Monthly Archives: August 2018

Hello from Hannover

The past year has been quite balanced with its ups and downs. Stressful self studying and exams counterweighted by days playing boardgames and drinking various beverages in good company.

Compared to Finland, the studying hasn’t been that much different. There’s more to do, but there’s also more time to do it. However in exams it’s different. There’s more to do and less time to do it.

The scenic route to-and-fro school

There is beautiful green nature between the school and my apartment, but I rarely walk to school. I’m lazy like that. And I had to pay a small fortune for the unlimited access to public transport so not using the service would be a waste.

Maschsee, Hannover

Sometimes the surface of the local man-made lake, Maschsee, is soothing to look at. When it’s not populated by tons of boats. There’s also a path along the edges of the lake, which makes for a perfect place to get your morning jog in and enjoy the view. Not that I have.

Hannover Hbf., Cars under the bridge

I saw this while wandering about near the main railway station in Hannover and it struck me as something different from normal art-pieces. As it’s upside down, stuck on the bottom of a bridge. Apparently it’s a sculpture from 1991 called “Hang Over Hannover” by artist Andreas Freiherr von Weizsäcker. The cars are obviously not real, but are realistically sized. (Details from Waymarking.com)

Bulletin Board in HsH

Here’s a slightly amusing reliever to end this post. It took me a few moments to process this wasn’t written in english.

Slovenia, you stole my heart

Zdravo!

Did you know that Slovenia has a coastline? Or where Slovenia is, for that matter? That’s okay, neither did I until it came across on the list of partner universities and that’s how it all got started…

I did my Erasmus exchange during autumn semester 2017 in the small but most beautiful town of Portoroz in Slovenia. I am an International Business Student, but I majored in tourism, so that’s why I chose to apply to the Tourism Faculty of University of Primorska. Main campus of this uni is located in nearby city of Koper and Tourism faculty is in Portoroz, which is the main tourist area of coastal Slovenia.

I took 4 courses to study (the list of available courses held in English was small, but after many students asked about it, they added more options): Entrepreneurship in Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Product of Slovenia and Consumer Behavior in Tourism. I enjoyed all the courses, especially Tourism Product was very interesting and we made several excursions and studying was made fun. The quality of teaching varied quite much depending on the teacher, but all of them spoke English very well, which was also the case in all Slovenia, everybody spoke English so I never experienced any language barriers.

My hometown, Portoroz.

 

My jogging route by the sea.

 

My weekly schedule consisted of two or three lessons, so I had a lot of free time, which I appreciated very much and pretty much used it to traveling within Slovenia but also around Europe – during my exchange I visited Italy (multiple times given it was only 40 km from Portoroz), Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia. Pro tip: If you want to travel around, go to Slovenia either by your own car or rent one from there, because the public transportation doesn’t function that well.

 

 

Marketplace in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

 

The autumn semester, in hindsight, was not the best possible timing for exchange studies in a tourist attraction area, because there the season ended in September, and our studies only began by then. This meant that many restaurants and bars were closed for the season, so we didn’t have so many options what to do on our free time. Portoroz has only approximately 3000 inhabitants, so it was a quiet and calm place during my exchange. The locals told that during the high season, it’s hard to even find a parking spot because it is so crowded  everywhere and filled with tourists, but that seemed hard to believe when walking the quiet streets.

When we were not travelling, we were usually having dinner together with our Erasmus group and enjoying the subsidized student meal system called Boni, which allowed us to eat in restaurants for a student-friendly price of 2,50 €. We also went bowling, to the movies or shopping in Koper, which offered more activities.

 

Ice skating rink and Christmas market in the heart of old town in Titov Trg, Koper, Slovenia.

Overall, I would say that I really enjoyed my exchange. Studies were very laidback and did not require much time or effort, so there was a lot of time for everything else. Also, Slovenia has such a convenient location in Europe, so it is fast and affordable to travel around- there is even a ferry going from Piran (neighbouring town of Portoroz) to Venice during the high season.

Also, because only the tourism campus was located in Portoroz, our Erasmus group got to know each other really well and we were a tight group from the beginning and I am glad to say I gained many friends from this time.

 

Moon Bay in Strunjan, Slovenia where we did an excursion during Sustainable Tourism course. In the background you can see Trieste, Italy.

-Ella

How y’all doing ?

Hello from NC State Uni !

I have been taking Paper Science and Engineering , Chemical Engineering and Environmental courses while my exchange. School has higher work load and professors are expecting you to handle it. Work hard, play hard

NC State football game

On my spare time I have been traveling some major cities.  I have also seen some smaller places and nature. We have had couple camping trips with the whole dorm. We have had also a lot of other activities as a dorm.

Plantation at Lousiana

With my friend we have seen lots of sports. Carolina Hurricanes games especially, since the arena is only 15 min away by bike. Tickets for students are only 15 dollars. Cheaper than Tappara’s games.

Waterfall at North Carolina
Thanksgiving trip to New York

I really encourage people to go abroad ! It’s fun !

Death Valley
Wild horses, somewhere in the state of Washington.
Grand Canyon
Massive tree for paper industry

Greetings from Slovenia

Zivjo!

I did my exchange semester in beautiful Ljubljana that is the capital of Slovenia. Slovenia is an amazing country that provides great opportunities for outdoor activities, but especially Ljubljana also has a very active cultural life. I found it very easy to get to know the city and get into the everyday life there. Slovenes are slightly reserved, but always very helpful! In the picture you can see the castle of Ljubljana.

I really have enjoyed my studies in the faculty of social work. I only have two courses, as I was also supposed to do an internship while staying in Slovenia. Unfortunately the internship did not work out. But the studies I took part in have been very interesting. There are also plenty of guest lecturers who are coming to visit our faculty and so we had the change to learn more about very important topics related to social work. Our erasmus group at the faculty was really great and I learned really a lot outside of school. I shared my flat with three other social workers and sometimes our kitchen seemed to be the best place to gain knowledge!

During my exchange semester I had plenty of time to do sports, go hiking, travel or just to enjoy time with my friends. In the first weeks of my stay we went to visit one of the most famous attractions in Slovenia, the Postojna caves. Close by there is also Predjama castle. In the picture you can also see that during my stay I got to explore different seasons as in the beginning of February they had plenty of snow!

In the picture above is a city of Ptuj, where we went to see the local carnival called Kurentovanje. Ptuj is the oldest city in Slovenia and Kurentovanje is really something interesting to see. Also in Ljubljana they organized carnival even though it was a lot smaller if compared to Ptuj.

Later in the spring we did some hiking trips with my friends and also our faculty was organizing some trips for us. And of course we were travelling on our own as well 🙂 Below you can see a picture of Koper and a view from a cave. 

I can truly recommend Slovenia for studying or just for a visit! I am definitely going back.

-Emmi

 

 

Combination of business and scuba diving!

I made my practical training last spring in Thailand on Koh Tao island. I spent almost three months there and worked as an office trainee in Finnish scuba diving center, Koh Tao Divers.  Koh Tao Divers have another diving center in Malta as well.

Why I chose diving center as a place for my internship? Well, I thought for a long time what would be a perfect place to do my practical training in Finland. I was sure, that I won’t do it at any restaurant or hotel. I wanted some new and different.

It was rainy day of October 2017 and I was browsing my Facebook. There it was. Turquoise advert of Koh Tao Divers, which told that they were still looking for office trainee for next spring. I didn’t think twice, so I sent email and there wasn’t even two weeks and I got to know that Im leaving to Koh Tao island on next March.

After those three months I spent there, I couldn’t be more happy I did it. It was absolutely one of my best decisions of my life.

So, what was my job description at Koh Tao Divers. I was working at the office, so main things what I did was customer service, finding suitable instructor or divemaster for customers, sell our courses and fundives, take care of our accounting and payment of wages, buying retails for our shop and keep in touch with our partners.

The most valuable thing what I learned during my internship was organizing schedules between instructors, customers and boat. Situations will change so quickly, so you need to react quickly as well. Organizing skill is very valuable in any job, so you can exploit it in a future.

I think that working culture at Koh Tao Divers was pretty same that in Finland. It can be affected by the fact that the company is Finnish and most of employees are Finnish. Of course working in scuba diving center is much different than example in hotel or restaurant. Dives are conducted on the terms of instructors and students, when for example in restaurant there is superiors who decide on things. The most important thing in restaurant is that the customer is happy. Of course that is important thing on diving centers as well, but safety is the most important thing on diving.

All though I loved my job in office, it was even more interesting when I got chance to learn scuba dive and do any courses what I wanted.  I did SSI Open Water Diver course, Advanced Adventure course, Deep Diving course and Enriched Air Nitrox course and many, many fundives! It was really rewarding when you really understand what everyone is talking about, you can give advises to customers and be a part of that small diving family. Now I really can say, that I finally found my very own sport what I can be into in future.

If you wanna read more my internship at Koh Tao Divers, take a look my blogpost on their website: https://kohtaodivers.com/blog/108-internship-at-ktd-learning-new-skills

 

 

Working life of Moscow

At this point I’ve been working in Moscow for over two months and it gets slightly tiring. First of all, I should say that I was born and grew up in this city, so I was already familiar with how it works and I knew what to expect.

(a crane operating on our construction site) 

I would like to know what the situation is like in other major cities, but here everything is quite far away, no matter where you go (though communications and public transport of Moscow are fairly convenient). Currently I spend about two hours to travel each way every day. That, plus a normal working day of nine hours gives us 13 hours daily spent for working purposes. Thus, I don’t have much time to spare, but I have already visited most interesting places of Moscow in my life. This is vastly different from my usual Finnish life-style, but humans adapt.

But enough of that. My practical training itself is very useful for me and rather interesting. In my opinion, for the first practical training ever – this one is ridiculously good. I have enhanced my professional skills – environmental management, became noticeably more responsible and somewhat improved my MS Office and AutoCAD skills.

My job responsibilities include creating environmental procedures for a company that carries out construction supervision, monitoring the site and some other ways of enhancing encironmental performance.

(our object – “Park Huaming”)

Additionally, I spend some of my time on a construction site, supervising occupational health and safety and environmental aspects of the works, while learning about how construction is generally carried out, which is actually pretty insightful.

(a serious ocupational health and safety issue in one of the buildings – this shaft is not closed properly)

Russia just held a world championship 2018 in Moscow and other cities, so naturally the infrastructure of the capital has seen some improvements. It was nice to see so much joy and celebration with all the nations that came to my home city. Unfortunately, I was unable to join any of that due to a rather tight schedule (I’m not a fan of football anyway), but I heard some positive feedback from my friends.

(football fans)

Can’t wait to get back to cozy Finland and sleep it off.

If you ever come to Moscow and see plenty of grumpy people – that’s because they are tired. But don’t hesitate to greet or ask us something, as communicating with a foreigner is quite refreshing.

Bonjour!

I’m doing my internship in Malta for four months. I’ve been here now more than three months and I still have about three weeks left before flying back to Finland. I’m working in a reception of a hotel and I have enjoyed my stay more than I could even imagine before coming here, the weather is amazing and these people I’ve met are so great. Working in a reception is something completely new for me so the first 2-3 weeks were super intensive and I learned a lot of new things, so after the shift I were really tired.

Working in Malta has opened my eyes, here they do some things so different ways and people act different. The working environment is international, we have employees from all over the world, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Africa, India, Pakistan, Poland, Germany, Turkey, France, etc. Everybody is used to different kinds of ways to work and solve problems. It’s so great to have people around the world, you learn all kinds of new things from different cultures and you also learn about your own culture.

I have couple day off per week, so I’ve had some time to travel around the country. Malta is very small country, so I’ll have time to see the nicest places even twice. Usually when I have a day off I travel somewhere to spend the day. The town I live in Malta is very small so I usually walk to the nearest city or take a bus to the other side of the island. Sometimes it’s also nice to just relax at the pool or go to the nearest beach. Although Malta is a small country there are really nice places to visit, beautiful beaches, little villages, big rocks, super clear light blue water, historical places and beautiful cities like the capital city, Valletta. The sunsets in Malta are also worth to see at least once… The nature in Malta is a bit unfertile so I miss the nature in Finland a lot. There aren’t many trees in Malta and the nature is not very green, but the views close to the sea are breathtaking.

I couldn’t be happier that I chose this place to do my internship, I got a lot of new friends from around the world, my German roommate Janine is amazing, it’s like we have known each other always. I learned new things about different cultures, even my own. I got to prove my English and I learned new things what comes to the life at work. In a few weeks it’s going to be really hard to say good bye to all this…

How things are going in Germany

I am doing my practical training in Fuldas Hospital. I was 4 weeks in Oncology ward, 4 weeks surgery ward, 2 weeks at day surgery ward and 2 weeks at family school (playing pretty much with newborn babies). I do not have the language skills to talk with the patients or the people at work so I am trying to learn as much as i can everyday. I am able to draw blood and measure vital sings. Learning numbers has been the first thing i learned and they have come handy in many occasions! Here in the hospital in some wards we get typical breakfast everyday. It includes bread, cheese, deli meats and more bread. Delicious !

On my spare time i hangout with other exchange student whom I’ve met from my student housing. Threw them i have also met more and more people. German and non german. We also rented a car one time and drove to Cologne and Dusseldorf. It was nice going fast on the motorway and seeing beautiful views on the way. Are student housing is placed in a beautiful old town scenery. Some days it was just nice to wander around and chill at the nearby parks al day in the sun.

I do not have a lot experience in working at hospitals in Finland. None actually but what i noticed is that everything seems pretty similar to Finland. One thing was strange and it was that doctors only drew blood. I do know how to do it also so i did it overtime i was able and they were very impressed. Germans seems to be also very formal with workplace dressing. In hospital its a little Hard to see this because everyone had their hospital uniform but in every meeting etc. I saw this.

 

A pianist on exchange

My exchange year in Denmark is reaching its end. I ended up in Aarhus quite randomly – I knew nothing about the city nor the music academy when applying here. However, after being accepted I was really looking forward to a year abroad and ready for a new adventure. I did not know what was waiting for me, but loved the idea of going.

Moving in was easy, I got a lovely apartment very close to the school and Aarhus seemed really nice. My good feeling didn´t really change after the first impression – everything worked great, the school seemed really good, I met nice people and I was very impressed after the first piano lesson with my new teacher. I felt so lucky, how could everything be so well? Well, it could.

My daily life in Aarhus consist of practising, teaching and common classes like ear training, music history etc. Every week there is a piano lesson with my teacher and addition to playing solo, I have studied accompaniment with singers and chamber music with other instrumentalists. Most of my studying time goes for practising and one of the main reasons why I enjoy studying here is the great facilities for practising and having a lot of time for it.

The school also offers the students a lot of opportunities to perform. The piano class  has student concerts about every three or four weeks. In the beginning of the study year we had an annual piano festival OPUS organised by the piano students. This year the theme was L. van Beethoven´s music and I must say that it was great way to start the semester and get into the piano class.

I spend my free time hanging out with my friends from school or doing sports, either at the gym lifting weights or running in a park nearby. I really love to spend time with the piano class. We are different kind of people from around the Europe sharing the same interest. During the year we have had such a good time together, numerous discussions about music and piano, nerdy jokes, dinners at the school´s rooftop, after-concert beers in the local pub, group lessons on Saturday afternoons and a lot more.

Both The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and Tamk in Tampere have their own strengths and weaknesses. The studying follows the same principles in both schools so that in the end there are not any really big differences. The courses are quite similar and my schedule looked about the same in both places. It was mainly the studying environment which made the difference for me. There is something I really like about the music academy here in Aarhus – the physical studying environment, practising facilities, the common atmosphere among the student and the teachers. I can say that the Erasmus year has been the best studying year for me so far. I have learnt so much about piano, music, myself and life overall. But without the great education I got in Finland I would not have ended up here in Aarhus.

The Netherlands, why not?

Last Autumn semester, I had a chance to go to the Netherlands as an exchange student. I lived and studied in Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands for five months. As a big part of the study program that I chose at Avans University of Applied Sciences was designed for distance learning and  the schedule is quite loose, I had a lot of free time for exploring the city and traveling.

Grote Kerk Breda

Breda is a peaceful city surrounded by river, yet it is always social due to students from two universities. In the weekend, I enjoyed walking on the main street, did some shopping then had lunch at either a cosy lunch place or a snack bar.  One distinctive feature that I love in Breda was that it was very easy to find a lovely coffee shop where you can have a drink or a light meal.

Sandwich at JanenAlleman

Fries with meat fritesaus and bitterballen at a snack bar

Because Breda was located near the Netherlands – Belgium border, it was convenient to travel to Belgium. From Breda, you can make a day trip to Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog,  where the border is just a single line run through houses. Antwerp, Belgium is only  a half hour away by train and by the same direct intercity train you will arrive at Brussels after one more hour. There are also other cities such as Ghent and Bruges that are the most famous destinations in Belgium. I visited them all when I had a few days off and it was worth it. Regarding to destination in the Netherlands, Amsterdam – the capital – the canal city is a must. There are also many attractions in this lively city such as the canals, Rijk Museum, Anne Frank House.

View from Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp

Back to study topic, because all of the subjects were designed for distance learning so I did not have to go to school everyday. I could attend classes from home through an online platform. This was a new learning method that I have not experienced in TAMK. I felt more comfortable by attending class this way. However, as an exchange student, this caused a communication problem for me. Because I did not have to go to school, I did not usually meet people so it was hard to socialize with other students. Although the class schedule were quite comfortable, I still needed to devote a lot of time for studying. There were assignments every week and a project that sometimes had several reports due in the same day. The grading system were quite different from Finland’s. It was very hard to get 9 or 10  out of 10. There were some subjects that was impossible to get a 10. However, it might depend on the subject or the teacher, so just tried your best.

A meeting with client of a project

During my exchange semester, I learnt a lot about Dutch culture and also environmental related subjects. I really missed the days and the food after leaving this city. It is always nice to experience something new. So go on an exchange program in the Netherlands, why not?