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.
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).
In my spare time I have mostly been working on personal projects, seen some bands, and eaten fries (picture for evidence).
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:
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 get 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.
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 or at leas on a discount. Also there are museums and gallerias etc around every corner.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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!
Greetings from maybe the most beautiful place in Europe (at least in Switzerland), Lucerne!
I have been here almost two semesters now and I have really enjoyed my time. I study music and luckily the classical music department is located on top of the hill where you can see the whole city, mountains and the lake – breathtaking view! This kind of environment has been really inspiring and motivating for me. I must say that sometimes when carrying my two tubas on top of the hill I wasn’t so happy, but on top with the incredible view you don’t care anymore the weight of the tuba, you just enjoy the atmosphere.
The jazz department instead is located to old town. Also, not bad at all! Even the old town is full of tourists, especially summer time, I still enjoy walking to jazz school through the old bridges and small streets in the middle of old, beautiful buildings.
I think the school system here is similar than in Finland but here is more common to study occupation with co-operation of companies (little bit like “oppisopimus” in Finland). Universities are not free, there is always student fees but they are tolerable, not too high. As music student, I feel that I have here lots of different opportunities to study with very good teachers. School offers not only the “basic education” but also lots of projects, workshops and master classes with specialists all over the world. For foreign student, Switzerland is not maybe the easier country to be because living is very expensive, even more expensive than in Finland. But when you get a little part time job, you’ll be better – salaries are also very good comparing to other countries.
In the spare time, here is so many things to do that I felt one year was not enough time to see all. Not only the city itself, but also towns near and of course the surrounding mountains, offer so much things to see and experience. The cultural view is also amazing – Lucerne is not very big city but it is full of different happenings! You can always find something for your spare time: different concerts, theater, opera, art, performances, festivals and so many other things… And it has been very nice to notice that almost every time when I was in concert as musician or in audience, it has been full of people. So in my opinion, people really appreciate culture here and they are also willing to pay to see different things.
One special happening I have to mention: The Lucerne Carnival. Every year in February or March there is carnival which makes the whole city going crazy. The city center is full of music, parades, people wearing masks and/or special carnival clothes, dancing, celebrating and having fun for 6 days. In Finland we have summer festivals, but carnival was something really special that I haven’t experience before. I was part of one small (14 people) band and we played several gigs in- and outside of restaurants with special clothes and make-up. What a nice way to get into the local culture!
When you are in Lucerne, you can’t avoid Mount Pilatus. I visited two times there (at winter and summer) and both times, for Finnish who never visited mountain before, it was incredible! I think you never get use to the view from the mountain!
I warmly recommend Lucerne to everyone who wants to study in inspiring and beautiful environment.
Before we departured, we were told that Macclesfield is in rural area. As a small-town countryside girl, I was expecting fields and cows everywhere. When we had arrived, and did our first walk from our accommodation to town centre, we were a bit shocked by all the traffic. We were scared to go across the road, since people drive very fast in here and very rarely give space to pedestrians. Soon we learned that Macclesfield is a quite small town, but not as small as we imagined.
We started our placements on the very first week. On the first day we had an induction, where we met our University teacher and our contact person in the hospital. Our first glance of British people, and I got a positive feeling that my time here would be amazing. And so it was.
I can’t even describe how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to come to Macclesfield. I have met and worked with so many amazing people. One day, in my first placement with the Community Nursing, we had done all our home visits and we had some spare time. The nurse I was working with decided to show me Prestbury, which is near Macclesfield, and some of the houses in that area cost £4,000,000! I even got to see Wayne Rooney’s house, which was amazing! She also told me that in Prestbury, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge (they call it the “golden triangle”) all together sells more champagne in a year than in London.
I started my placements in Community, and my other placements were in the hospital, orthopaedic ward and gastroenterology ward. I can’t really compare all these three placements, and choose which one was the best. That’s because every single one of them were different in their own way, and they had their own best sides. For example, in community, the team I was working with was so amazing and accepting. I really felt like I was part of their team. It was busier in the orthopaedic ward, but I enjoyed it when my mentor asked me some questions which really made me think and concentrate. I learned so much from her and I’m so grateful she was my mentor. In gastroenterology ward, I think I got a change to do more things myself.
The staff has been great in every placement I’ve been, and I’m more than happy that everyone accepted me and was very welcoming. Compared to Finland, I think student’s role is quite different in England. There isn’t that much that you can do while you do your training. Or even after you’ve qualified. When you’re qualified, you must take extra courses to be able to cannulate, catheterise or even do pressure bandaging.
During these three months we’ve had the chance to travel. Which was one of the things I was really looking forward to. We have been to Stoke-On-Trent, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Knutsford and London. I have seen so many beautiful places and felt like the happiest person in the earth, especially when I got to see my all-time favourite band in March. I cried the tears of pure happiness that night.
These past three months have not been that easy, especially when most of the time has been spent in training. But still, this has been the time of my life. I will always cherish the memories I made here. And I am sure, I will come back to visit Macclesfield. I think I can say, that this town will always have a special space in my heart.Love,
England is the love of my life. I have had a long history with this country for years now especially after my father moved to London. This exchange has only strengthened my love for this country and for the people living in it. And the best part of this is that I got to do all of it with my best friend.
I went to Leeds to study web design. I know we have it at TAMK as well but I wanted to see how it would be taught elsewhere and since I had not taken any of the TAMK courses on the topic yet it was a new learning experience. I also did a visual design course since it seemed interesting and they didn’t have any other web design courses that I could have done with my skills.
It was difficult to set everything up to get to the country and start the studies but once we were past that my time in Leeds turned out to be one of the very best. I got to meet so many amazing people, most of them exchange students as well, and some locals. It paid off to be single on exchange, I am just saying, since that way I met way more locals than through the university. But some very good friends were made even from the very beginning and I hope I can continue to keep in touch with them.
We chose not to stay in the student accommodation but got an apartment just for the two of us. It probably made a difference in the exchange experience but to be honest I was not that excited about sharing a bathroom with five other people. The location was good and the place served us well throughout our studies. It was even big enough to host visitors, and we both had our sisters visit us. The only bad thing was the whole floor mats that made me sick and stuffy for a long time.
The teaching was quite different compared to my home university. The teachers in England required a lot more from us and it was much more student oriented. I only had three courses and for each of them two contact lessons in a week that lasted for about an hour to two hours. So, I was at the university for an hour on Mondays from four till five for example. Talk about freedom. The assignments were interesting and we got professional teaching and tutoring. This way I got to enjoy the endless possibilities on my free time and travel a lot more.
The university had made a deal with a localish travel company. For a fee they would take us around England to see some of the most well-known sights such as the Stonehenge, Bath, Whitby, York, the Lake District and we even travelled to Edinburgh. I loved how easy the travelling was made for us who wanted to experience it. One of the best things during my exchange and even though I have been to England multiple times before I got to see many new places. On my free time I travelled to Manchester, London and the nearby cities of Leeds as well as within Leeds as much as I could.
I noticed that we Finnish people are not that different from English people. The sense humour is very similar and we both come from cold, windy and depressing countries and adjust accordingly. Also, the citizens of both countries, England and Finland, like to drink. The pub culture is different but the idea is the same. We love our alcohol. I cannot even count the hours I spend in a pub just doing homework at 12 am because that was the normal thing to do. I could never do that in Finland.
Some differences between England and Finland that I can think of:
Alcohol is cheap in England. Like actually cheap. And well cheap for a Finnish person at least. No wonder people spend their free time in pubs.
Pub food is amazing. You really don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to have good food. You can as well find a decent burger and a drink for a total price of one pound if you know where to go.
Only white bread in England. Almost. Like why?
Because English people must pay tuition the quality of teaching is quite high. That’s how they get people to choose their universities.
The public transport is a joke in England. Like overall, not just in Leeds. Compared to Finland, Tampere, where I usually live and where it works fine, this was a nightmare. But then again, no way I would have gotten a bike and rode it in the traffic.
The streets are narrow in England.
The whole floor mats are disgusting. So hard to clean and just make you stuffy. One of the worst things about living in England.
People are friendlier, in a way at least, in England. So weird getting called “love” by strangers.
Oh, and don’t forget your manners or you will hear about it in England. Always say thank to everything, literally to everything, and don’t forget to add please if you’re asking for something.
Having tattoos and piercings is quite common in England. So, I fit in quite well. Almost everyone had at least one of either. And it was so cheap to get one done as well. Well at least cheaper than it would in Finland.
I loved almost every second of staying in Leeds. Good food, nice people, great teachers and most importantly amazing friends. I will leave my heart in England.
I am currently doing a training exhange in Onomichi, Japan. My workplace is a guesthouse called Miharashi-tei and it is located at the hill of a mountain. The guesthouse has amazing views across Onomichi and the Seto inland sea. This is actually my second training exhange in Onomichi. The first one I did two years ago at another guesthouse, and I fell so in love with Onomichi that I wanted to come back. I am staying here for three months, until mid-August.
My work here includes helping around the guesthouse; cleaning, doing the dishes, helping with the breakfast service and also showing guests around the guesthouse and telling them about the history of the place, both in English and Japanese. It is a great way of learning more Japanese!
During my spare time I’m travelling around the country as much as I can. So far I’ve visited Hiroshima, and next I’m planning to go to Osaka. Later in July I was be travelling for a longer time to visit Kyoto and Tokyo.
Working in a japanese guesthouse isn’t that much different from working in Finland. Of course, these kind of guesthouses don’t really exist in Finland, but the daily tasks are similar to that of a finnish hotel. The guesthouse where I’m working is a very old building, almost 100 years old, so good care must be taken when working here. In the guesthouse there are no regular beds, and guests sleep on futon mattresses on the strawmat floow (tatami). The futons are aired outside daily to keep them clean and fresh.
Customer service in Japan is a bit different from Finland. The customer is very important and must be spoken to extremely politely. I can speak basic Japanese, but learning the polite way of talking is bit of a challenge. I don’t want to offend any of the guests, so I will have to keep studying.