Dodgin ‘Rona in Rotterdam

What’s happening, peeps? I hope you’re doing well!

Man oh man if this spring has not been the weirdest, right? 2020 is doing a great job at being a pissy POS that just ruins the fun for everybody. Like seriously, start off with Australia looking like the end of Apocalypse Now, follow up with a global pandemic like it’s nothing, whip up a couple of earthquakes and other natural disasters, and finish it off with a little spice with the whole Kobe incident. Right now the USA is on fire because of the horribly sad and gut-wrenching case of George Floyd, and I’m just here, being 23, and for the first time in my life feeling so overwhelmed by all of this that I feel like like I am, in fact, stuck on a space rock zooming through the universe a million miles an hour without being in any control over of whatever the F will happen next to me, and to all of us.  So here’s to that – ain’t life just the darndest sometimes? But for real, if there is a god I hope they realize to hit the breaks soon enough.

Anyway, we’ve been dodging ‘Rona in Rotterdam for a few months now and I have to say it ain’t half that bad! I’ve had a decent time! I spend most of my days either studying my courses in the international logistics management program I’m involved in, or working out. Seriously, my days are a random combination of trying to be active, studying, eating and being social. But let’s talk about the studies, shall we?

The level of education I get here is intense. Like I have to admit, I was not quite expecting this, even if I had my expectations high. I had heard prior to applying that in the Netherlands you get to actually study and I heard it’s going to be tough and time-consuming. I just thought it can’t be that bad and that it’s probably worth it. And yes it is, both of those things.

The quality of teaching in Hogeschool Rotterdam is crazy good. I feel like I’ve learned the most when I’ve been here. The teachers are very professional and know their fields throughout, and they all seem to have an understanding of pedagogy as well, because their lectures, materials and methods are very effective. Before coming here, I think I wouldn’t have called myself even a SCM familiar, but I have to say that after studying here, the idea of being a specialist in Supply Chain Management seems quite close actually. These people know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to logistics and SCM.

Other than that I mean, I still got a month or so to go and returning to Finland is acute again and uhh…. yeah, I should graduate by the end of the year as well. I got my thesis topic down and I get to start working on that which is nice. So the courses I have here are my final actual studies before graduating and thus closing this chapter of my life. And I am glad that I get to say with pure honesty that I’m happy I chose Rotterdam. I feel confident starting my thesis and taking the next steps on my career. I know I got this in the bag, and I have to say it’s mostly because of my time here. Wish me luck tho!

But that’s about it. I’m sorry don’t have any pictures for you, so here’s one of me and one of my POV while writing this thing:

Be happy!
– Kalle Lahtinen

Discovering immersive storyworlds in Aarhus, Denmark.

 

I started my studies in February as I landed in rainy and windy Denmark. Study group of ours, consisting of 10 different nationalities all over the world were warmly welcomed by the VIA University’s friendly staff on our first day. I could immediately feel hygge vibes within the school, people and city.

The New Screen Experience exchange studies have been covering all kinds of new media from VR to AR to XR together with stories. Our school is located at the industrial Filmbyen separated from main campuses together with 80 media companies around the area. 

Living in vibrant young student city with more than 60,000 students creates inspiring environment. Aarhus was nominated for the culture capital of Europe 2017,  I could see cultural projects taken further what it comes to art, architecture and technology. It is also easy city to access everywhere with bike, bus or tram within 20 min from different neighbourhoods. 

Aarhus is full of student events, museums, underground scene, flea markets, concerts, and festivals. Nightlife and pubs is the place where you easily socialise and meet new people besides school. Weekly sport activities and routines also helped to adapt with the local life even more. As a Fin, of course I had to find local sauna, and happily there was free public sauna around the Bay Area. Setting for the sauna was amazing with industrial harbour views, but disappointedly sauna experience wasn’t as hot as I expected. However, cold Tuborg pilsner tasted great afterwards!

 

When the corona outbreak happened all social events have turned into a lockdown, with studying from home and socialising online. Luckily spring have provided with great sunny weather to cycle around city and the restrictions have allowed enough freedom go out and gather in small groups. There have been a lot  to explore in local nature parks, lakes and sandy beaches. Just spending time in outdoors have made so much improvement daily life that I couldn’t image having quarantined in any other place.

However corona pandemic made this spring pretty special for studies, I could still make some comparison what it comes for the studies itself. I could see right away that the atmosphere in Filmbyen is pretty similar, like our studies at the Mediapolis. Studies are more hands on production, problem solving and group working. Some differences I could still see in course structures, since here the studies are in three different modules for the minor. As in our study minor we have more freedom over courses during the minor. Both have its benefits, but I felt more motivated about the module based program which were more structured to one topic and technology at the time, instead of having multiple topics whole minor. Overall study experience have been really interesting with visiting lecturers, groups tasks and online working.

I can fully recommend Aarhus as an easy going vibrant place for studies and living. Especially encouraging our media and film students to discover possibilities of new media in an inspiring environment.

안녕하세요 from Seoul!

I came to South Korea for my exchange studies on the 26th of February. When I arrived, COVID-19 was already an issue around here, but Seoul National University of Science and Technology (Seoultech) decided to keep their exchange program regardless.

I live on campus, on a very nice dorm room with my own kitchen, washing machine, and bathroom, and I was pleasantly surprised by just how big this campus is! We have a gym, a few cafés, multiple convenience stores, and a lot of places to just sit down and study.

Some cherry blossoms on campus.

The area where the University is located is a bit far from all the touristy and famous parts of Seoul, but the subway here is gigantic and covers almost everything you need!

Pro tip: Google Maps doesn’t really work here, since they only trust national apps – so Naver or Kakao Maps are your new best friends.

Hanok Village – traditional Korean houses

I ended up picking 6 classes, which is a bit more than the recommended and needed amount, and I will admit I regret it. It feels like more work than I had in Finland, specially since the teachers require weekly tasks to count our attendance for the online lessons (all our classes are online, because of COVID-19). Nothing compares to my Korean friends, who seem to have double the workload the exchange students do.

Despite the global pandemic, Korea never instituted a lockdown, so I was still able to visit the local highlights on my free time! The language is for sure an issue, since outside campus most people don’t speak English, but Koreans are incredibly hospitable and friendly, and they go out of their way to help even without speaking a word of it.

Gyeongbokgung palace

Cherry blossom season was for sure the highlight of my time here so far! I spent most of my free time hunting for nice cherry blossom spots, since the big parks were closed to prevent big crowds. It became a fun little adventure, and luckily, there are cherry blossoms everywhere! I’ve been having a blast photographing everything around here, and I carry my film camera almost everywhere I go. 

 

  

I still haven’t left Seoul to visit Busan or Jeju – since travelling was prohibited until May 6th. Something good came out of the online classes though: I can easily travel and attend the classes as long as I have my computer with me.

Lanterns in Temple for Buddha’s Birthday – 30th of April

I’ll return to Finland in the middle of July – hopefully, and I’m very lucky to be able to still experience my exchange studies in my dream destination in a situation where the entire world stopped, Korea didn’t, and the experience has been great so far!

Sziazstok from Hungary!

I am also one of those who had to interrupt their exchange studies due to the current uncertainty. I still got to spend a lovely one and a half months in Budapest, Hungary.
I studied in the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design. They had just finished building and renovating the campus in late 2019, so it was sparkling new and had a fascinatingly sterile feel to it. The facilities were amazing, they had a studio for everything: ceramics, metal-working, wood-working, textile, printing… It was the first time I saw such a big campus and studying there made me feel like an actual university student.

I went to MOME to study ceramic design, so I spent most of my time in the ceramic studio spaces. I also took some life model sculpting classes. My classmates and professors were very accommodating and nice to me, perhaps because I was the only exchange student on those courses. Most of them spoke English, but my courses were held in Hungarian and the professor explained things to me in English afterwards. I really enjoyed studying at MOME and I miss the campus. My courses changed into online courses which I continued (and finished) after returning to Finland.

Studying in Budapest did not differ much from studying in Tampere. I had no problems adapting to the culture. I took a course to learn the basics of Hungarian at MOME and I also learned some things beforehand, so it made things even more easy. I am always interested in learning new languages and Hungarian was most definitely interesting.

As for free time, I spent most of it with my dear newfound Erasmus friends (and a few Hungarians too!!). We went to see tourist spots and thriftshopped to the max. Most often we would gather in Budapest’s many ruin bars. There was a bar called Klub Vittula, which ended up being our most common hangout. I always had a great conversation starter when I met new people there…

There was always something to do in Budapest. Our campus had lots of activities too, like movie nights and free yoga classes. The price of food in restaurants was very cheap and for a vegetarian there was many places to choose from. The public transport was easy, and the city was beautiful. The cherry blossoms were blooming in March, right before I left.

 

One weekend we traveled to lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Hungary.

 

 

 

I am honestly still sad and gutted that my exchange plans went awry and I had to leave, but life goes on. I am really hoping to have another chance to meet all the cool people again and to just sit and chill at a ruin bar. Maybe someday!

Filming Sea Turtles in Guatemala

I spent 3 months in Guatemala (Oct-Dec) filming the research and conservation activities for sea turtles. It was part of a fine art studies internship, and I spent most of it in a rural area by the Pacific Coast, about 20 metres from the water. I also helped the researchers there quite a bit, as help was needed. Work there was hard and time-consuming, but purposeful. I had complete freedom to do things my own way, but I always had to consider that I wasn’t there for my own gain, but for helping others. I liked that very much.

During November not many turtles hatched, so I had more free time to travel within the country. I got to hike a volcano and spend the night camping and watching a neighboring volcano erupting every 5-15 minutes. I got to kayak in a large lake among volcanoes. I got to hike in the jungles and on warm, month-old lava, visit Mayan ruins, experience the Day of the Dead and eat all the avocado and pineapple I ever wanted (and get all the mosquitoes bites I never wanted).

 

People here are very chill when it comes to work. Sometimes too chill, as scheduling tends to be overly flexible most of the time. With that said, people do get the job done, just without much stress. Most of my work with others was helping them, as my work was something only I could do.

Overall, it was a great time and I am glad I got to experience it!

Des moments inoubliables à Bordeaux!

I spent my exchange studies in France, in Bordeaux for this spring. It is a typical French city, the wine capital city of the world and it is like a small Paris. I loved it! All the people are so friendly, buildings are beautiful and Garonne river flows through the city. It is located in the Southwest of France, near to Spain and Atlantic Ocean. The city is perfect size, you can walk almost everywhere or jump into the tram so easily. It is a perfect city for the students.

I studied in a private business school, BBA INSEEC, and I chose the IBM 1 program which consists of three-week modules and it is in English. Studying was pretty much the same kind of as we have at TAMK, including group work and oral presentations. I studied personal development, cross cultural understanding, marketing and leadership modules as well as French for foreigners. The group size was small and it consisted mainly of exchange students. I liked that a lot because when we all were in the same new situation, I got a lot of new friends! The school helped me to find an accommodation too. They had a website in collaboration with “Studapart” and I rent a room from the comfort, renovated flat with roommates.

The weather felt so warm already and Bordeaux really showed its best sides on warm sunny days. I spent my free time with my new friends. We often went to drink coffee, sightseeing, shopping to the Rue Sainte-Catherine shopping street, do a picnic to the garden or for example bowling. I loved the French food: macarons, baguettes, croissants, crêpes and cheese, they were so delicious! We made the trips to Toulouse and near to the Pyrenees, to the city of Lourdes.

I really enjoyed the time I spent over there even thought it was a shorter period because of the coronavirus pandemic. The best things about the exchange studies are that you meet a lot of new people, you can strength your language skills and get courage, as well as see a lot of new beautiful and interesting places alongside studies. It was an unforgettable experience!

Memorable but unhappy spring semester in Porto

I started my journey in Porto in the beginning of February. I loved city of Porto at the first sight. City was super pretty, and the size was just perfect to walk around. All the people I met were super kind and helpful.

I did my studies in ISCAP, which ended up being really nice school for foreign students, as there were a lot of exchange students and also a lot of organized events for us.

I study business administration and ISCAP was good school for business students. The whole master’s degree was in English, which is nice for the international students. Even though we do bachelor’s degrees, ISCAP offers the master courses for the exchange students also. Some of them are quite hard, but some of them can be compared to lectures in TAMK.

Lectures were similar than in TAMK. Some of them were really difficult as the teaching was also in English of course, and in Finland we have been used to study in Finnish and the vocabulary is new. Some of the courses were really practical and had a lot of group works. One thing I found out that was really different there, was that students were not allowed to question the teacher. While in Finland the teachers want students to question them.

I spent my spare time with my new friends I got to know there. I really loved the city of Porto. We loved to go to see the sunset and enjoy picnics with some wine and baguette.

 

We travelled together to Lisbon and one smaller city called Aveiro. One of the best things in exchange is to get to travel around. That was one of the reasons I selected Porto, because I wanted to be able to travel around and also enjoy the ocean. Actually, I just had time to go to Madrid also right before corona exploded. Coronavirus certainly interrupted my Erasmus exchange which was stupid and sad. That means that I needed to quit my exchange period in Porto after 1,5 months. 🙁 But I will go back for sure 🙂

Unforgettable Scotland

I began the first half of my 3rd study year in Scotland, at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Getting settled there was easy as I was able to receive a room in Caledonian Court, right across the street from the university itself. The location was great, right next to GCU and the city center which meant I was walking distance from everything I needed. I had a little over one week to get my bearings before the modules (courses) began, during which we had the Welcome Week and many fun activities.

The biggest surprise for me, nature wise, was the lack of parks and green areas near the city. To get to a park you had to walk for at least half an hour, and they were very well maintained compared to the raggedy forests I’m accustomed to in Finland. I’m used to having a forest only a few minutes’ walk away from home in Finland. It took some time to get used to the lack of forests or parks nearby, as I like to go for walks in the forest to de-stress and spend time.

About my studies in GCU

Compared with Finland the study culture is very different in Scotland. In TAMK I am used to mainly group work but in Scotland the emphasis was on independent work, meaning a lot of studying at home and doing all assignments individually. The focus was on theoretical learning without much practical application of knowledge.

In TAMK I am used to having smaller assignments due every now and then, but at GCU the way the assignments were spread out through the semester was very different; there were typically only one or two really big assignments for each module, and many were due at the end of the semester. Two of my modules had exams in January but I was (luckily) able to do both of them in Finland.

In total I did three modules during my stay in Glasgow, each worth 10 ECTS. I had lessons 3 days a week which left me with a lot of spare time to cook, go to the gym (located on the university campus), visit museums and landmarks in Glasgow and go on trips to see the country.

Spare time

Scotland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. The mountains were enormous, and in the autumn they were covered in dead ferns that coloured the mountain sides in a deep hazel. The most beautiful place I visited was Isle of Skye where small white houses dotted the countryside. It was probably the windiest place I have ever been to! Overall, the weather wasn’t as poor as I thought it would be, so I wasn’t as bothered by it when it was windy or rainy.

I spent a lot of my spare time with my 7 flatmates who were all exchange students like myself. We went on many day trips together; some were guided tours and others we organised ourselves. Those trips were what made my exchange in Scotland truly memorable. Some trips we organised with my flatmates were visiting Pollock Country Park to see the highland cows, visiting Edinburgh (only an hour bus ride away from Glasgow) and going to the Enchanted Forest. We also climbed Goat Fell Mountain which was one of the best days of my life!

I loved my exchange in Scotland, the friends I made, the unforgettable memories and I can’t wait to go back to there!

Hamburg, meine perle!

I have now spent 6 months in the beautiful city of Hamburg in the north of Germany. And i would not give any single one of them away. My studies are going amazingly even though first half of them were completely in German (which I wasn’t prepared for). but luckily professors and other students are able and willing to cooperate with me! Most fun so far in a class I’ve had with Fahrzeug design course where we got to design our own car. There are some pictures below!

My free time i have been spending with friends and sports. There is so much to do in Hamburg that even if you tried you could not get everything done in a year! I also joined a local ice hockey club which has now taken a lot of my time. We are playing on the third highest level in Germany and the atmosphere is unbelievable in the games!

The working culture here in Germany is a bit more demanding than the one I’m used to in Finland. So it took a bit time to get used to it, but now I’m fully integrated and enjoying myself!

From Winter to Summer – Finland to Australia

I had only a couple of days to decide whether I should go to Australia or not. Some reasons were making it challenging for me to decide. For example, there were bushfires and smoke in many parts of Australia, including Canberra, where my internship would take place. Still, Finally, I booked my tickets and took a flight to Canberra.

Both above Pictures show Canberra city, both are during the bushfires, but the first one is when the fires got close to the town.

My internship was at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I was working there as a Financial Assistant. The placement was what I was seeking to get more practical experience.

In my spare time, I visited a lot of places like Hyams Beach, Hyams Beach is surrounded by national and Marine Parks, Hyams Beach has an abundance of native plants and animals, and the crystal clear water is frequently visited by whales and dolphins.

Other than Hyams Beach, I visited some other places as well as Bondi Beach in Sydney, and one of the burned forests called Nerriga. I drove almost one hour within the woods at a speed of 90km/hr, and all I was seeing was burned trees.

In my spare time, I was also reading books and going for a walk at least one time per day to a hill close to my resident place.

And about the Afghans, working culture modernization has resulted in the infiltration of western influences into the Afghani culture, which is most profound in the country’s major cities. The same like that it is possible to find different styles in different Afghan organizations around the world.

It is said that Australians have a unique working culture. There are some similarities between Finnish and Australian working cultures. In both cultures being late to work is not cool at all and there should be a legit reason for that and beside that one should let the office know about the situation. Australia is also similar to Finland and Nordic countries in terms of mentality: both cultures prefer quality over quantity. Both cultures’ highest priorities are wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.

One big match of both cultures is talking on the point, unlike most other cultures. A Finn and an Australian prefer to come to the point without beating around the bush.

The embassy was where most of the employees are Afghan Nationals, But I found some excellent sources on the working culture differences and want to share them here:

Useful links related to working culture in Finland, Australia, and Afghanistan

24 things expats find surprising about Australian working culture

https://bit.ly/3aBkN6l

Why Finland leads the world in flexible work

https://bbc.in/2WQQvse

Afghanistan – Guide to Language, Culture, Customs, and Etiquette

https://bit.ly/2JlJ3x3