Monthly Archives: May 2018

Greetings from Japan!

I am working as an internship student at Hokkaido University in Sapporo. So far my journey has been amazing. Luckily I still have some time to have adventures and experience wonderful things. When I arrived I didn’t have much knowledge about Japan. I just knew sushi and Studio Ghibli. But now I know so much more. I know more about the culture and the people and their weird habits.

I am working in a laboratory doing some research about forestry in Japan. I also attended two courses just for fun. Sounds probably weird that I took two courses when I don’t get any credit for them but I wanted the full experience of university life in Japan. Now I know what kind of education system they have here. It differs from the Finnish education system a lot. Here they do a lot more research independently in the lab than in Finland.

I have been doing other things also, not just sat in the lab and lectures. I’ve eaten amazing food and also not so amazing food. My favorites are salmon sushi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, and ramen. The not so great food for me is the seafood. Especially raw seafood. I tasted some sushi with octopus and squid and they were not so good. We barbecued some scallops on a field trip. Definitely not for me. I missed sausage at that moment very much.

 

Okonomiyaki                                                                   Ramen at University café

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sushi

 

Yakitori

Barbequing scallops

 

At first, it was very difficult to get along since I don’t speak Japanese. But luckily there are translators on smartphones. And when shopping I know that the cashiers always ask for some bonus cards and if I pay with cash. So actually it is quite easy to get along. I just smile to people when I don’t understand them. The grocery shopping is quite difficult though. But I just buy what looks good even though I don’t always know what it is.

So far my best experiences have been meeting new people and as Disney fan the lion king musical and a trip to Tokyo Disneyland. I was so happy that I could just cry. The musical was amazing. I had glasses with subtitles so I could understand the dialogs. But like I said the best part is the people. I have met students, scouts (I am a scout myself) and people who work (yes I mean the guys in their suits). It is nice to meet all kinds of people in all ages and see that they all treat me the same way. They are so friendly and excited to meet a foreign person. I met one older lady scout who was an exchange student in Helsinki 40 years ago, she still knew some Finnish. I also met an older man who asked me where I am from and after I told him I am from Finland he started to hum Finlandia. I made friends with a Japanese woman the same age as me in a pub. It is such an amazing thing abroad that you can make new friends anywhere. And I feel that I can tell her everything even though we have known for a very short time. The worst part of making new friends abroad is that I know that my time is limited with them. It is sad to make new friends knowing that I won’t probably see them ever again. I know this because I have already experience from it from my earlier exchange period. Luckily I have made friends with one girl who I can again see back in Finland.

Disneyland

 

This experience has taught me so much about myself. Sounds a bit corny maybe. But I think I have really changed here. I hope that I will keep my new features when I go back to Finland. I have been braver and got more self-confidence. I have had adventures here that I would have probably refused before. So I would definitely recommend everybody to go for exchange or internship abroad, you can’t get these experiences at home.

 

Here are some photos from my journey

Kisses from a walrus and greetings from Japan!

-Miia

¡Hola! Saludos desde Madrid!

I have now spent the last 10 months in Madrid. First, I was doing my Erasmus studies here at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos for one semester. After that I started my internship with a company called Citylife Madrid. At the moment, my 5 months internship is going to end. On this post, I will focus on my experiences during my Erasmus study exchange abroad.

One semester in Universidad Rey Juan Carlos lasts for about 4-5 months, depending on which courses you select. All my courses lasted from September to December, so I didn’t have school anymore in January. The University was located a little bit outside of the centre of Madrid, so I always went there by metro which took about 30-40 minutes each way. The campus area was nice; couple of palm trees on the outside and benches to sit down during breaks. Also, the big library was a good place to study for the finals and to do group projects. About the courses that I selected: compared to my studies in Finland, I think the teaching quality wasn’t as good and furthermore, there weren’t so many interesting courses to choose from. Not only is this my opinion, but I have also heard the same from other Finnish exchange students as well. I studied all my courses in English but there was also a chance to study in Spanish or with both of the languages.

And then something about Madrid itself… I’m not wondering at all why it is the capital of Spain. Madrid is a really beautiful city that is full of life day by night. Its architecture is just gorgeous. The city is divided in many different neighbourhoods of which Malasaña and La Latina are definitely my favourite ones. Not to mention the Parque de El Retiro that is a huge park in a city centre. I used to go there to run in the evenings and sometimes have picnics with friends during the day.

In Madrid, there are parties going on every day of the week and you can’t find a bar that doesn’t have Sangria or Tinto de Verano in their selection. People like to sit down outside on the terraces to see their family and friends while eating some tapas.

In Spain they have many different holidays during the year. That means, no school or work and also some shops might be closed (depending on which holiday is it). That gave me and my friends good reasons to travel all around Spain. We visited many cities, for example in Valencia and Sevilla. Those cities were so pretty too!

If you ever wondered about doing a study exchange in Madrid or to just go there for vacation, I can highly recommend it! The culture and the city itself is way different than what we have in Finland and it gives you amazing experiences and memories to remember for the rest of your life! <3

日本へようこそ! Welcome to Japan!

First of all, I have to tell this one: not many people in Japan can speak English, preparing some basic Japanese phases is definitely must-do.

I go to Hokkaido University at an intern student. I work in Solid Waste Disposal Laboratory, and basically my work is about researching and supporting master and doctor students in the same laboratory.

After spending two months in Japan, there are many differences between Finnish style and Japanese style in working. The most obvious is Japanese people always are overworking, they always stay in the office although the working time is already over. In large cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, it is common to see many people wearing vest and leaving workplaces at 10-11pm. On the other hand, in studying, the study-load is much more lighter. For graduate students, they have only 2 or 3 courses per semester. Most of the time they do researches and experiments in their assigned laboratory.  However, when talking with my lab-mates, for master and doctor students, if they want to graduate, they have to have at least 3 academic papers on scientific papers or newspapers, which means that they have to do at least 3 experiments and researches during their study. Doing researching is common for doctoral level, but it is the first time I have heard about doing research for master level.

As an intern student, my schedule is not to tight, I can decide what I want to do, when I want to work, and my professor always tries his best to support me in my research and study. However, there are some differences between Japan and Finland obviously:

  • In Japan, they won’t use card. Every place accepts cash, only some very big shopping mall accepts credit card. However, withdrawing money in Japan is easy because you can withdraw money in convenience stores, which are available everywhere. However, remember to contact your card issuer before departing because my friend can’t withdraw money although she use the same card as mine.
  • Not many Japanese people know English, then it would be better if you know some basic Japanese phases.
  • There are not many trash bins in public. One time I had to carry my plastic bottle for 3km for finding a trash bins.
  • Vending machines everywhere. You can find vending machine for each 3-4meters away.
  • When you stand on an elevator, standing on the left side. However, in only Osaka, when using elevator, you have to stand on the right side.

For me, going to Japan for my practical training is one of the best decisions in my life because Japan is always my dream country. Luckily, I have a long vacation after arriving in Japan which are called “Golden week”. I spent my time to travel to a tradition area in Japan – Kansai, including Osaka, Kyoto, Himeji, Kobe.

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Sakura road

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Fushimi-inari in Kyoto

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Children’s day decoration

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Whale shark in Osaka aquarium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most famous castles in Japan – Himeji Castle

Living in the UK

I have spent my spring as an exchange student in Univeristy of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. I participated in three courses and those we had to choose from five possible course options. I was not that pleased in the end of the course options since if I were to have gone to Portsmouth in the fall period, I would have had over 20 course options. I found that the courses I chose had similarities to the courses I have had at TAMK even though the courses description didn’t sound similar to TAMK’s courses. Despite the similarities I can say that I learned new information that I can use in working life in the future. The biggest learning points has been adapting into diverse groups and studying how other students from all over the world study and what kind is their education culture.

During the exchange I had school weekly from Monday to Wednesday – so I had a lot of time to travel around the UK and Europe. The courses that I participated into had quite a lot of reports etc. to write so I couldn’t travel every single weekend – but almost every second weekend I spent in Brighton, London or somewhere in Europe. The train ride from Portsmouth to London took less than 2 hours so as London being my favorite city in the world – I travelled there quite often. Brighton is only 1 hour way from Portsmouth and I really loved that city too. We had a 1 month easter break in April where I interrailed for 2 and a half weeks. The interrail trip started from London, then a bullet train to Paris, then a flight to Nice (French railway system was on a strike), then a 40 min train to Monte Carlo, then an overnight train to Rome (and of course I also visited the Vatican City), then a train to Venice, then Bern in Switzerland and then a 12 hour train to the last destination in Amsterdam from where I flew to Finland for the last part of my easter break before returning to Portsmouth. The ultimate best part of the interrail trip was that when I went to the Vatican City and the Pope was there to greet people and I saw him from just a few meters distance.

As for the differences in the ways of teaching and studying at TAMK versus University of Portsmouth i didn’t find that many. The Portsmouth courses were a bit more theoretical but on the other hand I feel like that the course tasks and exams at TAMK have been more difficult than the ones I had at University of Portsmouth. Also the fact that they had over a month of easter break in the middle of the semester was quite strange to me.

  • Reetta Pienimäki

Grüsse aus Germany!

Greetings from Germany!

I have been in Essen now almost five months. Four days left and I’ll be back home, finally. I have done my practical training here in Essen and it has been amazing. I have learnt a lot about working life for an example about team work. I have also learnt so much about myself and I’m very proud of myself that I had the courage to come here.

I work in a Finnish company and all my co-workers are Finnish as well so I haven’t really learn anything about German working culture. So I can’t really compare those. I am working as a management assistant and this job has been very nice, fun and challenging but also quite hard and stressful sometimes. In our office there is three interns, all from Finland, and we have become friends. This training period would have been quite bad without them!

^ me and my dear co-workers

On my spare time (during the week) I usually cook, watch Netflix, read or just chill. After work I’m so tired that I really don’t want to do anything special. On Saturdays we (me and my co-workers) are having an adventure day. We have travelled to different cities like Köln, Dortmund, Venlo and Roermond (in Holland), Mönchengladbach and so on. We have visited in a zoo, museums and spent hours in Primark. I have also been in football games! Saturday is the best day of the week. On Sundays I also just chill because everything (shops and supermarkets) are closed. On Sundays we have visited museums and went to restaurants.

^1) FC Köln vs Bayer Leverkusen, amazing atmosphere! 2) Ready for the game in Düsseldorf.

^1) Duisburg Zoo 2) views from Düsseldorf tv-tower

Like I said I can’t really compare Finnish and German working life but I have note some differences in everyday life:

  1. Everyone uses cash!! This was quite hard to understand first because I’m so used to pay with card. It was surprising that even in big cities like Düsseldorf some restaurants took only cash.
  2. Alcohol is super cheap and it’s okay to have a bear at 10 am. When I went to a restaurant/bar on Saturday to have a nonalcoholic drink the waiter looked me like “why don’t you drink alcohol?” 😀
  3. Almost in every house there is a bathtub instead of regular shower. At least all the houses that I have been.
  4. I still don’t understand how I should recycle. You should put everything recyclable in one bin and all rest in another except paper/cardboard. But when I take a look in yellow and in grey dumpster they look exactly the same.
  5. Normal pillow size is about 80×80 cm which is enormous!! I can’t sleep with those.
  6. In supermarket you have to be very fast in checkout because the checkout line (kassahihna) is so short. If you are too slow you get angry looks. It is easiest to put everything back in the shopping cart, go to those side tables (which are meant to packing) and pack your things.
  7. There is no pick and mix candy.
  8. All the movies and tv-series are dubbed which is annoying sometimes. Like I could have watch Simpsons but I didn’t understand what they were saying in German. We went to movies once (also dubbed) and it was nice feeling when you understand what was happening!

+1. Many times locals have asked us what language we are talking. People are very interested to know why we are in Germany and everybody seem to like Finland.

^The most beautiful place EVER! Köln Dom.

All in all I haven’t really noticed many differences. But maybe I’m so “used to” live here already that I don’t noticed those. And I’m always with Finnish people so I haven’t really noticed any local habits. My roommate is German (she is amazing too) but I haven’t noticed any big cultural differences at home either. I have to say that the public transport works very well!

^Food is life, best burgers in Düsseldorf (@bob and mary)

All in all this trip has been amazing and I will never forget this spring. Still I’m more than ready to go home. I haven’t see my family in five months and I can’t wait to spend a summer in Finland!

Paris When It Sizzles

It has now been four and half months since I arrived in Paris for the first time ever. Since then, I have nearly finished my studies, travelled around France, eaten a lot of baguette and of course made new friends.

During these four months I have studied management in ESCE International Business School. I am one of the whopping seven Finnish exchange students in our school. In total there’s almost 100 of exchange students and we come from all over the world. I have had eight courses, varying from two to eight credits. My courses mix bachelor- and master-level studies. 

My schedule hasn’t been tight, but the work load has sometimes been a lot. Despite of that, I have been thrilled to participate in courses that my home university doesn’t offer. Just like in TAMK, most of the studies included a group work project and that enabled me to get to know people from other cultures.

Throughout this semester, my weekends have been somewhat scheduled. Surprise surprise, friends and family wanted to visit Paris (and me) often and I have acted as their tourist guide. In Paris it’s also super easy to hop in a bus to Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Monaco… You name it. Opens a whole new world of travelling for a Finn.

Here are some things that were new and/or surprising to me:

  • People always jaywalk. If they don’t, they are tourists.
  • Don’t you dare to buy bread from your closest supermarket. It’s boulangerie or nothing. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
  • Lunch takes 1-2 hours and contains two courses. It is not just about refuelling for the end of the day. It is about enjoying the food and the company.
  • Big percentage of the restaurants close their doors between lunch and dinner, 14-19 o’clock. The restaurants that have their kitchens open and working, are marked with the text ‘service continu’.
  • French people actually know english and aren’t afraid to use it. And also, I haven’t crossed my path with a Frenchman or -woman that would have been notably rude.
  • C’est la grève! As in, these guys like to make political standouts – such as a strike of public transports, that lasts for months.
  • Having an oven is a luxury. Same goes for elevators and central heating.
  • French people are most likely lately and not a single bit sorry about it.

This has been my first time ever in France, but much to my own delight, I adapted to the culture fairly quick. Maybe it’s the C’est la vie -attitude that got to me. Not worrying and stressing about things that I can’t change.

As a destination for exchange studies, I would recommend Paris for a nature that is easy-going and organized. For instance, you may receive information fairly late, but be sure it will arrive. Having a laid-back attitude helped me enjoy my time in France more.

Bisous,

Heidi

  ¨

Greetings from Macclesfield!

Just unbelievable how fast time has passed, I’m almost (When finally posted already finished)  finishing my final placement here and only a week and I will fly back to home. And guess what? All of the “During exchange” -tasks still not done. Oops!

Like a typical for me before take-off I was hoping much: A lot of new friends, parties, travelling, my prince of charming (Maybe successful placements as well)… Just a wonderful life without any problems. Basically I was hoping all of my dreams come true at once. Although I was expecting a lot of problems, home sickness and break downs. I was sure that I had done a big mistake when I decided to do that exchange. I thought that there is no way to manage with my English skills and all of that experience will just end up to totally disaster. How you can probably guess neither of those scenarios didn’t happened. Instead of those I have been living a normal everyday life here. I have done my placements in hospital and community, went to the gym (and lost a bit weight, Yippee!) and stuff like that. But you know what? I  have enjoyed it, I really have. And of course I had have a bit time to just enjoy the country as well.

Wonderful how country changes the person. (I just walked with all of those bags 1,5 kilometers.)

 

My two first placements were in the hospital. (Orthopedic ward and Gastroenterology ward.) At the beginning just understanding what’s going on in the busy ward insisted my full concentration and on the side of that I had to do couple of mandatory training as well. So my first week contained 51 hours dealing with my rubbish English in totally new environment.  You can just imagine how exhausted I was when I finally got home after 13 hours day. However I settled very well right from the beginning and I knew that the decision of coming here was correct. Before I came here I was little worried if I can’t learn anything because of the language barrier. But how wrong I was, I learnt so much!  Nursing skills like IV’s, injections, understanding of isolation, drugs, early warning scores… Facing the patients and family felt hard sometimes but most of them were really kind and understanding. And however when there was a language barrier, specially at the beginning, between us I had to concentrate my nonverbal communication even more. I tried to show with my body language and facial expressions that I really am  interested in to be in there and learn things. I also learned that it’s more important how I say things than what I actually say. And I think this is something what I could’t have learnt in Finland using my own language.

Currently I’m doing my final placement in community (last couple days also), with District Nurses. So now I’m facing people in their own houses and I still can’t use my own language. Wow, what a combination. Now I have to respect their home as well, not only the person. So difficult but at the same time so teaching. With District nurses there has been a little different things what I have done and seen than in hospital. A lot of different kind of wounds, injections, drains, diabetics. And just patients supporting through the hard times or situations in their life. So yes, community is totally different than hospital so it’s really nice to see it as well. And to be honest it’s nice to see sun light during the working day instead of being inside from 7am to 8pm.

Differences between nursing in UK and Finland:
1. Training: When you are a qualified nurse in Finland you can do almost everything. In UK you have to have extra-training for doing bloods, cannulation, catheters, pressure bandages… And probably many other things what I can’t remember even.
2. Breaks: During 13 hours shift they have totally 1 hour break and it’s unpaid.
3. Hurry: Totally different here than what I have used to in Finland. Some days nurses didn’t even sit down or eat. They just drank strong juice to keep their blood sugar up and mind focused.
So I have to say that in my opinion we are quite lucky in Finland.

 

Although both of us, me and my room mate Emmi, have done full hours, 39-40 hours/week, with our placements we had done a lot of travelling and experiences as well. We have seen a lot of beautiful places and interesting things.

SNOWING!!! Felt like a home in Stoke-on-Trent in March.

“When your friend is a super-fan and you are not even sure who you are going to see” But thank you Fall Out Boy I still enjoyed! @Manchester

@Liverpool and Beatles Story

 

Almost as dirty water as in Aurajoki @Chester! Sometimes expectations and reality doesn’t face each other… And I’m talking about the picture, Chester was amazing!

 

4D-movie (or 3D? Whatever!) in Sea Life @Birmingham

Getting those fishes to the same picture with us wasn’t so easy thing to do…

@Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle

Playing in Camera Obscura @Edinburgh

Still alive after Underground City Of The Dead Tour @Edinburgh!!!

May Day Carnival @Knutsford
There I was brave enough to face one of my biggest fears and I went to the swing carousel which went high! Wow, It was amazing feeling after that!

 

Although those cities has been amazing and I have enjoyed about visiting there I’m so happy that we have been living in here, our own love Macclesfield. Just a right size town where I can walk around wearing pink raincoat and wellies.

 

Originally I applied for an exchange on my own and I didn’t have a friend to come with me. But thank you Tamk so much that you didn’t send me here alone, I am really grateful for that! Exchange is an experience what you can’t explain or tell to anyone so it’s amazing that I could share it with someone. Although we didn’t know each other before exchange process now we necessarily do. We have lived together almost 3 months, shared a kitchen and bathroom, done travelling together, sort out problems together, got drunk together, laughed together (Not cried together because Emmi doesn’t cry) and done an amazing experience together. Of course Emmi has been really annoying sometimes and I could have send her back home with next flight but I’m still sure that I have done it better – Annoying I mean. And after all I’m quite sparkling and hot-tempered person so it has been nice that someone had reassure me a little when I have needed it.

For example sorting out this heating problem at the beginning of our exchange was a bit easier (and funnier) together.

 

While doing my placements I met a lot of wonderful people who made me feel welcome. My mentors in Gastroenterology ward and Community were brilliant! They got to know me and let me do and see a lot of different things. I always felt that I can question them as a mentor and say if I’m not confident of doing something or if I need more supervision. In Orthopedic ward I didn’t have a mentor so it was a little different there but anyway I always got someone to look after me.

And when talking about great mentors I want to introduce you my mentor in Community, Fiona who wants to be famous in Finland.

 

I just can’t to resist the temptation of sharing couple of highlights of our restaurant foods. Sorry, if you weren’t hungry yet, soon you probably are.

 

Although experience has been amazing and I’m super happy that I was brave enough to came here. I’m really excited of going home as well. I can’t wait to see all of those important people who I haven’t seen for a while. Speaking Finnish in grocery, doing Finnish things with my Finnish friends… Oh, I really miss those things. And those working internet and telephone connections what we have in Finland!! I can’t even count how many times I have thought to throw my laptop or phone through the window because of the poor connection. But not long to go anymore so see you soon Finland! (But before that see you London!!! Uuu, Excited!) 

 

Love, Laura xxx

 

Ps. I spend something like 15 hours by doing that one blog post but I did it alone, nobody correct it for me. That’s something what I wouldn’t do before the exchange so I’m more than brave about that blog post.

Hola y buenas tardes mi amigos!

I have been in Spain Fuengirola now almost three months and my practical training is coming to its end. This has been amazing road and I will remember this forever for sure. Like I mentioned, I’m doing a practical training, in a Finnish homeschool here, and in Finland I study Bachelor of Social Services.

 

My job here is very different for what I have used to since I have never worked with kids this age. The children are between preschool and ninth grade, so the radius is also big. My job description includes for example guidance, teaching, motivating and actual “parenting” if you know what I mean. It’s kind of funny because I have such a big influence on these kids and I’m also growing a lot at the same time… The best thing in this job are definitely the children, challenging roles and of course the beach where we eat our lunches 😉                    (picture from our break –>)

 

 

Time has flown but luckily I have had some time to get to know my current residence. In Fuengirola there is a lot of Finnis people and other foreigners so it’s a bit hard to find locals.
(<– There was lot of locals 😉 Malaga CF vs. Barcelona. Spain is a football country so it was kinda obvious I go and see at least one game!)
You really have to know where locals spend their time. So first I had to explore the nightlife of course, and I did manage to find good places where also local people liked to hang out. They love dancing as do I, so it was natural for me to go in these kinds of places. Second thing I have spent a lot of time is watching ice-hockey, since SM-league and MM-games both were going on whilst I was here. Along with dancing and ice-hockey, I just hang out and do nothing special. Sure I have made some trips to another cities and so on but those does not fill my normal days.

 

(this pic is from Mijas near to Fuengirola)

I don’t know how to compare Spain and Finland as working places because I’m in Finnish school and the schools main teacher is Finnish as are the children. Of course it is different to be in small, under 30 student school than to be in school where one class can include that 30 students… Here we can provide more individual teaching and help, and if (when) there are students with special needs, we notice them more easily and can pay more attention to them.

I have loved it here and i firmly recommend Spain as a practical training country. I personally think that people learn best from another cultures and from another people so if you don’t want to go to Spain, go somewhere. Muchas gracias y hasta luego!

(King Julians say hello from Bioparc Fuengirola)

Turning Maltese

HELLOOOO!

Welcome to my Maltese adventure! It’s been an amazing ride, and definitely one of my life’s best decisions and craziest experiences. Totally recommending this programme for anyone who’s interested! Let’s get cracking!

So…. I’s my first time abroad… alone… EVER. I have only visited Sweden and Estonia when travelling outside Finland, so this has totally been an jump into the unknown. My choice to go on an exchange to Malta was a mixture of curiosity towards the southern European culture and learning practices, the need for a total change of scenery and people, and also a small wish, that I could experience some warm sunshine after a grimy winter in Finland. I’m happy to admit, that I got exactly what I wished for, and a whole lot more!

The day I landed to Malta, the weather was amazing, +20 degrees in January during the day. I was so excited and happy I couldn’t believe it. For the first time I saw the big cactus trees and southern plants in nature, and saw the Mediterranian sea. I got to experience the open and helpful nature of the Maltese people pretty soon, when getting into the bus for the first time, three people started advicing us without even asking. Also one day I had my hands full and was struggling with my glove; so a stranger looked at me and put on my glove for me without asking or saying a word. It was funny and totally unexpected, thank you, strange Maltese dude!

The temperature at night surprised me completely, because one it got dark, the temperature dropped to about 9 degrees. In an extremely humid climate that feels so so so cold. Also, the houses don’t have any heating, because they are built for the hot summer, so at night I had to sleep with 2 blankets to keep myself warm. February is considered winter in Malta, and I can see why. But it got better quite quickly.

My placements for physiotherapy practise have been

  1. Musculoskeletal outpatients unit – St Luke’s Hospital
  2. Children Development Assesment Centre (CDAU), St Luke’s Hospital
  3. Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Center (SAMOC), Mater Dei

In musculoskeletal ward I got to assess, treat and observe patients who had various musculoskeletal issues. I had a lot of shoulder and knee patients, and I also got to see some ankle, back, neck and general mobility cases. For one day I visited the hydrotherapy pool.  I had an amazing supervisor and got so much experience by going out of my confort zone and dealing with the patients first with my supervisor, and then on my own. I was happy to get self-confidence and reassurance.

In the children’s ward the patients were mostly cases with cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome or some other syndrome, spina bifida, or children with general developmental delay. We visited the Helen Keller special school for severely disabled children/adolecents in Qrendi also every week to assess and do therapy with the students. The childer were all very adorable, and the physiotherapy with them is done always through play and games. We had nice therapy rooms full of toys and equipment, and I believe the children really liked the fun excersises we came up with.

In SAMOC we had 2 general cancer wards, haematology ward, palleative care unit, children’s ward and the outpatients ward, that we worked in. I got to experience the ward physiotherapy, and also treat patients in the outpatients unit with lymphaodema. We did complete draining therapy manually and using a PCT machine, that passively inflates a external sleeve, to get the lympf liquid moving. I got to perform manual lymph drainage on a few patients of “my own”, do measurements of the upper limb and try some assessments as well. For a few times I had a survivors gym group to instruct, that was a lot of fun and I connected with the people well! For a good-bye and thank you, some of my patients gave me gifts, which really moved me and made me extremely grateful. After work I went to the beach every day to swim and sunbathe… Can’t get better than that!!!

The work hours for me were from 8 am till 2 pm, so only 6 hours. Maltese have short work days, and because the physiotherapy is free, sometimes patients don’t bother to come, and you end up with a lot of free time on your hands. So the system is a bit different compared to Finland’s. As what comes to the physiotherapy, I think it is mostly the same in Finland as well. The Maltese university students have a 4 year degree in physiotherapy to get the bachelors degree, whereas in Finland we only have 3,5 years. The Maltese have a very good education system in physiotherapy in my opinion, they have a lot of testing, practice and training. When they graduate, the physios working for the government will do a 5 year long rotation, where they work for 6 months in a certain department, and then switch. This way every physio gets experience in all major areas of physiotherapy, f.ex. children, neurology, musculoskeletal, geriatry, and so on. I think this system would benefit many in Finland as well.

In my spare time I liked to adventure around the island; Malta is a very very small country, but there are many amazing places to see. We got to go on hikes on Sundays with a fun tour guide for only 3,5€, that covered the busrides there and back, and hiking was a fun way to spend the day, see rare sights and make new friends! I also participated to many of the offical ESN – groups fun activities, including scavenger hunting in the capitol Valletta, speed dating in the University, and a full weekend tirp with a big Erasmus group to the Malta’s sister island, Gozo. I made a big bunch of friends from all over the world!! And there was always someone to text and go out with!

I also got to participate in the University of Malta’s Student’s Fest, which is a annual, big musical made by the university students. This year we depicted the Little Mermaid, with a little twist. There was a couple of hundred people participating, and I got the opportunity to perform in the main chorus. We practiced a lot, and it all was worth it in the end, because the finished product was amazing! We had 4 shows in total, and there I got to get to know many Maltese students and see part of their University experience!

The night life in Malta is crazy and so fun. Paceville is the most popular place to go have a good time; it’s a small area full of bars and nightclubs, and it doesn’t cost anything to go in to the bars.  And the drinks are so cheap!! You can get a beer for 1 € and cocktails for 3,90€, and usually there are people handing out free drink tickets outside the bars. There are always people having a good time there, and you always bump into some people you know! And there are always some student parties around, you wont be bored, I swear!

Though there are some problems and things to grow accustomed to for example not being able to drink tap water, everything being late from buses to meetings, almost dying every day due to the crazy driving manners of the people, and LACK OF OAT BREAD AND GOOD VARIETY OF PICK AND MIX CANDY, Malta is a great place to do your exchange in. The people, the extremely active ESN-group, very professional physio supervisors and great, historical places to visit, made the experience one that I will always cherish. I truly loved the experience, 3 months was way too little for me!!

Grazzi ħafna!

Nina

Vienna – Life Around Palaces

Liebe Grüsse aus Wien!

Vienna is a beautiful city full of history and nice sceneries, and the exchange has been a great experience. The city is divided into 22 districts, which all have their own distinct air. My Praktikums (= internships) have taken place in Wilhelminenspital, a big, old hospital in the 16th district. The atmosphere at work has been great, all the physiotherapists are friendly and I have been able to take part in many different things: Laufband-training with neurological patients, Heilgymnastik for traumatology patients recovering from surgeries or accidents, pool therapy groups, mobilizing patients at hospital wards etc. In the beginning my German was quite rusty, but everyone has been very understanding and helpful with the language.

I have met people from many places, Vienna is quite multicultural. My first flatmates were from Ukraine and Hongkong, and there are have been people from USA, Latin America and all over Europe both at work and elsewhere. Cafés are an essential part of Viennese culture, people sit in them for hours working, socializing or just relaxing with the daily newspaper. There are all types of cafés, and the prices are quite affordable for a Finn. A must to try is a coffee speciality called Mélange, which basically is coffee with milk and sugar prepared in the Viennese way. The cake variety is endless, Sacher Tarte naturally being the most famous, but there are so many other great options that it is always hard to choose.

Austrian culture does not differ too much from our own Finnish one. The city is tidy and feels fairly safe. The public transport system works amazingly well: metros, trams and buses run often and usually on time. However, Austria is a very traditional, conservative country. People quite generally fast before Easter, and shops close usually by 6 pm. After Saturday 6 pm the grocery stores open the next time on Monday morning (a bit problematic  for a foreigner arriving in the city on Saturday evening). In addition to doing the internship I had a chance to spend a week at the FH Campus observing the local physiotherapy teaching. Practical classes and lectures were very similar to the ones at our campus at home, only the topics differed slightly, so I learned some new techniques.

All in all, I can sincerelly recommend choosing Vienna as an exchange destination! 🙂

Schloss Schönbrunn