Category Archives: Culture

Culture and Arts, Film and Television, Music, Music Pedagogy, Media Production

University of Salford, TV studies

My time studying Television and Radio at University of Salford was beyond amazing. I must say, if you want to work in TV or Radio,  Salford is the place to go. Media department of this university is located at MediaCityUk, which is basically a home for ITV and BBC. Lots of shows are being recorded/filmed in MediaCity and students have an opportunity to do freelance work in a real production. 

 

 My choices of modules were: TV Drama, TV studio and TV Documentaries. During my TV Drama module, I had a chance to Write and fully produce one short film and Direct a short film of my other classmate. I had to study a lot during this course in order to produce something good. Most of my spare time I was spending in the library reading books on scriptwriting, directing and producing. I really had to come out of my comfort zone during this course, especially when I was taking a role of Producer. Finding professional actors, finding replacements for the actors that dropped out last minute, recruiting people for filming crew, booking locations and equipment, settling down conflicts, and tons of paper work – all mixed with a stress of an upcoming deadline. Hands down, I’ve learned a lot. 

Another module of mine was TV Studio. That course was really well made. Every week, we had a chance to learn a new job in the multi camera studio or in a gallery.

There was a decent amount of both theory and practice, but for those who wanted to deepen their knowledge there were additional workshops held 2 times a week. The technicians that were giving us those workshops were always extremely happy to help.

 

 

 

During this module we were developing 2 TV shows: For the first show I was doing all the visuals and animations and for the second show I took a role of a show Director. I was really glad that everybody accepted me on equal terms and I was given such a big role, even though I was an exchange student.

 

 

 

My absolute favourite module was TV Docs. It was a module that made me apply for an exchange extension.

 

 

During this course, we had to make 2 documentaries: one – observational documentary and another one – a documentary with a narration. Basically, the course structure was similar to TV Drama, except for the fact that we were mostly concentrating on working with real people with real issues and stories to tell. I found this fascinating. 

 

All these modules required a lot of work, I barely had any spare time. This taught me time management really well. After TAMK, Salford felt way more strict with all those rules and incredible amount of tasks. I enjoy this kind of crazy working routine, and my area of studies was really social oriented, considering I had to work with people all the time. There was a lot of team work, so I’ve managed to find really great friends that were constantly dragging me out to party. 

 

I’ve done most of my travels around the UK in the beginning of exchange, during the Easter break and after the exchange. I would totally recommend to buy train card, because it saved me plenty of money.  Well, I think that’s it! Enjoy your time in UK!!!

 

 

Greetings from St. Paul, Minnesota. United States

I had my exchange studies in Mc.Nally Smith College of Music, I had most of my studies in the Hiphop music production and music business department. McNally Smith College is a leading music college in the country, I had a wonderful experience learning from some of the best teachers in the industry.

 

I live in Minneapolis, which has a beautiful and vibrant night scene. I usually hangout in the downtown area during my free times.

While sightseeing the city of Minneapolis, I found a Finnish Bistro 🙂

Education in McNally is a bit different as to the grading system, but the approach is similar for the most part, just like in Finland at the end of the semester, there is a chance to give feedback for each course.

It has been a great experience thus far 🙂

Tanti saluti dalla città eterna!

Many greetings from Rome – the eternal city where every road leads to. I’ve had the amazing chance to spend my year studying music at one of the most famous conservatoires of the world; Conservatorio di musica Santa Cecilia di Roma. It’s been utterly an educational experience and I’ve learned so much about myself, the italian culture and some useful common coping skills of life.

The idea of coming here felt quite good, because it had been a dream of mine for a long time and I had studied the language earlier in life and knew it already pretty well. I had also travelled to Italy quite many times, so I knew what to expect. Or so I thought. Very quickly it turned out that arranging your life in Italy is very different to being a tourist in this paradise of food, wine and historical monuments. As a tourist you can embrace the relaxed attitude and feel free, but as a resident and a student it really hits you that NOTHING works. It takes a lot of patience to accept that everything takes time and nothing is clear. When school starts, such things as a ready study plan or a calendar don’t exist. But whatever… This is how it rolls here and there’s nothing else you can do about it but try and embrace the culture and make the most of it.

But to better things: when I really got to studying, it was great. The level of the education is so high, my singing teacher has been amazingly good and my correpetitor as well. I’ve gotten to study vocal chamber music, scene work, classical piano and even took a couple of choir classes. I’ve also managed quite well in my final exams. It’s so nice to know that whatever comes on your way, you can always find a solution. You get the feeling that your wings actually do carry. You start to feel strong and independent, which I think is one of the main goals of a student exchange.

My journey has also taken me to Venice, Bologna, Padova, Nemi, Naples and many other exciting places. (Exploring your grounds is the best part of living abroad.) I’ve listened to amazing concerts, seen some of the nightlife, eaten divine food (and lots of it!!) and had the best coffee ever.

And let’s not forget the most important part…

All the friends I’ve met. Old and new ones. Amazing people.

Sending lots of love,

Katarina

Lincoln, Lincolnshire

My studies in England differed a lot from my experiences in Finland. Being a foreigner in both countries, it is not a difficult task to draw comparisons and point out differences between those two countries educational values and strategies. While studying in Media and Arts in Tampere Mediapolis I experienced a heavy focus on individual ideas and personal development. My primary study path here is Fine Art, which explains the heavy focus on creative work. At University of Lincoln I was a guest at the Lincoln School of Film and Media for about 5 month. It took me some time to figure out the teaching system which divides classes into lectures, seminars and workshops. All teacher where incredibly helpful and very funny. The teaching was packed with information and I feel like I could take a lot of valuable lessons back into my main studies at Tamk. As usual, it was easier to make contact to exchange students than to the native ones. This might have been connected to the fact, that I shared only a few classes with the same groups of students.
In my spare time I spend a lot of time exploring the surrounding cities together with other exchange students as well as Lincoln itself. UoL offers a range of coach trips for very little money, which comes in very handy as train tickets tend to be fairly expensive. My personal highlight was the Lincoln Cathedral, which is almost 1000 years old and hold an endless amount of historical and personal stories as well as a great variety of artistic expression.


I understood fairly soon that drinking culture in the UK is about as big as in Finland. As I am personally not a big drinker or dancer I have only gone out a couple times to the usual student parties and managed to stay away from some of the more famous party locations of Lincoln. That being said, the town offers a good amount of loud and colourful bars around campus. So who is into that will definitely find satisfaction.

Comparing TAMK and UoL next to each other seems like an impossible task to me on some matters. Both schools have an incredibly different approach to learning in general. UoL offers a lot more academic knowledge than TAMK but also requires its students to put those lessons down into texts and diaries. Every student who wants to visit UoL should be prepared to write complex essays and spend some time in the library. The lectures at UoL are very impersonal compared to TAMKs (mainly because there are hundreds of students attending sometimes) but also incredibly packed with fascinating knowledge. I enjoyed my stay in Lincoln very much, but I deliberately decided not to extend my studies. I can recommend anyone to take the opportunity to study at Lincoln in any case, not only because you can get high-class education fore free (full-time students pay up to £9000 per year), but also because English heritage is incredibly well documented and proudly layed out for foreigners to explore.

Saluti dall´ Italia

I´ve studied music in the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome. It has been a great pleasure to work with such a talented people and having the opportunity to perform with all different groups of musicians. Big part of my studies is contained of different kind of singing classes: Italian opera, French music, chamber music, choir music etc. There is also possibility to learn for example Italian language, some instrument or history of music.

I´ve had the opportunity to get to know to wonderful people from all over the world and we´ve spent time together by going to different museums, concerts, restaurants, travelling all over Italy and having movie nights and picnics. When I´m not with my friends I go jogging, for a walk and practice at home. I´ve also started to learn how to cook proper Italian food especially pasta and it has been really interesting to compare the cooking habits between Italy and Finland.

When I first entered the Conservatory I did not realise how many different status the institution consists of. There are headmaster, assistents, masters, professors, janitors and lounge hostesses and of course us students. They all have different kind of mission and status in the surrounding society and it took some time for me to understand my place. In Finland we have equal rights and responsibilities at the Conservatory and we are able to have educational conversations with each other.  We also have a possibility and actually we´re obligated to give feed back to one another. In Italy there are still quite a lot of hierarchy in the institutions which is as much as a problem as a positive thing. From positive point of view hierarchy demands individuals to pay attention to the advices given by the author and teaches to respect elder/professionals but it also diminsh the possibility to have an influence to the action made in the institute. The biggest problem for the student is that the masters/professors do not have any kind of responsibility to compensate the lessons which they cancel and this way the students wont get the lessons that they are supposed to have. In worst case that might mean that if the master gets sick for longer time or has to cancel teaching often when it´s your turn to go to the class you have no rights as a student to have for example a replacement for the subject. I´m so relieved that in Finland there´s no such a possibility and the studying is well planned and equal.

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.

Groeten uit Groningen

Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people, many of them students, in the North of The Netherlands. I did my exchange studies in Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Design department of Minerva Art Academy, studying illustration and animation. The Academy has great workshops for analogue techniques, and is located in its own facilities, away from the main campus (Zernike), just like Mediapolis in TAMK.

Martinitoren dominates the cityscape as the highest-rising building

The courses and assignments are more focused on artistic thinking and storytelling compared to TAMK’s problem-based or more technique-focused approach. In Minerva there aren’t so much courses as such with for example software teaching, at least for the second year class where exchange students are integrated. At first the system was very confusing and it was hard to figure out where one should be and when. Their digi schedule doesn’t really work, and most of the communication in Illustration major happens on Facebook. This doesn’t appeal to me greatly, but fortunately the local students, as the Dutch in general (although it is a stereotype) are very friendly and helpful and helped us exchange students greatly in getting into the system. The teachers were also very understanding with students coming from different backgrounds and disciplines.

A strong similarity to my studies in TAMK is balancing the workload between different courses and assignments to make the most out of them. It seems like one could pass the courses with little effort, while with some ambition there is a lot to gain. An example of my work in Minerva is Mr. Moose, an animated series (link below).

Minerva Art Academy has two separate buildings, this one, formerly a museum, looks nicer in pictures

In my spare time I have mostly been working on personal projects, seen some bands, and eaten fries (picture for evidence).

Friet, a mandatory photo

Grüezi!

Dear reader,

Greetings from maybe the most beautiful place in Europe (at least in Switzerland), Lucerne!

I have been here almost two semesters now and I have really enjoyed my time. I study music and luckily the classical music department is located on top of the hill where you can see the whole city, mountains and the lake – breathtaking view! This kind of environment has been really inspiring and motivating for me. I must say that sometimes when carrying my two tubas on top of the hill I wasn’t so happy, but on top with the incredible view you don’t care anymore the weight of the tuba, you just enjoy the atmosphere.

The view from classical music school
Main building of the classical music school
Building for wind players

The jazz department instead is located to old town. Also, not bad at all! Even the old town is full of tourists, especially summer time, I still enjoy walking to jazz school through the old bridges and small streets in the middle of old, beautiful buildings.

The way to jazz school, Luzern Kappelbrücke
The way to jazz school

I think the school system here is similar than in Finland but here is more common to study occupation with co-operation of companies (little bit like “oppisopimus” in Finland). Universities are not free, there is always student fees but they are tolerable, not too high. As music student, I feel that I have here lots of different opportunities to study with very good teachers. School offers not only the “basic education” but also lots of projects, workshops and master classes with specialists all over the world. For foreign student, Switzerland is not maybe the easier country to be because living is very expensive, even more expensive than in Finland. But when you get a little part time job, you’ll be better – salaries are also very good comparing to other countries.

In the spare time, here is so many things to do that I felt one year was not enough time to see all. Not only the city itself, but also towns near and of course the surrounding mountains, offer so much things to see and experience. The cultural view is also amazing – Lucerne is not very big city but it is full of different happenings! You can always find something for your spare time: different concerts, theater, opera, art, performances, festivals and so many other things… And it has been very nice to notice that almost every time when I was in concert as musician or in audience, it has been full of people. So in my opinion, people really appreciate culture here and they are also willing to pay to see different things.

Main concert hall full of people
Contemporary music centre, Neubad (old swimming hall)
Music festival in Stans (also full of people)

One special happening I have to mention: The Lucerne Carnival. Every year in February or March there is carnival which makes the whole city going crazy. The city center is full of music, parades, people wearing masks and/or special carnival clothes, dancing, celebrating and having fun for 6 days. In Finland we have summer festivals, but carnival was something really special that I haven’t experience before. I was part of one small (14 people) band and we played several gigs in- and outside of restaurants with special clothes and make-up. What a nice way to get into the local culture!

Carnival time – music, costumes and fun
Closer look to some of the handmade costumes
Our carnival group: Chrööschpöntler
Chrööschpöntler in action!

When you are in Lucerne, you can’t avoid Mount Pilatus. I visited two times there (at winter and summer) and both times, for Finnish who never visited mountain before, it was incredible! I think you never get use to the view from the mountain!

Mount Pilatus from the main street
Lake Lucerne from Mount Pilatus
The winter view from Mount Pilatus

I warmly recommend Lucerne to everyone who wants to study in inspiring and beautiful environment.

Liebe grüsse aus der Schweiz,
Annika

The land of Brexit

England is the love of my life. I have had a long history with this country for years now especially after my father moved to London. This exchange has only strengthened my love for this country and for the people living in it. And the best part of this is that I got to do all of it with my best friend.

I went to Leeds to study web design. I know we have it at TAMK as well but I wanted to see how it would be taught elsewhere and since I had not taken any of the TAMK courses on the topic yet it was a new learning experience. I also did a visual design course since it seemed interesting and they didn’t have any other web design courses that I could have done with my skills.

It was difficult to set everything up to get to the country and start the studies but once we were past that my time in Leeds turned out to be one of the very best. I got to meet so many amazing people, most of them exchange students as well, and some locals. It paid off to be single on exchange, I am just saying, since that way I met way more locals than through the university. But some very good friends were made even from the very beginning and I hope I can continue to keep in touch with them.

We chose not to stay in the student accommodation but got an apartment just for the two of us. It probably made a difference in the exchange experience but to be honest I was not that excited about sharing a bathroom with five other people. The location was good and the place served us well throughout our studies. It was even big enough to host visitors, and we both had our sisters visit us. The only bad thing was the whole floor mats that made me sick and stuffy for a long time.

The teaching was quite different compared to my home university. The teachers in England required a lot more from us and it was much more student oriented. I only had three courses and for each of them two contact lessons in a week that lasted for about an hour to two hours. So, I was at the university for an hour on Mondays from four till five for example. Talk about freedom. The assignments were interesting and we got professional teaching and tutoring. This way I got to enjoy the endless possibilities on my free time and travel a lot more.

The university had made a deal with a localish travel company. For a fee they would take us around England to see some of the most well-known sights such as the Stonehenge, Bath, Whitby, York, the Lake District and we even travelled to Edinburgh. I loved how easy the travelling was made for us who wanted to experience it. One of the best things during my exchange and even though I have been to England multiple times before I got to see many new places. On my free time I travelled to Manchester, London and the nearby cities of Leeds as well as within Leeds as much as I could.

I noticed that we Finnish people are not that different from English people. The sense humour is very similar and we both come from cold, windy and depressing countries and adjust accordingly. Also, the citizens of both countries, England and Finland, like to drink. The pub culture is different but the idea is the same. We love our alcohol. I cannot even count the hours I spend in a pub just doing homework at 12 am because that was the normal thing to do. I could never do that in Finland.

Some differences between England and Finland that I can think of:

  • Alcohol is cheap in England. Like actually cheap. And well cheap for a Finnish person at least. No wonder people spend their free time in pubs.
  • Pub food is amazing. You really don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to have good food. You can as well find a decent burger and a drink for a total price of one pound if you know where to go.
  • Only white bread in England. Almost. Like why?
  • Because English people must pay tuition the quality of teaching is quite high. That’s how they get people to choose their universities.
  • The public transport is a joke in England. Like overall, not just in Leeds. Compared to Finland, Tampere, where I usually live and where it works fine, this was a nightmare. But then again, no way I would have gotten a bike and rode it in the traffic.
  • The streets are narrow in England.
  • The whole floor mats are disgusting. So hard to clean and just make you stuffy. One of the worst things about living in England.
  • People are friendlier, in a way at least, in England. So weird getting called “love” by strangers.
  • Oh, and don’t forget your manners or you will hear about it in England. Always say thank to everything, literally to everything, and don’t forget to add please if you’re asking for something.
  • Having tattoos and piercings is quite common in England. So, I fit in quite well. Almost everyone had at least one of either. And it was so cheap to get one done as well. Well at least cheaper than it would in Finland.

I loved almost every second of staying in Leeds. Good food, nice people, great teachers and most importantly amazing friends. I will leave my heart in England.

Spring in Valencia

I am spending my exchange year in Valencia and studying music in the Conservatorio superior de música “Joaquín Rodrigo”. The curriculum here is very different from what we have back home in Finland, so I have taken the opportunity to try out all kinds of new subjects. As a singer I have been especially exited about the number of lessons we get working with a pianist every week. In addition to this, the school offers subjects like stage acting, body movement, singers’ anatomy lessons, chamber music and language studies. So, a whole package of skills essential for professional singers! My biggest challenge has been the language. All the lessons are held in Spanish, and even though my Spanish skills are improving, they don’t quite cover the professional anatomy vocabulary at this point. 😉

Now that the rainy winter months are over, the best way to spent time in Valencia is outside. Right next to my home, continuing through the whole city is the Turia-park. In the past, it used to be a river, but after causing huge floods in town it was dried from water. Today it has been transformed into a beautiful, I believe at least 9km long park-area, for all Valencians to enjoy. It is a place where people go jogging or cycling, families go for a picnic and kids have play-dates in the children’s parks. The cafes, football fields and roller-skating rinks ensure that people of all ages can find things to enjoy. So, when the sun is shining outside – and it mostly is – I love to go to Turia, do some sports, have a coffee or just sit on the grass and watch the people and life around me. 🙂