Monthly Archives: June 2015

Vienna – now or never!

If you ever have a chance to spend some time in capital of Austria – just do it any doubts!

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You’re  going to fall in love with a beautiful city full of castles and palaces, narrow streets smelling with fresh pastry and coffee, will take a horse ride instead of a cab, start saying  «Broost»  instead of cheers and meet a variety of amazing open-minded people.

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Exchange semester in Vienna is full of activities. We started to ice skate on Rathaus square in winter, traveled to Austrian Alps in Salzburg, visited open classical music concerts, listened to modern music sitting on Dunauinsel, went to the World’s highest chained carousel, tried Austrian homemade wine in a nice atmosphere in a wine yard, had dinner in typical Austrian restaurant (yes, we are in love with schnitzel, huuuge schnitzel),

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and of course we’ve partied a lot.
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I mean..A LOT!
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By the way let’s come back to studies 🙂 FH Wien university has a great organized system of «buddies». Each incoming student gets two or three tutors that are extremely helpful during the whole exchange semester. Starting from meeting you at the airport, picking up the keys, solving all the administration issues to showing you around and advising the best grocery stores in the city. Most of the lectures taught in English are intense courses. This fact allows you to concentrate on new information more easily and pass the exam at the end still having in memory information learnt at the beginning of the course. FH Wien invites a lot of teachers for giving their lectures from abroad: We’ve met professors from USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Slovakia. All of them are highly experienced in own path and gave us clear understanding of business features in their home countries. Moreover innovative ways of teaching and organizing group work make the learning process effective and diverting.

It is hard to describe the whole Vienna experience, enormous amount of emotions and positive memories that we all have made during exchange there, so my advice for everyone –

Vienna- now or never!

P.S. and please remember : There are no kangaroos in Austria! 🙂

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Hessen style

 

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Rosen- und Licherfest = Rose- and Lightfest

At the moment I am doing my Erasmus year in Germany. More specific on Frankfurt am Main which located in south Germany state of Hessen. In Finland I study Chemical Engineering but here a bit different Bioverfahrenstechnik. While I have been here I have learn few things about Germany. First  all German people love events just like finnish people but there is also lot of events on wintertime. Like famous Weihnactsmarkt = Christmas market. In  every event there is a lot of food and drinks. Useally beer and sausage&french fries. And these events are always for family so no beertents or drinkingareas and also no drunk people. Second all stores are closed on Sundays. So if want to eat Sunday you need to remember that on Saturday. The hardest thing for me was propably to learn always carry with me a cash. Here restaurants, bars, kiosks, taxis and lot of else places dont approve a card. So you need always cash in Germany

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Weihnactsmarkt
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International exchange student network

In my spare time I have spend with my new friends. I have got a lot of new friends in several countries and after this year I think that I have in many countries place to stay if I want to go there. I have also travelled and saw a bit of central Europa. Overall I can say that this year has been taking and giving a lot. And it is not even a over yeat..

 

Learning language, life and work

I’m doing my first hospitality management training in a lovely guest house in Onomichi (cute, relaxed and vintage styled town), called Anago no Nedoko ( Sea Eel’s sleeping place). My jobs are helping with preparing and serving breakfast (japanese and western style), cleaning cafe and cleaning guest house’s first floor (showers, toilets, common kitchen and living room). If my co-worker missing/having holiday ect (:D), I also do the second floor (dormitories and private rooms).

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Time is flying way too fast. 😀 On my free time I go eating out, sightseeing or geo caching with my local friends or guests of Anago. Stuff of the guest house have parties, movie nightscand sport events often (couple time per a week).  Trying my best to learn japanese and finish my friend’s wedding gift. Became also addicted in jogging (Onomichi full of uphills and stairs. ;D

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Onomichi is full of stray cats, temples, islands, friendly people and things to see. Most famous attraction is Shimanami Kaido that is a bikeing route (70km one way) through seven (?) islands from Onomichi to Imabari. Highly recommend, very beautiful. ;D

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Enjoying my life to ^10. So if you do not see mee in next autumn, you know where to find me! ;D

Hiya from Portsmouth, UK!

Okay let’s start with the fact that it has not been raining here everyday during the past 4 months I have been here. The weather has actually been quite good! It was really sunny already in April yet it is not super hot still now in June. Here’s proof of that:

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But there is something which I have found even more puzzling than sunny days: Where is my 5 o’clock afternoon tea? I thought I would be shouted out from the room when I carry my cup of coffee to the office in the morning. I also expected not to see anyone in the streets at 5pm but tea houses full of happy biscuits and cheerful teacups. The reality? Well, I haven’t seen any tea rooms anywhere and no Brit understands my happiness when I talk about 5 o’clock afternoon tea which doesn’t exist.

At least not in the way you would think so. They do have concept called ‘Afternoon tea’ but that’s then again something which is mostly only for tourists. Tourists like me who think ‘the real’ afternoon tea exists. Sad isn’t it? Not really.

No worries still mates, this place is great! Portsmouth is located in the South coast of England and for the first time in my life, it takes only some 10 minutes for me to walk to the beach. This fact makes me seriously so overwhelmingly happy even though I spend 5 days out of 7 in the office when it’s that beach-worthy time.

Ohh and what would this post be without fish and chips! After all it’s the Great Britain 😉 Below you’ll find some great photos.

 

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So all in all, life is good.

I have 6 weeks to go with my internship. And even though I’m happy to be here, the thought of going back home makes me happy, too. So nothing to complain about!

– Jutta

Ég tala ekki íslensku!

I have now spent little over five wonderful months in Iceland and lucky for me, I have another month and a half left! My job as a placement officer in an internationally well-known and active non-profit organization has been extremely tiring, yet rewarding experience. I happily welcomed a new group of volunteers every single week, coming from different parts of the world.

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Summer season started few weeks ago which means more people, not only in our hostel but in Reykjavík. This small capital is completely packed with tourists and adventure seekers! The weather is as unpredictable as it was during the wintertime, one minute you are enjoying sunshine, short moment later it’s raining. This doesn’t bother me at all since I am used to bad weather in Finland but for some short-term volunteers the ever-changing weather can be quite frustrating.

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I mostly spent my free time in Reykjavík but every once in a while I took part in weekend excursions. My absolute favorite thing in Iceland has to be all these gorgeous mountains!

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Bless bless (bye bye) !

Hallo from Ulm

Guten Tag! Since it’s now couple weeks left on my exchange period here in Ulm, it would be nice to sum up a little this stay. Have to say that Ulm has been a great exchange place for me and has offered pretty much the things I could have expected.

Shopping street
CIty center of Ulm
View from world tallest Churchtower
View from world tallest Church tower

Ulm is nice, small big town in southern Germany, located between München and Stuttgart. What I mean for small is that you can walk basically everywhere, and where you don’t want to walk you can use busses. By big I mean that there is everything you need. And what is cool, travelling to different places is so easy because its location and good public transportation.

I have enjoyed a bit of travelling during my stay. I have travelled to different places in Germany but also to other countries. You know when you are in middle of Europe, it’s pretty easy and great to travel.

Lake Garda in Italy
Lake Garda in Italy

Weather here has surprised me totally. I didn’t expect it to be this nice the whole spring. Mostly sunny and pretty warm, in Finnish standards. So enjoying the park with friends or running by the Donau have been just wonderful.

Park by the Donau
Park by the Donau
What time is it?
What time is it?

And yes, maybe sometimes had a couple of beers just because of the nice weather. This whole culture of beer here is a bit different. Small or big festivals, biergardens and on and on. But what could be nicer in warm weather. Studying at school, not.

School yard
School yard

The school here is okey and located nicely maybe 500m from my apartment on top of the hill, so it doesn’t take too much time to walk there. Profs are nice and talk quite good English. It has been a great experiment to study in English and see how subjects are taught in here. From the school side everything has been organized quite well. Program was already designed for us so we didn’t have to worry about it. There has been also lots of gatherings and different kind of events organized which is great. I have met and spent time with awesome exchange friends from all over the world.

Now I just have one and half weeks until I will fly back home, but still have all the exams coming on last week. All this will soon be just a great memories and wonderful experiments with nice people.

Tschüss!

Austria is just about the Alps and classical music, right?

Servus, and greetings from Austria! What comes to the question in the headline, even a year ago I couldn’t  have agreed more with it. I had seen the Alps, heard the music and tasted Red Bull and for a such a small country as Austria is, I basically thought that was it. Well, as I arrived to my current city of Wels in Upper Austria province to study as an exchange student in FH Wels, I immediately realized that I had been wrong; the whole city was flatter than a dead man’s cardiac function curve!

After the initial shock of the lack of mountains and lederhosen, you’ll find Wels a quite charming place. It’s a small city in European scale with roughly 60 000 people, but there’s a small old town, lots of restaurants and shops and some nice parks. During the winter months, the city was dead quiet. Like really, really quiet. That made the studying here more relaxed as you didn’t have much else to do, although the timetables (or the lack of them) give you something to be nervous for. Teaching methods vary a lot from course to course, as does the level of English – from good to adequate at best.

View from Marienwarte Tower
Stadplatz Wels

And as with the rest of the Austria, on Sundays everything is closed so you have plenty of time to do your homework. Or explore the surrounding towns and Austria in general, as some of us did…

View from Marienwarte Tower
View from Marienwarte Tower

 

 

 

 

Wels is a shopping town, there’s no denying that. Also the restaurant scene here is quite good, but you will get a lot more out of Austria if you travel a bit. By train it’s easy , and pretty cheap, to move around. Also by train you can reach Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy… You name it. Traveling around really is easy in Central Europe, and it’s definitely worthy to take some time and see the neighbouring countries.

Living in general in Austria does not differ much from Finland, although as a Catholic country everything closes early. So you can all stop complaining about the alcohol selling ban after 9 p.m in Finland… Country is cheap-ish, but not as much that you would feel like a millionaire here. It’s easy to get along with, except in smaller places some German knowledge is a must as the amount of English-speakers is not that high.

View to Grossglocker, highest mountain massive in Austria

All in all, Wels and Austria in general are really nice places to spend your exchange. School is okay, food is eatable, language might prove useful and the weather is great during summer. But these are not the reason why the country is visited by millions of tourists every year.

Some random monastery in some random town
Some random monastery in some random town

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The reasons are nature, landscapes and culture. Those are the answer why I came here, and the reason why I most certainly will come again. Tschüs!

 

 

 

 

News from Japan, Oita.

Konnichiwa! Greetings from Japan!

I have been here for two months now, with only three remaining.
Time flies by when you’re surrounded by a lot of amazing people and interesting things.
Now, most people going to Japan from TAMK seem to choose RItsumeikan so you may have already heard stories all about that, but here’s something from Oita.

Gakuseiryo showercornerFirstly, the most important thing: The living environment.
I was assigned to one of the two international dorms here called the Gakuseiryo (Translating literally to Student Dorm) while the other one is called Kishukusha.
They both have their own sides to them, but I must mention that the rent here in Gakuseiryo is about double the amount the students in Kishukusha pay. Even now I do not really know the proper reason, but I think it is because you get your own shower and bathtub. Sounds great right? Well, if you’re the size of a Japanese young man, maybe.
Personally I find it quite inconvenient due to being quite a bit taller than the average Japanese, for the bathtub is quite small and there is not much space in the shower. Not to mention you have to stand in the slippery tub to take a shower. That kind of turned me off at the start to be honest.
Kishukusha has public showers, but hold on, there’s more.
Because this is Japan and they highly value their privacy, the 3-4 shower rooms per floor can all be locked and there is no way anyone could peek into them while you’re in there. So privacy is not an issue. There are no tubs there but they are SO spacious compared to the tiny corner of a tubshower hybrid we have here at Gakuseiryo.
Other than that the rooms are about the same size, BUT the soundproofing at my dorm is far superior to that of the other one.
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My neighbor can blast music all day long without bothering me and compared to hearing other people cough through the wall in Kishukusha I would say the soundproofing is really quite something here at Gakuseiryo, not to mention this was quite recently renovated.

The bedsheets, pillow, blanket, all that good stuff had to be rented from an external company for about 60 Euros for 6 months, although that’s quite the small price to pay when you consider it’s there when you arrive and you can leave it there when you leave. That said I heard you can get the same set for half that from a shop but you’ll have to arrange for it to be transferred to the dorm which would include additional fees, and you’d have to throw it away yourself upon leaving. I’m happy with the option they provided.
All I had to do was write my name and room number into an email and it was all arranged for me before I arrived. I paid up later at the office.

20150405_122005There’s also a 24/7 store just down the road, so if you get hungry in the dead of night you can always go and get some snacks, packed lunches, baked goods and even deepfried chicken. That really saved me the first few days when I didn’t know the left from the right not to mention knowing how to supply myself with food in the new environment where everything seemed to be written in an alien language. I got used to that in the first few weeks though, as with everything else pretty much.

That said, I still haven’t quite received that much of a culture ‘shock’ as I’d expected, although I do miss some things I’d say I’ve managed to adopt quite well, of course the credit for that goes to the ever-so-helpfull Japanese folks and my fellow transfer students who had most been here for a whole semester already.
They were kind enough to show me the ropes and they’re all really fun to hang around with. I must admit I had my doubts about that at first but I’m glad everything turned out to be better than expected.

Did I mention most of the western style toilets have electrically warmed seats? Yeah, I’m definitely going to miss those when I return to Finland. Oh, they also have integrated pidet and shower in the toilets for those who are into using them. Technology!

About the studies here, while I heard there would have been something more fitting to my field of study in RItsumeikan, I’m glad I chose Oita because the courses here are mostly the things I wanted to study about anyway; The language, culture and history of Japan.
We also have classes about the affairs in the EU so there’s something I can contribute to.
The Japanese books were quite expensive, around a hundred Euros for the workbook and textbook together if I recall correctly, but it’s a single-time purchase unless you happen to lose them.

There’s a ton of places to eat out nearby and a supermarket or two right in the walking distance.
While I’m not really a friend of fish myself, the Sushi restaurant offers a selection of things that are precisely for us like fried chicken, octopus, squid, even fries and ice cream.
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You order it all on the screen and it comes up to you on a conveyor belt. They count the cost of your meal by the coded plates you’ll have piled up at the end of the meal.

There’s a few local bars, pubs and clubs that the transfer students frequent in the city as well. A trip to the city costs about 2 Euros by train and only takes about 15 minutes.

20150405_112633To anyone considering coming to Japan for their exchange, I’d recommend Oita.
The other university is on a high hill as well, so you won’t be leaving it often mostly due to the effort of having to walk all the way down the rounded road to get anywhere.
At least that’s what I heard from one of the guys who was staying there that I met on the beach the other day.
The sun is also quite strong here compared to Finland, burned me to crisp but that’s what I get for underestimating it in the first place.
You should be fine with the strong suncreen you can get at some of the shops here. Alas I had none at the time but don’t you make the same mistake.

In a nutshell, it’s been well worth the trip coming here. My only regret so far is that I’ve only three months left to enjoy my time here, but that just means I’ve got to make the best of it.

Best regards,
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Dois galões, por favor!

The Portuguese version of Caffe Latte is O Galão. Espresso with hot milk.
The Portuguese version of Caffe Latte is O Galão. Espresso with hot milk.

Ten months have gone so quickly here in the beautiful and sunny Lisbon. The experience has been amazing and now that I have my last month to go I can´t believe how well everything has gone and how fast time flies. I have had great days and bad days and all those experiences have left a mark in my heart. I hope to return and at least visit Lisbon and other parts of Portugal somewhere in the near future.

I arrived here with my husband on September to study fine arts in the Faculty of Belas-Artes situated in the vibrant  Baixa-Chiado area at the heart of Lisbon. The University is different of those that I have been used to in Finland. Belas-Artes gives you an memorable first impression with its massive plaster statues on the hallways, high ceilings and architecture from the past centuries.

Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa
Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa
Students learn how to restore the old plaster statues
Students learn how to restore the old plaster statues

The teachers have been very positive and helpful as well as the fellow students. It´s fun to meet so many Erasmus students all the time and its rather easy to make friends or start a conversation about almost anything with people you have never seen before. Portuguese people love telling stories about their culture, history and all that sort of stuff, so it doesn’t take long to get some insight to their views of the country.

Window view from the University to the lovely red roof tops.
Window view from the University to the lovely red rooftops.

Its hard for me to describe how Belas-Artes is different from TAMK ( Tampere University of Applied Sciences)  but for instance it seems that there is lot more possibilities to do and learn different types of crafts in here. Whether ceramics, jewelry making, glass art, mosaics, plaster, and sculpture; metals, stone, wood in both more traditional and contemporary form etc.  But there are also possibilities to study animation, photography, design, illustration, 3D modeling and lots and lots of other things. And of course drawing, painting and sculpting. Belas-Artes has lot more space to do all the things, since its a huge building with four floors.

For instance at TAMK we don’t have the possibility to do anything with ceramics due to the lack of space and equipment. I have always loved doing things with my hands and working with clay, so on my first semester I took courses with ceramics. I really enjoyed them, and even though I probably wont be making tiles the rest of my life, I really learned to appreciate the art of tile making and ceramics in general. It is not at all as easy as I first thought. It is all about chemistry and to be truly great with ceramics you need to know how different ingredients work together. You need to be a little bit of a crazy chemist and Martha Steward at the same time. And things can explode – in the kiln.

Professor Pedro Fortuna measuring the ingcredients
Professor Pedro Fortuna measuring the ingredients
Prof. Fortuna showing how to make the glaze for the tiles
Prof. Fortuna showing how to make the glaze for the tiles
Students working at the ceramic class
Students working at the ceramic class
One of my works from the first semester, before firing
One of my works from the first semester, before firing
"The Unknown Thinker" After firing
“The Unknown Thinker”
After firing

 “Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”
― Edith Wharton

 

Our window view from our lovely apartment in Graça. “Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” ― Edith Wharton
Our window view from our lovely apartment in Graça. I want to be like that tall building sipping the last rays of the sun.

The city is very beautiful in itself a lot of old buildings and the culture shows all over. The art scene is lively and you just simply cant walk walk down the streets without sensing abundance of art, culture and history in various different forms, whether in music, typical Portuguese tiles, street art and traditional crafts. You can always stop to have a coffee and chat with a friend in reasonable priced coffee places. I really appreciate the Portuguese mentality that they keep the prices of coffee down for social reasons. Everyone needs to be able to have social life, whether rich or poor. That is culture for you, Finland! In here a galão costs about 1 € or 1,20 €. In Finland a cafe latte is an investment  – the prices are hipster high.

Cafeteria under a fig tree at Principe Real
Cafeteria under a fig tree at Principe Real

At this week we are celebrating Portugal Day and St. Anthony´s Day and in Lisbon that means that the capital city turns into a welcoming village with music, food and people partying all over the city for the week. Evenings are crazy with loud music, crowds down the streets and the hot air.

Everyone comes out to join the party at the Portugal´s Day (9th of July) This starts a week of celebration
Everyone comes out to join the party at the Portugal´s Day (9th of July) This starts a week of celebration
You can buy all kinds of food down the streets with a reasonable price on the celebration week.
You can buy all kinds of food down the streets with a reasonable price on the celebration week.
The city gets a new decoration, tables and chairs are being brought to parks and people eat and talk and kids play around. Everyone is welcomed and all are neighbors.
The city gets a new decoration, tables and chairs are being brought to parks and people eat and talk and kids play around. Everyone is welcomed and all are neighbors.

 

There is something about that warm atmosphere and people hanging out down the streets and everything being so lively, that makes you feel part of the city. The music is really loud and people are cheery and of course the downside is that there´s now way to escape this celebration, especially since our apartment is located just above the craziness.  Nevertheless its a fun experience.

Me in the middle with my husband, roommates and two random photo bombers in the front :D
Me in the middle with my husband, our four roommates and two random photo bombers at the front

I think that the exchange period is not only about studying in the school environment, but even more about the real life in here. It´s vital to get to know the local people – making Portuguese friends can help you a long way. If you´ll need someone to translate you things or to advice you with anything, it’s the locals.

During our days off in here we have gone traveling to different places: Sintra, Cascais, Mafra, Ericeira, Setubal, Sesimbra and so many other places. One of my favorites is definitely the island of São Miguel at the Azores.

Volcanic lake at the Island of São Miguel
Volcanic lake at the Island of São Miguel

Of course we have been getting to know the city very well. I already know my way around and overall it´s a safe city. I have never felt unsafe walking down the streets. There are areas to be avoided though, at least the night time. There is a lot of beauty to be discovered, foods and wines to taste and things to explore. I can imagine how in years to come after this experience has ended I will miss this.

Capo da Roca,which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe
Capo da Roca,which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe

The thing I will most miss though are the genuine friends I´ve made in here, the long conversations and the laughs that we shared. There are people at the school I will miss, like Sr. Martins, to whom you can ask anything ceramics related and he will have the answer and I will miss the lively atmosphere of the Portuguese students while they work. The students were always helpful even if they didn’t know me. After one conversation they would start greeting you down the long hallways of Belas-Artes. They really make you feel welcomed and curious about different countries.The Erasmus experience gave me a lot of confidence to move abroad again and even though I always knew I wanted to live abroad, this experience made it so much more concrete. We are already planning for new trips.

 

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“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”

Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Greetings from Leipzig!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summery Greetings from Leipzig, that recently celebrated its 1000th Birthday! I wanted to start my postcard with a nice view upon the city centrum. Quite surprisingly, the city has had 4 distinctive seasons during my 9 months here, and quite like in Finland, the city has started blooming at the same time with the spring flowers.

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It stood on the instructions, that I should write about both of my studies and my spare time… As a musician it really feels that they often are the same thing. The most wonderful thing about my school is the fact, that you can almost hear the composers that have studied and taught there whispering in your ears while practicing. The Hochschule für Musik ind Theater Leipzig was founded by Mendelssohn, and is the eldest music university in Germany. For example Schubert taught Grieg studied there.

About 15 minutes from the Hochschule one can visit Thomaskirche, where J.S. Bach worked as a Kapellmeister from 1723 until his death 1750. You can see the church in the picture below. Concerts happen there every weekend, and it has been exotic to see, that cantatas and oratorios attract audience so well here, that you really have to be on time to get a seat!

 

 

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In the city opera I’ve seen among others Magic Flute and Rake’s progress.

 

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Last time I went to Gewandhouse of Leipzig I heard a french pianist Helene Grimaud. The concert was fantastic.

 

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The architecture is really beautiful and mixed here – really old buildings can be found among new stuff and everything in between. I like particularly the numerous wall paintings in this city.

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I actually found writing this post card a bit difficult, as music is a thing, that demands a lot of time spent alone inside four walls. I enjoy highly the historical atmosphere of this city and my school, and participate such school subject as historical dance with great joy. It is certainly an ideal place for a classical musician – but maybe not the most interesting subject to tell about to someone else, as majority of my time here looks like this:

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See you soon in Finland,

Hanna