Portsmouth is a lively seaside city with beautiful views and surprisingly good weather. I came here for my exchange studies in International Business and have already spent about two months getting used to the way things work around here.
The studies are quite easy compared to Finland and it’s quite amusing to hear the locals talk about “a full day of school” when it has only been 4 hours. I must say that while things are certainly not perfect in Finland, and in TAMK especially, there are a lot of things I wish they had here. Everything is so old-fashioned and it sometimes feels like they don’t even want to bring their systems to the 21st century. Trying to find information online is hopeless as it either doesn’t exist or can’t be trusted. I’ve also had a lot of trouble getting any papers or documents from the uni – they didn’t even send me my acceptance letter and I had to call them several times to get that sorted out. The same theme has definitely continued with everything else after that.
Still, I enjoy the lectures. The teachers come from all around the world and it’s interesting to hear examples from different cultures!
Finding accommodation proved to be a challenge. Due to the uni’s mistake with my acceptance letter, I couldn’t apply for the school halls in time. Not that that would have mattered much, as they prioritise degree-students over exchange students. The private sector was difficult as well, since most landlords refuse to make contracts for less than 9-10 months. Finally, I found a house that was specifically meant for exchange students and still had a room available.
While most things are cheaper here than they are in Finland, housing is very expensive and the houses are usually in bad condition. I share a house with 3 other exchange students and I pay more for my room than I did for my studio apartment in Tampere. The house is also in bad condition: there’s mold and moisture everywhere and the rooms and cabinets start to smell if you keep the doors closed.
I found a nice group of friends during the orientation week and we’ve been doing all sorts of things together. The first big event I went to was Portsmouth Pride, which was a very nice experience!
It’s a little hard to define the working culture here because, like in Finland, the study environment is very international. However, I can say that the school assignments here are clearly only meant for school and are not done the way they would be done in work life. This is not the best approach as it doesn’t exactly teach you what you need to know later on. What I have liked is the more independent style of studying. Constant group work is really not meant for me and I find it extremely stressful in TAMK, this is why I’ve enjoyed the independent essays and lectures.
As a conclusion, it’s nice to be able to experience all this but I think I can safely say that the culture is not for me. I will miss some things when I go back to Finland, but I have definitely started to appreciate Finland more!
– Krista Tolonen