Monthly Archives: November 2017

Groeten uit Ljouwert!

Greetings from Leeuwarden – or Ljouwert as the Frisians call it. Leeuwarden is a city of around 95 000 people in the north of the Netherlands. Leeuwarden is a nice and cozy city, full of canals and everything one could need. This city will also be the cultural capital of Europe in 2018!

Leeuwarden in August.

I study at Stenden University of Applied Sciences, which is – I have come to notice – a very nice and valued school for hospitality industry. During the first module here, I studied international hospitality management; hospitality operations design, to be exact. This included topics such as, how to define the perfect price for a night at a hotel (from hotel perspective) and how different kinds of layouts at restaurants affect the work motivation of employees. All in all, the first module was a lot of work, but also honestly very interesting at the same time!

Flowers and canals.

The biggest difference with studies at Stenden and my studies at TAMK, was the method of teaching. Here we also had lectures but they were not the main focus. Everything came together in PBL, Problem Based Learning, which was a hard method to learn at first, but most rewarding after getting the hang of it. We had two PBL classes each week and at every session we were given a problem, based on the topics discussed that week in other classes, and our job was to come up with a solution for it. This way the students were “forced” into learning how to apply the information received beforehand and just learning it by heart was not an option.

During my spare time I have traveled a lot. Already in the beginning we came up with a nice group of girls to travel together and have been doing it ever since. Because the Netherlands is quite small, it has also been possible to do a lot of day trips around the country. One could even say, we have now seen every corner of the city – or at least the most major ones. Here are the cities we have seen, just to name a few: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Groningen and Zwolle.

Although studying at Stenden has been a lot of work at times, I think I have also learnt a lot from it and would definitely recommend this university to others. And when one is able to schedule school work efficiently, one has plenty of time to travel as well and also explore the cute little city of Leeuwarden itself. 

Greetings from South America

I am doing my exchange semester in Montevideo, Uruguay. The partner University here is a private University ORT. The campus Pocitos is quite small and compact where they have all the business-related studies. The classes are always either in the morning or in the evening, since most of the local students are working during the day. Last classes can last until 10.30pm which was first a bit of a shock for me but now it’s obvious. The exchange students have some courses which can also be in the afternoon. The work load really depends of the professor how much do they require from you. Some of them are quite relaxed and really support us with travelling once we are here. The exchange students are not required to for example do an obligatory work, but only the final exam. In some of the courses I have had to do a presentation or parcial, midterm exam. Otherwise the studying is based mostly on lectures which differ a lot from the teaching style in TAMK where we have had a lot of group works. First, I was unsure about studying in Spanish, but it became easier after a month I would say. I encourage everyone just doing it if you are at all unsure! It will all become easier after a while when you are forced to hear and use it in daily basis.

This was my first time travelling to South America. I did not have that much of expectations on Uruguay but it is not what I thought about South America, thinking of for example Peru or Chile. Montevideo is more European and advanced in that sense. I first lived with a local lady but quite fast moved to an apartment with three other exchange students. What surprised me really, was that how expensive the living expenses food were. For this, it’s good to buy all fruits and vegetables in the ferias organized in various barrios every week.

During my free time, I did some sports at the rambla, sort of a beach boulevard going through all the cost of Montevideo and mainly hanged out with friends. There is a student organization called MIS which is organizing all different happenings, parties and even trips to the neighbor countries. I travelled with them to Buenos Aires and Iguazu waterfalls where the bus trip lasted for 24 hours but totally worth it! Then I also travelled to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, did a jeep safari in Bolivia and continued to Chile. We did a couple of road trips with my friends to see more of Uruguay as well. The flights inside South America are not that cheap, so be prepared to pay a bit more for your travels here.

The lifestyle is super tranquil. Having an asado, sorth of bbq, with friends or just chilling at the rambla sharing mate. Even if the lifestyle is chilled, though you must respect the deadlines given by the Uni, those are still strict. For accommodation, I would recommend looking for a residence or do as I, move in with your friends. Also, it is always windy in Montevideo and the weather took me by surprise. Indeed it was always unpredictable and more cold as I imagined and rained quite frequently for the two first months as well.

 

Gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown

“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world” – David Sedaris


One thing was sure to expect; better weather. And yes definitely it was better than in Finland!

Moving abroad and starting over in a new country is one of the most terrifying and gorgeous exhilarating adventures ever. (Even though it was already my third time doing that. Still every time it surprises me again)

When I heard about the opportunity to do an exchange abroad, I didn’t think twice. Mayor problem for me was; Which country will I apply to?!

I started my exchange period in august in my host university “Rey Juan Carlos”  which was located in Vicalvaro. University was okay, literally okay, but that’s mostly all how I can describe it.  I was studying in the university of Social Sciences and law (grado en turismo).

Luckily I got a change to mix subjects so I picked those subjects which were interesting. Mostly from tourism sector and rest of the subjects from marketing. I was slightly disappointed about the education system in Spain, even thought I knew it’s not as good as it in Finland. International students were mixed with the normal class, on the other hand it was nice to get to know with local students but on the another hand teachers changed the speaking language all the time to Spain, so it was quite hard to follow the lessons.

I lived in a neighborhood where I literally were “the only white girl in the town.” I lived in a flat with my Spanish roommate and It was great. I had a chance to increase my cross culture awareness really in an “inside” perspective.

I had a bit of a culture shock during my time in Spain, mostly it was because of the late dinner times, ( WHO EATS DINNER LATER THAN 10pm?)  If I wanted to have a dinner at 5 or 6 0’clock there was only a few places open. People weren’t able to communicate in English.  So it was necessary to start practicing my Spanish. During my time in Spain I travelled a lot and went to see all those heritage villages near by. with a student card you can travel as much as you want inside of the region, FOR FREE ! In a city like Madrid, I bet there will be always something to do to spend you spare time.

 

 

Here are some tips for you, if you’re thinking about going for Erasmus in Madrid:

  • Before your take-off, start learning Spanish! You definitely will need that!
  • Don’t rent a flat, even if it’s a bit difficult, there’s no doubt you won’t find one. It’s better to see first and then make a contract!
  • Take your winter jacket and woolen socks with you, at winter time heating systems in houses are not as good than in Finland.
  • BEWARE with your bags and phones, Sol is a heaven for the thieves at Christmas time when its crowded.
  • …. last but not least, make your intercultural competences tasks on time….

 

 

Hilsen fra Danmark!

Oh, how time flies by! I have been here in Roskilde for three and a half months now and soon it is time to come back home. First of all, I have to say that I really love Denmark, not only because this is so beautiful country, but because the people here are so friendly and the whole atmosphere here is really relaxed and calming. It is all about hygge! But now, let’s get to the point. I am here studying course called Children at Risk at the University College Absalon. The course is expressly designed for exchange students and consists of three modules. The emphasis is on social pedagogical work with children and youth. In short, this course is all about human rights, children rights, early childhood education and special education, inclusion and exclusion and different methods in social work.I came here with very high expectations and now after two modules I must say that I am slightly disappointed. Basically, we are learning a bit of this and that but not really going deeper in the subjects. But that is part of Danish pedagogy: you have to find out yourself what is important and interesting for you and then go and do your own research. Secondly, the Danish education system is all about freedom: if you don’t feel like going to classes you don’t have to go there and you won’t be punished for that. I.e. if you are ill and skip the class, you don’t have to write ten-page essay to compensate your absence. This system shows that pedagogues here rely on students, who are seen as responsible adults and it really doesn’t serve anybody’s interests to give extra assignments. And third thing about the education: if you don’t like teamwork, never ever come here for exchange! We do everything in groups, so during this three and a half months I’ve had only one individual assignment. Honestly, one!

 One thing I have really enjoyed is that we do lot of field visits and we have lots of guest lectures from different kind of institutions – from Denmark and around Europe. For me the field visits have been the most educative and interesting. Visits are a great opportunity to see how services are produced here and what kind of methods are used with clients. We have students from eight different countries, representing six different profession. So, this is a great chance to practice multi-cultural and -professional work. It is also interesting to compare differences and similarities of social services and legislations.

Our study schedule is quite loose, so I have plenty of spare time. Some of that time I of course have to use for school assignments but still I feel that I have more time to do other things than back at home. We do a lot of things together: go different kind of events and parties, watch movies, hang out and play games, have a dinner together etc. The city of Roskilde is small and cozy. We got bikes from our school so it has been easy to investigate neighborhoods nearby. Here is lot of great running trails with nice views so I have been really motivated to run. On weekends, I usually do some traveling. I have visited in several different castles like Kronborg, Egeskov and Frederiksborg. Since Copenhagen is not that far from Roskilde and is easily accessible by train, I spend a lot of time there. At this point it is one of my favorite cities, there is always something happening. Every time I visit there I find something new and exciting and I still have lot of exploring to do!

Med venlig hilsen,

Johanna

Osijek, Croatia – a small big city

Osijek – A small big city

When I started to plan my training abroad, Croatia wasn’t my first choice. Deciding to come here for a traineeship was quite a gamble because I didn’t know a lot of things about Croatia or Osijek in general. Now it is the last week of my stay, and it has been an experience that I’ll never forget. I’m happy and thankful that I’ve had a chance to work and live in this place and learn about it’s culture and way of living.

I’m staying in a small city called Osijek. It has been a big industrial city in the past and you can still see it. The river Drava flows through the city, making it a perfect place for fishermen. And  not only the river, but the numerous of parks here really warm a nature lovers heart. Osijek has a long history and you can still see and feel it when you walk along the streets. One of my favorite places here is Tvrda. It’s an old part of the town that has been kept and partly renovated to look as it was originally built. There you can find a lot of cafes and bars and a few interesting museums.

What I love most about Osijek, is that even though it is a quite small town, they have everything they need here. You can walk or cycle anywhere and while doing that see beautiful places and buildings around you.

My Traineeship

So, I study emergency care in TAMK and I came to do my surgical and community nursing training here. I didn’t know much about the hospital or what my training will include beforehand, so I didn’t have much expectations.

The hospital of Osijek is a medium sized central hospital of this area in Croatia. I spent there six weeks, every week in a different surgical department. Because of my interest in emergency care, my favorite departments were trauma ward and trauma control. I also really enjoyed seeing the operating rooms and to follow the operations they proceeded. I had very good mentors on every department and I had a lot of good conversations about health care with the local nurses and doctors. All in all, people were very welcoming to me and I could always ask questions and discuss things that I found interesting. All the workers didn’t speak English, but they tried their best. With a bit of body language and creative ways of explaining things you can come a long way.

The last 4 weeks I had in community nursing, it included two weeks in home nursing, one week in pediatrics reception and one week in cardiology. In home nursing, I was doing some regular check-ups with another nurse, it was interesting to see people’s homes, but I couldn’t really do much because most of the visits were about interviewing the patients and most of the patients didn’t speak English. In the pediatrics reception, I had a very learnfull time. I learnt a lot about how to check children’s normal development and about the common sicknesses. The doctor there was super helpful and nice.

The training itself was different than I’m used to. I have some previous work experience in nursing, so I don’t think that my clinical skills were improved so much, but I got some new perspectives in nursing and got to see many things I’ve never seen before.

My freetime

The good thing about Osijek is that it is surrounded by other interesting cities. You can rent a car and travel around Croatia and its neighbor countries. I’ve been on weekend visits to Zagreb, Pecs and Budapest and I still have some places I’d like to see and experience! If you are willing and able to drive here, renting a car is a good option. It’s not very expensive especially if there is a bigger group going. Of course there are also buses for weekend trips.

These pictures are from Pecs Hungary. A small city 80 km away from Osijek. I hadn’t heard from this city before but I strongly recommend visiting it. Lovely architecture, a stunning cathedral and much more. It isn’t a tourist city but worth visiting.

The capital city of Croatia. In Zagreb, you can find different museums, a lot of restaurants and bars, gift shops etc. I recommend you visit the Zagreb 360. Up there you get a view of the whole city. Also, Maksim park was beautiful.

If you want to stay in Osijek, you can find a bunch of lovely cafes and bars and if you are interested in history, here are some very good museums. And if you get sick of eating and drinking at cafes and restaurants, all the parks and the river that I told you about earlier makes Osijek also a nice place to exercise.

FINLAND vs CROATIA

I think it is quite hard to start comparing Croatian work life to Finnish. We have a lot of similarities but also our differences. Croatia may not be as developed as Finland but its heading to the same direction. The biggest difference I’ve experienced here is that the whole atmosphere, not only at work, but in general is more relaxed. I had really big problems at the beginning to adjust to the laid-back attitude. After all I think my exchange here has helped me to loosen up a little bit with everything.  It has been a positive experience for me to see how health care system and practical work are done here. I think I can appreciate the medical schools, our nursing education and our state of health care, and its techniques and technology much more than before.

-Vendi

Greetings from Ireland!

Hello!

I’m currently doing my exchange study period in Cork, Ireland. I study Business Administration and was happy to hear I was accepted to CIT. I live in a student accommodation at Edenhall with my three roommates. I’ve been here since September and have only three and a have weeks left. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by!

Cork City
Galway

Cork Institute of Technology

Here at Cork Institute of Technology I’m mainly studying marketing. I had some problems with the courses at the start of the semester but I got everything sorted out. I have four courses including: Emerging Markets, Digital Marketing Management, IT skills for Marketing and Digital Advertising. I’ve been very pleased with liked my course choices and learned so much about marketing. I have for example set up a digital marketing blog, learned and did AdWords campaigns, set up a professional Twitter and Facebook account.

The first semester here lasts for 13 weeks and after that are the final examinations. Studying here hasn’t seemed too hard. The lecturers were easy to understand even if they had strong Irish accents. All of them were really friendly and helpful. It was nice to notice that some of the lecturers were really interested in Finland and asked us a lot of questions for example about Finnish companies and their ways of marketing. This made the lessons even more interesting.

Cork Institute of Technology

 Free Time

Most of my free time I spent with my friends. We have spent a lot of time just here in Cork but also been to many trips around Ireland. We have an International Students Society at our school and I was a member of this society. The society arranged a lot of trips that I was on to places like Blarney Castle and gardens, Mizen Head, Mahon Falls and Cobh.

My roommate from Germany came to Cork with her car and this was really nice because we had a chance to do trips by ourselves also. With the girls, we had a weekend trip to Galway on Halloween and we also saw the Cliffs of Moher. Also, when my parents were here we drove around the Ring of Kerry and with my Finnish friends we had a two-night trip to London.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
London
London
Ring of Kerry
Ring of Kerry
Cobh
Mizen Head

What is Different

The school her is a lot bigger and It took some time to get used to the lessons. They only last for 45 minutes which is really short compared to Finland. It is a little weird to me that many of the Irish students wear track suits to school.

The people here are very different compared to Finns. It’s awesome when you enter a pub and people come to say hi and ask where you’re from. I think this sentence sums up the Irish culture very well: “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”

 

 

Grüße aus Salzburg, Österreich

The city of Salzburg

I am a second year nurse student and I’m completing two mandatory internships in Salzburg. The internships are clinical nursing and homecare, and the first one I had at the University Hospital of Salzburg on gynecological ward.

Festung Hohensalzburg from Kapuzinerberg 

Working with the nurses was more challenging than I expected: I was hoping to get guidance in English, like I was told back in Finland. Soon I realized that this was not the case. Nurses on the ward spoke very little English, and few of them only used German while speaking with me. There was an opportunity to improve my German skills (even though the local dialect is very different from the common German we were taught at school), but regardless of this opportunity I really feel like I did not receive enough guidance to improve my nursing skills.

Mirabell Palace and its gardens

My working experience in Finland is not very vast, so it is hard to compare the working cultures between Austria and Finland, at least not in detail. What I can say is: working days here are longer, most of the time twelve hours, and on my ward nurses only had one break a day. I had a belief that the laws concerning the breaks during the working hours were very similar to Finnish ones, but once I got here I was told nurses on the ward didn’t have time to have any more breaks.

Nordkette, Innsbruck

All in all, the first internship was not the most enjoyable of experiences, but I have high hopes of the second one. I’m enjoying my time a lot more in the homecare. The work is more relaxed in here than at the ward, and my colleague speaks excellent English and gives me consistent guidance that I need to become better at my work.

River Inn, Innsbruck

On my spare time I’ve tried to travel as much as I can. Austria is a very beautiful country, and there’s so much to see. Salzburg itself has a rich and long history, which I am interested to explore and learn about. The city lies between two small mountains and Festung Hohensalzburg, an iconic castle on one of them. Salzburg is a small city, it doesn’t take too many days to see more than one side of it, thus I have to use every free weekend traveling in other Austrian cities and near regions.

Dawn in Salzburg

Graz, a city in a valley

Hello!

I’m an exchange student at University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria. I study singing as my main subject and I’m here for 6 months, the summer semester 2017. I love my school and the city. It must not come as  a surprise, but this country is a dream for a student of classical music! I was so lucky that I got to take my boyfriend and our 2-year-old son with me, so the 3 of us are experiencing this all together.

I have been planning to travel more on my spare time, but life has been quite busy with school.  The only places I went to were Salzburg and Vienna. It’s very handy with Flixbus! Though always when we have a little chance to do something, we have been getting to know the city more. Especially after getting to know some local friends, we have found amazingly beautiful places, mostly on tops of some mountains. Well, like the topic describes, Graz is surrounded my mountains. There is also one in the middle of the city called “Schlossberg” with an amazing view of course, and places to have a beer… And because of the mountains the city itself gets very hot at the beginning of June and lasts for long! No air-conditioning trough the mountains 😀

Between TAMK and here.. we can see that in Graz the school can afford more different kinds of courses. Of course it’s a fact that people around the whole world want to study classical music in Austria, it’s very popular. Singers get 2,5 singing lessons per week, they learn French and Italian for all 4 years. They have individual lessons with correpetitors twice a week and on the side of a big opera project each year they offer high quality opera-class projects. They even have individual weekly classes with professional opera directors. The level is so high that I can only listen to my colleagues and learn how they do it all!

I’m so happy to have had this experience. And Graz is so magical !!! <3

Yours,

Piia