Monthly Archives: February 2017

Memories from beautiful Rotterdam

I did my 5 months study exchange semester in Rotterdam and i can’t believe how fast the time has flown. One might feel that 5 months is a bit too much for an exchange but i would certainly stay longer if i could.

My time in this beautiful city has been absolutely fantastic and by the end of my semester i totally felt at home in Rotterdam. This city is definitely very unique comparing to the rest of the Netherlands: in Rotterdam you won’t see much of the Dutch traditional building style; instead you’ll witness some of the most unique architecture styles in the world as the Rotterdam redefined itself as one of the most daring urban designed cities. The city was completely flattened during WWII, so it was almost entirely rebuilt.

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The only part of Rotterdam that survived after WWII

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Rotterdam is very dynamic and offers loads of fun things to do starting from art exhibitions to electro raves and many interesting food places. Since Rotterdam is the most multicultural city of the Netherlands it has many food options, such as typical Dutch, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese and Indonesian eatery. The famous Witte de Withstraat will keep you entertained all week long as it has quite a number of art galleries, small international food places, bars and great atmosphere. Any day of the week you will find something fun to do, which does not involve drinking.

I lived only 20 minutes by walk from the centre and by bike the distance could be easily travelled in 10 minutes. I was very lucky to enjoy the amazing view from the terrace in my dorm.

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Regarding the school, I attended supply chain minor programme at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. The minor was 30 credits (slightly more than required by TAMK) and eventually it was a lot of work. Even though i was eager to deepen my knowledge (and eventually i did), i would definitely drop out some courses if i knew how much workload it contains. So, if you are looking for an easy-going relaxed studying i would not recommend taking minor programmes in the Netherlands (or it is better to be careful in general with all programmes as all universities are rather demanding and the number of credits for each course is rather small). Getting a pass is not as easy as it is in TAMK, so you would have to actually sweat to get it. My school was only 3 times a week but still i felt like i don’t have much free time. Besides that, i have learned a lot and visited many companies within the minor scope, the thing that i lacked in our degree programme in Finland.

Apart from being busy with school projects, i travelled quite a lot within the Netherlands and abroad. Due to the city’s developed transport network and favourable location, travelling has never been that easy! It takes only a couple of hours by bus to get to another country. During my stay I visited Brussels, Antwerp, Madrid and many cities in the Netherlands (Amsterdam. Maastricht, Delft, Breda, Dordrecht, the Hague, Utrecht etc).

The price level is pretty much the same as in Finland, except alcohol. Surprisingly, some groceries were a bit more expensive than in Finland, but the variety compensates that.

The weather has not been that shitty as everyone says it is in the Netherlands. I was lucky enough to enjoy hot weather for the whole September and even go to the amazing beach in the Hague. Also, its winter is relatively warm so i did not even need to carry huge jackets.

DSCN4018Beach in the Hague

The town that particularly impressed me was Delft, a small version of Amsterdam.

DSCN4242Fascinating Delft

In general, my exerience has been absolutely great and i would definitely recommend visiting this amazing city.

DSCN3572 DSCN4314 DSCN4319 DSCN4352Highlights of Rotterdam

 

Hallöchen aus Berlin!

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I did my exchange semester in Berlin and I could not have chosen any better; Berlin has fulfilled all my expectations and more. The city is full of attractions, events, clubs and bars so it never gets boring, and the price level is considerably lower than in Finland which makes Berlin a student friendly destination. I was living in a dorm in East Berlin and my rent was less than half what I paid in Finland and it was just a quick 15 minute bus and S-Bahn ride to the city.

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Dorm in Biesdorf and part of HTW Treskowallee campus.

My school was Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (HTW) located about 30 minute commute away from the dorm. I planned my courses in a way I only had to go to lectures 2 or 3 times per week which was convenient and gave me extra free time that I used exploring Berlin. Studying itself was very similar to Finland, a lot of group projects and relatively easy to pass courses if you participate in lectures once in a while and see some effort for the final exam. The staff at the International Office were super helpful with everything and made life easy for exchange students by taking care of a lot of bureaucracy. Before the semester started everyone had to attend a two-week mandatory German intensive course which was useful since knowing even a bit of German makes life in Berlin so much easier.

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Chilling in Kreuzberg on the Tag der deutschen Einheit.

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Enjoying a sunny October day in Mauerpark with friends, karaoke and Glühwein.

Free time was spent, after seeing all the mandatory tourist attractions, mainly going out with friends in East Berlin. Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Neukölln are my favorite districts full of good food, drinks, people and happenings. Berlin never sleeps and for a city of almost 3,5 million inhabitants it felt surprisingly safe to walk the streets even alone during night time. The atmosphere in Berlin is very liberal and relaxed, this is a place where you can really come as you are since the city and Berliners have already seen it all (you will too if you stay in Berlin for a while). I also noticed rather soon after my arrival that deutsche pünktlichkeit does not involve Berlin.

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Das Bier. Had a few during my exchange.

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Döner, miss you already.

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Best place to spend Thursday nights is Salami Social club, craft beer and 1eur per slice for excellent pizza.

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It really is.

I can warmly recommend Berlin for a semester abroad, just warning that you might not want to leave… I know I’m returning as soon as I get a chance!

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Hello from the Netherlands!

Hoi! Hoe gaat het met jullie ?

I have almost finished my study term in the Netherlands and would like to share that experience with you.

As a study place I have chosen Utrecht University of Applied Science… or maybe this University has chosen me? I don’t know but it was love at the first sight. My study program, university facilities and organisation moments were provided on a very high level. I enjoyed my time being there, even though the studies were sometimes tough!

I have completed a program, created specifically for doing business in emerging markets. During courses we have analysed perspectives and challenges in emerging markets occurring to large multinational corporations and small start up companies. The program was developed by lectures from different backgrounds and this made it so unique and worthwhile. It is suitable for truly international students, who are highly interested in exploring the world.

For example, during entrepreneurship course in teams of five people we had to come up with a business idea, which can change life of local people in a better way. The main condition it should be a country with social or economic difficulties. It was not easy at all. We had to create a website with all financial data, marketing, strategy, supply chain management etc. and present it to real investors, who work for StudentInc ( a start up laboratory). We were assessed as real businessmen and our grade showed the readiness to invest in our idea real money. To be honest, we succeeded and apparently our idea might work, thus we are in touch with my team in case we really start executing our plan!

 

In my spare time I have travelled through the Netherlands, enjoyed cheeses and had a very very good coffee. I have been to music festivals, museums and art galleries. My friends and family came to visit me from all over the world and I had a lot of fun! To be honest, I have been international student since 2014, so chilling and partying with exchange students was completely  not new thing for me. Anyway, whatever you party or not, there will be always something to do or people, who share your interests.

IMG_0762This is Nijntje. It’s well known among dutch kids.

IMG_0653 2My sister and I travelling to Hague

IMG_0163 2This is a castle in 15km from Utrecht.

Utrecht is a small version of Amsterdam with less traffic and tourists on its streets, that is why I strongly recommend going there. It’s about 25 min by train to Amsterdam, but you might spend weeks to explore every corner of this marvellous city before going to the capital or sin city haha.

IMG_0294Holland at the beginning of NOVEMBER!!!!

Comparing the studies process, everything was structured and clear. However, there was always something to do, I had quite a lot of homework every day. During exam weeks I had a couple of sleepless nights, but I could have avoid it by organising my time in line with responsibilities and needs. In Finland I was way more relaxed with studies and homework, sometimes very irresponsible too. But both this education systems have its advantages and disadvantages.

 

Dutch people are VERY direct, they do not waste time during work or meetings and… they do not have lunch. I mean, they eat of course, but it is always broodjes (sandwiches). I missed TAMK lunches a lot.

IMG_0694 Dutch know about good herring! Its LEKKER!

This is what I had in my mind, thanks everyone to make my exchange happen.

Pozdravy ze Zlína! Greetings from Zlin

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My internship and intercultural experience was not easy. Already during the application period I had some organisational problems: the target country I wanted to go declined my participation and I had to choose another country from “leftovers”

I chose Czech Republic. Bureaucracy process between TAMK and Tomas Bata University was surprisingly complicated. I arrived to Czech Republic 1.10.16, but I was not even registered as a student and had to wait three weeks before all papers were signed up.

During my internship I worked in  Krajská nemocnice Tomáš Bati  in  four different departments : department of Anesthesiology and Resuscitation,  ICU,  Maternity Ward,  Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. I also had short-term practice at Emergency Department at regional hospital in Nové Město na Moravě.

 

KNTB Zlin (http://www.kntb.cz/kontakt). Hospital is huge, it has more then 10 buildings and about 25 departments including laboratories

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Resuscitation and ICU45

 

Nemocnice Nové Město na Moravě (http://www.nnm.cz/2011/?rezim=pacient&id=uvod). 7 buildings, 20 departments, also has a dormitory for employers6

 

Nurses in Czech Republic  work  12 hours shifts, max three shifts per week (for ex.: day – day – night)Due to language barrier I did not have supervisor neither  proper time table. I had to negotiate (mostly in Czech) with had nurse and try to make my schedule look good, so i could get at least some hours done and reach my internship goals.

Although I had discussed my goals and working hours with international coordinator (he was responsible for all organization)  we had some kind of misunderstanding till the end of my practicing. As a result  my practicing period was more like  tour around the hospitals. The longest time  I spent at the department was 3 weeks, and after i had to move to another one. To the other hand I had seen more different working fields then i could do in Finland, and it is awesome.

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There is no need to tell about  differences between ergonomic and aseptic rules, stuff in hospitals I used to practice just simply do not pay any attention for that  Also the doctors/ nurses anchorite is so high that patients/ customers just listen to them mouth open and do not participate in treatments/ healthcare planning.

Anyhow, I got priceless working and intercultural experience.  I improved my professional skills, learned how  to speak Czech and became confidence as a nurse.

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Zdravo from Slovenia

For the past 4 months I have been living on the city of Maribor in Slovenia. Many people are saying that Slovenia is shaped like a running chicken. And if Slovenia is chicken, Maribor is located at the neck.Kuvahaun tulos haulle slovenia chickenMy studies of electrical engineering in Maribor consisted of 30 ECTS and are the follwing:

– Industrial Electronics
– Electrical Circuits
– Electrical Power Conversion and Generation
– Media & Democracy
– Industrial Electronics
Most of the studying is done in self-studying in forms of reports and exams, which is very different compared to Finland. My courses were mainly about electrical engineering except for the course Media & Democracy which was more directed toward journalist studies. I certainly learned a lot about many concepts which are very important to electrical engineering and relying on self-study was a interesting change.
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Maribor is a relatively small and compact city with around 130 000 population. Climate was quite great, about +10 degrees compared to Finnish temperature. Most amazing thing was that the city was full of Erasmus students. When I walked to my nearest shop on the way there I would meet at least 3 friends. Also the government supplied the students with 22 food coupons per month.  With a food coupon you could go to any restaurant and get a 2.5 euro discount. The food was delicious as well as cheap.

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I was living in a student dormitory near the city center called Tyrseva and sharing a room with another Erasmus student. There were over 100 Erasmus students living in that dormitory so you can imagine what it was like. The spare-time was spent together with all the great people I met during my Erasmus. I felt there was so much fun things to do: we went running, gymming, drinking coffee, traveling to neighboring countries and of course – partying.

The studying culture in Slovenia is much more formal and academic as we are required to do a lot of self-study and there is not that much practical work. In most of the courses I only saw the professors a few time in the whole semester. But for me this type of studying was new and refreshing.

It was a great trip and I will certainly miss many things from Slovenia and I am sure to go back there some day.

Greetings from Germany!

Right next to Stuttgart, the industrial heart of Germany, lies my hometown for the past 5 months called Esslingen am Neckar (Esslingen by river Neckar). My studies here have consisted of not too many classes, and a lot of self-studying. Courses that I am taking make up 35 ECT credits in total, and the topics are as follow:

-Sustainable, Efficient and Decentralized Energy Systems
-Laboratory Sustainable Energy Systems
-Renewable Energy Sources and Carriers
-Ecologic and Economic Design
-Design and Development Methodology
-Light Weight Design
-Advanced Finite Element Method
-German Language (at level 3 out from 4)
-German History and Culture
-Project work: Cooling concept for Batteries

Many of these courses are tied together as a module, which helps to study them both, since the teacher is the same, and topics are similar. Courses are a bit different than what I have done in TAMK, since there is nothing especially related to vehicles, exception being the project work. Categories are still interesting and also demanding. When I have to get to school, I usually cycle there with the bike that I rented from my school, only 10e for semester (+100 e deposit which you get back when returning the bike).

Kuvahaun tulos haulle hochschule esslingen

The building that I normally attend to classes is showed above, and it’s really old, big and nice.  Because the building is a historical building, and building is regulated, the downside is that there is no AC-system, and Esslingen was really hot (for a Finn) in September when we got here.

During my spare-time I usually hang out with my newly found spanish girlfriend, or new international friends that I’ve made. We watch series and movies from Netflix, cook together and laugh a lot to silly youtube videos. I bought a semi-acoustic guitar from my neighbour, which I fiddle with every now and then. I also like to spend excessive amounts of time in Facebook, news sites and reading blogs, this way catching up with the news and happenings of my friends, family and Finland. I’m enjoying, though I feel also a little homesick.

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Main difference in studies in TAMK and Hochschule Esslingen is that there is a lot less graded assignments to do. Usually in TAMK we have e.g. one assignment which covers up 50 % of your final grade, 50 % coming from the exam. In Esslingen, all the effort is put to the exam, which is a bit of a bummer to me. In classes, group sizes are similar to TAMK (=too big), so there isn’t sometimes too much room up front in the classes. Luckily teachers are mostly great. They have a style to keep a constant dialogue between students and they are usually constantly asking questions, assuming people to answer without raising of hand. Although this feels similar to our studies in TAMK, but maybe in general here they do that a bit more. All the professors are extremely competant, with crazy titles such as Prof. Dr. Dipl. Ing. before their name tag of their office. Germany uses more formal approach than in TAMK, since professors are not addressed with their first names as in Finland. This feels although natural, when using English language.

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Soon back home!

-Tero Leinonen

My dear Shanghai

…Oh how I love you.

My time in Shanghai has absolutely flown past, including visits to Xian and Tokyo, and the more time I spend in this crazy country the more I fall in love with it.
Exploring this city of 25 million people has been incredible, and every day there’s something new to see. China and the Chinese people are so very different from the western cultures I’ve previously seen and got to experience, and although sometimes it causes misunderstandings and frustration, I find myself being constantly impressed by the Chinese, and their attitudes towards things. Everyone has been so kind and friendly, and it definitely pays to look western and lost; if I’ve ever stood somewhere long enough looking a bit confused there has always been a local to offer a helping hand, even with no common language.

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As Shanghai is the world’s biggest city there is definitely a crazy amount of things to do and places to see, and being able to only spend 3 months in China means a lot of sightseeing on our days off.

Although the Chinese language is extremely hard and takes up a lot of time outside the classes, fortunately the other classes in the university were relatively simple leaving time to go outside and explore. The other courses I chose in addition to Chinese were Social Changes in Contemporary China which was great – the teacher was the absolute loveliest and would often engage in discussions outside the class topic to properly answer any questions we might have. She also took us on field trips including a breakfast at the local KFC to see just how the western influences are adopted into China – meaning old Chinese men and women coming to the fast food restaurant to read newspapers and hang out like it was their living room!

Both ”China and Globalisation” and ”Intercultural business communication” left me with next to no new knowledge on either subject, and researching for the final essays written for both courses probably taught me more than sitting in class listening (or trying to listen) the teachers.

All in all, China is a country of so much culture – both the kind that leaves you speechless in awe and the kind that sort of leaves you scratching your head in pure confusion and frustration. Still, at the end of the day there is no place in the world I´d rather be!

Hello from Leeds, UK!

Greetings from Leeds, United Kingdom! My boyfriend Sami and I came to Leeds together in September and have really enjoyed our time here. We both study media, but different courses, so you will hear a different kind of experience from Sami on his blog post.

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I studied Graphic Design in Leeds Beckett University and I have to say that I was very happy with my course choices. I studied on Level 5, with second year students.

The biggest difference compared to TAMK was the structure of the courses. We had 3 courses during the Autumn semester and one course lasted approx. for one month. In TAMK I was used to having many courses at the same time, but in Leeds Beckett we only concentrated on one course at the time.

Inside these courses we had different lectures, workshops, school trips, feedback sessions and tutoring. It got some time for me to get used to the schedule and structure of the courses, but in the end I actually preferred this way of studying.

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Memories from Leeds

The courses were also much more creative than in TAMK. In TAMK we sit on computers a lot, but I barely used any computers during my exchange studies. I still felt that I learned a lot more by doing things by hand, painting, attending lectures, exhibitions and school trips.

The teachers/tutors were all very nice and talented in the Graphic Arts and Design courses. I really enjoyed the fact that they really cared about the students’ needs and gave a lot of feedback during the courses.

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Cute little vintage shops

Leeds is a great city for studying. It is a big university city and there are many things to do after school. We really enjoyed the vibrant pub culture, amazing restaurants and different kind of events that Leeds had to offer.

Leeds is also really good for shopping. The city centre is full of shopping centres with all the biggest mainstream brands, but also some cute independent shops for vintage clothing, vinyl records, comics, cosmetics etc…

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Our favourite bar Tapped

I will definitely miss some the Leeds’ restaurants once I get back to Finland. If you ever visit Leeds, you need to check out these places:

Bundobust, for delicious modern Indian food and amazing beer selection. Try their own Bombay Dazzler beer, just amazing!
Tapped, for the best craft beers in town and Italian pizza (picture above)
Belgrave Music Hall, for meeting friends and seeing live gigs. Selling burgers, pizza and beer, of course!
Headrow House, for chilled night out. 4 floors of cool people and good music. Beer garden on the rooftop, a cocktail bar and a beer hall.

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Leeds city centre

I also recommend traveling a lot. Leeds has great location in the middle of the UK. Beautiful little towns like York (a must visit!) and Whitby are only 1-2 hours away by bus. Also bigger cities like Manchester and Liverpool, only 1-2 hours by train. If you wish to travel further like Edinburgh or London, remember to book tickets early so you will get the much cheaper.

We travelled a lot with a company called Don’t Be a Tourist. Great option for those who want to meet other exchange students and don’t enjoy booking hostels and trains themselves. We travelled to York, Whitby, Lake District, Bath/Stonehenge and Edinburgh with them and would highly recommend!

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Whitby

If you want to read more about Leeds, I will soon add more blog posts about our exchange experiences on my own blog Ida’s Cozy Corner (only in Finnish, sorry!). If you have any questions about studying in Leeds, feel free to contact me.

See you!

Love, Ida