Monthly Archives: June 2018

Greedings from Breda!

I’m spending my last few weeks here in Breda Netherlands and writing down my experiences about studying in Avans University of Applied Sciences. I’m following Forensic Chemistry minor. In the minor there are preselected courses that are worth of 30 ECTS. The courses have been very interesting and all the teachers and local students speak very good English so it is easy to follow the lectures. Most of the studies have been project work (18 ECTS) which means that there has been more independent work.

Compared to Finland, here are less lectures and more independent work. I prefer less lectures, because the I can plan my studies and free time better. I think that the courses here are more challenging than in Finland. Also, I think that more work is required here for the credits than in Finland. There are more things that you should remember by heart whereas in Finland understanding the phenomenon is more important than the details. The teachers have higher expectations for students and it is more difficult to get good grades than it is in Finland.

Breda centrum

Introduction day with all the exchange students

I enjoyed my stay in Netherlands very much. Breda is quite small city and it is very peaceful to live here. We have a nice international community in here since most of the exchange students live in the same apartment buildings. It is easy just to knock on someone’s door and hang out. A bike is essential to have in Netherlands, because it is the easiest way to get around places. The buses are quite expensive here so another reason to buy a second-hand bike and sell it when you leave. In my spare time I have been travelling in Netherlands and other countries as well and hanging out with my friends. It has been very easy to travel inside Netherlands, because the train system is good and the prices aren’t that bad. There are also discount train tickets for sale regularly. I have also been doing a quite a lot of sports. There are really good opportunities to do sports for students in Breda. There is gym, group lessons and discount for example the local bouldering centre.

Breda city park Valkenberg

Valkenberg chickens

 

Groeten uit Groningen

Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people, many of them students, in the North of The Netherlands. I did my exchange studies in Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Design department of Minerva Art Academy, studying illustration and animation. The Academy has great workshops for analogue techniques, and is located in its own facilities, away from the main campus (Zernike), just like Mediapolis in TAMK.

Martinitoren dominates the cityscape as the highest-rising building

The courses and assignments are more focused on artistic thinking and storytelling compared to TAMK’s problem-based or more technique-focused approach. In Minerva there aren’t so much courses as such with for example software teaching, at least for the second year class where exchange students are integrated. At first the system was very confusing and it was hard to figure out where one should be and when. Their digi schedule doesn’t really work, and most of the communication in Illustration major happens on Facebook. This doesn’t appeal to me greatly, but fortunately the local students, as the Dutch in general (although it is a stereotype) are very friendly and helpful and helped us exchange students greatly in getting into the system. The teachers were also very understanding with students coming from different backgrounds and disciplines.

A strong similarity to my studies in TAMK is balancing the workload between different courses and assignments to make the most out of them. It seems like one could pass the courses with little effort, while with some ambition there is a lot to gain. An example of my work in Minerva is Mr. Moose, an animated series (link below).

Minerva Art Academy has two separate buildings, this one, formerly a museum, looks nicer in pictures

In my spare time I have mostly been working on personal projects, seen some bands, and eaten fries (picture for evidence).

Friet, a mandatory photo

привет – hello!

Studying in Saint Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design (quite a mouhtfull) was not what I expected. I feel that the school was not completely ready for me to do my studies there. Two of my eight teachers don’t speak english, (google translate has been helpful). But everyone has been so polite and lovely and the famous Russian hospitality has really been showing!

We had one mandatory course in Russian history, which lead us to tours in museums, memorials and churches. Here are some of the beautiful places we visited:

The Church on Spilled BloodAnd on the inside
The Winter Palace

There are surprisingly many Public holidays in Russia; during my stay there has already been women’s day, men’s day, two victory days.. and the list goes on. The public holidays differ from Finland, most of them are non-working days, and if the holiday happens to be on a weekend, then there will be a day off on Monday or Friday.  Or if the holiday is on Thursday, you might a free day on Friday as well..? I think it’s best to just check from teachers if you should go to school or not, because this was very confusing to me.

The Victory Day Parade on Nevsky (didn’t see much)

On our free time, me and the other (two) exchangers like to roam around the city. We have already found ourselves in the Summer garden, different gallerias, some amazing restaurants and of course some bars as well. The culture and art is much more visible in Saint Petersburg than in Tampere, also much more accessible; students get to visit most museums for free of at leas on a discount. Also there are museums and gallerias etc around every corner.

The Summer GardenBotanical GardenSaint Petersburg Mosque
Acvarium

The school life itself was not so different from Finnish school, lectures in classrooms and some excursions to different companies. But I did notice some differences; when giving a presentation you should wear more formal clothing (for girls dress or white shirt and dark pants),  also it is common to bring some sweets to the people listening to your presentation, or at least to those grading it. The same applies to the course teachers, it is common to bring something to the teacher after the course, not as a bribe or anything, but just to show your gratitude.

Saludos desde Valencia!

I’ studying technical architecture in the Polytechnic University of Valencia for the Spring Semester of 2018.

I have four courses in total; two are taught in Spanish, one in English and the fourth is a Spanish language course. I was in the building engineering faculty, but I also took one project course from the architecture faculty. In the beginning I was a little bit nervous taking the two courses in Spanish, as it was a little bit difficult for me to follow the lessons, but as time went by I gradually started understanding the teachers more and more and by now I have very little problems understanding the lessons. Studying in Spanish has definately helped me with my Spanish comprehension!

  Sunny day at the Palau de Musica in Valencia

I wanted to come to Spain to improve my Spanish skills; I have studied Spanish on and off for about 5 years now and my goal was to become fluent in Spanish. I haven’t become fluent – I think half a year is not enough to become fluent, for that, I think one year study exchange would have done the trick!

 

Valencia is the home of Paella, a must try!

Studying in UPV has been a good experience overall. In the beginning I was surprised at how some things are organised (for example there are printing shops, where you give an employee your usb stick and they print it for you, instead of you being able to print things yourself – when we had to hand in a final project I had to wait two hours in line so that they could print four A1s!) but in order not to stress yourself you just have to accept how things are done differently in different countries. Also, a lot of the teachers wanted us to draw things by hand and also show the methodology we used in taking measurements, particularly in the restoration course.

 

The Horchata drink is also from Valencia. Chug it down with some churros, a Spanish classic!

During my free time I spend it mostly with my friends, at the beach, in cafes in the centre or doing Erasmus activities; there are a lot of Erasmus organisations that organize activities such as trips to different cities (I’ve been to Toledo and Xativa – amazing little towns!) and different events, like hiking or colour festivals.

Holirun Valencia   
Hiking near Valencia

I also organised my own trips to Barcelona in February, and to Andalucia and the Basque country during Easter break (one of the perks of studying in Spain is that you have a nearly two week Easter holiday!)

Patios of Cordoba…
The Great Mosque of Cordoba is a must do and absolutely stunning!

But most definately the best part of my exchange studies was meeting lovely people and making so many new friends, who I will hopefully remain friends with forever!

 

Picnicing at the City of Arts and Sciences

So if you are a technical architecture student, would I recommend UPV for you? Yes! You should definately go, but be prepared to learn a little bit of Spanish beforehand and be open minded! There are courses in English, but you would definately get more out of the experience if you also took the Spanish ones. However, even if you do not speak Spanish, you will still be alright and you will have an amazing time!

Besos y que pases bien!

City of Arts and Sciences