A City in the Countryside – Oita, Japan

When we landed in Oita Airport, I was too tired to even keep my eyes open, but I was still so fascinated by all the blossoming cherry trees and beautiful mountains. Everything was new and beautiful. I am glad that even after living there for a semester I still see the same beauty in the surrounding nature and cozy houses by the rice fields.

We settled down in a dormitory building near our campus, where other international students greeted us, showed the place and gave us free bikes to use for the whole semester! They helped us get started and we biked to some stores together, where we needed help with the language. I did not know any Japanese going there and studied mostly the language all semester.

During the studies we learned Japanese at an insane speed and went through the whole Genki 1 book. In addition to language studies, in one course we got insight on the problems and beauty of the culture, society and history of Japan. Maybe the most interesting part was to gain awareness of the reasons why Japan is the way it is, what causes the inequality and working culture problems. Oita University however was not interculturally very prepared and did not have clubs or weekly activities for English speaking people, which was a disappointment.

We made multiple road trips to Kunisaki, which a 1-hour travel from Oita. Kunisaki has very interesting spiritual and religious history as well as beautiful nature. In Kunisaki we joined a rice festival, connected with the locals, tried zazen meditation in a temple and heard a piece of history from the resident minister of the temple. We also saw multiple beautiful shrines and next to temples you could sometimes find “ojizosan”, little buddha statues.

 

After we were done with school, I travelled throughout Japan with my friend. First, we flew to Tokyo and started slowly traveling downwards from there by train, sleeping in Airbnb or hotels on the way. From Tokyo we went to Nagoya, where we visited some local tourist attractions and I finally bought a phone with a proper camera. From Nagoya we headed to Kyoto, which was stunning with its nature and old architecture. Kyoto was one of my favorite places I visited while in Japan. Next stop was Osaka, which was right next door and after staying there a few nights we went to Hiroshima for a little bit longer time. Hiroshima was another of my favorites, maybe because of how good accommodation we got! Then it was time to go back to Oita and pack our bags to head to Finland.

Overall the exchange was great. There were many happy moments and many disappointing moments, but it is all part of the experience. I have much better understanding of Japanese culture and people, and I have more perspective to life in general through this intercultural experience.

Kia Ora from New Zealand!

I started my practical training in Wellington, New Zealand in June and the training period lasts for 6 months. I am a fourth-year student and I am studying to be a Bachelor of Social Services, so I am planning to graduate this Christmas. My training placement is called Wellington East Girls’ College and I am an intern in Supported Learning class.

As an intern I am doing the same things as the teacher’s aids in the class. I support the students in their studies both in our own classes and also in mainstream classes, such as Future Pathways, Music and Arts. We also have couple of classes for supported students only, such as Life Skills and Colours of Sexuality. In addition, there are different kinds of therapies for the students in our class, for example Speech and Language therapy, Occupational therapy, Music therapy and RDA – Riding for Disabled.

I would not say that being a teacher’s aid in our class is a same thing that it would be in mainstream classes. It is really challenging, and I can definitely say that my education in Social Services has been a good help for me. In a class of 15 students with mental disabilities every day is different and you can never know when someone has a meltdown or when you have to act as a referee in a fight.

The working culture here is quite the same but quite different comparing to Finnish working culture. People are much more relaxed about things in general even though the rules do not always seem like that. For example, people might take sick leaves from work more easily (sometimes when they are not even sick) and a 30-minute lunch break might be 5 minutes or one hour, depending how the day is going. Lot of things are also just talked through, and many things people should know are not written down anywhere. This sometimes leads to me going to some events in two minutes warning and people forgetting things.

During my spare time I try to relax as much as possible. I also have two holidays during my training period. The first one I spent in South Island. The other holiday I am going to spend in Australia. During weekend I have also made smaller trips to closer towns here in North Island. During mid-summer (mid-winter here) I hiked on a small mountain. I will attach more photos below to show different places.

Dreams do come true!

Hello from Malta! 

My internship lasted almost four months. When I came here, I had no idea what is it really like working as a receptionist. The beginning was super intense, because there was a lot to learn. Reception duties are pretty easy, but there is just so much to remember. All the things, tasks and machines were new to me and it was my first time working overseas so the beginning was honestly pretty crazy. Although after a while everything gets easier when you remember what to do. The tricky part of being a receptionist is that you are the face of everything. No matter if you would do your job perfectly, you are the one people complain if something is wrong. That was actually a big part of my job: past things to different departments. Sound easy? Yeah, maybe, but before it gets easy, you have to remember all the different departments and their tasks and even the names of the people who work in all those different departments. For example in my work place we had leisure activities, lounge bar, which is our restaurant, IT-office, bookings department, accounts department, education etc..

I carried out several different duties, but mainly answering phone, dealing with clients queries, dealing with arrivals and departures, entering bookings in the system for online reservations, collecting direct payments for accommodation, excursions and lessons and so much more. As a receptionist in a language school you work with student in all of the ages and from all around the world. You have to have a lot of common sense, act fast and be ready to answer for the most different kinds of questions at any point of your shift. I know all this sounds like it was crazy and super busy, and most of the time it really was, but I still loved every second of it. It was the best kind of job for me, especially at this time of my life.

My summer squat ❤️

What it comes to my free time in Malta, it would not be nothing without my co-workers and students who became friends. I was never alone, it even came to that point that I couldn’t be alone because I didn’t know how. I was so happy and grateful to meet all those people who I can now call one of my best friends. So, what did we do in our spare time? We went sightseeing all around Malta: new cities, beaches, churches, restaurants. We partied a lot and just hang out basically everyday. We did everything together. Down below you can see few of my favorite go to places.

   

Eeetwell was one of the places I went to eat or at least crap a smoothie every other day. Easy and healthy 😉

You can find few eeetwell’s around Malta.

💚💚💚

My favorite (and probably most common places to visit in Malta) cities in Malta where Mdina and Valletta. Mdina is so cute, little and pretty. Valletta, the capital city of Malta is also a must to visit.

Malta’s longest beach is Mellieha Bay. You can easily spend your whole day there because there is also restaurants and bars around the beach.

Malta also has two islands very close by, Cozo and Comino. Both worth to go! In Comino you will find a beautiful Blue Lagoon.

My favorite church is for sure St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina. Breathtaking!

After spending four months in Malta, it started to feel like home. This summer was full of the most beautiful moments in my life which I would not change for anything!

This last picture is from Golden Bay, where you can see the sunset in a whole new way 💛

Pictures speak better than words but if you have any questions about my summer, my internship or Sprachcaffe in general, feel free to contact me, I would love to tell you more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m in love with The Hague

I really had the best time of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. Everyone should do exchange period!

I spent my August 2018 – January 2019 in The Hague The Netherlands. There are about 500 000 inhibits and it’s an hour’s train ride away from Amsterdam. I really loved the city and there were not so many tourists as Amsterdam has.

I studied in The Hague University of Applied sciences where my specialization was International Business. You could choose one 15 ects minor, I chose Human Resource Management. In addition that I had for example Business English Communication and International Business Law courses. The best thing about my studies were HRM courses. I learned so much! Teachers were all very motivated and inspiring and classes were well planned. I also think student respected teachers more which was nice. A lot of the studies were something I wouldn’t have had a chance to learn in TAMK so I was very happy with my curriculum.

I lived next to the school in this big building in 21st floor and had amazing view of The Hague from my window . I had my own room but shared the rest of the apartment with three others, two boys and one girl. They were also exchange students. We became a one big happy family and spent a lot of time together. Our friends often came to our apartment and we had movie nights, cooked together, sang singstar, talked, drank and partied and played a lot of Uno. So many happy memories. After Erasmus our group has stayed close and we even had our first reunion already!

 

During my free time I traveled to many other Dutch cities as it was very easy by train. I also visited Vienna (where I had two of my friends from TAMK doing their exchange), London and three Belgium cities.

I really had the best time of my life, in school and in the free time. More of my thoughts can be found from SoleMove feedback section and don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to know more. I can warmly recommend The Hague and all Erasmus experience.

Auf Wiedersehen Wien

Vienna, Austria was absolutely amazing. The land of classical music, äpfelstrudel and Sacher-torte.

I arrived to Vienna in the end of August and I left the city in the end of January. The experience was unbelievable. I can highly recommend the city and the country for a exchange, if you don’t want have big cultur shock. want to learn german and see beautiful places. Vienna was my number one choice when applying for exchange so it was like a dream come true.

I studied at a local business school called FHWien of WKW. Teachers were kind and professional and they understand that we were exchange students. I had teachers from around the world, from Australia etc.

I had seven different courses during my exchanges. For example Austrian culture, German language, HR-Management, Cross-Cultural Management and Communication Psychology. I think the courses very interesting and useful. Timing of the lectures changed every time in every week and sometimes I had only like two schooldays in a week. So I had a lot of spare time.

In my spare time, I traveled a lot. I visited seven different countries during my exchange, In Italy, Slovenia, Poland etc. Travelling there was very cheap and easy.

Greetings from the sparkling city of Kuala Lumpur!

This is my first time in Asia, so there is so much to discover here! Many exchange students were able to fix their timetables so that there would not be classes on fridays, which gives us one extra day to travel around. Otherwise I have classes from oenology to revenue management and even a course for holistic health and wellness. In my perspective, it seems like a very interesting catalogue of courses.

In Finland we are more focused on restaurant business in our studies while in Malaysia we will learn more about the international hospitality industry. This exchange period is probably going to be very useful for our future careers as we get to widen our knowledge from different viewpoints as well. Also, travelling in Asia and getting to know local cultures would serve us well when communicating with tourists in Finland – or wherever in the world, too.

Spare time in Malaysia is full of activities. There are fancy rooftop bars, swimming pools and numerous destinations to travel for either a cultural trip or a holiday on the beach.

Last weekend we visited Penang – a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since 2008, which is full of culture and natural scenery. For example, you can take a hike in the national park and visit monkey and turtle beaches by boat.

Penang is also known for its street food, combining Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines. Food in Malaysia is overall very delicious and offers many options for everyone! Also, the variety of street art found all over George Town makes the destination enjoyable for any art lover.

Looking forward to the next trip, lovely warm nights outside and many new local dishes to taste.

-Laura

Greetings from Antwerp!

Hello!

My Antwerp journey started in the last weeks of January 2019, and my exchange is about 5 month long. My expectations from Antwerp were little, since I knew nothing about this city nor Belgium as a country. I was very pleasantly surprised on how nice people are on the streets, and how in a way everything is kinda similar compared to Finland. My school here is AP university, which actually is a bit tougher than I anticipated. We have a lot of work. A lot. Gladly they are done in teams, which takes the load off my back a bit. Even though the studies are tough, I’ve enjoyed the vast selection of very very very good beers.

On my spare time we hangout with other exchange students, usually in bars, go out, do sports and just stroll around the city. I would say one can’t experience Antwerp only during a holiday. The real thing is to live here to actually and truly experience it.

Our exchange student organisation is gladly hosting different kinds of events, ranging from museum visits to pub crawls. I can’t tell much of the museum meets, but the pub crawls were fun! They also hosted a beer pong tournament which me and my team almost won. 😉

If you ever want to visit a very nice city with lovely street architecture and good vibes, you need to come to Antwerp.

city centre

Greetings from Dogmandu

 

My 2,5 month internship period in Kathmandu is halfway through. So I guess it’s time to put my digital postcard out there.

I am working in a documentary production company. Our main focus is to make short promotional documentaries for different kind of social businesses around Nepal. I’ve enjoyed working here, because I’ve had a chance to do many different things. For the most part, I’m doing cinematography tho.

On my free time I usually go wander around places. Skateboarding around streets is pretty fun, because there isn’t that many skateboarders here and I bet they don’t see white scandinavian boi skating in the traffic too often. If there’s no filming trip scheduled for weekend, I have time to go visit other places. I’ve spent two weekends in the tourist area Thamel. Next weekend I am gonna go for a quick one day hike with my co-workers.

Working in this company has been quite different than what I’ve used to. It’s quite a new company, and the people in it are self-educated. We have a very fast and efficient way of working, but that also has a downside; we don’t plan things too much. We just go and do, and try to learn from mistakes. For me it’s sometimes frustrating, because some of the things could’ve been so much easier if they were planned better, but at the same time I’ve enjoyed this way of working. Not worrying too much, just going for it.

It’s been great times here and at this point I’m pretty well settled here, so I’m just gonna enjoy the rest of the time and try to learn and challenge myself as much as possible.

 

After my internship period I’m gonna go for a little Annapurna basecamp hike and after that spend another month somewhere else before heading back to Finland. I’m excited about rest of the internship and my near-future travels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

γεια σας κι γεια μας 

I went on exchange to Cyprus and studied the field of business administration in University of Nicosia. The experience was very pleasant overall. Teachers were mostly very expressive and passionate about their own subjects. The atmosphere was quite chill but students were expected to actively take part in the lectures. I studied two language courses and two management courses and I found that in Cyprus solo work is more common than group projects. In one of the management courses we had to do two case studies and presentations in small groups while in the other one all the work was done solo apart from some in-class discussions. 

Pic#1: Nicosia.                                                                    Pic#2: Nicosia at sunrise.

University of Nicosia was in general way easier than Tampere University of Applied Sciences is. I and another Finnish student scored straight A’s with ease while in Finland neither of us does. However for local students and some exchange students from other countries the exams didn’t seem to be that easy. Often the exam questions would have answers straight from the study material written in the same exact words and we didn’t need to apply the information into practice in any way.  

 

Pic#3: Buffavento Castle, North Cyprus.                  Pic#4: Golden Beach, North Cyprus.

I mostly spent my spare time with other exchange students. There was an organization called Erasmus Society Nicosia (not to be confused with the official ESN) which arranged lots of events for Erasmus students every week, so many of us got together in the evenings, usually multiple times a week. We travelled around both Greek and Turkish Cyprus and the adjacent countries such as Jordan, Israel and Greece. We visited all the cities in Cyprus such as Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos multiple times. We also spent a lot of time sunbathing on the beautiful beaches of Ayia Napa.

 

Pic#5: Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa. Pic#6: Ayia Napa Sea Caves.

Going on exchange to Cyprus was the best decision I have ever made and I strongly recommend choosing Nicosia as one’s exchange destination.

Far, far away

Time here has passed faster than I could have imagined, even though I had very high expectations. I’m studying at the Seoul National University of Science & Technology and the semester is coming to an end. The studies have moved on with good pace, but stressful during the exam periods. For every course there is a high attendance percentage mandatory, what firstly was a shock. At the beginning it was hard to get enrolled for
the courses, but after the beginning things have been moving on well. Every professor of every course speaks good English and the teaching has been good.

Picture 1. Gyeongbokgung Palace’s gate

My time here has been a great combination of studying and traveling the city. Living at the campus is a dream for a student. It is so easy to just get down stairs and walk for five minutes (maximum) to the lecture. The facilities are great too. At the first floor is a cafeteria, a convenience store, a gym and a coffee shop where you can hang out. The campus is located relatively far away from the city center, but with such a good metro system it is no problem to just hop on a train and travel anywhere in the city before you know it.

Picture 2. Han river at night.

There are so many great traditional palaces as there are modern buildings. I have seen lots of things in one semester, since almost every week we have discovered something new from this city with friends. Personally, it was really easy to adapt to the life here in Korea. In here one might feel like been followed, because of the camera surveillance, but most definitely this is a safe place to live in. This city is exciting and full of adventures. I’m going to miss Seoul.

June 14, 2019. Seoul, South-Korea.