All posts by Jaana Torkkola

Sous le ciel de Paris

To start with, here’s a video to get you on a Parisian mood (opens in  a new tab):

sous les ciels parisReturning to Paris after living there before for two years felt like happy comeback home. Even after a bit longer time, the French metropole doesn’t cease to amaze me and take my breath away – both in good and bad. This time Paris called for the internship of the 2nd year of my social work studies, taking place at a small association. They help those who are victims or in the danger of prostitution or pandering and who want to be assisted in their social reintegration. And now over the half of my 3 month internship has already passed!

paris1Getting the possibility to join this team has been an eye-opening experience and the things faced here aren’t easy. However, it’s very interesting and diverse: meeting and accompanying customers in various matters, planning and realizing projects, familiarizing myself with the life of an association.. Apart from all that, I’ve also got the chance to participate in a training and to follow a hearing at the tribunal.

I like the fact that at this association the relation to the customers is rather warm, close-knit and at times even a bit non-official. As I don’t yet have much working experience in the field of social work even from Finland, comparison in these terms is rather challencing. The cultural differences I’ve been able to notice are pretty much the same as in daily life: starting work later in the morning, greeting by a “how-are-you-doing” that doesn’t expect a long reply, using a lot of politeness structures in emails, wishing “bonne appétit”, sometimes everybody is speaking at the same time, exchanging cheek kisses.. Also the language barrier to French causes some extra difficulty and can be very tiring at times but I’m learning more every day.

landscapeMy freetime in Paris is mostly filled with spending time with my French boyfriend and also  discovering new parts of the city and things to do in Paris that I wasn’t yet aware of. Apart from that, the daily life is rather similar as in Finland, the routine happens everywhere. Anyway, I’m enjoying  the goods sides of living in a big city before coming back soon to my favourite city in Finland, Tampere 🙂

 

baking1       And to fin(n)ish, some homemade Karelian pies – bonne appétit!

Hello from Brussels!

Brussels is my home for 2 more months, time has flown by incredibly fast since I got here in September. It’s actually my second Erasmus so a lot is familiar but there’s also a bunch of new things. In this blog post you will discover a bit of my life in the country of chocolate, beer, waffles and frites 🙂
brussels

Coming to do a part of my social work degree here in Belgium was something really exciting. Beforehand I knew that my host institution called ISFSC was quite small but never did I expect to be practically the only Erasmus student! In addition, finding courses corresponding to the ones at Tamk forced me to select studies from all the three years. On the other words I was circulating between groups of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students and seeing hundreds of new faces during my first weeks – overwhelming. Also the fact that everything is in French makes things much more challenging. It’s really a total immersion to the local student culture!

The way of studying is pretty similar as at Tamk with a lot of group works and some seminars. I was afraid of mass lectures where the teachers don’t interact with students but luckily it’s not that way and most of the courses are very interesting. The teacher prepares his course material, syllabus, on which the exams are mostly based and which you get printed so no need to worry about availability of course books. Having also oral exams is something new for me.

kaakao
On Tuesdays it’s time for board games at Salon de thé Liber, such a lovely and cozy place.

After living in France, it was fascinating to notice the differences between the culture and French spoken in these two countries. As a country Belgium feels somehow a bit more “Nordic”, for the language it seems to be mostly the matter of some few words and ways of pronunciation. In addition, its multilingualism, history and complex regime make Belgium a truly interesting place to get a closer look at. By the way, it’s not clear whether French fries are actually French or Belgian: one story speaks of American soldiers who came to Belgium during war time, saw the locals making fries and named the dish after the language. In any case, it must be said that I haven’t eaten as delicious fries anywhere else!  Some other Belgian things: Tintin, Smurffs and Lucky Luke – which you can discover at the Comic Strip Center in Brussels.

brugge1
Historical Brugge is beutiful even on a cloudy and grey day

Brussels is an extremely international city, not too big but with a lot of things to do. The longer I stay here the more I seem to like it 🙂 And Belgium is a small country to travel around – this is very convenient for somebody doing Erasmus as it means a possibility to see not only other Belgian cities but also some neighboring countries. I’m often busy planning new weekend trips and only hoping that the time wouldn’t run out!