Monthly Archives: September 2016

Summer Perfetto!

Alrighty! Now I’m already in Switzerland completing my exchange studies and I will tell you guys more about how’s everything been here in a couple of months. But first let’s start by summarizing my summer in Italy and the practical training I did there.

I’ve got to admit – I can still remember how it felt when I arrived to Genoa Airport after spending the night on the floor at Copenhagen Airport; very tired but extremely excited. I received a phone call from my colleague that he is on his way to pick me up. And luckily he was picking me up, since my luggage was still on its way from Copenhagen to Italy and I was able to get some translation assistance. We managed to sort things out and eventually I received my stuff in a couple of days.

I started my journey in Genoa as a business intern in a worldwide known company Outokumpu. This Finnish stainless steel giant has a lot of business operations in Italy, since Italy is the second biggest market in stainless steel sales in Europe.

Hopefully some day I don’t have to fake entering a Ferrari, haha!

In Genoa, Outokumpu has their Italy’s head office. During the first month I was circulated between for example HR, Direct sales, Credit and Technical Department. With direct sales I was able to visit a lot of different customers all around the Northern area of Italy. Business negotiating, seeing their factories including machinery processes and having lunch with them afterwards were experiences that opened my eyes a lot. Theory and practice are different from each other, but they are still connected and go hand in hand. Without the theory I had sucked in like a sponge during office days, I would not have understood all the stuff I was able to see in practice and vice versa.

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It was impossible to be disappointed with the delicious food and dishes served during lunches and dinners.

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I spent one week at the Treviso office, which is very close to Venice. My Trevisian colleagues took me there one night and we did an awesome pub tour and laughed a lot!

After the first month I moved to Castelleone, where Outokumpu has a service centre. Long story short, Castelleone service center has mainly two purposes. First one is to produce from the heavy stainless steel coils smaller pieces called sheets. They also have a plasma cutter to work enormous quarto plates into the desired shapes. The second purpose is to work as a smaller warehouse to provide stainless steel for distributors etc. when they’re in a hurry. In Castelleone I spent two months. I travelled all around Northern Italy meeting customers and their factories with different sales managers and field sales people (Also in Castelleone I traveled around the Northern Italy since Outokumpu has agents in the South). I counted that I met more or less 65 different customers and also factories with most of them. If I compare how I did at the first customer and how I did at the last, the difference is huge. I opened myself so much and the knowledge I gathered regarding customer policies and stainless steel industry through those visits is remarkable.

My leisure time was mostly all about relaxing, exploring the nearby places, sun tanning, reading books and spending time with a few close colleagues. After a rough week touring around Northern Italy you just wanted to charge the batteries and give some time for yourself.

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I had also visitors during my stay in Genoa and Castelleone! My sister and her boyfriend came to see me in Genoa and we had a blast! I showed them the city and during the evenings we watched the Hockey World Championship games and chilled.

Me & Milla

Me and my girlfriend Milla. We arranged an extended weekend in Milan where we did a lot of shopping, went to Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, walked around the beautiful Milan streets, fine and dined and just enjoyed the short, but fantastic time together.

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My last visitors to see me were my parents, who came by motorcycle all the way from Tornio to Castelleone. We spent a nice and lovely week together by chilling the evenings around the poolside, visiting a nearby city Crema and also Milan. In Milan we did of course a little bit of shopping, haha.

There were many similarities but also differences compared to the Finnish working culture. We have to remember that the company is indeed Finnish, but the blue- and white-collar workers in Italy were Italian (excluding a few employees). From the very beginning I felt very welcomed and people seemed very happy all the time. In Finland I have felt myself welcomed too in different jobs, but the Italian culture makes it slightly more warm. In the attitude of the employees I saw similarities – hard working people with a certain goal to approach. Is the punctuality in Outokumpu Italy inherited from the Finnish culture or is there a natural tendency for it, I could not say. Nevertheless, all the people I met during those 3 months, colleagues and customers, they all made my stay one of the best experiences I’ve had so far.

Greetings from Spain!

I am doing my exchange in Oviedo, which is a historical city in Northern Spain. So far I have really liked it here. The old part of town (next to which I live) is very beautiful and full of life. Especially since I arrived here just before San Mateo, the biggest party week of the year that has originally been established for the Saint of the city.

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Oviedo is about the same size as Tampere, but because most of the people here live in the center area, it seems bigger. The town is surrounded by small mountains and I went hiking there last week. The view from the top was awesome and it was good exercise to climb up there as well.

I have made lots of friends during my first two weeks here. I mainly spent my time with local people, but also with other exchange students from the erasmus network. I also managed to find a room in a shared flat with locals and they are really nice guys and we get along very well.

My campus is located a couple of kilometers from my flat and it is a nice place where we also have good facilities for doing sports. The courses that I am taking are very similar to the ones we have at TAMK, so they include lots of groupwork and other practical ways of studying. Registering to the school was a bit hard because even though I knew some Spanish when I came here, it was hard to get all the official things sorted out because in here people (except some youngsters and couple of the professors) do not normally speak English at all, and because of that I have already learnt a lot of Spanish since I have to use it daily.

After a great start I am really looking forward for the rest of my stay in Spain.

Greetings from Cyprus

I can honestly say I am living a dream right now.  In Cyprus you can educate yourself in a modern university but at the same time enjoy beach life, sun and explore all the magical places of the island. Cyprus is the island where sun shines almost trough the year and you never have to suffer from cold.

When I left Finland in January, it was dark night with -25 degrees. My first morning in Cyprus started with a breakfast by the sea. Our first time at the beach was already in February, when my Finnish friends were still freezing in the Finland’s winter frosts.  I have to say that I was not jealous to them.

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My everyday life here is pretty relaxed. I have lectures just couple of hours a day and every week from Friday to Sunday are free. Weekends me and my friends usually head to the coast from Nicosia, where the university and our flats are located. The nearest cost is only about 50 km away from Nicosia and bus tickets are remarkable cheap here. We either travel to beach in the morning and back in the evening or book an affordable hotel for the weekend. So weekends are used mostly for sunbathing, swimming and little partying, can I even ask for more? 🙂

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The days go through here so fast that before I know it is time to go home. Now it is important to enjoy all the moments,  have fun and especially appreciate this opportunity to live in such a beautiful country. I already know that Cyprus will be part of my heart the rest of my life.

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Igen, igen, igen

Szia, hello from the past!

20150913_200315Buda Castle from Danube

It is last quarter of year 2015 and I have been in Budapest, Hungary since early September. I’m staying in a shared flat with three other exchange students, two French law students and a German engineer student. Our flat is right next to a big tourist street, Vaci utca, right next to river Danube.

I study graphic design in Metropolitan university, formerly known as BKF. Our campus is just a short metro ride away from our place. The Rózsa utca campus is quite nice place to study but its absolutely biggest flaw is an absence of student restaurant, the place doesn’t even have a cafeteria. Everybody buys snacks from nearby store, eat in some nearby restaurant or bring their own lunch from home.

Food is pretty cheap here and coffee, too. One day I caught myself thinking that 540 forints for a special coffee was much: 540 forints is less than 2 euros. I just wish I could get that cheap and still really good special coffee in Finland.

20151111_182003Art campus’ courtyard in artsy flipped way – some classes last until evening

Studying in Metropolitan is quite okay, nothing too extremely different from TAMK. I’m having courses about typography, visual arts and several workshop-like studies. We keep getting new tasks every lesson so I’m never out of school work to do. Here I have realized how much we actually do our tasks already in school in Finland. In Metropolitan we also have shorter lessons; as interactive media studies in TAMK are often once course lessons per day, in Metropolitan I have at least two different courses almost every day. I think I prefer TAMK’s school days – they might feel really long and even boring days but at least we have properly time to delve into something.

At least some teachers here have a nasty way to express themselves, stating that they are really disappointed with you when you fail on working with their task just because you have been working on other tasks from other courses. It might be language barrier but one half Finnish, half Hungarian student told me it seems to be pretty common thing with teachers here, at least with their degree programme students. Full-time international students keep telling that exchange students get through courses even if they did nothing.

Overall Budapest is a nice place. Architecture is beautiful and navigating in the city is pretty easy once you learn to read bus and tram routes from a map. Metro line 1, Földalatti, is the second oldest working metro in Europe and riding it is an experience. It is really small and rides only something like three meters under the ground, if I just remember correctly.

I already know one thing I’m going to miss alongside cheap coffee; monthly student tickets to city transportation. I can ride trams, buses and metro as much as I want for less than 12 € per month. And I get it with my own, Finnish student card.

Almost feel like crying when I think Tampere’s monthly bus ticket…

I’m managing in Budapest, this isn’t so special after all!

– Petra

(“Igen” means “yes”, Hungarian people seemed to always say it three times in a row – we exchange students made fun of it often)

CHI CHI CHI LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!

Hola Chiquillos,

My time in Chile is coming to an end. After 6 months living in the big Latin American city of Santiago de Chile, it is time for new adventures and new travels.

However, I have loved living in Santiago. It is a good mix of occidental life and latino life. With its over 5 Million inhabitants, the city has a enormous cultural variety. Santiago is divided into 37 “comunas”, which are divided into 4 to 10 “barrios”. The West and South of the city are poorer areas and include “poblaciones” (like Favelas in Brazil!). The North and the East side are richer areas and actually remind me a lot United States.

As soon as you go out of Santiago, you really notice you are in Latin America: La Cordillera de Los Andes is a monster covering a huge part of the territory. You can meet Chilean pueblos which do not have a single tar road, lamas, houses made of all kinds of recycled items.

Chile is a very long country. This means it is complicated to travel around.

Chile compared to Europe

I got time to enjoy a few weeks of Summer when I arrived in March. Summer lasts from November to April. During Summer, a lot of events are organised all around the city: in parks, streets, plazas, etc. Most of the events are related to music, yoga or food.

Picnik Electronik March 2015

Winters aren’t as rough as in Finland or France, but still rougher than in other countries of South America. Temperatures go from -5 to 17 in Santiago, but can be even colder up in the mountains or in Patagonia in the South of Chile. Winter doesn’t last very long, from June to August.

As I lived in a house with 13 other people (from Chile, Mexico, Germany, Colombia, France, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, Dominican Republic), we were always on the road, meaning that we were never running out of ideas and activities to do.

Embalse el Yeso May 2015 Sunset 1 hour away from Santiago

 

In 2 weeks, I’m leaving for a 8 months trip through Latin America with my backpack. I will properly enjoy my last 2 weeks in Santiago. I have the chance to be here for the National Day, 18th of September. Let’s see if I survive it…

 

Chaooooo, Un montón de besos weones!

Hola! Que tal?

Greetings from vibrant Madrid!

The wine is cheap, food is tasty, people are friendly and the weather is nice – perfect, huh?

I have enjoyed my stay in Madrid for almost a year, first for the Erasmus period and now for the internship. My internship in a startup has been fast-paced and interesting, mostly because of my workmates who are bubbly and professional.

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The people of Madrid are friendly and fashionable. I would say Madrid is one of the main fashion destinations in Europe, partly because of birthing the world’s biggest fashion retail company with its several different brands.

I will truly miss the casual strolls in Parque Retiro, walking by amazing sites every day, great food (lots of it!) and flavor-rich wines… I think I will return here one day. (Spanish guys

Hasta pronto!

 

Scotland – a place full of Castles, Lochs, Hills, and happy people

I am an Environmental Engineering student at TAMK and I came to Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland for doing my study exchange in January 2016. The main reason I choose Scotland was because of  the English language. I  wanted to study and stay in an English speaking country so that I could brush up my English. However, I was not aware  that the pronunciation of the English language here would be so different that it would take me a couple of weeks to make meaning out of what people were saying. Although most of my teachers were either not from Glasgow or managed to talk in an understandable way, however I had a tough time understanding the local students.

Scottish Highland
Scottish Highland

Apart from this issue everything else went as planned. I got the courses which I opted for. All of them were taught in a professional way. The teachers were highly experienced in their  areas and the way of there teaching was commendable. I had taken three modules, each worth of 10 ECTS credits. My favorite was Applied GIS, as it involved a lot of practical work. The other two modules were Sustainability in Built Environment and Contaminated Soil & Waste Management which were both equally well structured and implemented. I found  Scottish college education a bit challenging  as compared to the the teaching at TAMK.

The best part of studying in Scotland was the quality of the English language which made it easier to understand the lectures and the vast amount of study resources available in English language. These two things I found missing in Finland which is justified.

Falkland Palace, Scotland

During the first few months I had a lot of free time to explore Glasgow and its environs. It was a bit difficult to cycle in Glasgow city as at many places one had to use the same path on which cars and bikes run however in the outskirts or along the canals and rivers the ride was pleasant and the scenic beauty was mesmerizing. Thus a  a lot of my leisure time was spent making cycling trips around Glasgow. I got a bike on hire for free from a bike store for couple of month which I utilized well. One of the most cherished trip was a bike ride from Glasgow to the famous  Loch Lomond . I went along with  a group of 20-25 cyclist and we cycled for about 3-4 hours and reached the Loch totally exhausted. The best part of the trip was yet to be experienced, a free Lunch in a restaurant located in a village just next to the lake.

Bike trip to Loch Lomond
Bike trip to Loch Lomond
Getting ready for luch at Loch Lomond
Getting ready for lunch at Loch Lomond
Royal Mile, Edinburgh
With a bag piper at Royal Mile, Edinburgh

The memories I carried from Scotland are pleasant. The friends I made and the time I spent with them will always be cherished. I think I gained a lot of new knowledge concerning my studies and acquired skills which I believe will prove to be useful in the future.

Good bye to Scotland!

Greetings from The Hague!

I study game development and simulation at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. I live next to the main campus in The Hague but my classes are in Delft so I have to travel every day by train the campus. My first few weeks have been hectic since I still haven’t quite adapted to studying after summer vacation and the pace we have to study has been almost overwhelmingly fast. We have practical workshops and theory lectures for about 4 weeks in which we study the basics of 3D modelling, game programming, physics, math etc. After that we don’t have any classes to attend to and we are supposed to make a game for the HTC Vive virtual glasses in groups of five students.

This type of studying is something I’ve never had in Finland and it has its positive and negative sides. It gives us freedom to work how and when we want but it’s all up to the team to get things done before the deadline. Since I personally haven’t had any game development classes and I don’t have any previous 3D modelling or Unity game engine experience I have to study extra hard to be worthwhile in the team. Luckily, other students have been extremely kind and helpful if I need help with my assignments or with anything else.

One huge difference is that school cafeteria only serves sandwiches, snacks, warm pastries etc. It’s not very cheap so some/most of students bring their own lunch. I find it hard to adapt because I’m used to having a full meal at school in Finland. Fortunately, our school days are pretty short so breakfast is enough to survive through the day.

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View from my roof terrace

I haven’t had much spare time during these few weeks but when I do I have been trying out new culinary experiences and beers. So far I have been pleasantly surprised. The rest of my spare time goes to buying necessities to my apartment and figuring out everyday things like how can I wash my clothes and stuff. After few weeks I’m sure I have more time to do something more fun.

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Finally had the chance to taste KFC

That’s pretty much everything I can say at the moment. All in all, my stay has been enjoyable so far and I’ve learned a lot. I’m curious what the future holds.

Che, ¿vos querés saber algo sobre Argentina?

La Boca, such beautiful barrio!
La Boca, such beautiful barrio!

Argentina is the land of mate, asado, empanadas, tango and Malbec. And so much more! For someone who knows Spanish, you probably also noticed their different way of speaking in the headline. I never got used to using vos instead of . Hah or anything else, like their pronunciation.

During my exchange I lived in the capital Buenos Aires and studied Latin business in Universidad Argentina de la Empresa. When I arrived in January it was the middle of summer there. BA is a huge city and there are things to do and experience endlessly! The barrio (neighborhood) I lived in was Palermo, which had everything – bars, restaurants, shops, nightlife and activities. It was really cool area and also very safe. Porteños (the locals) share the amazing culture with the rest of the Latin world of friendly and open people, tasty food, awesome music and dance and laid-back lifestyle. I felt at home right from the beginning.

Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada
Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada

So how was it to live there? Sun and heat, packed up metros (or subte as it is called there), late night dinners, hanging out with friends over mate or wine… Or asado, which is the traditional Argentinean barbecue. Sounds pretty chill, right? Nightlife starts much later than in Finland: people go to clubs between 12-02 and they’re open until 7 in the morning when the sun has already risen.

Lollapalooza Festival
Lollapalooza Festival in San Isidro
Bomba de Tiempo - go check it out!
La Bomba de Tiempo drum show – go check it out!

We usually had Fridays off which gave us the liberty of travelling a bit. It was surprisingly expensive to live and travel there (for decades Argentina has suffered from raging inflation) so unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to go to as many places as I had hoped, but I did see quite a lot. In Argentina I visited a few coastal cities: Mar del Plata which is the closest beach resort and Necochea. From Argentina I went to Brazil (Rio) and Iguazu Falls, which are a must-see if you’re on that side of the world! Stunning. Another trip I made earlier was to Uruguay (Montevideo and Punta del Este), which is really easily reached and cheap from Buenos Aires by ferry, a definite go-to as well.

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls

Hasta luego Latinoamérica! I just know I have to go back <3

Las Cabras, one of our favorite restaurants... Cheers!
Las Cabras, one of our favorite restaurants… Cheers!

Grüss Gott!

A little over one year ago I was packing my stuff to start my adventure as a exchange student in Munich,  Germany.  I was excited to move abroad and looking forward to the experience that the whole ride was about to bring.

Once I landed in Munich, I had the privilege to stay at my friends place until I got my own apartment. It was pretty much impossible to find an accommodation in the mid September, which is the time when the orientation for studies started, – and moreover the time for the Oktoberfest to start. I had some first hand information about the event and it’s significance to Bavaria, but I sure couldn’t prepare for the madness that started on the first day when the Mayor tapped the first keg of beer.

For the Oktoberfest time there were more than triple the amount of people than normally live in Munich and you could literally see it everywhere. People wearing traditional costumes (Trachten, Dirndl), tourists everywhere, Oktoberfest with professors at school facilities and all people enjoying life and good beer. Wiesn( area where Oktoberfest is held ) was packed with visitors from 10 am until 11 pm everyday throughout the two weeks. Wiesn’s layout is build around fourteen big tents that hold up to ten thousand people each. There is cafes, restaurants, shops, amusement park and all what you can wish for from the event on the premises. You can easily spend the whole day or even days going through several tents and look around the area.  Atmosphere is joyful, dancing on benched is a must and sing-along is expected. Even the German ones you get to know within few hours.

Teltta

Looking back my orientation to Bavarian way of life I can easily say that the experience of Oktoberfest made me understand the culture even more and to adapt to my new residence.

If you have a change to visit Munich, you should most definitely visit at Oktoberfest time. Viel Spass und Prost!