Just a kid from Finland exploring America

Hi everyone! So, I’m in the United States of America, in the state called Minnesota, and the city is called Bemidji. It’s pretty up in here in north. I’ve been here since August so, over 4 months already. It’s been amazing at so far. I want to separate this ”postcard” to two different parts. First one is that I’m going to tell you about my campus life, and the second one is about my travelling experiences.

My studies have been really easy, because I took courses which works for me, for example the best ones are Sport Marketing and Sport Management. As a business administration student, I wanted to take courses what we don’t have in TAMK. Mostly, we had presentations and some group projects, but also every week smaller tests about chapters what we went through in that week, so it really keeps you to pay attention where we are at the moment and what is coming. Compared to Finland where we usually have couple of assignments in course and end of it we have huge final exam. I’m not sure which works better, sometimes I like this way that I don’t have to stress in the end of the semester that am I going to pass the course or not. In the beginning, we got the list of everything what we are going to do on this semester, so basically you have chance to do assignments on your own time. Like how I did, I did almost everything in September, so I had chance to travel in October and November.

 

So, campus life in here is something unique compared to Finland. Everything is so near, and we have like our own community. I love that it takes couple of minutes to walk to the classrooms, or to the gym or to restaurants. I realized that I have so much more time for everything when I don’t have to use it for moving from place to another. One senseless thing in here is that we have tunnels underground, so when it gets really cold, people are using those to move around.

 

My normal day includes lectures, sport and chilling with friends. Sport facilities here are so great. I don’t have early classes, like my earliest class starts at 10 am so there are good hours in the morning to use for whatever I want. Also, I had approximately 2 hours classes per day, so yeah, there is lot of free time. We have here some restaurants, the best one is buffet place where is all you can eat all the time. We have own currency here called Beaver bucks, and we had to load those on our student ID, so we can use it here at the campus. So, if it’s just a normal studying day, there is enough time for homework and classes, enough free time to be active and do sports and enough time to chill out, relax and sleep.

 

We have almost every day some events here for example movie nights, live music, free food and chilling, whatever they make up + all the groups like sports. If I would involve in every event here, I would never have problem to think about, what should I do to not get bored. I like mostly to watch college sports like football, hockey and basketball. It’s nice that we have every week games here and our fan culture is so supporting.

Finally, we get to the main topic and it’s travelling. I think I did that in the best way as it was possible. I got to know awesome exchange students from Switzerland and Denmark, and together we have done unforgettable trips. First, we started to explore Minnesota, we wanted to see whole state. Later in October we went to Canada, so that was little bit bigger step to rent a car and cross the board. It took only 4 hours to drive to Canada, so that was one must thing to do here.

After 3 months being here we got so used to this place that we wanted to travel somewhere else and see more states. Two swiss guys and I decided to rent a car for 10 days and drive from here where the Mississippi river starts flow, along it all the way down where it ends in the New Orleans. It took 4 days to drive there, but we stopped in Cedar Rapids, St. Louis and Memphis. We made plan for what we want to do in every place and what we wanted to see. After couple days in New Orleans we decided to ahead to Nashville and after that to Chicago. We saw so many things and places on our journey that is for sure my craziest and also the best memory of all time.

 

So, it took 10 days, we drove over 5000 kilometers, and we sat in the car over 50 hours. It was totally worth it, and idea wasn’t just to get from place to another, we wanted experience the freedom while driving to new states and see roads and nature. We visited 12 states! Sometimes crazy ideas end up being master plans. I’m very thankful that I had this opportunity to do this and also that I found those two as openminded people as me to share this experience with me.

Greetings,

Aukusti

Greetings from Mukden!

I have spent my exchange period in Shenyang, China. Shenyang is medium sized city in China with about 8 million habitants. The city is located in the northeast of China about 250 kilometres of the North Korean border. The name of my university is Shenyang Jianzhu or SJZU. There are about 19 000 students of which approximately 200 are international students in the university.

Campus area in SJZU.

Teaching language is English. The way of teaching is similar to Finnish type of teaching where professor takes the lead and students (at least try to) pay attention. There are many project oriented courses too but I’m only studying languages and Chinese culture so I don’t have to take any part in those projects. However, study timetable is different from what I have used to. Morning lessons starts at 8.30am and they last until 11.30am. Afternoon lessons starts at 1.30pm and they can last until 5 or 6pm.

Many classrooms are quite ol’skool.

There are many international students in my university, but most of them come here to study whole university degree or master’s degree. At the moment you can find only three students through exchange program, two from Germany and one Finn. Most of the majoring students comes from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and many African countries, for example Nigeria and Tansania.

Most of the other international students don’t know Finland at all or have very stereotypical knowledge about it (Nokia, cold country, possibility to have a good life and Santa Claus). Somehow many students think that we speak English as our native language in Finland.. Well, sometimes I like to shock other students telling about stories how I enjoy eating reindeers or rolling in the snow while taking a good sauna session.

There are many different reasons why life in Shenyang is so different compared to life in Finland. Biggest impact comes with a language. Shenyang is not so international city and that makes communication sometimes very hard with locals. Most of the people can’t understand English language at all and on the other hand my Chinese level is very basic and poor in spelling. In Chinese language same words have a different meaning depending how tones are said. There are four different tones and if you spell word with wrong tone you can say something very bad or locals have no idea what you are trying to say. Sometimes people try to communicate with me by writing some information with Chinese characters but I have no idea how to read them.

At the beginning I found it very hard to communicate with people but now I have learned tricks for it. Communication usually happens with simple phrases, hand signals, gestures and by using translator applications. Luckily I have managed to have few local English speaking friends who I can rely if things get too problematic. I can say that Chinese friends are the most helpful people I know on this Earth.

Other things that affects differently to my life here are huge amount of people, traffic and pollution. In this city is impossible to walk alone in the streets or sometimes even fit on the sidewalk. Don’t even think that you can find a place to sit in subway or bus. Just run inside, jump on people and try to survive! Luckily I took a single room in my dormitory so I have place to hide if things get too hectic for me.

Normal day in the sub.

Using public transports is very cheap in Shenyang. Subway ticket costs about 3-5 (0,5€) yuan depending how far you go. Jumping in the bus costs 1-2 (20 cents) yuan and you can drive as far as you want with that price! Driving with taxi about 10 kilometers can cost you about 40 to 50 yuan (about 4 or 5 euros). Usually drivers are honest and put the taximeter on but sometimes they can drive around a same block few times to gain more money from people who don’t know the city so well.

Traffic in Shenyang is very chaotic and makes no logic for me. Many of the taxi drivers are driving very high speeds and they use every path available (sidewalks, alleys, etc). On top of that there is no seat belts available in most of taxis. On the other hand I have to admire the way they race through city without crashing their cars.

Air pollution is a big problem in China and you can feel it also in Shenyang. Air pollution index (US AQI) can vary something about 50-150 (good day) to 200-400 (don’t go outside). Some days you can really see the pollution in the air. You can smell the diesel, coal and exhaust fumes in the air. If you are wild enough you can put your mask on and go for a jog or walk. For comparison, in Finland air pollution index is usually between 5 and 40.

Usually I spend my spare time with local or international friends. Going to city with local friends is always very interesting. They can show and tell you many different things about Chinese culture and different cuisines. I have tasted hundreds of differents foods in China. Some of them are very delicious, some are not. My personal favorite is hot pot for a lunch or dinner.

Delicious hot pot.

I have plans to travel and see different places in China. For now I have had time to see Dandong, Shanghai and countryside in Benxi. Getting to Dandong takes about 2 hours with train. It’s very interesting city to me because from there you can see to real North Korea. Shanghai is far more developed and international city than Shenyang. It’s a shame I had only four days to spend there. In the countryside I saw beautiful mountains and nature, cornfields everywhere and very primitive little villages.

View to North Korea from Hushan Great Wall in Dandong.
Tourist, mountains and nature in Benxi.

As a construction site management student I have found China very interesting. Especially the ways how the things get build in here. Chinese people don’t really waste time when they want to build something. Building a new restaurant in my campus area took only about 3 weeks. The size of the buildings is humongous if compared with buildings in Finland! A block of flats with more than 40 layers is standard in China. They have a lot of knowledge how to build big and monumental structures in this country.

You can see high buildings everywhere you go in China.

There is one familiar looking building in my campus area that got my attention when I roamed around in the first two weeks. It reminded me of a Finnish wooden house that looked a bit odd somehow. Maybe it was because of the windows? A closer look told me that the house was built in co-operation with TAMK in 2010.

Paintwork is still intact after eight years.

There is a lot of other things I could tell about my staying here in China, but I fear that this blog post is getting too long already. I don’t regret coming here. Somehow I have spent maybe the best time of my life here in spite of the hardness of life sometimes. I’m quite sure I will return to China someday.

Best Regards

Kasperi

Greetings From the Land of Hurricanes

I’m doing my exchange studies in Raleigh, North Carolina which is in the east coast of the United States. North Carolina is a diverse state: going from east to west, you will travel from beach to mountains and there is everything in between. Raleigh is located inland. Nevertheless, my postcard is about hurricanes and how I experienced them!

You have probably heard news about the two destructive hurricanes that took place this fall. Due the unusually warm summer, America’s east coast has unfortunately faced two disastrous hurricanes that also had an effect to the town where I’m studying. Hurricane Florence struck in the mid-September and hurricane Michael struck in the mid-October. Both left behind aftermath of deaths and destroyed homes and buildings.

September 14, Florence made landfall in the North Carolina, and weakened further as it slowly moved inland. The State was early alarmed, and people started to prepare. Schools were closed, stores ran out of water, people were evacuated. It was forecast to hit the cost on Friday evening. North Carolina State University was closed on Wednesday till Monday. Students went back to their homes, buildings were secured with bags of sand, trees and branches were cut. Rental bikes and all the small loose things were removed from the streets.

When it finally struck after all the preparations, the hurricane had weakened to category 1. We were so far inland and survived from the biggest damage, however we had heavy raining and wind for a few days. Which felt like eternity for someone who was in the dorm the whole time. They threw a hurricane party across the street from my apartment, just that students that didn’t left town, could enjoy the extra vacation together. Basically, the time was spent watching Netflix, going to the gym, hanging out with friends and doing some homework. So we had a lot of fun. Luckily in my area there weren’t power outages and nothing more than a few fallen trees and small flooding on the streets. We got back to school on Tuesday and we needed to catch up the studies.

In the mid-August hurricane Michael did great damage to Florida and Central America. It moved up with heavy rain and wind. When Hurricane Michael struck, I wasn’t even aware of that we would be affected. School wasn’t closed, or classes weren’t cancelled. It was normal Thursday with a cloudy morning. I went to a class and during that, the skies broke. It was a lot of rain and the wind just blew the rain from every possible direction. I was wearing a rain jacket and umbrella which both had no use. It just wettened everything. My shoes were like sponges and my backpack with all my stuff got wet on my 500-meter way from school to library. I had to dry everything and pack my stuff into plastic bags before heading home. It rained the whole day and night, but it went over fast. The next morning was sunny and beautiful. It caused small flooding and few fallen trees and branches. For me hurricane Michael was worse.

People asked me if there were hurricanes in Finland and I always answered that we certainly do not have them. I experienced two Hurricanes in just a small period of time which is rare to even have that many hurricanes. It is a cultural experience that I don’t need to face in Finland. We were lucky to only get heavy wind and rain.

Bonjour de Nice!

I started my exchange semester at IPAG Business School, Nice, in the end of August 2018. The time has gone by so fast and now as it is already December, my study exchange has almost come to its end. That’s why, as a tip number one: you should enjoy the exchange while it lasts because time flies when you are having a great time!

And indeed, I have had the time of my life in the French Riviera. Studying at IPAG has been quite nice, although you should be prepared that it is not even closely as organised as in Finland. My favorite courses at IPAG have been French Culture & Civilization and the French classes, and I would definitely recommend them for anyone who is going to study at IPAG. Especially the French classes have been the best language classes that I have ever had in my life – the teacher was extremely entertaining but at the same time I was able to improve my French skills more than ever before. The teacher talked only French during the classes, which was also a very effective way to learn French.

As mentioned before, studying in France is a bit different when compared to Finland. For me it took some time to get used to the French style of the lectures. For instance, when having an exam, some of the teachers expect you to remember everything that they have said in the class, but what cannot be found anywhere written down in the course materials. After I learned this, I started to write everything down that the teachers said during the lectures.

When it comes to free time, the French Riviera has so much to offer. I’ve been enjoying especially the vibrant student life and the beautiful city of Nice in general. During the first two months the weather was unspeakably gorgeous with the temperature of up to +30 (or more) degrees Celsius. Most of this time I spent lying on the beach after school and getting to know the sight-seeings, as well as the lively nightlife of Nice. Something worth to mention too is la cuisine française, which will never let you down. I have tasted the most amazing things in France, and cooked delicious meals together with my roommate. What I have learned is that the French food culture is so much more than wine and cheese, and it will always keep surprising you positively.

In my opinion, it is hard to run out of things to do in the French Riviera. Nice has many beaches and other stunning places to see and it is surrounded by beautiful villages which are easy to get to with paying only 1,50 euros for the bus. So far I have been to Monaco, Antibes, Èze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Marseille. In addition, it is very easy to travel to other countries from Nice and it is possible to do so even by bus or train. For example, I was in Italy together with some of my classmates (which was awesome). We travelled by bus and train only and visited Venice, Florence and Milan. As Nice has a broad variety of cultural events as well, I went to Maître Gims‘ concert, which was held at Palais Nikaïa. Maître Gims is a Congolese-born French singer and my favorite artist at the moment.

Something that everyone should know who are interested in living in France, is the French culture of protests and strikes. Especially during my exchange semester, there have been many protests in the whole France, including Nice. So far it has been safe in Nice during the protests, but you should take into consideration that the public transportation may not work during those days and furthermore, you should definitely not reserve a trip to Paris when the worst protests are going on (like I did, though couple of weeks beforehand and without the knowledge of the future events).

What I didn’t know before coming to Nice is that it can be a bit rainy and cloudy in November–December. So if you plan to stay here during the autumn or winter, I recommend you to bring an umbrella with you (because I didn’t)! What also surprised me is that there are many type of activities to do in Nice also in the autumn/winter time. For instance, my friends and I have been ice-skating multiple times and there is also a beautiful Christmas market and Christmas lights decorating the streets in December. We have also been swimming in the sea still in December, which is quite unusual for me. The sea water is still quite warm, around +17 degrees Celsius.

All in all, I would definitely recommend exchange studies in Nice. I can guarantee that you will not get bored easily and you will definitely have the best time of your life, as I have. Once you settle to live in Nice, the city will never leave your heart.

 

Bonne chance avec votre expérience étrangère,

Elina Oksanen

Bye Muzungu!

Our group of four nursing students and three social worker students arrived in Entebbe airport in 20.9.2018 late evening. First impression after all the customs and immigration checkups was two security guards with assault rifles standing outside the main doors of the airport. At least I hope they were security guards. Soon after that our driver picked us up and we drove one-hour drive to capital of Uganda, Kampala where our accommodation and training places were located. Our first week was an orientation week where we learned about local culture, got introduced to our host university which is Clarkes International University, went to a city tour with our local guides, visited our training placements and had a dinner at our host teachers house.

 

Traffic in Uganda is like from another planet compared to Finland. It seems like there is no rules in traffic at all. Cars are doing extremely dangerous passes and Boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) are speeding between lanes, if the road even has lanes and sometimes they drive on the sidewalk, so you must be alerted every time you are in traffic. It is not a surprise that traffic accidents are common, and a ten-kilometer drive can take two hours because of traffic jams.

 

We started our working days at eight in the morning, but usually local nurses came half past eight or nine o’clock. Concept of time is little bit more flexible here than in western countries. First thing to do in the morning was to read report books from last evening and night. At the ward family members took care of everything else than medical treatment. It seemed like someone was always sitting on a chair next to their sick relative.

Usually we spent our spare time exploring the city, training at the gym or sitting in a nice local restaurant. We also went for a safari and did some other activities like ziplining and boat cruises at Victoria lake.

Hygiene and aseptics were well known in theoretical level, but sometimes it looked like local nurses didn’t really care about it. For example, they used same cannula multiple times if they couldn’t get it into a vein at first times and gloves were used only for own protection. Of course, lack of equipment is a big problem here, so everything can’t be done as well and safe compared to Finland.

 

After all Uganda is one of the best places I have ever been. Things are so different here and everyday you see something new or exciting. It’s funny how even poor people here seems to be a lot happier than most of us in Finland. In my opinion we have a lot to learn from an African way of living.

Servus! (from Munich)

I have been in Munich for nearly two months, the time has passed really fast. At first it took time to learn everyday things and learn to know a new hometown. On Weekdays I am studying and also try to do sports. On weekends I also try to keep some free and do nice things. My friends from Finland have visited here.

I’m studying here on a master degree program business. My campus is only 4 km from my home, so I will go to campus by bike or bus. I have chosen some interesting courses and I am trying very hard to learn the German language. Studying here is a bit different than in Finland. Seminar papers are wider and usually they are done in groups of 3-4 people. In Lectures are also done in a various of assignments in addition to the theory.

At the beginning of October I was running the Munich marathon which was a very fun event, then there was still +23 degrees warm and the sun was shining. A couple of times I have went to hike to the Alps . It’s easy to take a train and go anywhere. Also railway tickets are very cheap here.

The Munich city is really beautiful, where are lots of old buildings and culture. The public transport is easy to use and here is very safe.German is almost similar to Finland. A few things surprised me, cash was used here more than in Finland, it is only way to pay in many restaurants and kiosks, local food and organic products is used more than Finland and selections are really good. Stores are not open on Sundays, except very rarely in special cases (for example, Christmas or even Mother’s Day).

Last weekend here opened the first Christmas Market. The center of the Christmas market here is the historic Marienplatz square. Sale of the stalls spread over several streets around the old town. Many tourists will come here to look at the Christmas market.

Happy Christmas time! / Fröhliche Weihnachtszeit!

Life in Kortrijk

It’s now half way of my exchange so I thought that it might be good time to write some thoughts here. In spring 2018 I decided to go study abroad and after long consideration the best city for me looked to be Kortrijk in Belgium. Kortrijk is quite small city with only 75 000 citizens, but the center isn’t feeling so small as you might think because most of the people are living there and that makes Kortrijk look bigger than what it is. Kortrijk is located in the west part of Belgium and main language here is Dutch, but many people can speak French too.

I’m studying automation technics and the school where I study here is called VIVES University of Applied Sciences. I have studied mostly by myself or with local students because here isn’t any other Erasmus student from a different country in my field of studies. In my opinion studying here is more practical than in TAMK. After short part of theory there are many project-based courses where you need to be ready to study independently. Of course, teachers will help you every time you ask some help from them. In the matter of fact, local students are also very helpful at the lessons.

Before I came here in Belgium I searched apartments where to live and found that there is chance to get a room from a student house by VIVES. There’s approximately 80 apartments at the house and they are all wanted so I was very lucky to got one. Rent is also quite reasonable, 350€ per month. The best part of the house is that it’s full of exchange students (well mostly Spanish of course because they are the most eager people to do exchange with their big groups…) so it’s easy get familiar with people from different culture. One thing that has surprised me is that Erasmus students here is quite bad in English (me included as you can see) but luckily locals are much better, and they are willing to speak English.

 

In weekdays after school I usually do some sports or then I hang out with other Erasmus students at the residence. In the weekends it’s very easy to do trips to other city in Belgium, France, Netherlands or Germany. Travelling with train here is very cheap, only 6-7 € per ticket and if that feels too expensive, you can take Flixbus which is even more cheaper. During my exchange I have visited in four different counties and ten difference cities.

 

I have still couple months left my exchange and I’m going to enjoy every second of it!

In a city between the mountains

I ventured toward the Korean peninsula with the knowledge that my main emphasis during my exchange period would be more culturally oriented subjects rather than my major of media studies. One might wonder how such an arrangement may benefit me in a long run, but I can easily scoff off those suspicions, for I cannot see downsides in enlarging my worldly viewpoint and create contacts for my future endeavors. As I knew that most of my compatriots would choose the capital, Seoul as their destination, I opted to think outside the box and point my heading into Daegu and Keimyung University.

I’ve been concentrating on Korean language, history and language studies, all of which complement each other rather sufficiently as Korean happens to be one of the more difficult tongues to master and honestly, for a minuscule period of four months I need all the help I can get. I do have one media class, which has served as a great reminder for more technical aspects of DSLR-camera when using it for video purposes, though I shot myself in the leg when leaving my camera back home, so I have enforced many, shall we say, creative solutions in order to make the footage from my smart phone look “artistic” or “aesthetically pleasing ”. Been working so far.

The only routine I have developed in Daegu has been my dormitory gym. Being free of charge, it offers a nice outlet for students after a rough school day or intensive cramming session, which is pivotal in Korean student culture. Coming from a university of applied sciences and being used to practical learning, I do not put that much faith in learning all the matters between this dimension and the next by heart. Sure, I’m lucky to be interested in history, culture and languages, but the low level of English colloquial skills show that locals emphasize learning through theory. Aside from school though, we are not that different. I have wandered around Daegu with a group consisting of French, Hungarians, Norwegians, Danes, Germans, Koreans, Kyrgyzstanis and Russians. All have enjoyed bowling, arcades and drinking as much as the others while sharing bits and pieces about their native culture. I am a bit of a wild card in this regard since out of 187 exchange students here, I happen to be the only Finn. Makes you feel special. I have seen a professional football match in Ulsan and visited an UNESCO-world heritage site in Gyeongju. The amount of awe this country has instilled in me makes me grateful of taking my chance in coming here.

The time here has flown by. While I know that the moment of departure will hit me like a freight train when I board the plane on Incheon airport, I do miss the cold North and the one place I truly call home. Korean study culture is a bit straightforward and treading on same conservative tracks it has gone on for decades and even students here say that the long-proposed reforms are much welcomed. That is not to say that the system here is bad. Crime is low as in Finland, people may not know how to communicate in English, but are incredibly helpful and warm towards outsiders, especially when you yourself show to be interested in their culture.

My little dormitory room will not offer shelter for much longer, as this chapter in my life will eventually come to its end, having given me the most pleasantly potent culture shock I never even knew I wanted to experience so badly.

Hello from Uganda

I have been in Kampala for about two months now and still have one more to go. The time here has gone by so fast it feels like it was only few weeks ago that i arrived. The weekdays usually go past with work and maybe going to the gym in the afternoon, and just hanging around getting ready for the next day. On weekends we usually do something like go out in the town or plan activities we could do (like go lay by the pool).

 We also had a one week vacation from ”work” and we went on a safari for a few days, wich was honestly greatest thing in here so far. It was a bit pricey but still worth every penny. Our second one week vacation is coming in couple of weeks and we are flying off to zanzibar to relax.

My practical training here is taking place in four different facilities. First two were level 3 Health Centers that offered mainly doctors receptions, I.V. and other medicinal help, small surgical procedures and different clinics. I only spent two weeks in each of them but that time was quite enought to get the hang of both places. 

The third and current placement is a level 4 Health Center. There is a lot more to do and see compared to the level 3 H/C. They have all sorts of different wards: Labour, In patient, out patient, post-natal, surgical department and a few more I haven’t been to yet. Most of my time here I have spent in the labour ward and surgical department. Both of wich have been educational as hell. 

The fourth facility im going is a privat hospital IHK (International hopsital of Kampala). This hospital is supposed to be quite ”western”, and i’m intrigued to see what is a westers style hospital in the heart of Africa.

The biggest issues so far in my practical placements have been time and the African aseptics. As a finnish person im used to being punctual and going around watching the clock, but nooo that’s not how things are done in here. People come to work around 8 or 9 or 10 or 11, it’s basically up to you. And some days people might just not come to work. This has been the biggest thing for me to learn. And as far as aseptics go, you might imagine that things aren’t done as aseptically correct as back home, be it the lack of resources or education.

For anyone interested to visit Uganda i can highly recommend it. The people are nice and helpful, living is quite cheap and the weather is always warm.

Groeten uit Rotterdam!

On this very day, I have stayed in The Netherlands for exactly 3 months and I’m about halfway on my exchange studies. Yes, here in The Netherlands the semesters are quite long in comparison to Finland.

I am studying in Rotterdam, the second largest city in The Netherlands (Roughly 625 000 inhabitants, located in South of The Netherlands). My typical school week is quite short, for instance, currently I only have 3 days of school in a week but this is balanced by project working and other homework. So having “easy weeks” definitely does not mean that you can slack off during your day-offs. I have had way more individual assignments here than in Finland, also the project working is much more demanding.

Rotterdam skyline in the city center
Markthal, the Rotterdam market hall

Although I am studying in The Netherlands, my degree programme’s (International Business for Asia) focus has been on Asian business culture – making my exchange studies very unique. I have had the pleasure to meet so many students from Asia during these studies and inspired by this, I even took a Japanese language course to learn the basics of Japanese.  Speaking of languages, it is very easy to get by with English in your every day life, especially in Rotterdam as it is a very diverse and multinational city.

There is not really a culture shock to be experienced when living in The Netherlands, maybe some homesickness every now and then – definitely missing the sauna as well haha. Otherwise, be prepared for some very direct communication with the Dutch, they get straight to the point with things. This is something that I have really enjoyed actually, I also like to get straight to the point. Nonetheless, it was really easy to get to know new people here and I have made so many friends during my stay already.

During the weekends, I have traveled around, visiting the major cities of The Netherlands and I have even been to Brussels twice. I still have some places left on my go-to list, such as Antwerp, Utrecht & Delft. I might even travel around in January or February if my school ends early enough, my rental agreement is still active until 8th of February.

Amsterdam central station
The Hague peace palace
Brussels at night

If you actually read this far, I would lastly like to give out some general tips for those heading to Rotterdam/The Netherlands for studying:

  • Generally, a Finnish bank card will not work here. You most likely need to apply for a Dutch student bank account, however, this is free of charge. You only need to register for the municipality and receive a BSN (burgerservicenummer) to apply for the bank account.
  • Accommodation is expensive and hard to come by in Rotterdam. Easiest way is to apply for a student housing (SSH), but keep in mind that you need a down payment of two months and the apartments run out very quickly during the application period.
  • The cycling infrastructure is great in The Netherlands, each city usually has dedicated bike lanes for cyclists. Public transport is more expensive in Rotterdam than in Tampere, but it is very extensive with metros, trams, buses and trains.
  • School for the business studies in Rotterdam was relocated to the city center, around 3,5km away from the student housing.
  • Food is around the same price as in Finland, however, more selection on some groceries.
  • It is easy to travel from Rotterdam to other cities, so have some spare money for traveling!! 🙂