Monthly Archives: January 2017

Na zdraví from Brno!

What can I say, I’ve lost my heart to Czech republic. I’ve had the time of my life here, meeting new people, studying in a well-respected university and every day experiencing something new. The life here has opened my eyes in a whole new way – the way I see the world.

Studying here has been fascinating and I have to say I honestly didn’t lose my interest in studying at any point. The faculty of mechanical engineering – and particularly the institute of aerospace engineering – is awesome. They offer a lot of interesting courses and the professors know what they’re talking about. They have many labs where they do tests and in one course the teacher even took students to fly whenever they wanted to. I’d highly recommend this university for aeronautical engineering students!

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Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

My exchange was a bit different than usually, since I have a boyfriend here. So, I wasn’t living in the dorms but I still made a lot of new friends and got countless of new experiences. On my spare time I was hanging out with my friends, going out to pubs or visiting my boyfriend’s parents in the countryside on the mountains.

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Countryside on the mountains in northeast of Czech republic

You can’t really describe everything about an exchange with words. It’s something one should just see. It will change the way you look at certain things. And like they say – once Erasmus, always Erasmus.

Greetings from Toronto

I spent 4 months in Toronto, Canada studying in OCAD University. Based on my portfolio I was placed in the Digital Futures program, but only ended up taking one course from it; on top of the project heavy studies in the world building and research course, I took one game design and one concept art course.

Dundas Square near Eaton Centre, Toronto’s biggest shopping mall

I feel like the quality of teaching in OCAD was very high, as it should as the students there pay thousands of canadian dollars a year for their tuition. The teachers knew what they were talking about, and were quite strict with their grading – however, their feedback on assignments was constructive and I learned a lot.

As I mentioned in the start, I took courses about concept art, game design, world building and product design. All the courses had many projects, so working with other people came up a lot. The teachers quite a lot of work at least compared to TAMK, so free time was scarce at times, but in the end it was rewarding because the assignments felt useful and interesting.

Toronto pictured up from CN Tower

As I had quite a little of free time because of the demanding studies, I didn’t get to sight see as much as I wanted to. Still, I managed  at least to visit CN Tower (pictured above) which is the tallest building in Toronto and had a quite a nice view. I also went to see the musical Matilda, visited the Christmas Market and Nuit Blanche, went to see some art galleries e.g. the Art Gallery of Ontario. Otherwise I met up with fellow exchange students as often as we were able, and we tried out different restaurants together or just hang out in either a pub or someone’s home.

I also enjoyed just walking around the city, as I lived right in the Kensington Market, which is an old outdoor market area and has many niche shops. Chinatown was just around the corner too, so everything you needed was close by, and there was always new things to try.

Toronto Christmas Market

Shanghai, China

Hi!

I was doing my study exchange in Shanghai, China between September and December 2016.

I had 4 courses: Chinese language, social changes in contemporary China, China and globalization and intercultural business communication. When it comes to the courses the best one was the language course; you really HAD to learn Chinese there. The teacher was quite strict and demanding. Social changes course was also fine because it had a lot of cultural stuff on it, but the remaining two courses were boring and quite frankly there was hardly any useful content.

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I spent my spare time in the gym, exploring the city, experiencing the culture, enjoying the food and sightseeing. Shanghai is an enormous city. My exchange lasted only for 3 months, and it was nowhere near enough time to really get to know the city. You always end up taking the metro and just getting up somewhere without any clue how the different parts of the city are connected to each other.

There are a lot of interesting and beautiful sights to be seen in Shanghai. It’s also hard to get tired of Chinese food in just a few months – it’s too good. I also did a bit of travelling in China, but not as much as I would have wanted to. I visited Xi’an and Beijing. There’s so many places in China worth visiting, and if you are ever going there I highly recommend not just staying in one place.

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The studying culture differs quite a bit from studying in Finland. There are more strict guidelines when it comes to absences, however, that is understandable for exchange students – no one would attend the classes if it wasn’t mandatory. Other thing which was different was the lack of exams. I had one (small) exam for Chinese language, but the rest of the courses were only group projects and essays.

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All in all, I would highly recommend China and Shanghai as an exchange destination if you have any interest in Asia and experiencing a totally different culture. It really widens your cultural understanding and you are guaranteed to learn a lot. Just have an open mind and a positive attitude!

-Santeri

Greetings from Wolverhampton

I study Construction Management in the University of Wolverhampton in UK, England. The exchange has been truly an amazing experience. Right from the beginning we were lucky in Wolverhampton to have mostly good weather for the first two months with only a handful of rainy days even though rain was much expected I when first arrived in the UK.

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University of Wolverhampton

I have met so much interesting amazing people from multiple countries all around the world Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Exchange life has been very nice. People are so nice and there was Erasmus parties every weekend until the Christmas Holidays and  countless nice evenings spent with friends.

With Wolverhampton being located pretty much in the middle of England it is easy to visit other towns. Birmingham, the second biggest city of UK is just by a 20 minute train ride away, Manchester one hour and London two to three hours depending on trains.

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London Christmas fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London skyscrapers

It was almost a must to go see at least one football match during the exchange, it is England after all so we went with a group of exchange students to watch the local Wolverhampton Wanderers play in their home Molineux Stadium that seats 31 000 spectators. And yeah, they play in the second highest division and have a stadium that big. Different football culture than Finland.

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The Wolves playing
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Molineux Stadium

Studying in England differs a little bit from Finland in a way that there is not as much spending time in lectures but more of doing assignment on your own time. And the assignments really took a lot of that ”chilling” time away. But it was a nice way of studying for change. Multiple days spent in the library of the university with fellow exchange students working and hanging out at the same time.

The exchange has now come to and end and I have to say, time went past too quickly. The first two to three weeks were slow but then the studying started with meeting new people every day and having a good time, the 4 months have suddenly come to an end.

– Salim

Greetings from Madrid

A week ago I came back to Finland from my amazing trip to Madrid. The past few months have been great. I have met lots of fun and interesting people and I really enjoyed Madrid and its beautiful neighborhoods.  Most of the time in Madrid I hung out with my roo20161007_181947m mates because I was very lucky to have a really fun group of people living in my flat. We explored Madrid together and went hiking and did kinds of stuff.15250920_10154894549096661_6036998902250316147_o

One of the best travels was our road trip in December with three of my friends. We rented a car from Madrid and drove to Granada-Malaga-Gibraltar-Seville and back to Madrid.

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A day trip to Cercedillas was a fun trip with my two dutch an one American friend. We hiked for 6 hours.

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Studying in Madrid at Rey Juan Carlos University was more work than I expected. We did lots of group works and presentations and sometimes it felt that they took too much time. On the other hand I worked in groups with local people from Madrid and other Erasmus students so It was also fun to experience working in such international groups. All my classes were taught in English and I was pleasantly surprised how good English the teachers spoke. The university was 30 minutes metro ride away outside of the center of Madrid in a neighborhood called Vicálvaro. The campus was nice and small had two restaurants where we usually worked after the classes.

I think the main difference in studying there was the courses. At Madrid the courses were more practical and more focused in one subject like marketing or microeconomics. In TAMK our courses feel more like there are lots of subjects in one course and its harder to keep track what the studies are actually about. So I kind of preferred the way in Madrid because it felt that I learned a lot more.

Greetings from Hannover!

It has been quite amazing semester here in Hannover! There has been so much to do and so many places to visit in here that the time is just flying. There hasn’t been much progress concerning the my line of studies during this time, but living in here has been quite of an adventure.

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Hannover isn’t one of the biggest city in Germany with it’s 500,000 residents but for me it’s just the right size. Basically everything is within a walking distance in here and the public transportation works like a dream. There’s not too much happening everyday, which makes life a bit more peaceful than in a larger city.

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Germans and the other exchange students i’ve met in here are so friendly and open-minded. It has been so fun getting to know people all over the world and to hear about their cultures and ways of life!

 

The first month in here was basically about getting everything in order and getting to know the city and it’s customs. When the paperwork was ready it was time to start the two week long German intensive course. Days were mostly spent then on studying German and evenings enjoying the few last warm weeks of the year in a beach. After the intensive course ended everyone was looking forward to start the actual studies, but for weeks we didn’t hear anything about when the courses start.

 

Studying in here was quite different to what i was accustomed to in Finland. The classes are more about listening and studying than working at home, but there was still quite a lot of free time during the days. It’s definetly quality over quantity in here; most of the teachers are really passionate about their work, and it really motivates to try your best to learn.

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All in all, this whole trip has been probably one memory i’ll cherish for the rest of my life. At first i was a little skeptic about going to study abroad, but now i’m so happy that i decided to come here.

 

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Matti

Saludos de Montevideo

 

Greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay. Time here has been flying and I am little afraid that 5 months is not enough. During my stay I came to realize how huge South America is and how little I know about it. Uruguay itself is manageable since it’s so small and has less people than Finland.

I have a lot free time outside the classes since most of the studying is being done at home. Although it seems like I have no time since I am always doing something or going somewhere. Also University is not expecting exchange students at least in my career to participate to mandatory tasks. Most of the students also work part time in order to make ends meet. It is easier to fit in than in Finland since there are so few hours in University. No one has been able to explain to me how normal people can live here since some of the food is more expensive than in Finland but by working full time the pay is less than what people in Finland get by doing nothing.

My spare time I have been spending a lot of time with my new friends. Most of them are exchange students but that is because they also have a lot of time. To my defense at least I do the effort of using Spanish also with people who do speak English.. Now I know my next holiday destinations since I need to visit my friends in Brazil and Mexico.

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Beach in Punta del Este and my first time riding a horse in countryside

 

Everyday things have been an adventure and I am happy I have time to discover these things. For example, it took me three weeks to find milk in the supermarket since I didn’t want to ask a one more stupid question. I used my stupid questions for other things like how to stop a bus once you are on it. At last I found the milk, and lots of it, in plastic bags. Asking for help or directions is getting easier since I now stand a chance of understanding the answer. Uruguayans are genuinely nice and helpful people. Most of the time they not only tell you where to go but also tell you all the options and history of the place. I am pretty sure most of them would accompany me to help me to find something on the other side of the country if I would just ask. I have been delighted to find out also how easy it is to pay with a card and that paying with my card I can get a discount especially in restaurants. Mobile internet is also working really well and it is surprisingly cheap. I paid first month only 4 euros for my phone and after that little more since I noticed it is so cheap that I can use it more.

The best way to g20161214_084143et affordable food: markets. This one was on my street every Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Sunny Cyprus!

My exchange is coming on the end but it has been full of experiences. Cyprus is a sunny island where people love food and resting. I came in the beginning of October and during the whole month the temperature was still almost 30 degrees and I loved it! After October it has been getting lower but still in January during the daytime it can be very warm when the Sun is shining.

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I have been studying Hospitality Tourism Management in a school named Higher Hotel Institute Cyprus which is located in the capital of Cyprus: Nicosia. The school is a very small, only 270 students and I have been living in a residence of the school.

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In the beginning of my exchange the school and studying was difficult for me because of the language. My English wasn’t so good but it has definitely got better and that’s one thing i’m very happy for. I have lessons from Monday to Friday, some days only two hours and some days five hours. The lessons are in normal class rooms with chairs and tables (not in auditoriums like we mostly have in TAMK).

I have nine courses and specially the ones about traveling and tourism had been very interesting because we don’t have that kind of lessons in TAMK. During the autumn we had tests, projects and mid-term exams. Now in January we are doing our final examinations. So right now i’m studying and reading a lot…

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The studies are different here than in Finland because the number of people in one class is smaller and the teaching is more like ”old-style”. But mostly I have liked it and I have learnt many new things.

When thinking about the size of the school, there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are for example that the teachers know all the students and the relationships between them are close and friendly. The disadvantages are related mostly to being as an exchange student here. Here is only one another exchange student with me and the school doesn’t offer any activities for us and they didn’t tell anything about the events that Erasmus is organizing here.

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In the beginning of my exchange I used lot of my free time to go to the beaches and traveling around. I visited all the ”main cities” and went also to the mountains. I also used my time (and money) to get familiar with the local foods and drinks. People here really love to eat and I can say the same of myself. I had tried all the traditional dishes and of course beers, wines, spirits…

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Cyprus is a dry but beautiful island in the middle of Mediterranean Sea and people are open-minded and helpful. The culture is totally different than in Finland which has been hard for me sometimes but it had also taught me a lot. I have learnt new things of myself and met so many new people.

So, I already wrote three final exams and six are still coming… Hope I will pass all the courses!

Greetings from Graz

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I have spent four months in Graz now and I can’t say other than it has been the best time of my life. I have met amazing people, I’ve tried new things and learnt so much about myself. I’ve made friends for life from all over the world and built an Erasmus family around me.

Graz is a quite small city full of students. It means a lot of parties and sosialization. I have found it very suitable for me and being this social is something I want to have in future too.

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Austria is pretty much in the middle of Europe, and that has given me a great opportunity to do short trips. I’ve been to Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Maribor (Slovenia), Hallstatt and Grüner see.

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The most amazing trip until now has been a skiing trip to Kaprun Zell am See. I love snowboarding and it has always been my dream to go to the Alps. We made a trip with ESN and spent a weekend skiing and having fun with friends. The weather was perfect and the slopes were incredible.

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Studying in here has been more difficult than I expected. Courses are not harder, but my university doesn’t offer courses in English which was a surprise for me since I was able to do all the applications in English and also the choice of courses was in English. It means that I have had to do some courses to TAMK to make sure I get enough credits. I’m okay with that, but it means a lot of writing.

The quality of my university here is much higher than in Finland. The students of my professor are amazing and it gives me a lot of motivation and inspiration. I don’t even try to compete with them, just to learn from them. Two students of my professor came third in the biggest flute competition in the world. That tells something of the level.

One thing that has been really hard to get used to here is the unhelpfullnes of the people. If you go to an office and ask something that isn’t straightly in their field (for example where is the nearest post office) you usually get “I don’t know” for an answer. In Finland I’ve been used to that if someone doesn’t know but has a better chance than me to find out about it they’ll try to find an answer. I worked myself in a pharmacy for five months last year and it was perfectly normal to help people with somethig that had nothing to do with that pharmacy.

I can already say that going for exchange was the best decision I have made in my life yet. I’m so happy that it hasn’t been even half of it yet, and I’m going to enjoy every single minute of it.

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-Enna

Greetings from magical Prague

This is one of the most beautiful cities i have ever been in. All the great arcitecture and buildings that have been here so many centuries give some perspective what´s old and what´s new. When we are speaking about old building or town in Finland we usually mean that they have been built century or two ago. Here even the new town has been founded early 1300´s. This city has interesting combination old and new architecture which i find really interesting since I am studying construction architecture.

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The feeling that you have in this city is something magical. It´s the weird combination of old structure and modern life and yet they are still working together seamless. Well almost most of the time since the culture is little bit more easygoing with schedules. It feels like here people don´t have the same rush to places like us finns usually have.

My studies have been everything i dared to hope yet sometimes i think we have too much free time and too little actual teaching but it´s only natural because the school is university so they except that you´ll survive by studying yourself. All the teachers are good with english which is really good thing. It´s so much more pleasant to learn when you understand well. Ofcourse we have some courses that have plenty of new words. For example in economics course there are a lot of words from the bussiness world so the dictionary has been my best friend during that course. I still have the exam to do for that course so wish me luck!

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Prague is that kind of city that you never feel bored. There´s so much to see and experience that it´s impossible for even one semester. I have spent most of my free time with my roommates thought. I have been so lucky to have them because living with them has been really great. We have so much to talk about and we usually go for the parties together. We are really not party people but we like to go to inteGreat parties that are held by ISIC club which is club for exchange students and the parties are about all the countrys. There´s always three countrys that are presenting their culture by food and a show that can be presentation, games, plays or whaterver comes to their minds.

I have also has a lot of friends wisiting me so we have been exploring the city. Mostly we have tried new palces to go for food and see all the tourist attractions but also tried to explore more and we have found a lot of cool places to go. For example there´s a lot nice quarters in the city.

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Studying in Prague have been like studying blinfolded because it´s so different. You don´t really get anything from the teachers at first. In Finland they usually tell you during the first classes what are they excepting you to do so it´s easier to plan your future. You know how much you have to work for the studies but in Prague the informations come little by little so it´s more surprising yet it´s not too bad. And you can always ask and they reveal more when asking. Yet there has been course or couple that have been little different than we thought. After all i have enjoyed the courses because otherwise they are so cool. The topics are exciting.

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