Γειά σας! – Greetings from Greece!

I am doing my internship in Rhodes Island, Greece. Rhodes is such a beautiful island and I have fallen in love with it. There are so many historical places to see here and truly amazing beaches. Now in the middle of summer the weather is unbelievably hot. Almost +40 degrees in the shadow during the day. And everyone says it will be even hotter in August! It has been quite difficult for me to get used to this kind of weather but I am doing it somehow. Luckily, we have air conditioners in our office and our apartment, because without it, the weather would be unbearable.

I have enjoyed working here even though it hasn’t been quite what I expected. Although, I have already learned so much and will learn even more before this internship is complete. At first my work was mostly picking up students from the airport and taking them to their hotels where they started working. It really didn’t seem like my work had anything to do with marketing or human resources (that’s what I was supposed to be doing). However, I soon started to other things while I was taking the students to their hotels. For example, I met with the hotel managers and talked to them about co-operation with our company. I also created all the necessary documents for the students and went to different Government offices to get them approved. Now I find the work really interesting and versatile which is very good because I am learning something every day and now my work is actually related to my studies.

I have had a lot of spare time here. I thought I was going to work 6 days per week here but it turned out that I only work for five days per week. So, every week I have two whole days to visit different places. Mostly in my spare time I go to the nearest beach and just relax. Sometimes I visit other places like the city of Rhodes, Lindos or the other islands nearby. I live in such a small village and there really isn’t much to do here. Luckily, it’s easy to go around the island by bus or boats. I have been in some cruises here too and I truly enjoy them. But during this month I haven’t visited many places because it’s so hot here that even the idea of walking around the cities makes me sweat. So basically, I just spend my days off at the beach. Luckily, the water is still quite cold so it’s perfect for swimming and cooling down on a hot day.

It was a little bit of a shock for me when I started working here. I noticed that companies are not so organized here and they have serious communication issues. First it seemed like no one knew who was really in charge and people gave different orders and tasks for me. Some days in the office were really quiet and I had only a few tasks but then there were days when they gave me too many tasks to do and it was in no way possible for me to do all of them on time.

Also, Greeks have a really bad temper, it took time for me to get used to the fact that if things didn’t go how they wanted, they got angry and started yelling at each other. Here it’s normal to show emotions and express them however you like but in Finland people are shy and mostly keep their feelings to themselves. That’s why it was quite shocking at first that people are so open and emotional here but I have gotten used to it by now and started to be more open myself.

Greetings from Hatfield

I started my internship 14th of May in Mercure Hatfield Oak hotel in Hatfield, UK. I work in Food&Beverage Team, so basically I work as a waitress in the hotel’s restaurant and bar. Very often we also have some occasions which are in the hotel like weddings or anniversaries.

Mercure Hatfield Oak Hotel

Sometimes the work is very hard and stressful. English is not my native language, so at the beginning I was very tired after work, because there were so many new things to learn, new people and most of all that I have to speak English all the time.

Most of my workmates are also young people and students, so I have lot’s of common with them and we have a great atmosphere. I am not the only foreigner working here, we have people for example from France, India, Pakistan, Romania and Brazil, so we all have problems with English sometimes.

In the morning shift I serve breakfast for customers. We have a breakfast buffet, so what I have to do, is keep an eye on everything. There need to be enough food and coffee all the time and the tables need to be clean. After breakfast, staff is allowed to eat what is left for breakfast. After my first week here, I haven´t eaten any bacon…

After breakfast we clean the restaurant and set it up ready for dinner or if there is some lunch meeting, then we set up ready for lunch.

In the evening shift my main job is usually serve to tables in the restaurant for customers. Sometimes when it is busy, I might also work in the bar. Restaurant opens 6:30pm but the kitchen is open for hole day until 9:15pm. After that we need to clean the restaurant, set up the tables for breakfast and polish the cutlery.

 

Hatfield locates 32 kilometres north from London, in Hertfordshire. There are approximately 40000 habitans. I live in Staff house with four other students, whom all are doing their internship in Mercure Hatfield.

Hatfield House
Staff house

When I am off to work I like to walk in town and very often I go also for running. I have been in London few times during my placement here, because it is so easy to go there by train. I also spend my time with my housemates, most of all with my roommate Deby, who is from Brazil. Sometimes we cook together or go out to eat or just spend time outside the house, because we have a lovely backyard. Sometimes I also go to pub with my workmates from the hotel.

Harry Potter studios in Leavesden
Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station
My roommate Deby and me

Life in England is a quite different than in Finland. Traffic was my first problem here, when I came. When I arrived to Hatfield, I took a taxi to take me to hotel, where I was supposed to meet my supervisor. When the taxi came, I accidentally open the drivers door thinking that it is the passenger seat. The taxi driver gave me a very weird look, and I apologized and told that we have a different side of traffic in Finland. But after that I did that same mistake many times. Maybe after a month I finally learn how the traffic works.

Even thought people are more open-minded here and they have the small talk but in traffic they are not very polite. If you are about to cross the road and there is the pedestrian crossing  cars won’t stop. Actually, it feels that they even make more speed when they see pedestrian waiting.

Alcohol law is also very different here than in Finland. Just before I came here, I studied alcohol law in Finland. When working, chefs are allowed to drink. They can ask you or even for the supervisor to bring a beer for them. If the evening shift last until midnight, our supervisor might offer us drinks in the hotel’s bar and then he will drop us all to our houses.

You can buy strong spirits in supermarkets and there are no time limits when you can buy alcohol. I found out that, when I went out first time with my workmates. The pub closed 12pm and after that we went to the petrol station to buy some more drinks. When you buy alcohol shop assistant should ask your ID if you look like under 25 years but very often they don’t do that. Alcohol is also a bit cheaper here than in Finland.

In Finland, I separate all my wastes. Cartoon, paper, plastic, bio waste, glass, metal.. In the hotel they don’t separate that much and I think that also in general they put all the wastes to the same bin. After a month of my staying here they finally bring another bin for food waste to our kitchen in the hotel.

In London, all the tourist places are very clean, but in Hatfield there are lot’s of waste in streets. Lot more than in Finland. In my opinion because we recycle all the bottles we have less waste in nature but in here they don’t have that same system which cause a lot’s of waste.

I have enjoyed my time here and I have met so many amazing people so it’s gonna be hard to say goodbye to all of them in two weeks. But I am also ready to go back home to see my family and friends and most of all that I can eat Finnish foods.

Love, Maria

Business in Japan

Japan is a country very different from Denmark and Finland.
I have been here in Tokyo for 2.5 months so far and it has been a crazy experience!
Currently I am doing my internship as a sales intern at a start up coming called
Beyond Borders, which is a company that deals in real estate and it has been
the busiest time of my life. The company growing fast and we recently moved
to a new office so.. YAY!

Anyway.. As a sales intern, I am not really an intern but actually function as a full-time employee. I work as long hours as the full-timers, I have the same responsibilities and I am in charge of managing a huge amount of customers.
So how long is a general working day for me? Well, first of all I get up 7.30 in the morning and make it to work by 9AM (There is a 30 minute walk to the office, so need to get up well in time for breakfast), I then work until 1 o’clock and have around 1 hour for my lunchbreak and finally I end work at 6PM.

With that said, there is a lot of Zangyo and my longest day has been a whopping 12 hours!
Of course, in Japan there is also time for fun and that’s where nomkai comes into play.

Nomikai is a sort of drinking party together with your boss and co-workers and it is an
incredibly good time for bonding and just overall having fun and relaxing a bit more than
the somewhat tense atmoshphere that can sometimes be at a serious day at the office!

When I have a day off and actually have time to do something other than work and visa related things, I tend to spend it on exploring Tokyo. So far I have walked aroudn most of Shibuya and Shinjuku and have also been to various other areas due to the nature of my job.

Japan is an amazingly beautiful country with many shrines and a great view at night (Sorry I don’t have any night life photos of the city), but I promise it’s great!

Finally, as I worked in Finland last year I guess I have some experience to compare the two working cultures.
As I’ve already mentioned working in Japan is a lot tougher due to the many extra hours of work, possible overtime (which often is the case in this business) and  a stronger social hierachy.

While this company is a start-up, they are not exactly your traditional Japanese company, but still has some traits of traditional Japanese working life.

Overall, I have loved this experience so far and I definitely recommend trying out something similar if you are really looking to get hands on experiene!

Konnichiwa from Tokyo

Hello everyone,

I am doing my practical training in Tokyo. My work place is small cafe and shop. The unique thing about this shop is that it’s a Finland themed. The owner of this cafe loves Finland alot and was an exchange student in Finland in 1989. She speaks finnish a little bit and speak english well. This is a lot easier for me because I don’t speak japanese fluently. I know some japanese and I understant a little bit of japanese. Sometimes I am little embarrassed that I speak japanese so little, but that has not been a problem so far. Sometimes I do customer service at the cafe. It is little diffucult but I am usually told what to say and how to act. I am lucky that I found a place where it is not that big problem. Of course I should have studied japanese a little more, but so far it has not caused any problems. My main job is probably cooking and helping in the cafe. Another big thing I do at the shop is helping packing product to department stores and customers. Sometimes even making or altering products. Like making paper fans (uchiwa) or fabric frames. I also keep one cooking lesson per week with the help of my boss Michiko-san.

My daily life in tokyo maily revolvels around work. I eat breakfast before work and after work I eat dinner. In the evening I am too tired to do anything so my sightseeing and shopping is left for free days. On my free days I rest or I have something planned for those days. With the help of my boss Michiko-san I have been to some great palces and have had company to those places. Few times I have been to sightseeing with Michiko-san and few other people through work. I have also visited few places with a girl from the finnish language lesson that is kept at Michiko-san shop. I have not been to many places alone because it is a little scary to go alone. Because Michiko-san had a meeting in Nasu in the beginnig I also got to go there.

Working here has been a good experience. Mainly because the service culture is different. Everything is so different that I can not possible tell everything. I think the biggest difference is the way we think about customers. I have heard that in Japan the customers is like a god. I have seen this to be almost right. Another way I think I find a difference is the way japanese people treat customers. This is the thing a want to learn but I have only been able to grasp a little bit it. I have had few conversations with Michiko-san about these things. For her these things come naturally and I have hard time with them. In reality she sometimes has hard time with customers and customers service. Because she has to be kind to customers and help but not only that sometimes she has to act and this is hard for her. One example comes to mind right away. This old lady that lives near comes to the shop every week and she is a kind lady, but when she comes to the shop, she drinks beer and want us to have a conversation with her even though we have other things to do. We have to be nice to her and serve her because she is a customer. She is probably the hardest customer we have. In Japan I think this is the biggest thing. Serving a customer and having a conversation with them even though it might take time of other things.

I have tried my best to discribe my experience but there is just too much that I can not  possible write everything. I tried to write the most important and memorable thing. I hope you got so kind of grasp of what kind of experience I have had.

Porto – I am back!

This is my second time in the most beautiful city in Portugal, Porto. I was doing a study exchange last year for one semester and I felt like coming back – so here I am! I am studying and doing my internship and thesis here. This time it is different – I am doing my internship and not just studying.

The internship company is different compared to the average company in Finland. I am working as a lean engineer in a quite small manufacturing company. In Finland there isn’t many small manufacturing companies anymore because it is too expensive, the automation is on and the bigger companies have taken over. It is really interesting to see how it is done here and how a small company can still run independently.
The working culture is different, people are working really hard in Portugal and the manual working phases are still there, and by that I mean a lot of paper, for example. Working days are longer and vacations are shorter.

I haven’t had too much spare time since I am studying, doing my internship and also working from here for a Finnish company too. The spare time I have, I love to spend in the garden enjoying the sun and going to the beach, having long walks in the city and meeting friends. It is an amazing country and I am really grateful being able to be here and I have learned a lot.

Goede middag uit Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is a city of canals, french fries and friendly people. It is the capital of the Netherlands and has a population over 800 000 people. Amsterdam’s demographic is different compared to the rest of the Netherlands because it has a population almost 50% Dutch and 50% foreigners. That’s why it’s common to use English in everyday actions and most of the people speak English fluently.

 

I have done my exchange period in this lovely city, in school named Hogeschool van Amsterdam. It translates to Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. My courses mostly consisted of finance and economics, which was first a bit difficult due to lack of finance courses in TAMK. Lecturers were great and professional, but they also expected lots of general knowledge about finance even at first. The lectures were interactive and lecturers made sure everybody was paying attention to the subject.

  

Compared to Finland, there were fewer lectures and most of the studying took place at home. Also, the courses took the whole semester and exams were all in June. The Dutch grading system is completely different than in Finland. They have a scale from 1 to 10, where 1-5,5 indicates fail, 6 satisfactory, 7 more than satisfactory, 8 good, 9 very good and 10 outstanding. Grades 9 and 10 are given very rarely. In my opinion, the level of education is higher than in Finland and it’s also more challenging, but still manageable.

  

Amsterdam is filled with adorable restaurants, bars, and parks, where you can eat and drink affordably. Of course, you can always bike to these places. As a beer person, I visited some of the Dutch breweries. My favorite place was this place called Brouwerij’t IJ, which was a brewery inside the windmill. For the food, I would always go to this neighborhood called De Pijp, where most of the people are Dutch – not tourists. For the culture, I visited Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank house. Even though these places are really crowded with tourists, they are excellent places to get more knowledge about the Dutch history and see beautiful paintings. There was a common room in our accommodation, where you could play cards, party or just hang with the other exchange students. This was great because I didn’t live in the central.

Overall I can recommend Amsterdam to everyone for studying, working or just visiting. I had myself an amazing time in this city and I hope we’ll see again!

I wish I could just stay here

This is my first time in Slovenia and before I came I knew only few people who was been in Slovenia and in Piran where I was heading at. I came to do my traineeship in Slovenia’s coast in the small city called Piran. I came here end of April and I started working in May and I will go back to Finland 17th of July. Everybody is saying that Piran is like a little Venice but for me it is only this place where I go to work. Still I haven’t never been working in so beautiful place than Piran. There is so much sun and the sea is near so basically all that I needed after long winter in Finland. Before I came here I thought that I could have time to go around and see all Slovenia because it is so small country and it has this beautiful nature. I was wrong because I work every time in the evening and I am only free once in a week. Work is sometimes rough because there is only me and four people working and the bar is open every day from 8-22 and there is three on the mornings and then evenings I am working with Milan. In our bar we have so much decoration so when we start closing the bar it takes one hour to close the garden. First, I was only working outside taking orders etc. but now I usually work inside the bar and in the kitchen and only sometimes in the terrace. In here people work so much more than in Finland.

 

On my free time I still have visited Trieste it is only like half an hour drive from Piran. Also, I went to Croatia to this small city Umag but without my renter Tamara I wouldn’t visited these places. Tamara is the one who took me everywhere and told me to see Koper and Izola. Koper is the nearest place where I can go shopping so I have been there five times. Usually on my free time before I go to work I go to beach in Portoroz and for lunch in Lucija. I live in Lucija and it is 5 kilometres away from Piran so I usually spend my free time in Lucija or Portoroz. After work I go with Milan for a beer in Piran or Bernardin which is between Piran and Portoroz. On my free days I see Tamara or on weekends before I go to work and usually we go for a coffee somewhere in Lucija. When my sister was here we went to Ljubljana for a one day and it was so beautiful city.

 

This place really stole my heart. This is my home now so it is going to be hard to leave. Before I came here I couldn’t even think that I could find from here my second family or boyfriend but I did. Back in Finland I was only thinking how hard it is to leave all my friends and come here and how happy I will be when I come back to Finland. It didn’t even come to my mind that maybe I never want to go back to Finland and it is going to be harder to leave this place than Finland. I am still here but I have already booked my flights back in here in August. I am also planning to come here to study maybe in next spring.

Beer gardens, castles and fast cars

Hallo Finnland!  Greetings from lively Munich!

Today my last whole month in Germany started and soon I am heading home. My time here have been a wonderful experience. Since Germany is located in central Europe, it has given me a opportunity to travel many countires I otherwise would have never visited.

 

After many bureaucratic actions, I started studying in Hochschule Munchen which is one of the biggest Universities in Munchen. Going to school here doesn’t differ so much from going to school in Finland, altough here in Bavaria there is always some kind of holiday. One of my teacher even said, he doesn’t see a point having a summer semester because it’s always a holiday.

From Neuschwanstein

Lack of free time opinions isn’t really a problem here, not when you live in one of the liveliest tourist attractions in Munich: Olympiazentrum.

Olympiazentrum is a former home of Summer Olympics 1972 contestants and right next to BMW Plant and museum and Olympia park where the stadiums, tower and all the awesomeness lay.  There are also University’s sports hall near, swimming halls, jogging tracks and bike routes.

The magnificent Olympia park pictured from Olympic Tower

If sports or parks don’t turn you on? No worries, there’s always countles number of museum (Deutsches Museum is my favourite), see sights like old residents of King s, churches, drinking beer in public and maybe eating a few würsts and of course: shopping.

Frühlingsfest (Spring fest)

I’ve been walking around park, visited maaany castle and parks, enjoyed my time in festivals, traveled all around and discovered things I never knew excisted. I will miss Munich, but will still be glad to go back home <3.

Greedings from Breda!

I’m spending my last few weeks here in Breda Netherlands and writing down my experiences about studying in Avans University of Applied Sciences. I’m following Forensic Chemistry minor. In the minor there are preselected courses that are worth of 30 ECTS. The courses have been very interesting and all the teachers and local students speak very good English so it is easy to follow the lectures. Most of the studies have been project work (18 ECTS) which means that there has been more independent work.

Compared to Finland, here are less lectures and more independent work. I prefer less lectures, because the I can plan my studies and free time better. I think that the courses here are more challenging than in Finland. Also, I think that more work is required here for the credits than in Finland. There are more things that you should remember by heart whereas in Finland understanding the phenomenon is more important than the details. The teachers have higher expectations for students and it is more difficult to get good grades than it is in Finland.

Breda centrum

Introduction day with all the exchange students

I enjoyed my stay in Netherlands very much. Breda is quite small city and it is very peaceful to live here. We have a nice international community in here since most of the exchange students live in the same apartment buildings. It is easy just to knock on someone’s door and hang out. A bike is essential to have in Netherlands, because it is the easiest way to get around places. The buses are quite expensive here so another reason to buy a second-hand bike and sell it when you leave. In my spare time I have been travelling in Netherlands and other countries as well and hanging out with my friends. It has been very easy to travel inside Netherlands, because the train system is good and the prices aren’t that bad. There are also discount train tickets for sale regularly. I have also been doing a quite a lot of sports. There are really good opportunities to do sports for students in Breda. There is gym, group lessons and discount for example the local bouldering centre.

Breda city park Valkenberg

Valkenberg chickens

 

Groeten uit Groningen

Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people, many of them students, in the North of The Netherlands. I did my exchange studies in Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Design department of Minerva Art Academy, studying illustration and animation. The Academy has great workshops for analogue techniques, and is located in its own facilities, away from the main campus (Zernike), just like Mediapolis in TAMK.

Martinitoren dominates the cityscape as the highest-rising building

The courses and assignments are more focused on artistic thinking and storytelling compared to TAMK’s problem-based or more technique-focused approach. In Minerva there aren’t so much courses as such with for example software teaching, at least for the second year class where exchange students are integrated. At first the system was very confusing and it was hard to figure out where one should be and when. Their digi schedule doesn’t really work, and most of the communication in Illustration major happens on Facebook. This doesn’t appeal to me greatly, but fortunately the local students, as the Dutch in general (although it is a stereotype) are very friendly and helpful and helped us exchange students greatly in getting into the system. The teachers were also very understanding with students coming from different backgrounds and disciplines.

A strong similarity to my studies in TAMK is balancing the workload between different courses and assignments to make the most out of them. It seems like one could pass the courses with little effort, while with some ambition there is a lot to gain. An example of my work in Minerva is Mr. Moose, an animated series (link below).

Minerva Art Academy has two separate buildings, this one, formerly a museum, looks nicer in pictures

In my spare time I have mostly been working on personal projects, seen some bands, and eaten fries (picture for evidence).

Friet, a mandatory photo