Monthly Archives: November 2016

Greetings from the Netherlands

Christmas is almost here, which means that it’s also almost time to go back home.

When I started my exchange year in Leeuwarden, I was scared, excited, nervous, happy and  I didn’t know what to expect. Now that the time here is almost over, I find myself feeling the same feelings all over again. It’s weird coming back to Finland and leaving all this behind. This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in good and bad, and I’ll miss living here like crazy.

thumb_img_6868_1024(c) Reetta Aho

As a media student, I ended up in the Stenden University of Applied Sciences to study Media & Entertainment management. I was fairly excited about this also, since my own program focuses mostly on just film and television production. In Stenden, they use PBL and CBL. PBL is Problem Based Learning and CBL is Case Based Learning. I had never used these kind of learning methods in Finland, so it was interesting. pbl

The picture above basically explains how PBL works.  In CBL the only difference is that we work on specific company/organization and try to find solutions for their problems. It was more theory than I was used to, since in my own school we study mostly by doing projects and don’t focus on the theory as much. It was a good experience, but I’m also happy to go back to my own studies. Luckily Stenden is filled with exchange students, so the teachers and other students have patience with me and they take their time with helping and explaining stuff to me.

The groups in school are also much smaller than in Finland, in one PBL/CBL group there can be a maximum of 13 students.

The school has been hard, it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of my free time here, but still I’ve had the chance to travel around this beautiful country. Of course it’s also the fact that you can travel through the Netherlands in about a day.

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(c) Reetta Aho

The only way I know how to put my exchange experience in words is: once in a lifetime experience. And for someone, who is considering doing their exchange year in the Netherlands, I can just say that it would be a great choice.

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(c) Reetta Aho

Hallo from Weimar!

 

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©Kiira Puolakkainen

 

 

It’s been crazy three months so far! Not a lot has happened education-wise, but integration sure has been a wild roller coaster ride.

 

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©Kiira Puolakkainen

First month here in the tiny town of Weimar was mostly spent sorting out the paper work and trying to familiarize ourselves with the idle manner the locals seem to handle things. Days were spent learning German in the intensive language course and running between different office buildings trying to find what felt like an endless amount of forms to get us settled and ready to rock. Evenings were mostly dedicated to German revision and roaming around the romantic little alleys drinking coffee and eating out enjoying the warm September nights. The town is picturesque with architecture previously familiar to me only from small town post cards and historical drama series on TV.

 

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©Kiira Puolakkainen

After passing the German course with flying colours we were really looking forward to October and the start of actual school. First week of October came with orientation to the school system. Second week passed and we still didn’t know when courses would start. By the third week we grew frustrated. We had waited for school to start, attended a gazillion events we thought would kickstart our semester only to realize they were just orientation after another. At the end of week three of October we had had one real lecture. We were petrified at the amount of work we knew we would have to do in the next two months to catch up with all the work.

 

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November was just as we had anticipated. On top of the regular course work we had to use every bit of our imagination to come up with solutions with which we would be able to finish the courses before we returned to Finland. Thankfully the teachers were all co-operative and understanding to our situation, which they knew wasn’t our own doing. We came up with a routine that worked well: We would use our spare mornings in the computer lab pushing our projects forward, attend courses in the afternoon and if needed return to the computer lab after school to continue working. Free days were mostly spent on course work and planning our final projects. Finally we had structure and clarity to our studies and were going somewhere.

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©Reetta Aho

Studying here is definitely different from what we are accustomed to in Finland. Our course groups are significantly smaller here and most of our lessons rely on open conversation. Here participation is a must and it comes to most a lot effortlesly than in Finland. The atmosphere is openminded and teachers encourage students to question everything. Opinions are not only voiced but also have to be explained and well argumented. After the long wait we have definitely enjoyed our studies.

2nd round in Korea – Soongsil University

Straight to the business: It is my second time to go for an exchange period in Seoul, South-Korea as in fall semester of 2015 I was in Korea University.

Short comparison of Korea University and Soongsil: Korea University is much larger with its internal bus lines inside of campus and one of the top Universities in Korea. Soongsil campus is much smaller which has its advantages. Around 17% of the courses are taught in English as in Korea University it is or was 40%. (Comparison of campuses, SU: http://kosmic.ssu.ac.kr/template/front/img/egovframework/sub/campus_map.jpg , KU: http://oia.korea.ac.kr/common/images/cont/campusMap.gif )

My studies here have gone well. The start had its difficulties since a couple of professors told me indirectly to drop the course. They were not going to teach in english, even though the course was listed to be completely in english. After finding the suitable courses, it’s all good 🙂

In my opinion, the main difference between studying in Finland and Korea is that here you will have to remember the contents by heart more or less. A correct answer in an exam may be what the course material tells about the issue – not what some other book or another source may tell. Of course it may not always be as strict as I say here.

Spare time

The exchange organization is not too active here with offical events. So the spare time has gone mostly with the flat mates and some other friends exploring and sightseeing the missed parts of Seoul. Also, let’s not forget about the nightlife here. Tripadvisor is a great site for finding out what to see or do.

Recently Koreans have started to protest against the president. Last saturday there was ~1 million people showing their upset minds around at City hall and Blue house. I was not participating the protest – I was left behind the police lines after exploring a traditional village and trying to go home.

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I watched a basketball match with some Korean friends before and one of them is a local policeman. It was quite funny to meet him in full protection wear while I was trying to get around the police lines. He said that the other policemen gave him a really weird looks while greeting me. Chances to see just that guy are really low, since the area covered by police is huge and they were 21,000 in numbers depending of the source.

 

It has been a good exchange so far, I have had fun, made some friends and the studies are going well.

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Boa tarde!

So, it´s been almost three months when I left my dear country behind me and step to a whole new world! I was quite surprised that it was so warm in here in the autumn but hey can´t complain when the temperature was almost +30°C! Although in the hospital where I was doing my internship, it was terrible… But what do I think about Portugal? I think this is like exactly from the postcards you see in the tourist points, so beautiful and colorful country. Porto is at the same time small and big city, there is a lot of to see and discover in here and every time you found something new you get surprised! img_20160917_113904

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It is quite cheap to live here, so when you go to supermarket you really don´t have to think what you can buy. Also here is really good ingredients like fish, meat, vegetables and fruits! But have to say that it is almost as cheap to go out to eat. Most of the people are really friendly but I have noticed that in a stores and in restaurants you may not get as good service as you wish but I guess every country it goes that way.

 

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Oh, have to mention, if you come to Porto you have to have a good pair of shoes. There is a lot of hills and height differences! But I´ve heard that person who lives in Porto don`t go to the gym they just walk to home, hahah!

 

Travelling in here is also quite cheap. I´ve already visit in Lisbon, Braga, Guimaraes and Povoa de Varzim. It´s nice just go to the train station and decide where do I wanna go today… Trains and metros goes like all the time so you don`t have to worry how to get back!

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So, like I said, I am doing my internship in here in a hospital, yes I am going to be nurse soon! I have been already in a pediatric surgical ward five weeks in Sao Joan hospital. Have to say; it was really interesting and good place to be. Basically the children arrive to that ward from the operating room. I was also in those operating rooms to see different kind of operations, sooo interesting! Now I am in the nephrology unit in the same hospital and it´s also super interesting! I have seen the dialysis and also a kidney transplant surgery and have to say that I learn so much from the mentors and from the doctors because they really try to explain everything although some of them don´t speak so good English. But at least they try and I respect that!

Portuguese people do a lot of work in here and they don´t get a good salary. There is some differences about the time schedules because Portuguese people are like almost always late…hahah! It just something that I have to get used to it. But I think we work like the same way, we have different kind of protocols but in general we do it like the same way!

 

Bonjour de Bordeaux!

Hello from Bordeaux, southwestern France.

I have been living here for almost three months now, and have really fallen in love with the city. The historical buildings, kind people, nice weather as well as the great (and cheap) wine!

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I have also seen a bit of the surrounding area and visited other cities close by such as La Rochelle and Toulouse. I couldn’t be happier that I chose to come to France for my exchange, all the places I’ve visited have been absolutely beautiful.

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I study at Kedge Business school, and my studies have been quite a bit easier than at TAMK, the courses do not have nearly as much content here.  The school is also quite strict with attendance, if you miss more two lectures you are not allowed to participate in the final exam. If you are sick you need to have a note from a doctor proving it, and that needs to be delivered to the school administrative staff within a couple of days of you absence. Luckily I haven’t been sick!

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I have my final exams in two weeks, but I am not really nervous. I already finished my French course, which was a lot of fun. My teacher had lived in Finland for a few years and spoke nearly fluent Finnish, and seemed to know more about Finnish grammar than I do. We also had a wine tasting in one the lessons and learned a bit about the famous Bordeaux wine and how to recognize good wine in a store.

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So far I haven’t had any negative experiences here, apart from the fact that the housing situation in Bordeaux is really bad and I ended up staying in an Airbnb this whole time. It is not that easy for a foreigner to get an apartment in France, especially for only a few months. Bordeaux is also growing at a rapid rate, and therefore it was hard for even some of the French students to find housing this semester.

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The time sure has flown by, and I am sad to be leaving the beautiful France so soon. Luckily, I will spend a few days in Paris with my friends before going back home, which should be a lot of fun!

 

 

Hello from Malaysia!

I have spent about three months in Kuala Lumpur to complete my study exchange in Taylor’s University. Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and its full of historic monuments, skyscrapers, huge shopping malls and street food markets. Malaysia is a multi-cultural land and there are basically three major ethnic groups, which are Malays, Chinese, Indians and the native Malaysians. Weather in Malaysia is most of the time very humid and warm, temperature is around +30°C.

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The school here is quite different compared to Finland. When I first came here, I thought that this semester would be quite easy for me, because if comparing my studies in TAMK, I usually have about 8 – 9 modules per semester, but here I have only 5 modules. Well I was wrong… 😀 When I was choosing the courses, I didn’t actually know much about the contents of the modules, so maybe I chose couple too heavy modules in this semester. The workload here is much more than in TAMK, because here we have a lot of assignments and midterms to do.

On my spare time I am mostly hanging out with my friends, going to gym, swimming, studying at the campus area or walking around in the KL city. I have also tried to travel around Malaysia and Asia as much as possible. One of the highlights was surfing in Indonesia during the semester break.

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Its been great experience this far and I am glad that I decided to come here. The school is almost done here, just couple final exams and projects needs to finish, so there’s still time to travel around, before it’s time to go back in Finland 🙂

Hälsningar från Sverige

In southwest Sweden the temperature is around 9 degrees of celsius, although it’s late November. Grass is still greenish, and apart from few snowflakes and few cold days, there’s no signs of winter.

fullsizeoutput_23ef  Dock of Halmstad

Halmstad, the city that I’m staying, has started to feel a bit small, which is understandable when talking about city of about 60 000 inhabitants. Great thing is, that Gothenburg is less than two hours away, Copenhagen and Malmö around two and a half, Oslo around five, and smaller cities like Lund and Helsinborg even closer, and easily reached by public transportation. Weekend get-aways and day trips away from Halmstad have been nice change of scenes.

fullsizeoutput_2438 Coffee shop called Materia in Majorna, Gothenburgfullsizeoutput_240fGothenburg’s archipelago

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The university life itself consists of lectures, group works, seminars and is rather similar to uni life in Finland. I’ve occasionally talked swedish with my Swedish course mates, but apart from general small talk and everyday tasks (eg. ordering a coffee, doing groceries) I’ve been mostly using english. Even though I’m studying construction architecture in Tampere, and here in Halmstad I’m studying construction engineering, I’ve find the courses here useful and interesting, especially the one’s that are focusing on sustainable development and green building. I’ve noticed that those subjects and sectors might be in more central focus here than they are in our school.

Not only the uni life, but the life and culture in general, is very close to finnish ones, and that must be the reason why I haven’t felt homesickness almost at all. Observing my exchange friends from around the world, the cultural differences has been significantly bigger for them than for me. Every now and then I find their complains about the coldness and high price levels a bit baffling, cause for me this has probably been the warmest autumn so far, and the average price level might even be a bit lower than in Finland. The fact that I’m originally from a small town, makes it easier for me to adjust to living in a small town that is sort of “hibernating” during winter months, unlike my friends from bigger cities that are really struggling.

Although I haven’t felt homesickness, I’m looking forward to spent Christmas in Finland among my friends and family. I’m also trying to find an apartment from Tampere, since I’m moving back there after Christmas, which is not the easiest task (tips for available flats or flat mates are more than welcome). So far I’ve been adjusting myself to Christmas mood by teaching my Hungarian flatmate finnish lyrics of famous Christmas carols, and drinking Glög.

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A farewell cake my friends made me before moving to Sweden

 

 

 

Bom dia from Portugal!

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I’ve been in Porto over two months now and I’ve really enjoyed my time here! My goal was to find an exchange destination where living is cheap and climate is warm and I think I couldn’t have chosen better place than Porto. Summer continued till November and now it’s a nice crisp autumn weather here. What comes to eating and drinking out, it’s very cheap! Lunch with a drink and dessert is usually five euros and the cheapest glass of red wine I found was 60 cents.

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I live by the river Douro with my room mates from all over the world. We have the most amazing view! Porto is a super beautiful city with deteriorated houses overlaid by colorful tiles and little streets and alleys and hidden gardens.

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I’m a nurse student and I’m having two practical training internships here, the first was a ten-week clinical training at Santo Antonio hospital. Language barrier was a problem at first since usually only young portuguese speak english. I think the biggest difference in portuguese and finnish school system is that everything takes more time here and sometimes no one knows answers to your questions considering for example next week’s schedule.. But you get used to it!

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I have been doing some travelling inside Portugal. Coimbra, Lisboa and a hiking trip to beautiful national park of Geres for example. For Christmas I’m flying to Azores, nature there is breathtaking and flights are cheap since Azores belong to Portugal. I don’t miss Finland yet,I’m just hoping I won’t run out of time, there’s so much’s to do here!

Having a craic in Ireland, Athlone!

 

Hello mates!

And so begins our 11th week in Ireland today. Only 4 weeks to go!#!!?

I´ve been asked to tell something about my stay in Ireland as an exchange student. I will be happy to do that.

My studies

I absolutely love my studies in here. I think I´ve learned more in this time here than I learned whole last year in Finland! But there is only one explanation to that and that is time. I have Tuesdays and Fridays off and my classes starts at 11 am at the earliest. Usually even later, like today only at 2 pm.

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When we signed up for courses, I was horrified about Management accounting course. I´ve been so pleasantly surprised because I absolutely love that course! Such an interesting calculations and the teacher is so much fun! He absolutely hates our class, because people won´t shut up and some uses their phones, but I´m having a blast fallowing all of this. He also has a humor that gets into me, so yes gonna miss that one.

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My other course is Operations & Chain Supply Management. The teacher is such a sweetheart and funny as hell – but sorry to say this out loud, I don´t learn there as much I would like to. Maybe it´s the language barrier but I´m off track a million times whenever I sit in his class. But the subject is new to me so I have found it very interesting. Something I will definately get into more at home as well. Products and services manufacturing process can be quite interesting to my brain 🙂 Also we did a group work about Tesla, which is now all I can think about. I want my own Tesla and I would like to start building a life at Mars with Elon Musk, thank you very much.

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I find the teachers here have a bit more time to put into teaching.  What I don´t understand here, is the fact that we only got to know our final exam days like a week ago and got to book our flights back home only then. Prices have been going up all the time but we couldn´t book the flights any earlier. Well I´m glad we have a return ticket now.

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My spare time

I could not be happier about this opportunity I had to come and live here in another country. And what a lovely little country it is. Since I am a bit older (I just turned 30!!) than the rest of the exchange students here, I have had more time to just think and rest than at home in my normal life; work-studies-social life mess.

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I do love my daily routines here. We eat the most delicious breakfast each day with fress berries  and we cook nearly all of our eatings ourselves. I haven´t cooked this much in years and I absolutely love it! Can´t wait to continue this in Finland.

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We have the best gym at school and we like to play badmington. The gym is only couple years old and it has everything! The staff provides you a free programm you can follow and I´ve already had 3 of those from there. Also they make tests to measure progress and check up on you in the gym. All of this is voluntary of course, but I have enjoyed every bit of that! And I´ve also seen some results so yey for those summer-fats gone away!

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We´ve also done some trips. I´ve been to Dublin couple of times and Galway one time. We also went to the famous Cliffs of Moher, which was pretty amazing experience. I think I´ll just leave these pictures here to explain what I´m talking about.

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Than I also drove a car here! The steering wheel is on the right side of the car and you drive left side of the road so that was interesting. Truth to be told, it went pretty well! Can´t wait to drive some more, I hope!

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All together, I´m having a craic here! For those of you that don´t know, craic is an Irish way of saying I´m  have so much fun here and we laugh each day with our abs sore! This definately feels like home, even though it is freaking cold inside!! But I love to coming back to our flat after a trip away.

Thanks for visiting this blog and have a good day!

-H

 

안녕 (Hi) From South Korea

Hello from the city I currently live, Seoul. This is city of 10 millions of people so little odd for guy from Finland. But I like it. Of course first impression was little confused but I think it is normal when you come so different type of place than Tampere. I am definitely coming back here for holidays soon after studies here ends.

When the studies started, here at Soongsil University, it was little troubled to find courses that are similar than engineering studies.  I had to change courses two times and result was that I have only business courses and courses for exchange students. Hopefully the business courses are with the similar topic than engineering stuff in Finland. Earliest morning when I have to go to school is 15.00 and I have lots of evening courses. So I can’t recommend this school for engineering student but still, campus is very nice and city around it. There is many opportunities to do sports and campus area is not too big to go from class to other one opposite side at campus.

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Free time we spend mostly partying but also me and my friends have been hiking and went to see temples and graveyard. Graveyard doesn’t sound good place for tourist spot but you can see it from the picture how nice place it is. Near here is couple nice mountains for hiking and other one was little more extreme and I think that was the one that teacher told us not to go to kill your self there. Maybe the best trip to club was the one to Octagon. Famous club and we were there first time. Couple korean girls came to ask us to join them to VIP booth. Free drinks whole night!. And of course, what is the best you can do after nightlife. Go to the spa spend your rest of the night there. When here was longer holiday we went to Busan at south coast of Korea.

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Studying here is mostly learning stuff from the book, but if teacher has been teaching somewhere else, it might be more likely out of the box thinking than read and learn. There is always lots of presentations in every course, same in Finland, but here they don’t mind that much about presenter if he/she read everything from the paper and doesn’t keep eye contact. In Finland is important to understand inside of presentation and remember it rather than read everything from the paper and keep eye contact only with paper. At this moment I have only 10 hours per week of school because one course already ended.

Have Fun!