Monthly Archives: November 2015

Back in Netherlands

It’s been 12 years since my first visit to Netherlands and since then i have been travelling just about every corner of the country during my trips around Western Europe, since my travels usually are more focused on far east and Asia, it was a good idea to choose Netherlands as exchange country since i already knew that i would like it in here.

Zwolle is a relatively small city, but i really don’t like big cities anyway so it’s pretty much perfect in size. After seeing and travelling the major big cities around the world you really come to appreciate smaller places and the access to nature.

Studying here is just about what i expected and it’s been good experience so far. Since i don’t have that much of course going on currently in the uni, i started my training to graduate as a scuba diving instructor in a local dive center and career development school. It’s going well so far and i expect to graduate in december.

 

 

Day for fundives at Wythmenerplas, Zwolle

Here in the pic above me and my Finnish friend were doing some fundives in a local lake Withmenerplas, just outside Zwolle

Leeds, United Kingdom

 Greetings from Leeds!

When I first came to Leeds the number of people felt a bit overwhelming but now I can say that I’m quite used to it. There are so many students in here it’s insane! I have 20 people in my class in Finland and in here the number is 80. But it also shows. There isn’t really a feeling of a community among the fine art students. Studying is really independent in here which is actually refreshing. I have also enjoyed very much the lecture series that I’ve been attending to in here. In general the facilities in Leeds Beckett University are great but rather small. At least with the fine art course.

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 The night life is also something worth to experience. I would recommend places like The Headrow House and The Belgrave Music Hall. The atmosphere is really nice in both of them and the prices aren’t too bad either.

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Few weeks ago I went to this hiking trip to Ilkley Moor with one of my housemates. It’s a place a bit further away from Leeds so we had to take a 40 minutes bus drive to get there. Even though it was raining the whole time and at the end we were soaked trough it was all worth it. The view was stunning and we also saw few sheep.

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xxx

Emmma

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving life in LA

Greetings from sunny California!

Los Angeles is an incredible city, and it is such a privilege to get to live and work here. I am doing my practical trainings for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and thus working for the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles. I work with passports, residence permits and Schengen visas, and it has been super interesting. Working for the Ministry is just as interesting and great as I always thought it would be, and I am actually looking forward to going to work every day, as funny as that sounds.

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My spare time has, unsurprisingly, been even cooler than work. I adore California climate (hot and sunny), and even more the relaxed and fun LA lifestyle. US has been a great country to live in, and LA is just such a special city. Going out in Hollywood, hiking in Malibu, tanning in Santa Monica,  watching LA Galaxy games in StubHub Center, chilling on Venice Beach, dining in Brentwood – it is just incredible my weeks consist of cool things like these, and that I get to do them on a daily basis. It seems unreal!

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I have truly enjoyed California and the LA life. People are so nice, and there is always something to do or somewhere to go. I also have some holidays, and get to spend them travelling. I am so looking forward to seeing New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon, seeing how this is my first time in the States.

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All in all it’s been a blast, and I’ve just fallen it love with LA. It is definitely a city I want to move back to at some point in my life.

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Love from LA,

Meri

Sa Watdee All The Way Form Thailand!

I am currently doing my practical training as an office trainee at Raya Divers. Raya Divers has five offices altogether and mainly all of the reservations as well as bookings are done through the Phuket office. My tasks include customer service, making reservations (both b2c and b2b), translations, updating webpages, answering emails & chat enquiries, equipment inventory & sales and working as an occasional tour guide. I work six days a week and only in the office during low season. When the peak season starts in mid-November, I will be working usually one day on one of our island or snorkeling tours and five days in the office.

Found this little fella wandering aimlessly in my apartment.
Found this little fella wandering aimlessly in my apartment.

I am really happy that I arrived during the low season as I have had a large variety of assignments. I have also gotten to know a completely new industry and answered customer chats for the first time in my life. Work days are quite long and my days off are always packed with activities because I want to see as much as possible here.

So you thought its always fun and games here? Wrong. Rain season ends just before peak season and if I hear another person complaining about rain in Finland I might have to do something about it.
So you thought its always fun and games here? Wrong. Rain season ends just before peak season begins and if I hear another person complaining about rain in Finland I might have to do something about it.

The weather is either really good or really bad, no inbetweeners. The forecasts show rain for every single day but it really rains like maybe twice a week. But when it rains, there’s nowhere to hide! Umbrellas are useless and Fishing waders would be useful as the roads tend to flood. Oh and yes, everybody wears those highly fashionable rain cloaks.

But then again...life is pretty good when it's sunny on a day off!
But then again…life is pretty good when it’s sunny on a day off!

As I mentioned before, I have one day off per week so it is always pretty nice to see the sun on those days. Raya’s office is located in Chalong and that’s where I also live. It’s a bit further away from everything and many people do drive a scooter. I have reclined to drive one as the traffic is really mental here.

Everything is cheap(er) here and i'm happy to make you all jealous by telling that there's a rooftop pool at my apartment building.
Everything is cheap(er) here and i’m happy to make you all jealous by telling that there’s a rooftop pool at my apartment building.

I lead almost the same kind of life here as in Finland: I wake up, go to work, go to the gym, eat, sleep and repeat. Only exceptions are tour days (once a week for me) and days off. Last week I had a chance of working as one of the tour guides on a snorkeling tour. It was a lot of fun but we had to go through training first. A swimming test, maritime rescue exercises, safe snorkeling instructions, recognizing poisonous sea creatures and so on. Not many people think about the tour guide training.

The captain's cabin at our day boat.
The captain’s cabin at our day boat.
Raya Yai - tie paradise island where Raya Divers was born.
Raya Yai – tie paradise island where Raya Divers was born.

 

Love,

Roosa

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Greetings from the Netherlands!

In the beginning, I have to tell that time flies here! I have lived here for more than 2 months already! But as has been said; time flies when you are having a good time 🙂

I live in Nijmegen, in the oldest city in the Netherlands. This city is beautiful with lots of students. Nijmegen feels like a small idyll city with lots of old buildings. I feel very comfortable living here. There are not huge differences in the culture and the life style between Finland and the Netherlands. That is one of the reasons why it has been very easy to settle down here. People here are very friendly and open. Almost everyone is able to speak English.

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Nijmegen

I live about 5 km away from school and the city centre. It means lots of cycling: I rarely use any other transportation in Nijmegen. This country is famous for the bikes; people actually bike here a lot! Sometimes it feels like there are more bikes than even cars in the traffic. There are own lanes for the cyclists on the roads.

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I live next to this beautiful river
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We ride bikes everyday

Life is treating me very well here! It feels like a home here. My everyday life consists of school, hanging out with the friends, sports, travelling etc., just as my life in Finland also. I live with 8 other students and there are plenty of students in the area I am living. It is very easy to make friends here and have company here.

 

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It’s been beautiful autumn with awesome colors

Weather is pretty nice to Finnish people also. It is raining every now and then and it is getting darker all the time. At the same time it is still warmer than in Finland J Now at this time (November) it has been up to 15 degrees during the days; it feels actually very warm weather for the November J So basically while the people from the southern Europe feel the freezing, rainy and windy weather I cannot complain. There are always an option to go and dance under the rain in any way!

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I have done some small trips in the weekends and looking forward to do more. It is very easy to travel; it is easy to just take a train and travel to new cities in a cheap way.

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Prague, Czech Republic
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Prague, Czech Republic
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Amsterdam is a nice city! It didn’t feel like a typical dutch city though
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Amsterdam

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Maastricht, the Netherlands
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Maastricht

I have about 2,5 months left here and I want to fully enjoy my rest of the time here and keep learning new things. Adioooos!

-Saila

Griaß eich aus Wiener Neustadt!

First of all, I want to recommend Austria for students who still think about where should I go to do my exchange studies. A lovely country, beautiful views, amazing mountains and friendly people. But I also want to recommend to choose better than me. If you have two options: Vienna or Wiener Neustadt. You should definitely choose Vienna. Wiener Neustadt is a nice city but in here the only option is to live in Wihast Dormitory. Actually this student dormitory is located in the middle of industrial center (middle of nowhere). Only good thing in here is that you can spend time with other exchanger students but actually we have only 30 exchangers here. Up to this point, we have had a lot of problems. The company Wihast, who owns this dormitory, doesn’t care at all. Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt itself is good but it doesn’t compensate that. Anyways, if you still want to come here in Wiener Neustadt, I really recommend to rent a private apartment in the centre of Wiener Neustadt or try to get someway an apartment/shared room in another dormitory (FH Dorms or Orange dorms).

Time runs here so fast. I’d just realized that it was over 2 months since I arrived in Vienna International Airport and started my journey to Wiener Neustadt city. The Wiener Neustadt city itself is quite small. There are 42 thousands inhabitants. But if I compare this city to my hometown Nokia in Finland where there are living 33 thousands people, the difference is so huge. Here is nice old town in very nice atmosphere. Actually, there are so many shops and restaurant and even a huge shopping center that I was quite shocked at the beginning. I really thought this should be a small town.

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In my opinion, local people are more purposeful, sometimes even aggressive, they actually say what they are thinking, but also they really respect and love their own country and other people. Austrians are proud of their homeland and this is something that I want to bring home from here. Finland is also a great place to live and we have so many good things. Unfortunately, often you have to travel first outside to Finland to realize these facts. We Finns can also be proud of our country.

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Before this journey I decided to travel as much I can. I have had  the opportunity to explore 4 countries and 8 different cities. Most memorable moment was in Prague. Marvelous city, which offers possibilities to get known to Prague’s history, feel the passion of city itself and taste some local food and of course local beer. We are planning to go to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia at the end of November and on December but time will be the biggest problem so we have to leave some of those journeys for the future.

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Until now, amazing journey behind and lots of experiences and knowledge from other countries and cultures! There are still many awesome moments ahead.

Wünsch eich no an schenan November!
Alles Gute euer Sami

Greetings from Písek

Ahoj everybody!

It’s been almost two months now since I came to this promised land of cheap beer. I have had the chance to see the actual everyday life of Czech people and be taught by the local professionals of film & tv industry.

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Here’s my friend walking down the street of our idyllic small town of 30 000 people living in. Nobody outside the school speaks english here, so we have tried to learn this impossible language. We are also experts in body language now, and all of our problems have been solved without common language. This is something I really like in Czech Republic, people are nice and helpful.

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When ordering lunch in school it’s always a surprise what’s going to be on my plate. This is maybe one of the most common dishes in this country: pork, cabbage and bread dumplings. These people really don’t eat anything green here and it’s normal for a professor to drink a beer with lunch.

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This picture was taken after few weeks of staying here. There’s me and part of my exchange student friends enjoying the local film festival. It was cool, we got free tickets to all the screenings and stuff.

Besides the special events there’s really not much to do here, but I’ve still enjoyed my stay. Písek has a nice nature so I’ve been exploring it and the school has kept us quite busy. I’m living with a finnish friend so we have done small trips to Prague, Bratislava and London. 

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Kisses from me and the horses

xx Meri

 

Discovering Seoul, South Korea

Annyeonghaseyo (안영하세요 = hello) from Seoul, South Korea (Soongsil University)

The main things I knew about South Korea before visiting the country were: it’s neighbor of North Korea, companies Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai are from there. Not much else.

Now I know: The Seoul National Capital is the 2nd biggest metropolitan area in the world with 25 million residents (source) 1st: Tokyo, 3rd: Jakarta. Ok.

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Street

This picture above is from the first days in here. The weather was nice and everything looked so different compared to Finland. Now it doesn’t look so different anymore, I have used it for the past two months, every day crossing the street once or twice to go restaurants or bars.

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University building

That is the wall of engineering building, where I spend time two times a week. It was really hard to find courses for mechanical engineering here, but there’s a soulution for everything. Little change to your timetable and it’s done. The teachers doesn’t speak too good English, but all the material and powerpoints are written correctly.

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Traditional Korean barbeque

This picture is from the first time we had the barbeque. Now counting more than 20 times we’ve had it. And it’s delicious. You get raw beef or pork on a plate and you cook it by yourself, cut it to pieces and serve it to your friends. Cost is around 5 to 10 euros/each. Price depends if you like to drink some Soju with your meat.

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Yongsan station

At Yongsan station you find huge department store where you can buy clothes, food, get married, watch a play or go to cinema. There is even football fields (smaller ones) on the roof.

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There is the great Palace ( Gyeongbokgung) which is famous sightseeing place for tourists. In first picture can be seen how old and new architecture meet. Those old buildings, from dynastian ages, are just really beautiful.

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Han river

Bridge in Han river. The river divides the South Korea’s capital, Seoul, in two.

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Seoul International Fireworks Show
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Architecture
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Bukchon Hanok Village

Surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses called ‘hanok’ that date back to the Joseon Dynasty.

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National Folk Museum
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Jeju island

Jeju island. Island formed from volcano eruption long time ago, must place to visit with a lot of friends.

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North Korea

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We also visited the DMZ (demilitarized zone) which is the border between two Koreas. Because these countries are still in war, there are soldiers everywhere.

Why it’s so dangerous: Military border fortification gone wild with almost 2 million troops, plus North Korean nukes.” (foreignpolicy.com)

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Seoul tower, highest point in Seoul

Hallo Utrecht!

Greetings from the Netherlands!

It’s been almost exactly two months since I arrived to this flat country and a beautiful city called Utrecht. First few weeks I was completely lost here and felt like an outsider with no bicycle. Cycling is a very typical Dutch thing to do and even though I had read about the amounts of bikes in cities, the reality was “worse” than I’d imagined. In Finland I used to hate cycling but after getting my own bike here and exploring the city with it I’m now convinced that it’s the best way to travel short distances. So it seems I’ve taken my first step in turning into Dutch…

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Leiden and windmills

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I came here for my exchange to study Minor Music Marketing in the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (Hogeschool Utrecht). Courses have been interesting but not as challenging as I was hoping for when reading reports about studying in this particular school. All the teachers in this minor are real professionals in the music industry and their English is very good, which has made learning in a new environment pretty easy. Also the way of teaching is quite similar with TAMK so I haven’t had any difficulties with courses and the amount of work is very reasonable. That’s nice since it guarantees that I have a lot of spare time here. Despite not being forced to study really hard, I feel that I’ve learned much and also passed all the courses this far with good grades. IMG_1542

The biggest culture shock here has been a positive one: people in the Netherlands (at least in Utrecht, I’m not so convinced about the Amsterdam) are very helpful and friendly. If you’re wondering in the streets and look like you’re lost, there’s always someone coming to offer their help. People are smiling and more talkative to strangers than in Finland but also here the personal distance exists, so you’re not going to feel intimidated by strangers. Living in the Netherlands is easy also because nearly everyone here speaks good English and knowing basics of German also helps quite much with understanding Dutch, at least in written form..

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View from my balcony

In my free-time I have travelled inside the Netherlands with my flatmates. We have visited Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Leiden. Travelling inside the country is easy and cheap, because with the OV-chipkaart you can use all the domestic trains in the Netherlands as well as the public transport. I’ve also visited Italy for a weekend trip and I’m planning to visit also Paris.

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Como, Italy
Milan Duomo
Milan, Italy

Besides travelling I’ve attended many cool international house parties and also seen the nightlife of Utrecht, which I don’t really enjoy because of the music they are playing: electronic dance music and techno are very popular here and almost nobody listens to rock or heavy music… One of the things I miss from Finland!

 

I could write for hours about the beauty of the canals, interesting changes in weather, all the amazing new people I’ve met and so many other things. But since I’m trying very hard to keep this short, I guess I’ve already written enough.

Hello London :)

It has been a ride here with London and its lively lifestyle. London is a multi-cultural and historical city with many cool happenings. There is a saying that ” If you get bored of London, you probably get bored of life”.

Even though doing practical training here is quite busy and stressful sometimes but at the same time i can enjoy a lot of activities and events that grasp my interests. Everything is very accessible here and i can find anything i need.

First few weeks were exploratory time. Nice to see some tourist places but other hidden places are the most amazing ones. There are a load of cool places to see such as antique markets, galleries, restaurants and pubs.

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It is a fast pace place so it is easy to loose time and focus on unimportant things like transportation, shopping and housing repair, etc. I was able to manage my time to enjoy the best of my 5 month internship at Paul Bakery UK as stock and cost control intern.

This is a French bakery company and their product are very cool. Joining the company and its sales events expand my point of view about catering and retail services. Working here is fun and the international working environment had taught me to develop cross-culture communication skills and my English as well.

After all, such a great time in London! I am sure i will be back some day.