Working life of Moscow

At this point I’ve been working in Moscow for over two months and it gets slightly tiring. First of all, I should say that I was born and grew up in this city, so I was already familiar with how it works and I knew what to expect.

(a crane operating on our construction site) 

I would like to know what the situation is like in other major cities, but here everything is quite far away, no matter where you go (though communications and public transport of Moscow are fairly convenient). Currently I spend about two hours to travel each way every day. That, plus a normal working day of nine hours gives us 13 hours daily spent for working purposes. Thus, I don’t have much time to spare, but I have already visited most interesting places of Moscow in my life. This is vastly different from my usual Finnish life-style, but humans adapt.

But enough of that. My practical training itself is very useful for me and rather interesting. In my opinion, for the first practical training ever – this one is ridiculously good. I have enhanced my professional skills – environmental management, became noticeably more responsible and somewhat improved my MS Office and AutoCAD skills.

My job responsibilities include creating environmental procedures for a company that carries out construction supervision, monitoring the site and some other ways of enhancing encironmental performance.

(our object – “Park Huaming”)

Additionally, I spend some of my time on a construction site, supervising occupational health and safety and environmental aspects of the works, while learning about how construction is generally carried out, which is actually pretty insightful.

(a serious ocupational health and safety issue in one of the buildings – this shaft is not closed properly)

Russia just held a world championship 2018 in Moscow and other cities, so naturally the infrastructure of the capital has seen some improvements. It was nice to see so much joy and celebration with all the nations that came to my home city. Unfortunately, I was unable to join any of that due to a rather tight schedule (I’m not a fan of football anyway), but I heard some positive feedback from my friends.

(football fans)

Can’t wait to get back to cozy Finland and sleep it off.

If you ever come to Moscow and see plenty of grumpy people – that’s because they are tired. But don’t hesitate to greet or ask us something, as communicating with a foreigner is quite refreshing.

Bonjour!

I’m doing my internship in Malta for four months. I’ve been here now more than three months and I still have about three weeks left before flying back to Finland. I’m working in a reception of a hotel and I have enjoyed my stay more than I could even imagine before coming here, the weather is amazing and these people I’ve met are so great. Working in a reception is something completely new for me so the first 2-3 weeks were super intensive and I learned a lot of new things, so after the shift I were really tired.

Working in Malta has opened my eyes, here they do some things so different ways and people act different. The working environment is international, we have employees from all over the world, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Africa, India, Pakistan, Poland, Germany, Turkey, France, etc. Everybody is used to different kinds of ways to work and solve problems. It’s so great to have people around the world, you learn all kinds of new things from different cultures and you also learn about your own culture.

I have couple day off per week, so I’ve had some time to travel around the country. Malta is very small country, so I’ll have time to see the nicest places even twice. Usually when I have a day off I travel somewhere to spend the day. The town I live in Malta is very small so I usually walk to the nearest city or take a bus to the other side of the island. Sometimes it’s also nice to just relax at the pool or go to the nearest beach. Although Malta is a small country there are really nice places to visit, beautiful beaches, little villages, big rocks, super clear light blue water, historical places and beautiful cities like the capital city, Valletta. The sunsets in Malta are also worth to see at least once… The nature in Malta is a bit unfertile so I miss the nature in Finland a lot. There aren’t many trees in Malta and the nature is not very green, but the views close to the sea are breathtaking.

I couldn’t be happier that I chose this place to do my internship, I got a lot of new friends from around the world, my German roommate Janine is amazing, it’s like we have known each other always. I learned new things about different cultures, even my own. I got to prove my English and I learned new things what comes to the life at work. In a few weeks it’s going to be really hard to say good bye to all this…

How things are going in Germany

I am doing my practical training in Fuldas Hospital. I was 4 weeks in Oncology ward, 4 weeks surgery ward, 2 weeks at day surgery ward and 2 weeks at family school (playing pretty much with newborn babies). I do not have the language skills to talk with the patients or the people at work so I am trying to learn as much as i can everyday. I am able to draw blood and measure vital sings. Learning numbers has been the first thing i learned and they have come handy in many occasions! Here in the hospital in some wards we get typical breakfast everyday. It includes bread, cheese, deli meats and more bread. Delicious !

On my spare time i hangout with other exchange student whom I’ve met from my student housing. Threw them i have also met more and more people. German and non german. We also rented a car one time and drove to Cologne and Dusseldorf. It was nice going fast on the motorway and seeing beautiful views on the way. Are student housing is placed in a beautiful old town scenery. Some days it was just nice to wander around and chill at the nearby parks al day in the sun.

I do not have a lot experience in working at hospitals in Finland. None actually but what i noticed is that everything seems pretty similar to Finland. One thing was strange and it was that doctors only drew blood. I do know how to do it also so i did it overtime i was able and they were very impressed. Germans seems to be also very formal with workplace dressing. In hospital its a little Hard to see this because everyone had their hospital uniform but in every meeting etc. I saw this.

 

A pianist on exchange

My exchange year in Denmark is reaching its end. I ended up in Aarhus quite randomly – I knew nothing about the city nor the music academy when applying here. However, after being accepted I was really looking forward to a year abroad and ready for a new adventure. I did not know what was waiting for me, but loved the idea of going.

Moving in was easy, I got a lovely apartment very close to the school and Aarhus seemed really nice. My good feeling didn´t really change after the first impression – everything worked great, the school seemed really good, I met nice people and I was very impressed after the first piano lesson with my new teacher. I felt so lucky, how could everything be so well? Well, it could.

My daily life in Aarhus consist of practising, teaching and common classes like ear training, music history etc. Every week there is a piano lesson with my teacher and addition to playing solo, I have studied accompaniment with singers and chamber music with other instrumentalists. Most of my studying time goes for practising and one of the main reasons why I enjoy studying here is the great facilities for practising and having a lot of time for it.

The school also offers the students a lot of opportunities to perform. The piano class  has student concerts about every three or four weeks. In the beginning of the study year we had an annual piano festival OPUS organised by the piano students. This year the theme was L. van Beethoven´s music and I must say that it was great way to start the semester and get into the piano class.

I spend my free time hanging out with my friends from school or doing sports, either at the gym lifting weights or running in a park nearby. I really love to spend time with the piano class. We are different kind of people from around the Europe sharing the same interest. During the year we have had such a good time together, numerous discussions about music and piano, nerdy jokes, dinners at the school´s rooftop, after-concert beers in the local pub, group lessons on Saturday afternoons and a lot more.

Both The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and Tamk in Tampere have their own strengths and weaknesses. The studying follows the same principles in both schools so that in the end there are not any really big differences. The courses are quite similar and my schedule looked about the same in both places. It was mainly the studying environment which made the difference for me. There is something I really like about the music academy here in Aarhus – the physical studying environment, practising facilities, the common atmosphere among the student and the teachers. I can say that the Erasmus year has been the best studying year for me so far. I have learnt so much about piano, music, myself and life overall. But without the great education I got in Finland I would not have ended up here in Aarhus.

The Netherlands, why not?

Last Autumn semester, I had a chance to go to the Netherlands as an exchange student. I lived and studied in Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands for five months. As a big part of the study program that I chose at Avans University of Applied Sciences was designed for distance learning and  the schedule is quite loose, I had a lot of free time for exploring the city and traveling.

Grote Kerk Breda

Breda is a peaceful city surrounded by river, yet it is always social due to students from two universities. In the weekend, I enjoyed walking on the main street, did some shopping then had lunch at either a cosy lunch place or a snack bar.  One distinctive feature that I love in Breda was that it was very easy to find a lovely coffee shop where you can have a drink or a light meal.

Sandwich at JanenAlleman

Fries with meat fritesaus and bitterballen at a snack bar

Because Breda was located near the Netherlands – Belgium border, it was convenient to travel to Belgium. From Breda, you can make a day trip to Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog,  where the border is just a single line run through houses. Antwerp, Belgium is only  a half hour away by train and by the same direct intercity train you will arrive at Brussels after one more hour. There are also other cities such as Ghent and Bruges that are the most famous destinations in Belgium. I visited them all when I had a few days off and it was worth it. Regarding to destination in the Netherlands, Amsterdam – the capital – the canal city is a must. There are also many attractions in this lively city such as the canals, Rijk Museum, Anne Frank House.

View from Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp

Back to study topic, because all of the subjects were designed for distance learning so I did not have to go to school everyday. I could attend classes from home through an online platform. This was a new learning method that I have not experienced in TAMK. I felt more comfortable by attending class this way. However, as an exchange student, this caused a communication problem for me. Because I did not have to go to school, I did not usually meet people so it was hard to socialize with other students. Although the class schedule were quite comfortable, I still needed to devote a lot of time for studying. There were assignments every week and a project that sometimes had several reports due in the same day. The grading system were quite different from Finland’s. It was very hard to get 9 or 10  out of 10. There were some subjects that was impossible to get a 10. However, it might depend on the subject or the teacher, so just tried your best.

A meeting with client of a project

During my exchange semester, I learnt a lot about Dutch culture and also environmental related subjects. I really missed the days and the food after leaving this city. It is always nice to experience something new. So go on an exchange program in the Netherlands, why not?

 

 

 

¡Hola!

My Erasmus studies came to its end in Madrid a while ago. I studied for the duration of the spring semester, a little over 4 months in Madrid at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. The university is located outside of the centre of Madrid, in Vicálvaro. For me it took about 50 min to get to school with the metro. It is a lot of time to travel one-way but in my opinion it wasn’t too bad, especially since I didn’t have school every day. I also knew that I wanted to live closer to the city centre than the university. I lived in south from the centre of Madrid, close to the Madrid Río. I think the area where I lived in was peaceful and nice, 15-20 min metro ride or about 30 min walk away from the centre.

Madrid Río

The university campus was little old-fashioned in my opinion but it had all of the necessary features you needed. It had a quite large library, where you could go to study. The library even had some computers at the students’ disposal. I used the library a lot since I had a course that required doing a lot of homework with a computer. I had mostly business courses but I also had some studies in tourism and international relations. There was some variance in the level of teaching, which I wasn’t too happy with. Luckily there were a couple of good teachers on the courses that I chose.

In my opinion the teaching in Finland is at top level. It was interesting to hear that Erasmus students from other countries had also heard or read about the level of the education in my home country.

I travelled quite a lot in Spain while living in Madrid. My favourite trip was to Andalucía which was very beautiful. It was easy to travel from Madrid to other cities and that was actually one of the reasons I chose the capital of Spain for my Erasmus destination.

Me in Barcelona

I had not been to Madrid before my Erasmus, so it was a completely new experience for me to explore the city. It came as a surprise for me how large the city actually is. The population of the metropolitan area of Madrid is about 6,5 million. In comparison the total population of Finland is 5,5 million. My favourite areas in Madrid were the trendy neighbourhood of Malasaña and La Latina. I enjoyed the good restaurants and terraces in those areas. I also loved the area of Madrid Río a lot.

The rooftops in La Latina

Although Madrid did not live up to my initial expectations, I still feel that all in all my Erasmus experience was great! I met a lot of new people, and made new friends which when I think about it, makes Madrid actually very special for me.

The Bear and the Strawberry Tree – The Symbol of Madrid

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go to Erasmus exchange. It will give you countless unforgettable experiences and friendships that hopefully lasts for a long time.

Dzień dobry ! Greetings from Gdańsk

I started my summer exchange from mid February until June at University of Gdansk, Poland. It has been a great journey here. In Poland, honestly, you can expect the unexpected things happened to you.

Me with a friendly Polish lady

When I just arrived in Gdansk, my impression was quite negative since not so many people speaks English here. It seems so hard to ask for help because I did not know any words in Polish back then. If anyone plan to visit Poland in future, my honest advice is to learn some basic Polish, it will make your life easier 🙂  However, my negative impression quickly faded away when I realized that Poles do not speak English but they are very friendly and helpful. One day, I got lost at the train station and I didn’t have 3G. I was so scared and about to have nerve-breakdown since I was alone but then a local stopped his car next to me and he gave me a free ride to my dorm. Another time, I was on my way to home, and I was really tired but then a friendly Poles passed by me and said ” Don’t worry, be happy” 🙂 and probably it is the only sentence in English that he knew. Later, I asked my Polish friends about Polish culture, they explained to me that Polish like to show affection or care towards other people.

Before I came to Gdansk, I was hoping that the weather here will be warmer than in Finland. But again, I was surprised with the weather condition here 🙂 Since Gdansk is close to the sea, the weather is unpredictable. It can be chilly and windy in the morning and then rainny in the afternoon. Fortunately, I was still able to enjoy Gdansk in sunny day. It is absolutely amazing.

Sunset in Gdansk

From Gdansk, you can travel to many interesting cities for example: Gdynia, Sopot, Malbork, etc with really fast and cheap train. Old buildings and castle are very beautiful here.

Castle in Malbork

If I have another chance, definitely I will go back to Poland. Poland at first, it would not offer as comfortable life as I have in Finland but good food, nice company, beautiful surroundings and interesting history are enough to capture my heart 🙂

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!