over the years other stuff came along such as advertising and corporate photography, but i still do a good number of wedding shoots. I would say that wedding photography is the most demanding form of photography there is. Specifically, when you are shooting 12-16 hours straight in documentary style. It is physically very demanding, but mentally even more.

I recently visited two local wedding fairs to get a better idea about the wedding market in Singapore. I noticed that most of my competitors are offering the pre-wedding shoots and not that many do actual day photography.

My speciality lies with the documentary style actual day photography. I follow the bride and groom and document their wedding day so that it creates a story. This is how I’ve always shot weddings and my clients seem to love it.


TH: What has been your best experience so far working with Singaporean clients?

JS: I can’t really tell what is the best experience, but i really enjoy the mix of cultures and traditions in Singapore. I’m always looking for something new with my photography so this fits well with the idea of Singapore being so mixed.

TH: Are there any quirks in Singaporean culture which you would like to highlight?

JS: I think it would be safe to say that weddings in Singapore are totally different from the weddings in Finland.

Finnish people are very DIY when it comes to weddings and Singaporeans generally tend to do weddings in more professional manner and engage with different vendors. You might find is somewhat surprising, but I think in general there are quite a bit of similarities in Singaporean and Finnish societies.

People like when things run smoothly and they are not overly expressive in their daily lives.


TH: Show us your top three favorite scenes in portfolio of wedding photography, and tell us why they are your favorites!

JS: I was worried you might ask something like this. It is so difficult to choose some favourites.


Most wedding couples are fairly traditional when it comes to their “official” portraits, but Johanna & Joona were the exception to the rule. I remember carefully asking them if we could do something “different” with the portraits, and i was thrilled to hear they liked my idea of shooting in an abandoned factory. It was freezing cold but we managed to do a series of very cool shots.


I totally love this shot because it was literally the last 2 minutes of their wedding. The couple were already leaving the party but i asked if i could “steal” them for a short while before they go. I knew the couple were flying off for their honeymoon on the next morning and wanted to get a bit of sleep before that. I had everything set up in advance so this was actually taken on their way back to the hotel that was just across the street.


The last image is one of those late night party pictures. I like the image because there is much going on and the moment is absolutely real, no awkward posing. Usually it takes a drink or two to get people in the party mood and you can be sure that I’m there to capture it all. These kind of images bring the memories back for the bride and groom.

TH: What do you think is the most important element of keeping the spark in a marriage?

JS: I’m not married myself so i cant speak from personal experience. But two things come to mind.

Firstly, one should not take each other granted.

And secondly, maybe it might be a good idea to remind yourself from time to time why you fell in love in the first place.

TH: Thank you for your time, Juha!

(Updated 18 May) My favorite picture is actually this:


Can you tell why? 😉