Monthly Archives: November 2016

My study exchange in the Soo

Greetings from Canada! I am currently living in a friendly border city called Sault Ste. Marie. I am here to do my study exchange in Algoma University, which is a small but very multicultural university. I have stayed here almost three months now and I have enjoyed every moment. I chose to live on campus in townhouses where I have three lovely roommates which makes this experience even more fun. Canadians truly are the nicest and the most polite people I have met and because the school is rather small you will definitely make new friends while you are here.

The International Bridge
The International Bridge

I am taking five business courses and I can tell that the workload is much more than in TAMK but the courses are not necessarily more difficult. We have a lot of quizzes, assignments, midterms and final exams that take most of my time. Studying here in a university is more about theory and memorizing chapters from thick books. Be prepared to spend a LOT of money on buying your school books, it surprised me how expensive the school books were. The class sizes are about the same than in TAMK and the classes are well planned ahead and they follow their syllabus.

Shingwauk Hall
Shingwauk Hall

       I like to spend my spare time here with my international friends and go explore the Soo. In addition to eating pancakes with maple syrup, hiking and hockey seems to be a thing here. Therefore, I would recommend going on a hike to Robertson Cliffs and watching a Soo Greyhounds hockey game. There is never a dull moment because the university arranges every week all sorts of activities from different sports to karaoke so there is always something to do on campus as well.

The view from Robertson Cliffs
The view from Robertson Cliffs

 

XOXO

Else

Greetings from Belgium

I’ve been here in Gent for more than two months now, so I guess it’s time to write a little about my exchange. I live in Gent, the biggest student city in Belgium, and study at Arteveldehogeschool.  Artevelde has 9 different campuses and over 13 000 students.

The studies here consist of group projects and individual assignments as well as lectures, so it’s pretty similar to the education system in Finland. However, most of my group assignments are short reports and power point presentations so in that sense I have had to put way less effort in my studies here than in TAMK, even though many of my class mates complain about having too many assignments to do.

Since Artevelde is relatively big school it’s no surprise that there is about 125 exchange students from all over the world, not just from Europe.

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One of Artevelde’s nine campuses

 

 

On my spare time I do basically the same stuff as I would do in Finland, which is going to the gym, running and hanging out with my friends. Gent has quite a few nice pubs where we often meet up with other exchange students, drink Belgian beer and play drinking games. Many clubs here stay open basically all night and, even though Thursday is the official student night, every night is a going out night here, so for the ones who enjoy a lot of partying there certainly is something happening every evening of the week.

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Student kick-off in the beginning of the school year

 

 

And of course, I have traveled quite a bit during my stay here, since it’s relatively easy and cheap to visit neighboring countries. So far I’ve been so Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Brugge, London and Manchester. Next trip will be to Hamburg and I hope to still have time to visit at least Paris.

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Hello from Brussels!

Brussels is my home for 2 more months, time has flown by incredibly fast since I got here in September. It’s actually my second Erasmus so a lot is familiar but there’s also a bunch of new things. In this blog post you will discover a bit of my life in the country of chocolate, beer, waffles and frites 🙂
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Coming to do a part of my social work degree here in Belgium was something really exciting. Beforehand I knew that my host institution called ISFSC was quite small but never did I expect to be practically the only Erasmus student! In addition, finding courses corresponding to the ones at Tamk forced me to select studies from all the three years. On the other words I was circulating between groups of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students and seeing hundreds of new faces during my first weeks – overwhelming. Also the fact that everything is in French makes things much more challenging. It’s really a total immersion to the local student culture!

The way of studying is pretty similar as at Tamk with a lot of group works and some seminars. I was afraid of mass lectures where the teachers don’t interact with students but luckily it’s not that way and most of the courses are very interesting. The teacher prepares his course material, syllabus, on which the exams are mostly based and which you get printed so no need to worry about availability of course books. Having also oral exams is something new for me.

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On Tuesdays it’s time for board games at Salon de thé Liber, such a lovely and cozy place.

After living in France, it was fascinating to notice the differences between the culture and French spoken in these two countries. As a country Belgium feels somehow a bit more “Nordic”, for the language it seems to be mostly the matter of some few words and ways of pronunciation. In addition, its multilingualism, history and complex regime make Belgium a truly interesting place to get a closer look at. By the way, it’s not clear whether French fries are actually French or Belgian: one story speaks of American soldiers who came to Belgium during war time, saw the locals making fries and named the dish after the language. In any case, it must be said that I haven’t eaten as delicious fries anywhere else!  Some other Belgian things: Tintin, Smurffs and Lucky Luke – which you can discover at the Comic Strip Center in Brussels.

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Historical Brugge is beutiful even on a cloudy and grey day

Brussels is an extremely international city, not too big but with a lot of things to do. The longer I stay here the more I seem to like it 🙂 And Belgium is a small country to travel around – this is very convenient for somebody doing Erasmus as it means a possibility to see not only other Belgian cities but also some neighboring countries. I’m often busy planning new weekend trips and only hoping that the time wouldn’t run out!

안녕하세요 [annjong hasejo] (Hello) from Seoul!

This has been really interesting trip to Seoul South Korea! I have gotten many new friends from all over the world. I’m not sure where should I start telling about this trip but let’s begin with the first impression.

It was really hot in the late summer (around 33 degrees celsius) and the air was quite thick. Now that autumn has advanced further it’s more like back in Finland since it’s around 5-10 degrees. So a coat is the word of the day. I study in  Soongsil University which is apparently quite well known place here and also one of the oldest too. The school has quite young organization that handles with exhange students, us, called SISO. It has offered us interestinf excursions around the town and also helped with several general things. If there’s anything wrong, one should contact them or one’s “buddy”, who is practically your tutor.

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Studying is a little bit different. Mornings aren’t so early as in Finland, but lessons that are really late aren’t that absurd thing here. I have just a couple of lessons per each day but still my Wednesday’s last classes end at 20:45. Asian people are known to be really hard working and it can be experienced in some cases. Exams are quite big, though not impossible, and in some courses you advance really fast. For some who like procrastinating it might cause some trouble, but nothing overwhelming. Presentations are also really popular here so when coming here on should get ready for them. Yea it’s a bit hard every now and then but now that I look at it I can say I haven’t done that much work. A LOT less than in Finland at least.

Studying here is mostly just like in Finland: presentations, using of intranet, same kind of construction in education system, nice campus and friendly students and teachers. Of course there’s some differences such as the pace of studying which is more intense than in Finland. Another point that is different is the studying itself; you have to learn what a book says about something rather than understanding the main point and using your own head. I’ll give an example: In exam there’s a question “Explain why car crashed”, you answered something about bad tires, wet ground and not paying attention to driving. In result you get zero points because the book said the driver might be sleeping while driving. Kind of weird right? But as said, everyone manages mostly just fine.

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Because of quite easy timetable I have had a lot freetime. There’s many ways to spend your day in Seoul! You can go and visit a PC cafe for some awesome latest games with a top notch internet connection. You can go to grab a coffee wtih your friends in one of the several cafés or go just exploring the city which hides interesting places here and there which can’t be seen from a map. You can go outside the city to climb a low mountain (400-900 meters high) and see an amazing view over the city. One option is to visit other towns of South Korea, which is easy thanks to public transportation. Then there’s the obvious: go sightseeing. There’s many places to see here. Suraksan mountain, Olympic stadium, all the temples, Bukhansan mountain and National graveyard just to name a few!

bukhansanEveryday life here is quite easy-going since billiard clubs, coffee houses and karaoke bars are everywhere just like normal grocery stores. Noodles are cheap and delicious not to mention all the local cuisines that also are quite cheap. Nightlife is quite active everyday since the humongous amount of bars and pubs and clubs, though the nightlife of Seoul is concetrated to three places: Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam.

As said, this is quite an experience and I’m glad I decided to come but I have to say I’m starting to miss Finland too. It’s ages since I went to a proper sauna.

GENAU GERMANY – PROST WEIMAR!

14238162_10154551362215452_6305403057331518046_nI couldn’t believe my eyes when we arrived to little Weimar – the place is like from a postcard! We sat down to the little restaurant terrace and ordered beer, bratwurst and sauerkraut. We were surrounded by horse carriages and pastel-colored buildings. It felt absolutely surreal! First three weeks we studied German language, quite intensively. It was nice to notice that even though the language is difficult (and also there is a lot of stuff that doesn’t  make any sense and you should  know things  ‘by heart’ as the Germans say) that for example pronouncing was easy and the grammar rules were not too far from Swedish. I enjoyed the German classes a lot and it’s been truly useful  to know the basics; people here in Eastern German appreciate if you can order a coffee using their language (also, they can’t speak English here). 14715060_10154672230220452_1894029570800188796_o

The school here is very different compared to Finland. We have three classes per week, sometimes less and we’re given one excercise and two weeks to finish it! It feels rather easy, even though we take master classes here. Anyways, the teachers are amazing; they are really inspiring and passionate about what they do. So even though we don’t have as many contact lessons as we are used to in Finland, we are more than eager to do well here.

There’s a few things from my exchange that I’ll remember forever; the visit to Buchenwald (concentration camp) and Zwiebelmarkt, an onion festival that lured nearly 360 000 people to little Weimar – to buy onions! Of course all the little things – such as our favorite cafeteria, the people I’ve met, delicious fried chicken and so on – will be remembered as well. 14712854_10154644476460452_2907101425906422055_o

All in all, Weimar is breathtakingly beautiful, food is absolutely delicious (and cheap), beer is great and people are (mostly) nice. I’ve gathered important experiences here already, but I believe that I’ll see the whole picture of this adventure as soon as I’m  back in Finland.

Spain – not just eternal summer!

Welcome to Oviedo, Asturias!

The north is reasonably characterized as the most beautiful area of Spain. Going upwards from Madrid, whether in train or bus, the flat and dry scenery slowly turns into green and flourishing mountain view, taking your breath away. Not surprisingly, on the northern area you can find numerous natural and national parks full of amazing hiking routes with gorgeous views. Not to mention the gorgeous coastline, for nature lover this is a paradise. I am lucky to have been able to see the beauty of the world in many forms, but it keeps surprising me all the time with its variety.

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First days in the beginning of September were warm, and overall the autumn has been nicely warm and sunny – nice change for the darkening and rainy Finland! But time is definitely flying, and now in November the climate has already been reminding that we are in the northern part of the country, mornings are chillier and mountains have got their beautiful snow layer on their tops. Anyhow, during daytime it gets warmer, and darkness is not going to reach the Finland level!

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Enough of the nature, even I could show millions of pictures of it. Studying is the reason I am here experiencing all of this. The study routine here is something I have had to work on to get used to. To get the required points, I only need to complete three courses here. It sounds like nothing, but definitely it is not all about lying down and relaxing here. Courses hold a lot of information inside, and if you want to avoid ending up in front of a massive pile of work during your Christmas holidays it is better to keep reviewing the topics gone through on lectures at least every now and then! The content in one course can be significant and there is a lot to digest. However, I have not noticed any significant differences between the teaching styles here and in Finland. There are as many styles as there are teachers, and there are as many different kind of course contents as there are different institutions.

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Anyway, due to the minimized amount of courses, a big part of the day is left for individual work and studying to work on the content – or some other activities. The nature around offers a chance for peaceful walks, each of them differentiating from each other. And if the surroundings of my own town are not enough anymore, the good transportation connections give the possibility to explore a bit more far too. In addition to independently organized trips, exchange organisations, such as AEGEE and ESN organize different kind of trips around and leave you out of planning and additional costs. Several kind of weekly and more specialized events, such as tapas nights or national holidays, offer also activities for the ones seeking something to do besides studying.

Uniting with your friends and getting into the culture is something I have enjoyed the most. By these experiences my way of viewing the world is a bit wider again, and if something, at least the language skills are improving day by day since English is something you hear only in the school!

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Many experiences behind, hopefully a lot more to come!

Hola a todos!

I have spent now almost two months studying in Spain Barcelona. I have truly enjoyed my time here and this city, and now I can share a little something about this place with you!

Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and Catalan people are really proud of their heritage and they see themselves as Catalans, not Spanish. Catalans have their own language, traditions and culture. This is truly an important thing to know when living or traveling here. Catalan people usually speak also Spanish fluently but Catalan is their first choice of language, and locals really appreciate if you know even few words of it. So, here in Barcelona you get to know both Spanish and Catalan culture! On top of this, Barcelona is really international city with people all over the world living here. This helps if you are not that keen on learning Spanish. In most places you can survive with English too. I have been traveling also outside of Barcelona and there most people don’t speak English at all.

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Catalan traditions
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Palm tree

I feel like Barcelona is a perfect place to stay for Erasmus, because it is a city that truly has everything. It has lot of different areas and neighborhoods with different atmospheres, it has a sandy beach and ocean and mountains, it is not too expensive and of course the weather is perfect for escaping the Finnish winter! You can still spend the days outside wearing only a T shirt. I have spent my free time here hiking on mountains, checking different beaches, eating traditional Spanish tapas and exploring the big city with all it’s different opportunities.

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Barcelona from a viewpoint
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Beach life

My school Euncet is located 22 km outside of Barcelona in a city called Terrassa. I have to take the train to school three times a week, but the connections are really good and it only takes 40 minutes. Our school is a small private business school and I study marketing, digital laws and human resources management. The school here is really “school like” and teachers are strict about attendance and homework etc. Coming from Finland and especially from Proakatemia, it almost feels like going back to high school. Anyway the courses are interesting and I managed to get all my courses in English (not a sure thing in Spain..) so I am overall really happy with my studies here.

Hasta luego!
Noora Luttinen