Monthly Archives: June 2017

Grüß Gott from Austria

 

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The entrance to the old city of Wels

What did I know about Wels beforehand? Nothing. A small city in upper Austia, 60000 inhabitants. That was what Google said. Still it turned out to be a much more than that. Nice old buildings, a university of applied sciences and events going on. In total, beautiful and lively city.

I studied one semester in Upper Austria University of Technologies in Wels, Austria. My study program there was Innovation and Product Management, which was a bit different compared to mechanical engineering back in Tampere. Still this period gave me different overview about management field, especially when all my courses were in master program. At the beginning, I thought would it be doable but it turns out that the courses were not impossible. If you are thinking is something possible, it is, just jump into it!

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The Alps

Manners

Daily living in Austria is not so different compared to Finland, except there is some more traditional habits. All shops close early and are closed on Sundays. Besides, cash is still widely used and credit cards work just in supermarkets or bigger shops.

What comes to manners, Austria is more masculine country than Finland. In Geert Hofstede’s analysis Austria got 79 point out of 100 in masculinity, when Finland got only 26 points. That means that Austria’s society is more driven by competition, achievement and success. In Austria, people live to work, unlike in Finland where people work to live. That means in Austria people are more career-oriented than in Finland. I didn’t see the difference every day, but generally people were very oriented in school and wanted to achieve big things after it. For my opinion, this kind of attitude at least in the school was just positive. (https://geert-hofstede.com/austria.html)

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Hallstatt

 

Travelling

In middle Europe, everything is near. Trains work perfectly (no delays because of snow or electric failure..) and you can reach cities and different countries just in couple of hours. That is why the best thing was travelling: ski resorts, capitals, small cities, everything! In every trip, I also tried to explore as many different cuisines as possible. Especially in eastern Europe you get very good dishes with reasonable price. Berlin is also heaven for a gourmet, totally recommended.

In conclusion, if someone is thinking there do I dare to leave out of my comfort zone and do something new and exciting, I have only one tip: definitely. It will gain something that you did not know even existed. Be open-minded!

 

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Berlin food

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Berlin TV tower

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Brno

Szia from Budapest!

“My house in Budapest
My, my hidden treasure chest..” 

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If not earlier, at the latest George Ezra made you know this beautiful city by his great song. (Which doesn’t tell about Budapest at all, though.)

I had visited Budapest two times before my exchange so the city itself was familiar to me. From the very first trip to Budapest I fell in love with the city. How those majestic and glorious buildings meet the rugged and ruined houses and how Danube divides the city into two totally different parts. New bars and street-food restaurants are opening every week so you always have new cool places to visit. Eating and drinking out is really cheap comparing to Finland, too. It’s not difficult to fall in love with Budapest.

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I finished my studies in Budapest Business School in May. We had lectures in two different buildings, both located just few hundred meters from the famous Parliament building. I took courses that are very different to which are offered by TAMK. I studied intercultural communication and business communication, environmental management, cultural tourism, Hungarian language, Hungarian history & culture and Hungarian gastronomy.

I really enjoyed Hungarian language course. I have always been interested about languages and such an unique language like Hungarian was really fascinating to me. Finnish and Hungarian are both Finno-Ugric languages and you can find many similarities between them. Learning Hungarian was probably much more easier to Finnish-speakers than, for example, English- or German-speaking students.  I learned words and phrases that are useful in every-day life and also numbers and some vocabulary.

Comparing to studying in TAMK, teaching was much more theoretical. It sometimes felt similar to studying in high school; less interaction between teacher and students, lots of powerpoints and notes to write down and only 1,5 hour classes. As I am more practical person I usually prefer more interactive learning methods but I didn’t find it hard to manage the courses. In BBS you had more optional courses to choose and that way also more freedom to make your schedule personalized.

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During my stay in Budapest I have traveled a lot. City’s location in the middle of Europe has enabled me to travel budget-friendly to many countries. I visited Vienna and Bratislava during my winter holiday. In April I traveled to Prague to visit my friends and in May I had great trip by train to Belgrad, Serbia. In the beginning of June I returned from 10-days road trip which led me to Slovenia, northern Italy and to Austria.  I also visited my friend’s hometown Nyíregyháza in Hungary,  which was charming little city close to Ukrainian border. I think I have been such a privileged to experience all this during my exchange semester.

My favorite hobbies abroad, eating and drinking, were easy to put into practice here in Budapest. Although prices have risen in Hungary food is still very affordable in restaurants. I have eaten such a delicious food and have drank great Hungarian wines and beers with my Erasmus friends. Traditional Hungarian cuisine is very heavy and based on meat. Gulyás is one of the most famous dishes in Hungary. It is known as goulash in many other central-European countries. Here in Hungary it is more like soup when, for example, in Czech it is traditionally a meat stew. Lángos is “Hungarian pizza” and very famous among the tourists. It is round-shaped deep-fried pastry that is usually topped with tejföl (like sour-cream) and grated cheese. Not the healthiest choice but soooo yummy!

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I’ve also visited famous baths that are very popular here in Hungary. There are numerous natural warm spring waters under the city and several baths (fürdő in Hungarian) have been here in Budapest for centuries. Many locals believe that these thermal waters really keeps you healthy. Who knows, but I will definitely recommend to give a try!

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Five months in Hungary have been absolutely great! Weather has been lovely since April and life really laid-back after exam period. I could easily stay one more semester here but it also feels good to go back to Finland. I miss Finnish nature and quietness but life in lively metropolis has been pleasant too. After five months I feel that I have a second home here in Hungary and it will be great to return here one day.

The greatest beer and waffles in the world, greetings from Belgium!

I’ve spend the last 5 months in Aalst, Belgium and it’s now my last 2 weeks here. Aalst is a smaller city located between Brussels and Ghent. I studied construction engineering / site management at Odisee College University. I’m really not the type to share an apartment with other people so I had my own studio apartment close to the centre of Aalst which was great.

One of the reasons I wanted to come to Odisee is that I wanted to do my bachelor’s final project in English. The final project structure was completely different than in Finland. I had this building site I visited regularly and the final project was to make plans, drawings, schedule etc. for them. I think that doing final project like this is more practical and educational for a construction engineer than doing a thesis. Otherwise I think that studying in TAMK is more theoretical than in Odisee. For example we had this course in Odisee where we did plans for a roof and a balcony and then actually constructed them at the school. The studying atmosphere was pretty relaxed, the teachers knew their stuff and most of them spoke English almost fluently.

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There wasn’t lot of other exchange students in Aalst so all the exchange student activities were in Ghent which is one of the greatest cities I’ve ever been to. I also had my Dutch classes in Ghent so I spend a lot of time in there. The trains are very cheap and easy to use in Belgium so I spend a lot of time travelling to different places. My favourite cities in Belgium are Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp, the streets on those places look like a fairy tale. The location of Belgium is amazing for a traveller, in my time here I got to visit France twice, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Netherlands. Other than travelling I really liked biking here since the weather was amazing and there is like zero uphills in the whole northern Belgium.

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Before coming to Belgium I didn’t even know that I like beer but the first time I ordered Rochefort 10 it felt like falling in love. My Belgian friends showed me all the different beers and I can now understand why Belgian beer culture is on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. The people here are very helpful and somewhat like Finnish people. What I mean by this is that Belgians also aren’t the type to small talk and such but when you get to know them they become great friends.

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I really enjoyed my stay Belgium, this place is now like a second home to me. I made some Belgian friends and learned a lot about their culture. My spoken English is now top notch and I’ve learned some Flemish/Dutch too. I could see myself living here again in the future.

Groetjes,

Jesse

Hallo from the Netherlands!

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I’m now almost at the end of my semester here in Nijmegen. I came here to study intercultural social work at HAN University of applied sciences. Soon I’m leaving here with a better understanding of cultures and intercultural communication. Now I have more ways of dealing with cultural misunderstandings and conflicts and I’ve opened my eyes to many problems considering racism and social exclusion.

My study program is called Intercultural social professional. Our schedule includes three days of internship every week and two days of school, so the program does keep me busy. Teachers like to keep us moving, so the classes fill up from different method exercises and practical assignments. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down in a chair and just listened the teacher even for an hour.  I ended up doing my intenship in a primary school, where the children don’t speak English. Even without shared language, I’ve learned a lot in my internship and the Dutch hospitality has really shown there. Doing an internship has given me a way to really work with local people and get to know the culture on a deeper lever. Still I’m happy that I didn’t choose to do just an internship abroad, because with the studies I’ve gotten a huge community around me and I feel like I’m getting the whole Erasmus-experience.

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HAN seems to have a lot in common with TAMK and actually on a quick visit to HAN, you might think you’ve come to a Finnish University. The differences are there, but deeper. Compared to our studies in Finland, teachers here expect more from you. I’m not talking about knowledge or actual skills, but the expectation is that students handle their studies independently and if they need help, they will get it from other students. I like this mentality that you’re an adult and you have the responsibility of your studies, but for an exchange student that can be hard. It’s not so easy to get support, information or help with figuring out everything here. The working mentality is a little bit different, since the students pay for the studies. They expect to get great teachers and they say directly if they’re not pleased with it. Sometimes I’m terrified of how students speak to teachers, but it seems to be fine to them. Dutchies work hard and play hard and they don’t mix those together. Free time is appreciated and it’s not a shame if you end your school day enjoying a beer in the school’s restaurant.

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Soooo, moving on to the free time. I was lucky enough to get to live in Vossenveld, which is a student complex for mostly international students. This complex has made it easier to get friends and keep in touch. There’s always someone banging on my door or texting me to go outside, so if you don’t want to, you’re never alone here. We often say that Vossenveld is our own little village. It’s extremely easy to travel in the Netherlands by train, so I’ve seen a lot. I’ve also got to know the neighbors Germany and Belgium pretty well. Nijmegen itself offers everything you could ever need. It’s beautiful, old and a really alive city with a lot to do and see. Nightlife here is also pretty great, since this is a big student city! Dutch people are helpful, open and generally nice, but they’re also busy, so making real friends is a task. Don’t put your hope on “let’s hang out sometime”, no you won’t. Make up a date.

My experience in the Netherlands has been amazing. Besides getting a bunch of new, life-long friendships and unforgettable memories, I’ve learned and grown as a professional and as a person. This is a country and a culture I could honestly picture myself living in. Although then I would have to build my own sauna and find forests somewhere.

Beste wensen, Jenni

 

καλημέρα, from Cyprus!

I spent my spring in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, studying Hospitality Management. I stayed at the halls of residence there on the spot, upstairs of the school. For me that worked perfectly, since I am not a morning person I could just wake up and be in class in one minute. I shared a room with one girl and I was lucky enough to have someone so great as a roommate. Others shared their rooms with two or three people, ours wasn’t that crowded. I enjoyed the dorm-life very much.

Studying in HHIC was sort of different from studying in TAMK. I had seven “subjects” in total, two lessons a week each and a final exam on each as well. So at the end it was quite hectic to try and memorize all that information from four months time. If I were more clever, I would’ve studied during the period, not only the last two weeks!

Nicosia in itself is quite boring. Luckily, Cyprus is a small island so I could easily travel around by cheap buses and it would take only max two hours to get to places. I visited Limassol many times with my roommate, it was nice of her to take me with her on weekends. Otherwise I would’ve had to stay in Nicosia all by myself since everyone left home for weekends and I was the only exchange student there. I also traveled to Larnaca and Paphos as my family, my boyfriend and my friends came to visit me. Those were the times when I got to see the proper Cyprus outside Nicosia.

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Paphos

 

Food was amazing, weather excellent, studies quite easy and doable, people were nice although they tended to speak only Greek if I didn’t remind them to use English. I would say 3,5/5.

 

Efharisto!

-Laura

Grüße aus Deutschland ;)

Hi all! 🙂

I started to work on my bachelor’s thesis in the middle of May in Marktheidenfeld, Germany. Marktheidenfeld is a small town that has a population of about 11,000 people. Since Marktheidenfeld is so small, I decided to live in Würzburg (~120 000 inhabitants) instead. Würzburg is about 40km off from Marktheidenfeld. This is my third time already working for the same company (Schneider Electric) in the same location. So far I’ve worked on my thesis for 4 weeks, so I still have about 2 months to go!

Phhhh how do I spend my leisure time… Well this is my third summer in Würzburg already, so I know all the best places and all the best festivals to go to 😉 There’s lots of great wine & beer festivals in the city and the local white wine is actually well know, at least within Germany 🙂 I spend a lot of time at the Main river, either chilling, swimming or grilling with friends ;’) Music is perhaps my most important hobby and luckily I have few friends to play with, so there’s no way I could get bored here 😉

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Würzburg^^

I’ve never worked in an office in Finland, so it’s therefore pretty hard to compare the German office working culture with the Finnish one… I work in a marketing department, where I happen to have only few German colleagues from about 12-14 employees. That means that our working environment is really international, which I find really good. My boss comes from Iran, but my other colleagues are from France, Japan, Finland, China, UK and of course Germany. Everybody has their own habits, but anyways the atmosphere at work is really good which is pleasing!

Best Regards from Würzburg,

Mikael

Boa tarde from the sunny Lisbon!

I’m studying in Universidade Europeia, one of the few private universities in Lisbon. Studying here is a bit different from what I’m used to in TAMK. Here I have school a few hours every day with different subjects and professors, whereas in TAMK we have one or two subjects per period. I have classes in Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality.

In TAMK we also do more practical work, when the lessons here feel like the lessons I had in the high school, with teacher doing most of the speaking and trying to explain things. All my courses are in English and most people here speak English very well.

img_2749Portuguese people are really friendly and laidback, but also a bit impatient. You can see that every day if you’re walking in a city, when people cross the street whenever they can or when the drivers use the car horns much more than is needed.

The Erasmus activity in Lisbon is really good. There are at least three Erasmus organizations who all arrange parties, BBQ’s and trips to all over Portugal, and to Spain and Morocco too! I have been on these trips to Sintra, Braga, Guimarães, Gerês, Nazaré, Berlengas, Obidós and Torres Vedras (Carnival!).I wish we had so many trips for the Erasmus students in Tampere too.

By myself, I visited the Azores, which belong to Portugal. I still haven’t gone to Madeira, although my Madeiran roommates tell me it’s heaven on earth.

My most favourite thing here is to drink coffee or wine in a miradouro, a viewpoint where you have really nice views over the red roofs. There are many in Lisbon. The city really has a rough style of beauty, with lots of graffitis, street art, old houses and narrow tiled streets.img_2412 img_0922 img_2443

As the summer is here, the temperature can rise up and over +30C, which is insane to a white Finnish person like me. Luckily there are beaches, terraces and all kind of activity you can do outside. Also, many flowers and trees are blooming! Even the night is warm to me.img_2814 img_2781 img_2762

One memorable thing for me will be a volunteer trip my school arranged to Setúbal, which is south from Lisbon. We were in a beach, collecting the plastic waste from the beaches. I really love the ocean and the plastic pollution has always stressed me out, so it was nice to help, even a bit. Afterwards we could enjoy the beaches.img_2639 img_2656 img_2675

Lisbon and Portugal will surely have a place in my heart. As my friend said, Lisbon is a state of mind.

Com amor,

Noora

Sous le ciel de Paris

To start with, here’s a video to get you on a Parisian mood (opens in  a new tab):

sous les ciels parisReturning to Paris after living there before for two years felt like happy comeback home. Even after a bit longer time, the French metropole doesn’t cease to amaze me and take my breath away – both in good and bad. This time Paris called for the internship of the 2nd year of my social work studies, taking place at a small association. They help those who are victims or in the danger of prostitution or pandering and who want to be assisted in their social reintegration. And now over the half of my 3 month internship has already passed!

paris1Getting the possibility to join this team has been an eye-opening experience and the things faced here aren’t easy. However, it’s very interesting and diverse: meeting and accompanying customers in various matters, planning and realizing projects, familiarizing myself with the life of an association.. Apart from all that, I’ve also got the chance to participate in a training and to follow a hearing at the tribunal.

I like the fact that at this association the relation to the customers is rather warm, close-knit and at times even a bit non-official. As I don’t yet have much working experience in the field of social work even from Finland, comparison in these terms is rather challencing. The cultural differences I’ve been able to notice are pretty much the same as in daily life: starting work later in the morning, greeting by a “how-are-you-doing” that doesn’t expect a long reply, using a lot of politeness structures in emails, wishing “bonne appétit”, sometimes everybody is speaking at the same time, exchanging cheek kisses.. Also the language barrier to French causes some extra difficulty and can be very tiring at times but I’m learning more every day.

landscapeMy freetime in Paris is mostly filled with spending time with my French boyfriend and also  discovering new parts of the city and things to do in Paris that I wasn’t yet aware of. Apart from that, the daily life is rather similar as in Finland, the routine happens everywhere. Anyway, I’m enjoying  the goods sides of living in a big city before coming back soon to my favourite city in Finland, Tampere 🙂

 

baking1       And to fin(n)ish, some homemade Karelian pies – bonne appétit!

Hälsingar från Göteborg

Hejsan alla!

I study for a degree program of Social Services and I’m doing my practical training of the second year now in Gothenburg, Sweden. My training is for three months, but I still have only two weeks left here.

As you may not know, Gothenburg is a part of a Finnish administrative territory because of the many people with Finnish backround living there. I am here to explore especially the services for the elderly but also getting to know with some Finnish organisations and Swedish Finns culture.

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The biggest difference between working as a socionom (= bachelor of Social Services) in Finland and in Sweden is that in Sweden the socionoms can do the same work as the social workers do in Finland. And still their degree program lasts as long as ours (3,5 years).

As a second biggest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is still very down-to-earth and cosy place to live. I could actually compare it to Tampere, because even when the city is so big with it’s manymany people, the atmosphere is still very open and welcoming to every kind of people. Also I love that there are many different kind of landscapes here. You can just wonder around the city and the next thing you know, you can see the whole city under your feet.

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The Swedes “fika” all the time. It means having a coffee and something sweet or sour with your friends/family/workmates. The best place to “fika” in Gothenburg is in Haga. There you can find the cutest little coffee places with these huge cinnamon buns! It’s a nice part of the city to just relax and have coffee. And you can also climb up the hill there and watch the whole city while drinking your coffee. It’s magical.

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Also what we like to do with my friends here is to play “kub” which is almost like Finnish “mölkky” but the Swedish version of it. There are many beautiful parks where you can go and play or have a picnic or even little barbeque. The only minus side of this city is that it’s always windy here. So even if the sun shines, it can still be quite chilly… And that’s why there’s no point of using an umbrella if it rains, because you’ll get wet anyways.

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Grüße aus München ♥

Servus!

I just came back to my lovely little flat from a day trip to Eibsee, which is a very beautiful lake at the base of Germany’s highest mountain called Zugspitze. Since the connections are so good and travelling is pretty cheap, I’ve done few trips on my own and some with my fellow exchange students inside Germany and to other countries close to Germany. There’s a lot to explore in Munich alone, so you never really get bored here and with the numerous beer gardens and big attractive parks, you can always find a nice place to relax with your friends.

 

Eibsee
Lake Eibsee in Garmisch, roughly 100 km from Munich
Enjoying the view in Olympiapark in Munich with two other Finnish Erasmus students
Enjoying the view in Olympiapark in Munich with two other Finnish Erasmus students

 

I’ve been living and studying in Munich for approximately 3 months now and I never thought time would go so fast. Unbelievable, only two months and I should be heading back “home”. I say “home”, because as much as I miss my family and friends back in Finland, I feel at home here. Sure there has been few awkward moments with the locals when you don’t speak perfect German and they don’t understand a word of English, but luckily those situations don’t happen too often. I had very little trouble settling in to my apartment, which I’m really lucky to have, because the location is super. It takes about 17 minutes to walk to the school (10 minutes with a tram, which goes basically from door to door), 10 minute walk to the main train station and 20 minutes to the central square of Munich, Marienplatz.

 

The “Glockenspiel” in the tower of the new city hall at Marienplatz
The “Glockenspiel” in the tower of the new city hall at Marienplatz

 

Studying in Munich university of applied sciences doesn’t differ much from studying in Finland, but they do have some very nice labs here. I found the sound measurement room for air conditioning systems in the lab really interesting and a nice addition to all other air conditioning related stuff they had there in that lab. I’ve also spent a lot of time in the 3D printing lab, because I chose a course called “3D printing and design”, which is a really nice course even though it’s not straight down my study major.

Overall I feel like I’m doing pretty good in my studies, but the real test awaits when the exam period starts. I chose a reasonable amount of courses (little less than what Erasmus students usually take), knowing I would have to also advance in some courses I started in TAMK before my exchange (there’s about two month difference in semester times), because it’s important that I also get those courses done this semester. In my study program, building services engineering, it might be pretty hard to place your exchange in a convenient time, but to all my fellow engineers, don’t let that stop you! There’s usually a good solution to be found in the end.

 

Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit! 😉 (@Frühlingsfest, “the little sister of Oktoberfest”)