Monthly Archives: November 2018

Servus! (from Munich)

I have been in Munich for nearly two months, the time has passed really fast. At first it took time to learn everyday things and learn to know a new hometown. On Weekdays I am studying and also try to do sports. On weekends I also try to keep some free and do nice things. My friends from Finland have visited here.

I’m studying here on a master degree program business. My campus is only 4 km from my home, so I will go to campus by bike or bus. I have chosen some interesting courses and I am trying very hard to learn the German language. Studying here is a bit different than in Finland. Seminar papers are wider and usually they are done in groups of 3-4 people. In Lectures are also done in a various of assignments in addition to the theory.

At the beginning of October I was running the Munich marathon which was a very fun event, then there was still +23 degrees warm and the sun was shining. A couple of times I have went to hike to the Alps . It’s easy to take a train and go anywhere. Also railway tickets are very cheap here.

The Munich city is really beautiful, where are lots of old buildings and culture. The public transport is easy to use and here is very safe.German is almost similar to Finland. A few things surprised me, cash was used here more than in Finland, it is only way to pay in many restaurants and kiosks, local food and organic products is used more than Finland and selections are really good. Stores are not open on Sundays, except very rarely in special cases (for example, Christmas or even Mother’s Day).

Last weekend here opened the first Christmas Market. The center of the Christmas market here is the historic Marienplatz square. Sale of the stalls spread over several streets around the old town. Many tourists will come here to look at the Christmas market.

Happy Christmas time! / Fröhliche Weihnachtszeit!

Life in Kortrijk

It’s now half way of my exchange so I thought that it might be good time to write some thoughts here. In spring 2018 I decided to go study abroad and after long consideration the best city for me looked to be Kortrijk in Belgium. Kortrijk is quite small city with only 75 000 citizens, but the center isn’t feeling so small as you might think because most of the people are living there and that makes Kortrijk look bigger than what it is. Kortrijk is located in the west part of Belgium and main language here is Dutch, but many people can speak French too.

I’m studying automation technics and the school where I study here is called VIVES University of Applied Sciences. I have studied mostly by myself or with local students because here isn’t any other Erasmus student from a different country in my field of studies. In my opinion studying here is more practical than in TAMK. After short part of theory there are many project-based courses where you need to be ready to study independently. Of course, teachers will help you every time you ask some help from them. In the matter of fact, local students are also very helpful at the lessons.

Before I came here in Belgium I searched apartments where to live and found that there is chance to get a room from a student house by VIVES. There’s approximately 80 apartments at the house and they are all wanted so I was very lucky to got one. Rent is also quite reasonable, 350€ per month. The best part of the house is that it’s full of exchange students (well mostly Spanish of course because they are the most eager people to do exchange with their big groups…) so it’s easy get familiar with people from different culture. One thing that has surprised me is that Erasmus students here is quite bad in English (me included as you can see) but luckily locals are much better, and they are willing to speak English.

 

In weekdays after school I usually do some sports or then I hang out with other Erasmus students at the residence. In the weekends it’s very easy to do trips to other city in Belgium, France, Netherlands or Germany. Travelling with train here is very cheap, only 6-7 € per ticket and if that feels too expensive, you can take Flixbus which is even more cheaper. During my exchange I have visited in four different counties and ten difference cities.

 

I have still couple months left my exchange and I’m going to enjoy every second of it!

In a city between the mountains

I ventured toward the Korean peninsula with the knowledge that my main emphasis during my exchange period would be more culturally oriented subjects rather than my major of media studies. One might wonder how such an arrangement may benefit me in a long run, but I can easily scoff off those suspicions, for I cannot see downsides in enlarging my worldly viewpoint and create contacts for my future endeavors. As I knew that most of my compatriots would choose the capital, Seoul as their destination, I opted to think outside the box and point my heading into Daegu and Keimyung University.

I’ve been concentrating on Korean language, history and language studies, all of which complement each other rather sufficiently as Korean happens to be one of the more difficult tongues to master and honestly, for a minuscule period of four months I need all the help I can get. I do have one media class, which has served as a great reminder for more technical aspects of DSLR-camera when using it for video purposes, though I shot myself in the leg when leaving my camera back home, so I have enforced many, shall we say, creative solutions in order to make the footage from my smart phone look “artistic” or “aesthetically pleasing ”. Been working so far.

The only routine I have developed in Daegu has been my dormitory gym. Being free of charge, it offers a nice outlet for students after a rough school day or intensive cramming session, which is pivotal in Korean student culture. Coming from a university of applied sciences and being used to practical learning, I do not put that much faith in learning all the matters between this dimension and the next by heart. Sure, I’m lucky to be interested in history, culture and languages, but the low level of English colloquial skills show that locals emphasize learning through theory. Aside from school though, we are not that different. I have wandered around Daegu with a group consisting of French, Hungarians, Norwegians, Danes, Germans, Koreans, Kyrgyzstanis and Russians. All have enjoyed bowling, arcades and drinking as much as the others while sharing bits and pieces about their native culture. I am a bit of a wild card in this regard since out of 187 exchange students here, I happen to be the only Finn. Makes you feel special. I have seen a professional football match in Ulsan and visited an UNESCO-world heritage site in Gyeongju. The amount of awe this country has instilled in me makes me grateful of taking my chance in coming here.

The time here has flown by. While I know that the moment of departure will hit me like a freight train when I board the plane on Incheon airport, I do miss the cold North and the one place I truly call home. Korean study culture is a bit straightforward and treading on same conservative tracks it has gone on for decades and even students here say that the long-proposed reforms are much welcomed. That is not to say that the system here is bad. Crime is low as in Finland, people may not know how to communicate in English, but are incredibly helpful and warm towards outsiders, especially when you yourself show to be interested in their culture.

My little dormitory room will not offer shelter for much longer, as this chapter in my life will eventually come to its end, having given me the most pleasantly potent culture shock I never even knew I wanted to experience so badly.

Hello from Uganda

I have been in Kampala for about two months now and still have one more to go. The time here has gone by so fast it feels like it was only few weeks ago that i arrived. The weekdays usually go past with work and maybe going to the gym in the afternoon, and just hanging around getting ready for the next day. On weekends we usually do something like go out in the town or plan activities we could do (like go lay by the pool).

 We also had a one week vacation from ”work” and we went on a safari for a few days, wich was honestly greatest thing in here so far. It was a bit pricey but still worth every penny. Our second one week vacation is coming in couple of weeks and we are flying off to zanzibar to relax.

My practical training here is taking place in four different facilities. First two were level 3 Health Centers that offered mainly doctors receptions, I.V. and other medicinal help, small surgical procedures and different clinics. I only spent two weeks in each of them but that time was quite enought to get the hang of both places. 

The third and current placement is a level 4 Health Center. There is a lot more to do and see compared to the level 3 H/C. They have all sorts of different wards: Labour, In patient, out patient, post-natal, surgical department and a few more I haven’t been to yet. Most of my time here I have spent in the labour ward and surgical department. Both of wich have been educational as hell. 

The fourth facility im going is a privat hospital IHK (International hopsital of Kampala). This hospital is supposed to be quite ”western”, and i’m intrigued to see what is a westers style hospital in the heart of Africa.

The biggest issues so far in my practical placements have been time and the African aseptics. As a finnish person im used to being punctual and going around watching the clock, but nooo that’s not how things are done in here. People come to work around 8 or 9 or 10 or 11, it’s basically up to you. And some days people might just not come to work. This has been the biggest thing for me to learn. And as far as aseptics go, you might imagine that things aren’t done as aseptically correct as back home, be it the lack of resources or education.

For anyone interested to visit Uganda i can highly recommend it. The people are nice and helpful, living is quite cheap and the weather is always warm.

Groeten uit Rotterdam!

On this very day, I have stayed in The Netherlands for exactly 3 months and I’m about halfway on my exchange studies. Yes, here in The Netherlands the semesters are quite long in comparison to Finland.

I am studying in Rotterdam, the second largest city in The Netherlands (Roughly 625 000 inhabitants, located in South of The Netherlands). My typical school week is quite short, for instance, currently I only have 3 days of school in a week but this is balanced by project working and other homework. So having “easy weeks” definitely does not mean that you can slack off during your day-offs. I have had way more individual assignments here than in Finland, also the project working is much more demanding.

Rotterdam skyline in the city center
Markthal, the Rotterdam market hall

Although I am studying in The Netherlands, my degree programme’s (International Business for Asia) focus has been on Asian business culture – making my exchange studies very unique. I have had the pleasure to meet so many students from Asia during these studies and inspired by this, I even took a Japanese language course to learn the basics of Japanese.  Speaking of languages, it is very easy to get by with English in your every day life, especially in Rotterdam as it is a very diverse and multinational city.

There is not really a culture shock to be experienced when living in The Netherlands, maybe some homesickness every now and then – definitely missing the sauna as well haha. Otherwise, be prepared for some very direct communication with the Dutch, they get straight to the point with things. This is something that I have really enjoyed actually, I also like to get straight to the point. Nonetheless, it was really easy to get to know new people here and I have made so many friends during my stay already.

During the weekends, I have traveled around, visiting the major cities of The Netherlands and I have even been to Brussels twice. I still have some places left on my go-to list, such as Antwerp, Utrecht & Delft. I might even travel around in January or February if my school ends early enough, my rental agreement is still active until 8th of February.

Amsterdam central station
The Hague peace palace
Brussels at night

If you actually read this far, I would lastly like to give out some general tips for those heading to Rotterdam/The Netherlands for studying:

  • Generally, a Finnish bank card will not work here. You most likely need to apply for a Dutch student bank account, however, this is free of charge. You only need to register for the municipality and receive a BSN (burgerservicenummer) to apply for the bank account.
  • Accommodation is expensive and hard to come by in Rotterdam. Easiest way is to apply for a student housing (SSH), but keep in mind that you need a down payment of two months and the apartments run out very quickly during the application period.
  • The cycling infrastructure is great in The Netherlands, each city usually has dedicated bike lanes for cyclists. Public transport is more expensive in Rotterdam than in Tampere, but it is very extensive with metros, trams, buses and trains.
  • School for the business studies in Rotterdam was relocated to the city center, around 3,5km away from the student housing.
  • Food is around the same price as in Finland, however, more selection on some groceries.
  • It is easy to travel from Rotterdam to other cities, so have some spare money for traveling!! 🙂

Life in Brno

So far so good.

I’ve been doing my exchange in Brno. Brno is located in South-East part of Czech Republic, and Czech Republic is located in the heart of Europe.

Brno is student city, as roughly 20% of population are students. And there are around 400 000 people living in city of Brno. Wherever you’re walking, you always meet up with students. This makes the city to increase the amount of services offered especially for students. For example traveling is really cheap – train ticket to Prague can be under 1 euro.

When traveling outside of the capital Prague, be prepared to use hand gestures for communicating or learn at least a little bit of Czech. People over age 40 do not speak English at all in general. And most of the people working in customer service don’t either speak English usually.

Living in general is really cheap compared to Finland, and I haven’t really needed to think how I’m spending my money on everyday purchases. I’m afraid to return to Finland and feel Finland’s prices again 🙂

Studying is based more on individual doing than in Finland. You are given lectures, and then you have laboratories where you have to do certain task in given time. I have most courses from faculty of Information Technology, where level of teaching is pretty high in my opinion. Difficulty of subject varies a lot depending on course, but mainly the courses are easier than same courses given for local students. That is good in my opinion, so Erasmus students don’t have to spend all time studying in the library. Difficulty isn’t really be comparable to Finland, as I’m not studying same subjects, although work amount is roughly the same.

Faculty of Information Technology is combination of old and new. It used to be an old monastery, and it is well renovated.

The best part is definitely getting know to new people, and amount of traveling that is possible to do here with small amount of money.  Also the amount of nice castles and churches is surprising. You don’t necessarily have to go to search for them – you will find them when you are doing road trip in Czech Republic. For example here’s a nice backyard of a castle in a small city where we just went to take some gasoline.

Also don’t be surprised if you get a beer like this. This is the normal Czech way of pouring beer. Foam is there to protect the flavors from running out.

I have enjoyed my time in Erasmus, and I will most definitely enjoy it until the very end. If you’re thinking whether to go to exchange or not – do it. I have not found anyone who hasn’t liked his stay here, or who hasn’t found a group of friends to share the experience.

Greetings from Belgium!

I am spending my exchange period in Belgium, in a small town called Kortrijk. Kortrijk’s population is approximately 70 000 and it’s located right next to border between Belgium and France, only 30 km away from Lille. Daily life is very similar than in Finland except the culture of using bicycle for going to school or work. In first weeks I also rented a bike and joined this massive group of cyclists.  First two months have gone so fast that I haven’t even noticed it! Let’s open things a bit.

Studying in Belgium is quite similar that it is back in Finland. You have lectures for theory and then lots of laboratory work to support theory. Here in Kortrijk school have great facilities and resources for those laboratory courses. Every time in the laboratory there is all the time teacher from who you can ask help if you need. I have done some laboratory works in the lab while there are local students, beside working only with exchange students, and I have found out that they are very kind and helpful if you just ask something from them, local students english skills are also in a good level. Same thing is with teachers here, they help you with good patience and knowledge and make sure that you really understood. After all teaching methods doesn’t really difference from Finland style, it hasn’t been as big cultural shock as I thought before exchange began!

I am living in residence owned by the VIVES (school where I am studying). There’s over 100 people living in there, mostly exchange students but also some local students. In my spare time I go to gym and spend time with my friends at the residence. In the residence atmosphere is very nice so everyone gets along with everyone. Belgium is a small country, so couple of other countries are just couple hours away from our city for example Netherlands and France. So far I have visited with my friends cities like Brussel, Brugge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Lille and couple smaller towns in Belgium. In autumn break we did four days visit to Milan, Italy. Cities in Belgium looks similar a lot compared to each other; old churches, market square and same architecture all around cities.

Now I understand why Belgian beers are so famous, even though they are strong they doesn’t taste like that. So far Belgian beers have been best beers I have ever tasted. Beer is also very cheap here! Belgian waffles, fries and chocolate are also very good according to my experiences with them. I have also seen two Belgium’s top league football game and one Italy Serie A game during this time.

There is still few weeks left of this exchange and I’m going to take all advantage of this time left in here.

  • Tomi Seppälä

Halløj from Denmark!

It’s the end of my exchange period in Denmark, so, it’s high time to sum up what happened during these two months!
Well, I had my practical training in the town of Holbæk, which is an hour from Copenhagen by train and is just a peaceful and idyllic place. The training was a part of Biomedical Laboratory Science Degree Programme and was more profound and specialized, than a general training we had during our 3rd year of study. The clinical laboratory of the Holbæk Hospital includes several basic specialty areas, such as biochemistry, haematology as well as liquid chromatography (UPLC) and mass spectrometry (MS) systems, ect. My target specialty area was mainly clinical chemistry, but overall, I’ve been through all the areas of the lab. Also, taking blood samples was a part of every workday as a morning round, for instance.

The staff, by the way, was sooo friendly and helpful, I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. The laboratory has the agreements, according to which they constantly accept students for training and studying. It is also student-friendly for the exchange internship, as most of the staff and patients can easily communicate in English. They also have some nice traditions, such as serving fresh-baked bread on Mondays and Fridays, as well as bringing some pastry for everybody even for no particular reason 🙂

 

Equivalent to a Finnish Degree Programme in Biomedical Laboratory Science, the study program of “bioanalytiker” (dan.) in Denmark focuses more on practical skills as well as on studying theory along with practice, in comparison to Finland (my opinion!). There’s also a supervising teacher in the laboratory, who is responsible for the students’ issues and some extra education of the staff. I find it very important, that there’s a teacher right in the lab, because it definitely helps students a lot during their practical training. My supervising teacher was Lis – wonderful person! She was very helpful during the training and she also suggested a topic for the research, which I performed as a required assignment. As a result, I’ve written an article for the professional journal on this topic (the issue will be published in December).

Ok, here starts the most interesting part – I’d like to tell you about my impressions of Denmark!
The very first weekend I spent in Roskilde (30 min by train), namely in Viking Ship Museum with other exchange students from all over the central region of Denmark. In short – we were rowing just like true vikings!
Some other weekend I was visiting Copenhagen with one of my colleagues. The capital is just great and the brightest impression was the Tivoli Gardens. This is the second-oldest amusement park in the world, opened in 1843 (the oldest one is also in Denmark).

These days it was decorated in a Halloween-style and that was just amazing and really impressive.

All in all, I’m glad that I had such oppirtunity to travel and gain new experiences. It was a valuable practical and living international experience, which is quite useful to have in our globalizing world.

– Alina I.

你好,来自上海! Hello from Shanghai!

Two months have flown by so quickly and my exchange is nearing its end in the grand metropolitan city of Shanghai. In Shanghai there are roughly around 24 million people, which shows in everyday life. There is not a moment where you are alone and the lines in TAMKs cafeteria look very short after living in Shanghai. I had never been in China before coming here and boy oh boy has it been an experience.

I am studying in Shanghai University or SHU or ShangDa as the locals like to call it. Shanghai University is the most popular university among young people in Shanghai because of the good teaching and high-quality research. I have five courses, Chinese language, introduction to the Chinese economy and society, social changes is contemporary China, Chinese culture and foreign trade of China. University life to local students is hard, but not for us foreigners. Mostly our courses have only very long lectures (around 3 and half hours), group presentation and final essay, only in Chinese language we have an actual final exam. When compared to TAMK, the lectures are pretty similar. Communication within school is done mostly in WeChat since the school’s tabula-like environment is only in Chinese, which is a bit of a bummer. All in all, the school is pretty nice, except for the classrooms. They have benches attached to tables and are not built for anyone taller than 165cm.

To me, China and Shanghai have shown its beauty in a very spectacular way, the old and the new. I have admired the city’s old architecture in Yu garden while distancing myself from the never sleeping megacity. I also have admired the futuristic area of Pudong, named to be the “Wall street of Asia”, during nighttime and been to the worlds’ second tallest building. I have enjoyed my coffee in the biggest Starbucks in the world and also sipped my tea in the oldest teahouse in Shanghai.  During my spare time I like to visit different districts of Shanghai and get to know the local life. Unlike many think, Shanghai and China is very western and not that cheap, except for food. Food is cheap, it’s delicious and there’s a lot of it. You can find any type of cuisine from around the world in Shanghai, because of its history of being a port city. Sadly, the true Shanghainese food is a bit too sweet for my taste and I have to admit that I still prefer Cantonese cuisine over Shanghainese.

In general, if you are up for an experience and willing to step far away from your comfort zone, I can recommend Shanghai and China. Just last week we experienced one of the biggest “unrestricted internet” blockades on the year, which was hilarious and annoying at the same time. Luckily, it only lasted a week and now everyone is back at finding good academic sources from google for their final essays. It has been nice to experience a completely different culture and get to understand China, but I am still more than fond of Finnish culture. I appreciate the quietness I have not experienced here in the past two months and the Finnish cuisine of not adding sugar and fat to every dish imaginable.

  • Emmi Haapasalo

안녕하세요! Greetings from Seoul!

I am now halfway of my exchange, so I thought to give you my thoughts and experiences so far. I am studying in Seoul in Sungkyunkwan University, which is the oldest university in Korea, founded in 1398. Here I am doing mostly studies related to Korean culture, such as Korean language, political and economic development and contemporary society of Korea. As I am very interested in the local culture, I have enjoyed my studies here a lot, and I have done pretty well so far. Studying in a very prestigious university is different than studying in TAMK which is a university of applied sciences. Lectures are longer, and a lot of studying is required on our own time. And of course we have had exams. I was a little afraid on how my midterms would go, as I have not done essay exams in a long time and also a lot more is required. Week before exam week all the Korean students spent all their time in the library or cafes getting ready for the exams, and me and my friends decided to do the same.

On my free time I often go visit stores in Myeongdong, a shopping district that is only few metro stops away from my dorm. Another place I often go to is Hongdae. They also have restaurants and cafes me and my friends like to visit pretty often. One of the most exciting things for me here is the food. I love going out eat and drink with friends, Korean BBQ is one of the best things I know and I can’t understand why we still don’t have KBBQ restaurants in Finland. We also visit many historical places on weekends, there are many very beautiful palaces in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung palace

I really have enjoyed my time, and even after spending two months here already, there is still so much to do each day. Seoul is my favorite city in the world.