Monthly Archives: June 2016

Waffels with sandstorms

Greetings from Belgium

When I was in Belgium or in other countries during my Erasmus, people kept asking why I chose Belgium. I think that most of time I had different answer for everyone, but nro 1 answer were that I wanted to get to know what kind of country is the capital country of EU. Also Belgium was a sole country which I hadn’t clue about at all, what kind of people there lives, what they usually eat etc.

After a few weeks I noticed that Belgium doesn’t different too much from Finland. Inhabitants looks little bit like Finns and both are really shy with meeting new people. My university is called Hogeschool VIVES Oostende and there is only students which study sciences and technology like electricians like me. Teaching methods in Belgium were so similar to Finland that sometimes I felt like I am in Finland except teaching was conducted in English.

Traditional foods in Belgium are waffles, beers, mussels and French fries. You can really find fries joint at almost in every corner in the big cities. Fries, fries and fries everywhere, I don’t really know could I eat them anymore. Waffles were really cheap and tasty and must to have if you like sweets like that. My favorite was waffle with strawberries and chocolate.

After all Belgium was good country to live, because price level in markets wasn’t too high and travelling possibilities were way too good when comparing to Finland. Weather in Belgium is really something what you can’t prepare in advance, because it changes like every 15 min and at near coast line wind is really strong. Sandstorms at Oostende is almost everyday thing.

Experience of life time in Prague!

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Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic. Five last months have been life changing experience for a Finnish technical student and curious explorer. I have fell in love with this city every day during my time here. Experience of living every day life abroad has been more than I ever could have wished!

I love Prague as a beautiful and versatile city. City offers every day something new for you, so you won’t get bored. You share a life with 700 other exchange student and also small range of local people. I was lucky to find an apartment to share with one Finnish girl and one Czech guy. This experience gave me good touch to local atmosphere and life in general.

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This was my first longer experience abroad, and studying in foreign language. First I was a little bit afraid how I’m going to survive with English and in different culture and country. But I was afraid for nothing. CTU Czech Technical University of Prague turn out to be good standard university. I had some problems with the most difficult courses, and I had to drop few of them from my schedule.

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I learned so many things during my period here as an Erasmus students; speak more English, be more open and social, other culture and language, get to know people all over the world, how it feels to live in s capital with 1,2 million people, study in English, etc….

Thank you Erasmus program, TAMK and other parties to enabled this experience for me!

Greetings from Japan

こんにちは!

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Mt. Tsurumi in Beppu is definitely one of my favourite places here.

I am currently in Japan, doing my exchange studies in a small town called Beppu. Beppu is known from its hot springs, Japanese Onsens. I have been here now for 3,5 months and was lucky to enter Japan in the most beautiful Spring season. During the Spring season cherry blossoms are blooming for two- or three weeks and it’s really beautiful everywhere.

Language barrier between the locals is huge, which makes everyday life a bit complicated sometimes. Local people doesn’t speak Englis very well. Of course everyone at APU, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, are able to speak English (at least in some level). There are big differences between the classes and the teaching.

I’m the only Finnish exchange student, so using English every day has improved my language skills.  I also have Japanese classes every morning, so conversations with the locals are getting easier every day. My other courses are related to marketing, tourism business and culture and society of Asia Pacific. These courses have really opened my eyes about the local business culture, and also about the culture in and around Japan.

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During my time off I’m enjoying this small city with friends I’ve made. We have already done some trips and some are sill ahead. At the beginning of the semester our university was closed for one week because of a strong earthquake. Beppu was not safe place to stay and after spending one night in an evacuation place, I decided to take most of the extra free time and booked a trip to Tokyo. During our quarter break last week we traveled to Okinawa which is located in the southern Japan. Okinawa has white sand beaches and warm climate all year round.

Japan is definitely not the easiest country to do an exchange. This has been the biggest challenge in my life even though this is not the first time for me to be overseas for a long time. Still, I can strongly recommend this as an option for a students, who are going to do an exchange. People are really friendly and always willing to help. Nature is amazing and the student house is located next to the sea, surrounded by mountains.

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  • Hannele

 

Greetings from Oslo!

I’ve been working now for three weeks in Maaemo restaurant, and have one and a half weeks to go. Feeling a bit sad that I decided to stay in here only one month, but already miss home as well so it’s fine I think..
Restaurant is located in centre of Oslo, next to train station. It got its third Michelin star few months ago, first in Norway.

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My working week starts in Tuesday and ends in Saturday. Every day we work from 10am to midnight. I’m working in snacks station, so we prepare many small dishes for dinner. Every day I’ll start my day preparing bowls for oyster dish. 20 bowls needs to be polished, filled with seaweed and oyster shells. After that I prepare tarts for king crab dish. Then we do everything else for what needs to be done on that day. On afternoon we clean the kitchen everywhere from ceiling to floor. Then it’s time for our break and staff meal. After the break we get every station ready for dinner service and have staff briefing. We get to plate every dish durig the service and have some dishes on our responsibility as well. In the evening it’s again time to cleand the kitchen and head back to home and get some rest for the next day.
Even though our days are long, you kind of get used to it.

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I’ve learned lot of new techniques and recipes, and it’s nice to get a bit more challenging tasks and more responsibility all the time.

We have our days off on Sunday and Monday. Mostly I just try to relax during these days. I’ve been at the beach many times, last weekend we went to contemporary art museum and dinner with my work mates, also visited main island wich was really cool.

Workig culture compared to Finland is mostly the same in Norway. Many national holidays for example and similar working hours. Salarys are a lot higher compared to Finland, but obviously living costs are higher here as well.

In the restaurant I’m working everything of course very different because of high level, chefs work even more hours than what we do. Maaemo kitchen is very international, so I cant say that much of Norwegian working culture.

We pay a lot of attention to hygiene and to general cleanliness. Also recycling is really important and well organised in Norway.

The kitchen is run daily mostly by chef de cuisine and sous chef. Methods of management are similar to Finland. We need to always answer “yes chef” or “ja takk” to all messages from chefs. If you do something wrong, you will definitely hear about it. So some things are more exact here, but chefs guide us interns very supportively. They want to keep good mood in the kitchen because we work so many hours a day that it wouldn’t make any sense if we couldn’t enjoy our time there.

Alcohol law is mostly same as we have, but you can’t buy alcohol from stores on Sunday, and on weekdays selling times are few hours less than in Finland. Also I’ve noticed that you need to always have your ID with you if you want to go to a bar, no matter how old you are.

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Glad that I still have some time to learn more and spend time with these people! Really enjoying my time here. 🙂

Sóc aquí, a Catalunya

¡Hola chicas y chicos!

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I’ve spent the last five months here in Vic, in the heart of Catalonia, 60 kms away from Barcelona. I absolutely love the culture, food, weather and the place itself. I’ve met wonderful people all around the world and made friends and travel buddies for a lifetime. I’ve adjusted myself to a local state of mind: Mañana – tranquilo.. If in a hurry: take your time. If tired: take a siesta. If stressed out: worry about it later.

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Football, tapas and partying are real big things here. I’ve grown to love them all. There is no better feeling than when you’re surrounded by 99 000 fellow FCB fans in Camp Nou an
d your team wins. People eat dinner around 8-12 pm and party from 1-7 am. Barcelona never sleeps, but I do – sometimes in a train back home and sometimes at the airport waiting a flight to the next destination.

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During my stay I travelled a lot in Spain: Ibiza, Valencia, Girona, Sitges; in Portugal: Porto & Lisbon and in the US: Washington D.C. & New York. We also rented a car with my Dutch squad and drove to Southern France: Cannes Montpellier. Since the weather is so much better here and my tanning progress is not quite where I wanted it to be, I’m staying until July and I will travel to Bilbao & Lloret de Mar and to Marrakesh in Morocco.

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I’ve also done studying worth of 30 credits, improved my Spanish and learned a little bit the local language, Catalan. I cannot express how much I’ve loved my time here. If you are reading these postcards with some doubts about whether or not to participate in exchange study program abroad, here is my advice: GO FOR IT.

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Terkkuja kotiin!

-Jane

Practical Training in the Czech Republic

After a longer time abroad, having studied in Finland and Austria, I decided to visit my home country again. I have always liked mountains. That’s why I completed my study exchange in Austria and even though I didn’t get a training position in there, I was happy enough to acquire a place in the Czech mountains. Our mountains are smaller than the Alps (the highest one is “only” 1602 m above sea level), nevertheless, they are a beautiful, clean and often cold environment.

I am working in a small town called Vysoké nad Jizerou for one family-owned company offering accommodation. It is nice and diverse work. I am helping the owners with promoting themselves online, currently renovating their website, taking and uploading new pictures, communicating with some partners and any other administration that is needed.

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Since I started working in March, it has been more of a spring/summer season so far. Spring in the mountains starts a bit later than in the lowlands and naturally is also a bit colder. However, we have had some nice (partly) sunny days here already!

Czech mountains - view Czech mountais - terrace view

In my free time, I have been visiting my friends and family in Prague as well as friends in Austria I made during my exchange semester. In the end of the winter, I also went to watch some of the final races in biathlon of this season. It was located in the north, close to the so called Giant Mountains where I am working. Even though there was no more natural snow, it was still quite cold. However, many people came to see the stars of Czech biathlon, a sport which is becoming increasingly more popular here every year.

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I have still some weeks left here and soon it is going to be the time of the year when many people escape the hot summer in cities to cool down in the mountains. It is also in the middle of summer when the town celebrates its founding (more than 500 years ago!) to which I am really looking forward!

No kangaroos in Austria

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A Finn greets you all with a hello from Austira!

Time flies and it has flied for over 3 months already. I’m been spending my time in a little city called Wels in the upper Austria studying electrical engineering. The School is called Fachhochschule Ober-Österreich (Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences).

With me there came around 30 new incomings from all over the world (mostly mexicans and french) and 4 from Finland. The whole time I’m been here I’ve been living in a student dorm called Schulerheim.

The studying has gone really well with free time events almost every week. People are really nice here and are ready to help if you just mind to ask. The teaching in here has been really good and there has not really been problems with what comes to the school.

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Wels, Austria

Living in Wels has been really different from living in Finland. Most of the free time is spent with other incoming and friends I have made from just going around Austria. There has been so much stuff going on in these past few months that it is hard to put into one blog post.

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Hiking in Hallstatt with friends

There has been traveling to other cities and countries, skiing, student events, partying, sports and all kinds of activities all the semester and I’m happy I went to all of them. The biggest trip was with my dorm neighbors (Gregy, Ivan, Jose, Jose 2) to Prague -> Bratislava -> Budapest and back to Vienna. We had a lot of fun on that trip and saw a bit of the neighboring countries as well.

Here is some photos from there

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Prague
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Left to right – Jose, Jose, Gregy, Ivan and me in the middle
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Budapest, Trainstation
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Budapest

By the way, I was disappointed not to find any kangaroos here but I still recommend Austria for a place to visit in Europe!

Groeten van Mechelen

Hello from Belgium! I’ve been living here for four months now and I only have a few days left. Mechelen is a quite small city 15 minutes away from Brussels and Antwerp, and I’ve really enjoyed living here, although the Dutch language is not really my favorite.

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Grote Markt Brussels

I’m studying in Thomas More Mechelen in business department and my courses have been about HR and management. Studying in Belgium is not that different from Finland and people in Flanders (the flemish speaking area) speak very good English.

These months have been full of experiences and I have grown and became even more independent, since living alone abroad is definitely not as easy and pleasant as you would think. Belgium is even more bureaucratic country than Finland, and even all the simple things are made difficult. Also the bomb threats and terrorist attacks close to where I live and soldiers guarding in everywhere have made my exchange somewhat interesting and not in a good way. Mostly all the experiences have been positive though. I’ve had a chance to travel a lot around the Europe, I’ve met so many amazing people from different countries and made friends for life.

Going to an exchange was the best decision of my life, and now I will enjoy my last days before heading back home.

Soul – South-Korea

Hello!

First steps in Korea was interesting, lots of people, massive metro map, food and whole culture was epic! The city is “divided” to North and South side of Han-River, at South are Gangnam, Olympic park, etc. North side most popular sightseengs and shopping centers.

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-Soul MetroMap

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-War Memorial of Korea and backside Soul Tower

Living and studying in Soul was quite different. One word Reverence, every citizen in Korea reverence elder, professors, mom and dad etc. That aspect have to students and travellers understand and learn.  And few pics about studying…

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I know few other finns are also studying in Soul, so sometimes it was nice meet and cook some Finnish food to other exchange students. Also i met many many many Great Koreans and exchange studets all around World!!!

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-Tofi

Greetings from MADrid!

I’ve been living in Madrid now for four months. Time has flown very quickly and I’m finishing my exchange in two weeks. Life in a city which never sleeps is upbeat, full of experiences (and tourists) and above all, never boring. Nightlife is totally on its own level and there aren’t days you can’t find something to do. Madrid offers something to everyone. I live at Plaza Mayor, which is located near the main plaza of Madrid, Puerta del Sol. These two are the most attractive sights in Madrid besides the King’s Palace (Palacio Real), famous museums and the huge park Retiro.

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Plaza Mayor

Life in an unorganized country like Spain is not always rosy. People don’t speak English or they at least refuse to do it so you just need to learn to speak Spanish. Luckily it’s easy to find language courses and the university offers them as well. Studying in Spain is also very different from Finland and the school system is way behind compared to ours.

Erasmus in Spain has been full of new experiences, friends and fun moments. From Madrid it’s easy to travel everywhere and I have travelled a lot within Spain – to Toledo, Granada, Cadiz, Sevilla, Alicante, Valencia, Ibiza, Malaga and Barcelona. I made a trip to Morocco as well, and the country is very different from European countries. Many of my friends visited me and I got an honor to show them my new home city and everyone totally liked it.

I have two weeks left in Spain and I’m going to enjoy every moment. Even if I’m going to miss every single minute spent here, I’m happy to go home! Hasta luego, Spain!