Monthly Archives: January 2016

Goedemorgen uit Nederland!

So what’s all happened to me since I arrived here in the Netherlands..?20150825_155256

I’ve had a near nervous breakdown at Amsterdam Schiphol for not figuring out how to buy train tickets and how to use the machines there…However, buying the OV-chipkaart (the national public transport card) has made life a lot easier since, so not to worry!

I’ve met my new school mates who are all wonderful and come from places like Canada, Russia, Spain, Germany, Latvia, Hungary, Mexico, France, Brazil, Korea, Japan and the UK (to name a few!).
With them I’ve attended a BBQ and games organised by my school – Fontys International Business School – in a lovely place by a big field on a beautiful summer’s day in August.

received_1040690092616548I’ve also had some fun out by the river Maas in Venlo with my new friends from school (again, on a beautiful hot summer’s day), I’ve ridden a tandem bike (and not crashed), I’ve taken a bus (tha20150902_085520t was going in the wrong direction) and ridden on it for nearly an hour when the journey SHOULD have taken 10 mins, I’ve gotten lost (oh so many times!) on the little streets around Venlo where I live…The nature over here is breathtaking though, so you really don’t mind getting a little lost!

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Some things that I love over here in the Netherlands: the kindness and helpfulness of people, random conversations with strangers, the Sunday ”buzz” (Sunday seems to be one the liveliest days of the week with lots of things, like concerts, fairs and such happening), cheap prices (drinking, eating out, grocery shopping and some clothes shops) AND the way every Dutch person modestly answers: ”Yes, a little bit”, when asked if they speak English. They always end up speaking it fluently!20151023_223800

School-wise, the learning and teaching methods used here at Fontys International Business School are close to those at TAMK: there are a lot of group tasks, projects and cases to be done, but with the exemption that all the projects are theoretical as there is no contact with actual companies. I have liked it a lot though – the teachers are great and the subjects in my International Marketing and Management minor really build upon what I have previously learnt at TAMK. The grading system here goes from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best grade you can get so it’s a little different from the system in Finland, but you get used to it quickly!20150826_132359

Some great Dutch experiences thus far:

  1. Trip to Amsterdam on Halloween to meet with some friends – what a beautiful and interesting city it is with lots to see and to do, and some things you would never expect to see.
  2. 20151021_160323City of Fears trip (Weeze, Germany) A terrifyingly exciting trip organised by Fontys; an abandoned industrial park turned into a full-on horror experience with clowns, zombies and the works!
  3. Maastricht Christmas Market, lovely little city with heavenly Christmas lights and a lot of nice things to look at.20151128_180737
  4. ’Kermis’ in Venlo in October; the whole town turned into a bustling fairground for a week!
  5. Gigs, games of pool and general fun times with our new Dutch friends at Kafee de Splinter – our favourite local pub with great music and familiar atmosphere!

All in all, Venlo is an amazing little city, and the Dutch are some of the nicest and most entertaining people you’ll ever meet! I can honestly say that I recommend considering Fontys International Business School as an exchange destination. This place has exceeded my expectations.
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Austria: country for nature and history lovers

I have spent a little bit over 3 months in a beautiful small town called Krems in Lower Austria, situated next to Danube river. It is located about 70 km west from Vienna and 270 km east of Salzburg. The town itself is rather small, it has only about 24 000 inhabitants and everything is in walking distance. There is no need for using buses or cars because you can get anywhere on foot or by bike!

Krems

Founded even before 1000, Krems is a very historic town. On almost every step, you pass by beautiful old buildings and churches. Also our school, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, is located in a building belonging  to Piaristen church. Some of the classrooms are even in former wine cellars.

The most famous building in the town is Steiner Tor, which is this gate located in the historic centre. The main street of the old town beggins from here.

Krems - Steiner Tor

This area is famous for its vineyards as well. Above the town, there is a hill with vineyards where you can walk and see a view of the whole town and also Danube river.

Krems 3

I have been staying in a student hostel (or dorm), which is very high quality standard compared to some other student facilities in Europe. We have single rooms in 2 rooms flats and common kitchen. There is also sauna, gym and music room. Living here is very comfortable and I have met really great friends here in the dorm!

Our school is one of the top quality schools in Austria and has the best student satisfaction. The school environment is a bit more formal than in Finland but still it remains really friendly and the teachers appreciate some interractions and dialogues during classes. The student life is also very nice and friendly. Since Krems is rather small, you have a feeling of closeness and it’s not a problem to meet new people and make close friends.

Many student trips are organized for us here. However, I only participated in two of them. The first one in the very beginning to surrounding Wachau valley – visiting nearby towns Dürnstein and Melk:

DürnsteinMelk

The second trip I participated in was a skiing weekend in Kaprun in the Alps! Austria is a great country for mountain and skiing/snowboarding lovers. The weather was beautiful and the atmosphere so peaceful up in the mountains, up to 3000 m above sea level.

Kaprun

If you like nature and history, come to Austria, you are not going to regret!

Life in Poland

Hey ya’ll! I started my Erasmus semester in October at Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland. I had no idea about the city or much about Poland anyway and the first thing to shock me was the language barrier. I arrived to Gliwice before the semester started and so most of the students hadn’t arrived to Gliwice yet, meaning English speakers were are rare breed. When I met other exchange students and local students, things got a lot easier.

.gliwice

The studies in Poland have been very different from TAMK. Partly because the way courses are taught is somewhat different but also because the courses I have a something very different from TAMK. Even though they are different, they are that in a good way. I have a lot of energy engineering studies I believe are useful for me in the future but can’t be studied in TAMK at least as much. Also some of the equipment used in the laboratories here are way older than the ones in TAMK, but I think it has been useful to learn to use other instruments too.

The town of Gliwice is quite small, smaller than I imagined but the location in Europe is very good for travelling. I have met a lot of nice people during my exchange and travelled with them somewhere almost every weekend. Sometimes in Poland and sometimes in countries nearby Poland. One special treat was to visit Vienna and we got tickets to La Boheme in the national opera for only 4€. Opera is not really my thing but it was a great experience especially in Vienna opera which is considered maybe the best in the world.

opera

I have felt that Gliwice is a little bit too small place to be as an exchange student because the amount of English speakers is small but there are bigger and really nice cities near Gliwice and very easily accesible. I have visited Krakow, Wroclaw and Katowice which all were really nice, especially during christmas time. And we also had a really nice weekend trip arranged by ESN ( Erasmus Student Network) to Pieniny mountains near the border of Slovakia where we hiked on top of a mountain that was almots 1km high and rafted on a river that was the border between Poland and Slovakia.

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All in all my time in Poland hasn’t been always easy but I think it has been a great experience and I have made many good friends around the world that I look forward to visiting and them to visit me back in Finland. Right now while writing this post I am in London visiting my friends and going back to Poland in couple of days for the final month of my exchange. So most of the travelling fun is over and now I have to buckle down and study bit harder for my final exams.

Best Regards

Matias