Now that it is almost the end of my exchange in the United Kingdom, it is good to go through my experience. I moved to Salford in the middle of September and I had a week to settle before the actual school started. Salford is a rather small city right next to Manchester. Salford itself isn’t the prettiest place but Manchester I really like. In Manchester, there are around 500,000 people but Manchester Metropolitan area (including Salford) has nearly 3 million people.
About my school, studies and accommodation – University of Salford
I really like the University and the fact that we have a big campus area. In the campus area, there are a lot of buildings, many cafeterias, a library, a few accommodation buildings and the school’s gym. We also have our own restaurant/bar on campus which is nice. In my university, there are only 2 semesters and I am here for the first one. I had school 4 days a week, but mostly I just had one class per day and the classes took only 2 hours. I had three modules and all of them were about marketing. All the three modules I had, took the whole semester, meaning that my schedule for the whole semester was the same every week. I really liked my modules and I learned a lot. In all these modules there were an assignment and an exam. One of these assignments was an individual assignment and the two were done in groups. Salford University has 3 campus areas. Two of them are almost next to each other and the third is in Media City. Media City is a beautiful part of Salford with its modern buildings, a theatre and a world war museum. Even though there were accommodation buildings in the campus areas, I wasn’t able to get a room from these buildings since they were only for first-year students. I was living outside campus but the walk to school took only 10-15 minutes. I lived in a flat with 3 other exchange students. We all had our own bedrooms and we shared a kitchen and a bathroom.
Campus area Views from my room
What did I do outside school?
As I told already, I had school 4 days a week. On some weekdays I and my friends usually studied in the school’s library and went to the gym. On weekends there was more time to do things. We got to know Manchester, which is a really nice city. There is a mixture of old and new, with skyscrapers and brick buildings. Manchester city centre is not that big and it is quite easy to get to know the city. In Manchester, there is a National Football Museum which was cool to experience. In Manchester, outside the city, there is a huge shopping centre, called the Trafford Centre. We also got to see some nature of England through the school’s societies. We went for a hike to Peak District and then for a day trip to Lake District. Both of these places were beautiful, that I hadn’t even heard before. I also got to see York and London, where the train took only 2 hours. I had also dreamed of getting to see a Premier League game and I did! We went to see Manchester City game, and I really enjoyed it! I really enjoyed my time in Salford and can recommend the school for everyone who is considering the UK as their exchange destination.
I did go there to study, which I did, but I also went to travel. Not being a ‘city girl’, Glasgow was crazy big (it’s the same size as Helsinki, roughly) and the weekends were not spent in the city. The studies did not have a lot of contact teaching, and I was lucky enough to get all of my contact teaching scheduled Tuesday-Thursday, which meant me and my friends often left Glasgow on Fridays to explore the countryside. (I think we spent only 1 full weekend in Glasgow…)
The studies were very different, a lot more individual than at TAMK. This was not an issue for me, since I like working individually, since then I get the grades I work for and do not get judged based on somebody else’s work. What did confuse me is the grading system. Apparently 70 % is very good. In my head that sounds like 30 % from a full grade = how did I do that badly? Just be aware of the difference in grading criteria, and you will not be sad when you see your score.
Many might wonder about the language. They do speak English, and the Scottish accent takes some time to get used to. How I solved this problem was by binging the TV-series Outlander before going. Without subtitles. It took a few episodes before I started keeping up and by the end of the first season I understood almost everything. But do not fret, the teachers do speak a very clear English, since they are aware of their accent being difficult for non-Scots.
In conclusion, travel around (it’s worth every penny), make sure you understand your university’s grading system, and do not be afraid of the language.
In early 2018 I was nominated by TAMK to exchange studies in Cork, Ireland. I heard the news when I was in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands on an international branding project. The few months of arranging my study leave from work, accommodation, government money and all that good stuff is something that I would describe as terrible, challenging, dragging me outside of my comfort zone and absolutely awful.
But it was totally worth it – and some.
“The Rebel City”
Cork is a little bit smaller city in population than Tampere, located in the southern coast of Ireland. The counties in Ireland are usually named after the biggest city in that county, hence County Cork, Cork city. Simple, as most of the things in Ireland. The name “Rebel City” characterizes the city quite well. Just like in Finland we have the love-hate-relationship between Turku and Tampere, it is the same with Cork and the capital city Dublin. They are rivals in sports, drinks – pretty much everything in general. All in good spirit, though.
The River Lee runs through a city that was founded in the 6th century by Saint Finbarr. The country is very catholic, though the younger generations have seemingly grown much more distant from religious beliefs.
Studies at Cork Institute of Technology
As the name suggests, CIT is very notorious from its technology studies. Business study programs were added later, when the school decided to expand in order to supply the demand in business experts. In Ireland, the academic year is split into Autumn and Spring terms from early September to early January and from January to May. Both terms end with “final exams” from each module (module = course, like “Accounting 1”) and during that exam period, there is no in-class teaching. Not every module (=course) has a final exam. For example, I participated in five different modules (5 credits each = 25 credits) and only one of them had a final exam. The final exams are very much like the matriculation examinations in Finland, which I found a bit amusing.
The classes are always 45-minutes long and there are 3-5 classes per module per week. Most of the modules did not require prior learning, but that might have been just my luck. During class, the lecturer usually arrives a few minutes late, talks for a good 35 minutes where a new subject is taught (like “Atkinson’s Model”) and then the class ends. Lecturers always have time to discuss with students after class and often continue with follow-up emails if necessary. There were individual reports, individual presentations, group-work reports and group presentations as assessments on those courses. I am a third-year BBA student so I joined the classes in the third year of Bachelor of International Business with a Language -program. The studies were very easy to be honest and did not require hardly any studying at home. Subjects covered in class were asked in the exams, nothing more. There were no requirements to attend classes. The students can decide whether to join the classes or not, the ability to master the learning outcomes were then tested in the exam. Therefore, I had a lot of free time to experience and travel in Ireland!
Lunch at school was 4-6 euros per meal, depending on how healthy one wanted it to be. I had a salad with bread (9,99 per kg + bread 0,35e) 3 times per week that cost around 4,50 each. Amazing cappuccinos with 2 euros. There were also two tiny stores at the campus, were one can buy office supplies, candy, lunch, chips, soda and condoms. Oh, and a bank.
The house crisis is a real thing in Ireland and one should really consider that before applying for exchange. Even regular families with stable jobs and children are unable to find accommodation. CIT does not have any student accommodation, nor can they make any contracts for you before arrival. They only have contacts to local accommodation providers. Bare this in mind when applying – the accommodation situation is terrible, expensive and over-priced in general. I feel like I won the lottery when I had my own private room with a semi-private bathroom in a hostel for the whole exchange period. It cost me 20 euros per night, which was even less than most of the rents of sharing a room with two or more people. To find out more about my lottery winning ticket, search for “Stay Cork hostel”. Hostel is a great way to avoid cleaning and bills from gas, electricity, internet, trash etc.
The public transportation works very well in Ireland, when traveling from one city to another. You can get by bus from Cork directly to any other city. The train is a much more convinient way to travel, so use it if possible. Student return tickets to Dublin by bus were 25€ and by train 30€. In Cork, the bus system is a total mess. A 6 km busride from city centre to CIT can take anywhere between 20-70 minutes based on traffic. The bus timetables are also not to be looked at. I suggest you just go to the bus stop and hope for the best but expect nothing. Another alternative is to use the city-bike rentals, they are pretty cheap. The weather can, however, be a bit challenging at times. You can get around the city nicely by bus however. One can also travel around County Cork by bus, but the fares vary. Traveling inside the “red zone” is 1,70€ per single ticket and does not include connecting to another bus. Going to the town of Kinsale is 6€ single ticket.
When I was not studying, I…
I brought my skateboard with me to Cork, which turned out to be an awesome decision. I made a good handful of great local friends at the skatepark who showed me around, invited me to parties and were always up for some skateboarding, neglecting the weather challenges. It really does rain in Ireland. From late September to Christmas it is +8 celcius outside on average. It is almost always windy, as Cork is one of the windiest cities in Europe. So, on a rainy day, the wind combined with rain makes umbrellas completely useless and if you have a rain coat, your legs will be totally soaked. It is pretty easy to get used to it and later in December I went back and forth to Lidl for groceries completely soaked and didn’t even care.
In Cork there is world-famous Guinness beer available (not always though), but the locals do not drink it, because it is from Dublin. They drink Beamish or Murphy’s, so bare that in mind when ordering the drink. You don’t have to pay tips anywhere, except for fancy restaurants, but there are tip jars at bars. There are over 200 pubs to choose from and the famous Irish tradition of “12 pubs” should be tried (at least) once. Amazing whiskeys, gins and beers. Beers are usually 4-6 euros per pint. Alcohol tax is the second highest in Europe, so going out partying costs roughly the same as in Finland.
Groceries are bought from Lidl.
I do not want to spoil any good travel destinations so I am just going to make a bucket list for you:
Kinsale (walking around)
Every church in every city (they are OLD)
Cliffs of Moher (90 meter cliffs)
Aran Islands (choose any of the three)
Galway City (amazing)
Rugby match (tickets sell out usually in a day)
Mizen Head (go there before the Cliffs of Moher)
Blarney Castle (Kiss the stone!!)
Lucky for you, the International Student Society (ISS) at CIT organizes trips to these places. They are usually weekend trips and you can save hundreds of euros by visiting these places with other exchange students in a big group.
SO IT WAS WORTH IT
As a summary, I really loved Ireland, the people, the culture, the green grasses, everything. Ireland is very much like Finland history-wise, so the culture is very easy to get used to once you do some studying on the history. Watch the “Michael Collins” movie (just don’t listen to Julia Roberts, her Irish accent is terrible) and learn to trust that Ireland will take care of you. I personally regained my trust in good will and happy people during my exchange. So yes, Ireland is a perfect location for someone who wants to go to an English-speaking country, have time to explore and experience and have a really, really good time. To be completely honest the accent in Cork is a little bit hard, but only like for two weeks. Then you will get the hang of it and smile (and possibly even giggle) every single time someone says “carpark”.
At the end of last August I started my exchange in Utrecht, Netherlands, a city for which I fell in love immediately. Utrecht has around 350 000 inhabitants, from which about 25% are students, so safe to say this is a proper student city. The atmosphere here is young and cozy, here they have a lot of cafes, restaurants and bars, but also a lot of activities, events, parties and trips organized by student organizations. Utrecht is a real Dutch-style city with a lot of canals and the beautiful old houses. And one the best parts is, it is only 25 minute train-ride away from the centrum of Amsterdam.
In Netherlands a school year includes four blocks, the same way as in Finland, so I’m studying here for two blocks. These two blocks last about 1,5 months each, and in between there was an autumn holiday and two weeks of “exam weeks”. During these exam weeks there is no lessons. I have had approximately 3 schooldays a week, and they have included only one subject per day and the lessons last around 2-4 hours. So there is not a lot of long lessons, but there is a lot to do outside these lessons. We have more assignments and group works than in Finland, and the amount of work was a bit of a shock in the beginning. There are usually always weekly assignments that you do in a group or individually (I have had mostly in groups) and even the weekly tasks can be many pages of writing. So the amount of things you have to do on your “free-time” is a lot more that I’m used to. The biggest difference to studying is the time schedule, usually in Finland there is remarkably more time to do something that we might do here in one week.
I still haven’t found the school being hard, and even though there might have been a lot of assignments to do, I haven’t had a feeling at any point that I don’t have enough free time. But if you decide to study in Netherlands, be prepared that you have to work for the school quite a bit.
Living and housing
I live in the school campus, area called De Uithof. This area is about 5 kilometers away from the centrum. This campus is like it’s own world with several school buildings, a lot of student housing, grocery store, few restaurants and bars. But still, there is fields with sheeps, cows and horses right next to the huge buildings! I just love that. I live with 4 other exchange students, we have a pretty big kitchen/living room area, and each one of us has quite a big room of their own. The best part is, that my school is right next to my home, right on the other side of the street.
On my free time I have traveled a lot with my friends. Travelling in Netherlands is very easy, there is a same card you can use in every place in this country in every bus, tram, metro and train station. Along with travelling around Netherlands, I have visited in 4 other countries in many different cities. Traveling in Europe is easy and very affordable, and it is definitely an opportunity to take an advantage of and use the free time to see new places. Everything is also pretty close, only a short flight (or rather long but very cheap bus ride) away! Other than traveling, free-time consists a lot of same things as in Finland; doing sports, watching Netflix and going out for lunch and dinners with friends. And last but not least, since I’m in the Netherlands and adjusting this Dutch culture, my free-time consists a lot of biking as well. I love the biking-culture, since everything is reachable with a bike and everyone does that no matter if it is sunny or a crazy rain.
I would definitely recommend Utrecht as an exchange destination, because this city just has it all. If you have any questions about doing an exchange here, don’t hesitate to contact me and ask.
In Lower Austria, in the middle of winery plantations and right by the Danube river, there is this charming city called Krems. Krems is an old and historic town with only 25 000 inhabitants and it is 80 km away from Vienna. It’s a city of many churches and universities!
My experience here has been quite nice, even though the school standards surprised me. Studying abroad has taught me to appreciate TAMK even more than before. Here in IMC Krems, you must work a lot to earn your credits. At least in my case, I’ve had to learn lots of things by heart to success in the exams. The grading here is very strict, and you must remember everything in detail. I have to say, that I’m not happy with the level of education here. It is partly because having this much theory is not a suitable way of learning for me – I’m more of a “learning by doing” type of person. On the other hand, I feel like in every course there has been poor instructions to projects or assignments in general. Compared to the level of teaching, the exams had been difficult and all in all, the professors could have been more supportive. Also, one big fault is the lack of school lunch. If you want to come to Krems, I recommend you take fewer courses than I did (26,5 ECTS), so you’ll have more time to travel and enjoy your exchange semester that way!
Seeing other cultures has opened my eyes and broadened my world view. During the exchange semester I have traveled to Germany, Slovakia and Hungary. I have also traveled inside Austria, to Vienna, Wachau Valley, Linz, St. Pölten and Bad Gastein (the Alps). Before I’m heading home, I’m still going to visit Graz and Hallstatt. One of the most enriching things here have been all the new people I have got to know from all over the world. Krems is a small town, so exchange students have become a close group. Throughout the time, everyone has behaved nicely towards each other and invited everyone to the parties. I’ve also got new friends from the locals, since I have studied mostly with them.
Especially during the first weeks we got to know some history about Krems and its buildings. One of the churches I mentioned is 1000 years old and IMCs’ Piaristengasse campus is a part of the same building! The campus is an old monastery and you can see the history on the ceilings and walls of the campus. The nature in Krems is beautiful as well. Danube river runs right outside of the city center and exotic vineyards locate on the other side.
As a summary, I would say that Krems is an extremely beautiful city with warm atmosphere and lots of students. You can easily go and travel around Austria and Europe and if you are interested in wines, this is a perfect place for you! If you enjoy studying theory instead of doing projects or group works, you might also enjoy the school. Even though it has been very hard for me sometimes, this experience has been amazing, and I am truly grateful that I had the chance to come here!
I started my exchange studies here in Frankfurt in the beginning of September. Now, a bit more than four months later, I can’t imagine how fast time has passed.
This was my third night in Frankfurt. I can’t imagine of a better start to the exchange than a pub crawl in Sachsenhausen.
In September, my only course was a German intensive course, so I had plenty of time to explore the city. All the other courses started in the middle of October (that’s when the “winter” semester starts here). All in all, the courses have been okay. Some teachers are better than the others, but I think that’s a common thing all around the world. I still have the exam week waiting for me in February, so I can’t compare the level of difficulty to TAMK yet. I hope they are passable.
Frankfurt at night.
During my stay here in Frankfurt, I’ve been able to travel easily. I’ve visited some towns nearby, as well as some further away. Here are some pictures:
In September, we visited a wine field in Rüdesheim, the wine was tasty.
Oktoberfest is a traditional festival in Germany. It is mainly celebrated in München. As one of my friends is doing their exchange there, I paid him a visit.
The Christmas markets in Frankfurt during Christmas time were very pleasant to the eye. Not to mention the skyscrapers giving the view a nice touch.
I also play a bit of ice hockey here. It has been nice to have something on the contrast to school. I’ve also made some awesome friends from my team. Without overlooking all the exchange students and other people I’ve met during my stay.
To sum it all up, if you have a chance to go study or work abroad, do it. At least I have enjoyed most of the time being here, and the experience or knowledge that I have gotten is something you can’t learn from books.
At the beginning of August 2018, I started my exchange studies in huge Mexico City. The five months in the city and in my university, Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, went really fast and I can recommend the place to everyone. Studying in Mexico was different than studying in TAMK and especially the courses taught in English were quite easy for us exchange students. In the courses I chose, I didn’t have to take any exams but mostly do group works. The teachers were very nice and understanding, and missing classes because of traveling was never a problem. In the picture below you can see my university.
My experience in Mexico was so much better than I expected. Adapting to a new, totally different culture was so much fun and eye-opening, also sometimes a little bit frustrating of course. Exploring the spicy food, learning about people who always want to help despite the language barriers, and experiencing traditions, national celebrations (for example, the Independence Day and the Day of the Death) and amazingly beautiful places are some things that I will always remember.
Before arriving, I was worried about many things and probably mostly about the safety and how I’m going to get used to so different culture. Now after 5 months, I’m happy to tell that not even for once I felt dangerous there. During the introduction week, we were told about safety in the city and what places to avoid, and I didn’t have any problems with anything.
In a city like Mexico City, you can’t run out of things to do in your free time. Outside of the school I was mostly exploring the city and visiting its touristic attractions which were all free for students, and during the weekends I made a lot of trips with my friends to the cities close by. Traveling in Mexico was quite cheap and by paying a couple of euros more, you can take “a luxury bus” with Wi-Fi, air condition and a movie selection. In Mexico City, I always took an Uber because it was the safest option and also cheap. There is a good and really cheap subway system as well but during the rush hours it gets really crowded and a bit dangerous.
I have been now in Bielefeld, Germany for 4,5 months and the exchange semester is about to come to an end. The time has flown by very fast and the experience has been very rewarding in many ways.
About the city of Bielefeld.
Bielefeld is a city about the same size as Tampere, but still for Germany it cannot be counted as a big one. It has everything you need (even a tram/metro!) and (center) area is kind of cute, but is definitely not a very interesting city. There is a castle, which I think is the biggest sight in the whole city. Also, Dr. Ötker comes from Bielefeld and the factory is located also here. Luckily, with the semester ticket you will get, you can travel limitless within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia which includes also cities like Düsseldorf and Köln. That’s a lot of land to explore!
Studying in FH Bielefeld
The semester started with an orientation weeks which included practical information about how everything works, at the university and with student dormitories (since most exchange-students lived in one). The main part of the orientation was still the German lessons which took place everyday for 5 hours (that’s first 3 ECTS right there!). For some reason there was a week break between the actual courses started, so I did an extra intensive course about Blockchain during this time of which I earned the most easiest 6 ECTS of my life.
For this reason I needed to take only 4 courses. I took German, Spanish, International Taxation and Consumer marketing. Each of these were 3h a week, some in 2 parts, so hour-wise it wasn’t much of sitting at the university. The lectures of non-language courses do not differ too much from what they are in TAMK. The biggest differences I see in the language courses, I cannot really explain but the style really doesn’t suit for me and I feel I have learned only very little from the classes and do the work at home. Also, the Spanish class in in German, so that makes the whole thing even more confusing.
All in all, the studying has been a bit easier here.
What was a bit unexpected, things aren’t as organized in Germany as in Finland. The information flow is very bad, the local Tabula etc. systems are ancient and a a lot of things are made unnecessarily difficult and formal + a lot of times I got the feeling no one knows anythings. Patience is what you need…
Living and free time
Living in Germany is cheaper than in Finland, especially in a city like Bielefeld where the rent prices are also super low! My Erasmus experience differs a lot compared to many other exchange students who came to Bielefeld and a big reason is that I was lucky to get a room from a private shared apartment instead of the student dormitories. I have been living with two German girls together and I couldn’t be happier about that. With them I have experienced and done so much more that I would have without. For example I have gone to the Köln Karnival, had home made lunch at “Grandma’s” and even found myself from a Finnish SitSit style birthday party which was organized by Germans who had been to exchange in Finland! Also, I have been travelling quite a lot, since the prices are just so low not matter if you fly or take a bus.
If something, I would recommend to try to find a flat with the locals (WG-gesucht.de 😉 ). That gives so much more if you actually want to see the culture, make connections and live more cozy life than in dormitories (yes I have seen and heard about these). I can say that I have really been “exposed” to Germans and German culture and at the same time me German has improved massively! Surely there has been some Erasmus events but I didn’t take part in most. From other Erasmus students I have found a few very good friends but the most close friends are my roommates and they are one of the only things I will miss here!
It’s Kati again! As I stated above, I was half-a-year student in China, Jinan. Let me tell you some aspects of my daily life!
Studying in an Asian country is -of course- very study oriented, but the courses are not so difficult. The campus is big (1,5 million squares according to Wikipedia) so the distances between school buildings are very long. You easily got 10,000 steps by just going to classes and canteen. There were many school buildings, about 15 when counting 3 canteens, library and doctor’s together, which was a huge surprise compared to tiny little Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Everyone should be addressed with their surname, like Mr. Wang. There was also a brewery, tea house and other warrants of the school which we visited.
Picture: Me(second from the right) and other transfer student in the tea house of Qilu school.
There were many ways to spend your free time and many Chinese chose to study. I found different ways to stabilize my everyday life by going to jog and to a gym, hang around in bars, playing pool and table tennis, hiking a mountain, travelling to different cities, seeing different tourist attractions, and just walking around the schoolyard. Why I mentioned walking around the school? Well, there were many statues, places to relax and they were usually quiet and empty. There were many opportunities nearby the school, you decide where you want to spend your days!
Picture: City of Jinan
There were also different kind of weather, as there only snowed once during my stay, even I was there on the autumn semester! The snowflakes were tiny and melted away in an instant. Also, the lunchtime were about 2 hours as there were 15,000-25,000 people on the same time who went to lunch. Sometimes we went to the nearby restaurant to have lunch as in the canteens there were very noisy and no seats left. One cool aspect of the school was to see different kind of clubs, as in TAMK there is only (maybe) 2 clubs, which are Paperikerho, a “club” for paper engineers and Ääriraja, a theater “club”. During my free time I saw for example the band club, rollerblading club, hiking club and dancing club. I wish there would be as many clubs in Finland too.
I have lived and studied in Upper Austria now for three and half months and now it’s time to tell you a little bit about my stay here.
It has been a really interesting for me to experience a bit of Austrian school system. Basically, I had no prejudices or expectations about it before I came here, but now I can say that it has been a positive surprise for me so far. There’s a couple of characteristics that I would like to highlight.
In Austria, people are extremely punctual and they really appreciate and even demand punctuality from everyone. You can be sure that you will be scolded if you arrive late on the lecture. Working and studuying culture is also very formal here. All the professors are well-dressed and students address them with their correct titles, and actually in everyday life also, elder must be addressed with “Frau” (Ms.) or “Herr” (Mr.).
All in all, my studies here have been interesting but challenging as well. Professors speak fluent english and the teching methods are quite similar than in Finland, so studying itself is not that different here than in TAMK.
Naturally, student exchange is not just studying. Actually I have had plenty of day offs in my schedule, so I have had a lot of time to travel and explore. My favourite way to spend free time here, has for sure been mountain hiking in the Alps. And as Austrians boast the second highest consumption of beer per capita worldwide, I haven’t been able to avoid tasting the local beer specialties.
It has been great and memorable time here and I can greatly recommend Austria as a travel destination for everyone.