Monthly Archives: January 2018

¡Hola, estoy en España!

Valladolid is known of beautiful religious buildings. For example the cathedral of Valladolid or the church of San Pablo and many others. Valladolid is not much bigger than Tampere. It is a city of 300 000 people and is located 200km north from the capital of Spain, Madrid. I think the size of Valladolid is perfect for Erasmus. It`s not too small but small enough to know, where you can find other Erasmus students when you want to spend your evening outside. The size of the city made it very easy to adopt the Spanish life.

   

 

I study building services engineering and all courses I chose in university of Valladolid were in English. When I arrived at university of Valladolid, I had a problem with my courses. Due the lack of information all courses I had chosen were available only in the spring semester. I met my responsible professor to help me with the courses. Even though the responsible professor didn`t expect any students from Finland, she helped me to find the right courses for me. I had to take courses from the field of study of chemical engineering and industrial engineering. It was easy to understand a big difference between Spain and Finland: The things did not work as smoothly as they do in Finland. Every appointment and process were always delayed and took a lot of time to happen. First it was really frustrating, but I got used to it and I just had to accept the way it is. Although the people had difficulty with time, all teachers and persons I met at university were really helpful and kind.

I came to Valladolid with my Classmate and being in Erasmus with a good friend is great. We have been living and traveling together, which have made everything simpler. The best way of spending your weekends in Erasmus is traveling. We have been all over Spain and Portugal visiting many beautiful places. One of the best part has been the atmosphere in the football stadiums around Spain.

Greetings from Ireland!

I have been living in Ireland for four months now and I got to say that I love it! Beautiful evergreen Ireland stole my heart. (Actually now even more, but my blog never loaded here…)

My Erasmus experience didn’t start as well as I hoped but at least it wasn’t boring at all! The second day after my arrival I fell down the stairs in Dublin and sprained my ankle.  First three weeks I walked with crutches and a boot on my leg.  Through that accident, I got to see how helpful and kind Irish people are. I met so many nice people during those weeks who helped me in different kind of situations.

I’ve been studying in Tralee which is a cosy little town with little under 24 000 people living there. It has everything you need and pubs actually more than you need… but that’s Irish…

Institute of Technology Tralee is quite a big college and also a really nice one. It has two campuses (North and South) and I’ve been studying at both. North campus is bigger and a new one and basically all social service classes are there. It is about three kilometres from the centre and south campus is about one kilometre away from the city centre.

In the beginning, it was hard to catch up with the Irish accent, but surprisingly I got used to it really fast. The way of studying is different comparing to TAMK. There a teacher usually speaks the whole hour and your job is to make notes. Usually studying is not practical, but sometimes we had the possibility to talk in groups about a topic set by the teacher. We got a lot of assignments, actually I’ve never done that much assignments in one semester in Finland. But in the end, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The most important thing there is to listen and make notes during the classes. 

I lived in Tralee Town Centre Apartments. The rent wasn’t expensive at all but the electricity bill was really high during winter time. The owners are super nice people and the most of Erasmus students lived there and I would say that it was definitely the best part of it!

During these months I’ve been travelling a lot around Ireland. I’ve been spending time with my new friends, enjoying pub culture and Irish music. I was also a member of college music society where I met a lot of talented local people too. I also got to see Northern Ireland through Irish Experience Tours which I highly recommend because of their student prises. Ireland is amazing country and I love the atmosphere there. The most beautiful place was definitely Giant Causeway! Unbelievable. 

For me, Ireland feels like home. This country is so outgoing and relaxed! I don’t feel like going back to Finland at all, but unfortunately, I have to come back to do my thesis. This time here has really opened my eyes, I’ve learned so much about myself and about life itself that I’m forever grateful for this experience. 

Saludos de España

Hola! I’m studying building services engineering in Spain, city called Valladolid. Valladolid might be unknown place for most of you, but it’s a beautiful old city located 200 km up north from Madrid. The city has a lot of old architecture, narrow streets and small river flowing through. Along the river is a small beach where was nice to play beach volley and take a sunbath in a beginning of exchange when the weather allowed it. Although the city doesn’t have many specialities, so it’s pretty unknown and tourist free. Moving around the city is easy with a good bus network and citybikes. Citybikes are cheap and useful way to go around the city and you can reach all the places in an half hour. I think Valladolid was perfect place for me to do my exchange. Good parts in a smaller city is that you will get to know the city and the people more easily. Valladolid gave also good opportunity to learn the new language because they speak clean Spanish here (in Spain they have lot of different dialects and languages) and the lack of English speaking people force you to learn Spanish.

First thing what I noticed in Valladolid was that no one speaks English at all. It was quite interesting for me who didn’t know a word of Spanish before reading travel guide for Spain in an airplane on way to here. After two Spanish courses, help from the other exchange students and a tons of Google Translate the Spanish language starts running pretty smoothly.

 

I came to Valladolid to study building services engineering on the University of Valladolid. Due to my bad Spanish language, all courses I took was in English and matching with my own field of study. However after wrong informations and misunderstandings all the courses I had chosen in Finland, wasn’t available on autumn semester. To replace these I got courses that were taught in English from different field of study. On top of that my responsible professor in Valladolid didn’t even expect student from Finland. These kind of lacks on organising made me realize the biggest differences between Finland and Spain. After all the teachers tried to do their best to find the most suitables courses and helped me with every problem I had.

I was lucky that I could do my exchange with my classmate from Finland. We have lived, studied and done almost all together. Traveling with your good friend has been also awesome and easy. We made a lot of trips together or with other exchange students. In this five months I have visited places like Bilbao, Madrid, Salamanca, Porto, Sevilla, Valencia, Alicante, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Málaga, Gibraltar and maybe something more before I come back to Finland.

Viszontlátására Magyarország és szia Finnország!

Goodbye Hungary and hello Finland! My exchange is about to end and it has definitely been an experience that I wouldn’t change. I am studying in Metropolitan University for five months for Tourism and Catering services. I had a bit of fuss around my learning agreement and I had to redo it quite a few times and I ended up taking classes from Business as well in Tourism. I also studied Hungarian language and Middle European history to increase my knowledge. So many of my friends questioned my decision to study Hungarian, but to say I didn’t regret it. It was interesting and it is nice to understand at least a bit of the surrounding country.

Heroes’ Square

The teaching in general is very theoretic compared to Finnish teaching. Mostly the studying was sitting at the lectures and taking notes. I had few courses where I had to return an essay or make a presentation. One thing that was considerably different to Finnish school was the exam period. Here we had roughly three months of teaching and then two months of exams when there is no teaching and you can only focus for the exams. Or you could plan your exam period to have all of the exams in the first few weeks and then chill. However you wanted to plan it.

Being a tourist at Margaret bridge

For free time Budapest offers a wide range of different kinds of bars and clubs and you can choose whether you want to just sit down and talk with your friends, or dance and have fun. Here is also a lot of cafés from really fancy and expensive to really cosy and warm places. Maybe you don’t want to spend money, so then you can go see awesome views from Gellert Hill or just walk the riverside of the Danube.

I live with four other Erasmus-students in a shared flat and I can say it’s rarely quiet here. My Spanish, Cypriot and Italian flatmates are always planning trips, parties or just inviting people over. And if not, we are having mental breakdowns over exams and deadlines together.

Me and my flatmates

The great thing in Erasmus is, that you can always find a person who would like to go for a beer, watch a movie, have a party or even go to Vienna with you. (Or maybe just have a brunch all together.)

Exchange in Oita, Japan

Studying and living in a new environment has been very exotic and interesting with many fun things, loads of social experiences and with some challenges as well. The courses are varied, and each teacher has their own style: that fact is similar to Finland and probably true no matter where in the world one might travel to. Even inside a country and a culture the people are not all the same.

On the way to Oita University campus

Free-time in Japan can be spent in myriad of ways. Living in a dorm has the upside that there are people around for just hanging out. The city of Oita is much bigger than Tampere, even though the locals consider this city be “small and rural”. When compared to Tokyo, with a population of more than 13 million people, I can see their viewpoint, but from a Finnish perspective Oita is large. Movie theaters, game centers, stores, concerts, onsen, restaurants, karaoke and culture can all be easily found in the city, just a 15-minute train ride away from the campus of Oita University. Sometimes it is also nice to relax by just reading some manga, which can be bought with 100 yen (0,75 €) from a nearby second-hand bookstore.

Studying culture here in Japan differs from Finland in many ways. When it comes to teaching a language, there is a quiz at the start of every single lesson. For me this means a quiz four times a week. It seems like a lot of extra work for the teacher, since they need to make and grade the quizzes. Japanese teaching also values exams more than the Finnish style; at the half way point of the courses, after 2,5 months of teaching we had mid-term exams and in a month, we will have the final exams. Our grade will be based on these exams. And one needs to study a lot for them, for the concept of re-taking an exam does not exist here. TAMK often gives the opportunity for a retake twice, which feels nice and fair to me.

日本から From Japan

Here in the city of Kofu my daily life is full of studying at iCLA, Yamanashi Gakuin University of Liberal Arts. I spend my days watching films and discussing about them and their impact to Japan’s culture, or studying acting guided by a professional actor from States. I also read many novels and poems for the literature class where we talk about them and how they give a shape to their writer’s thoughts and how they reflect society. Of course, I also study nihongo, which means Japanese in Japanese language.

Most of my time goes for doing my homework and reading for exams, but when I have time I try to visit new places, or I hang out with my international friends. We love to go to eat sushi, or to go to drink coffee in different coffee shops. iCLA is half an hour away from Kofu’s city center, but you can get there really fast by local train. We like to go there sometimes to sing in a karaoke and spend time. You can also get to Tokyo by a bus and it takes only two hours to get there. I have visited Tokyo two times and it is very popular place to go among students. Tokyo is huge compared to any city in Finland, there is so much to see and so many people walking on streets, so much life! I have visited many old temples and admired Japanese architecture here in Kofu, and I went to see Mount Fuji up close, Kofu is located so near to Fuji that it only took me one hour to get there by a local bus.

Differences between studying in Japan and in Finland is that you really must study in Japan. There are so many school assignments to do! You really must do your homework and read for those exams, so it is common that you are still working for school during late hours. Or that you don’t get to sleep much during nights.

Film studies are different, we mostly watch films and talk about their plots and how they have been affecting society, and why such films are made. Back in TAMK we study film making, which is totally different. We don’t really talk about meanings of those films (or maybe they do in script writing studies, I don’t know because my major is light & camera and sound design ), but we go to and make them from script to screen.

 

Greetings from sunny and beautiful Porto!

My practical training

During my 2,5 months of practise in Porto, I have two practises: pediatrics and obstretics. Both practises took place in the biggest hospital of Porto, St. John Hospital  Hospital São João, which took me a few weeks to learn how to pronounce and still Portuguese people smile when I say it :D. Portuguese language has a lot of nouns that don’t exist in the languages that I speak, so it has been very difficult to even pronunciate some words.
The pediatric practise took place in a day hospital, where I prepared a lot of medication and learned about many chronical disaeases. The picture is from the pediatric practise where luckily me and my friend where on the same place! 🙂 The obstretic pra the babies have a black, thick hair! 😀

Freetime

The spare time in Porto has been really nice, the city is extremely beautiful and comfy at the same time. I’ve met a lot of nice people and made new friends who I like to spend my free time with. Here it is very natural to meet up by having dinner, and it’s quite cheap to eat out compared to Finland. I’m living with my friend and in our flat there is no wifi, so instead of netflix, we’ve been doing a puzzle of one thousand pieces.:D I warmly recommend it.
I’ve also done a bit of travelling in Portugal and after my practise I’m going to travel around Portugal and Spain before coming back to Finland.

 

 

 

 

Views of Porto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A a good daytrip to Guimaraes with some other exchange students, who I spend time with weekly.

 

 

 

Studies and practise compared to Finland

Even though I’m doing a practise in the hospital, I also have classes at school and I’ve got to know to Portuguese students. Their mentality to studying is a bit different, and grades are more important. They also get grades from their practises on a scale of 0-20, whereas in Finland the practise is either accepted or not. It seems that the students put a lot more work into their presentations and are well prepared. I think their skills of argumenting are more advanced since they have to give a proper feedback about others presentations.

In the hospital the things work pretty much in the same way as in Finland. Nurses come to work, do the work and go home.There are some differences though: or me it was confusing to realise that the medication is not behind locked doors like it’s in Finland.

The nurses are usually not very friendly to students and to the Erasmus students they don’t like to look in the eye too much. 😀 Most don’t speak English and some of them just don’t want to. The teachers don’t speak English either, so the other students are translating if needed. It is quite challenging to work without being able to talk in Portuguese, but there are also very funny situations that come from using the few Portuguese words I know + ”the sign language”.

The nurses have been striking a lot this year and are demanding better working conditions. They don’t get paid extra of evenings, nights, weekends, holidays or the years of experience. Even though there are a lot improve for nurses in Finland, this is giving a bit of perspective of how well things are for nurses in Finland..

All in all, I’ve loved being in Portugal, it is an interesting culture and I wouldn’t mind staying longer. On the other hand, I’m happy to go home where I have a warm shower and in every small talk situation I don’t have to say: ”Yes, I’m from Finland, it’s very cold and dark in there and we’re all very very blond.”

 

Porto locates to the coast of Atlantic and the sunsets are simply outstanding.

 

 

-Heljä

The Uruguayan Bubble

South America, Uruguay, Montevideo. Very little country which seem to have it own “bubble”, so unlike it’s often said – also by the humble Uruguayans – the country is nothing like Brazil or Argentina. My university here is private: Universidad ORT Uruguay. There is just one public university and the rest are private. That changes things for sure. The other students are either spoiled or those ones who are working along side of their studies really hard! The studing is kind of relaxed, but when it comes to middle of the semester exams and the finals, they are really strict and the minimum points to pass the exam are suprisingly high. For my career, Audiovisual – Cinema & Television, there aren’t practically an exams, just creative work or essays to do. Of course this depends how academic courses one wants to take. Still, studying in a private university makes automatically a gap between the social class distinctions, which I mean that many people starts to threat you very differently (and not in the good way) when they heard where I study.  So in very early phase I learned always to add up that the exchange is free for me.

Like mentioned, the social-economical classes varies a lot here and has huge differences, not the biggest ones in SA, but still huge compared to European countries. This makes kind of problem of where to fit, of course it’s allways a problem in a new culture and country, but here it kind of means that you have to “take sides”. It’s horrible, but for example I accomplished to be disrespectful between the classes, trying to fit them but ending up being two-faced. Not my purpose, but to be fair and understanding, it’s very difficult, but in the end I succesfully was accepted in many different kind of social groups, which was very satisfying for me and supposly for them also.

The spare time is mostly hanging, relaxing on a siesta time. Uruguayans don’t worry too much, they aren’t very ambisious unlike Argentinians could be. The being, just hanging around could sound boring or waste of time, but unwise they get most from the moment, they are very life like people who doesn’t do or stress nothing that they doesn’t have to.

 

In life and with studies Finland is much more counciouss about goals in life and the studies. That makes automatically a pressure that one needs to become something. In Uruguay it’s kind of confussing, their way of teaching isn’t very professional or coherent, but instead of becoming they subjectively just decide to be what they want to be. That doesn’t lead in very great actions or accomplishments generally, but one’s life doesn’t have to be anything huge or especial, it matters what you are for yourself. So if someones wants to come really study hard and a learn a lot of new things in that sense, Uruguay can be frustrating, but if one wants to come more far from that occidental accomplishing and making an own signifigance meaning by success or others opinions, this is a right place. This country is a small bubble where the people are the heroes of their own lives. Along all the relaxing atmosphere I still have to remind that this is South America, which means need to be caucious and sometimes things are restless, not violent or corrupted, but restless. It doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out where you can go, at what time, who to trust etc. Still one should be open minded here, because the most typical Uruguayan characteristics and people I met in the streets. Good hearted, eccentric, but not maybe the most trustable with an indegious Uruguayan accent which I still don’t understand practically nothing..

Getting educated i Sverige

Hejsan alla

Exchange period is coming to an end and snowy Christmas is not here either! First when I heard I got to the exchange studies in Halmstad, I was happy and excited because everything is going to be little different than back in Finland. All the thoughts and stereotypes about Swedish people being so much different than us Finnish.  But during exchange all of that was taken down piece by piece.

Halmstad Högskolan with the landmark of Trade Center in the background.

I was staying in Halmstad, southwest part of Sweden. Nice smallish place of about 70.000 people between Göteborg (140km) and Malmö (137km). The weather has been really rainy but for people living here it is the normal weather I hear. When I first arrived here I didn’t think it would snow at all, but I was wrong, there has been a couple of days of snow, just like in Finland!

Picture taken during a hike along Prins Bertils stig, which is a route from city center to Tylösand and back

City center has its shops and a canal splitting the city in half. City center has a big open square area in the middle and streets going to each direction, providing easy Access to all services needed. I would still recommend buying a bike on your trip to Halmstad as it is not necessary but it will let you experience so much more. There was good bus connections around the town, so you wouldn’t have any excuses for not going somewhere.
Also connections to other cities like Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm and Oslo most of which are accessible by train within couple of hours. And for people who have not seen Lapland local student organization arranged a trip to Kiruna with snowmobile and husky rides!

Down below iconic views from Stockholm, Copenhagen and main square in Halmstad.

What comes to studying in Sweden or Halmstad, it was delightfully similar to studies at TAMK. Most of studying had to be done on your free time having only a few lectures every week. With this in mind you have to have motivation and preferably a few friends to help you with the studies.

PCB milling during Electronical design and implementation-course

Teachers help whenever they can, but of course are booked most of the day. I had Electronic course which was project based as we designed and manufactured a PCB and assembled a working gadged of our choosing. On Working environment and leadership course we had many visiting lecturers from whom I learned how similar Finnish and Swedish working environments are. As a third course I had Computer Networks which was a certified CCNA course by Cisco academy. It was the basics of Computer networking, security, administration and maintenance. In whole my free time consisted mostly of studying and on weekends I tried to make trips around and connect with other exchange students. What was connecting factor with each course was that each of them had a theoretical and practical part in it, which I feel greatly improves learning experience and makes it more interesting.


Field visits to building site and EMC lab in Halmstad

As a closure: I had a good time in a lovely country with nice people. And as an advice to others going: get a bike and secondly remember that Swedish people are like us, we don’t go talking to people but usually like helping and talking if someone comes to talk to us!

Sziasztok! Greetings from Budapest!

Budapest is a very beautiful city, and you can see interesting historical buildings everywhere. The river Danube splits the city in half. The other side, called Buda, is full of hills while the other, Pest, is totally flat. My apartment is situated on the Pest side, which is also the busier side of the city, full of bars, shops and restaurants. Most of the Erasmus people live on this side, as it’s a little cheaper and more active than the Buda side.
I study at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME). The actual university building is being renovated during my stay, so basically the whole school has been temporarily moved to another building, which is located on the Buda side, close to the Danube.My studies have been very independent. Most of the courses have no actual classes, but we are expected to work on our own. Once a week we have a meeting where everyone shows their progress, and the teacher gives some advice and feedback.Compared to my studies in TAMK, this level of independence is quite different, and it requires a lot of responsibility to be productive. I have managed to do it though, and I like the fact that in many of the assignments the teachers actually encourage us students to explore the city in our works as well. Another difference is that in MOME the official language is Hungarian, as opposed to English which is used in my department (Media & Arts) in TAMK. It meant us exchange students are mostly on different courses than the locals, but luckily there are some exceptions as well.One thing I really like about MOME is that they have a huge selection of theoretical courses, which are really interesting.On my spare time I have really taken advantage of the fact that eating out is pretty cheap here compared to Finland. Even on a student budget it is possible to try out some exotic dishes from Lebanese to Japanese, not to forget the local foods which are delicious as well.

Another thing I have really enjoyed are the thermal baths. They are located mostly on the Buda-side. Most of them have been built during the time when Hungary was ruled by the Ottoman Empire (1541-1699), so they are very old and not much has been changed. I really like the sense of history in them, and of course the baths as well. Some of them even feature a Finnish sauna!Other than that I have done some traveling, and been to all the famous sights and museums. For anyone visiting Budapest I recommend hiring a bike to move around more quickly, as the distances can get quite long here.