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. 🙂
Freiburg is told to be the sunniest city in Germany and that seems to be true- concerning the people and the weather!
Over all Freiburg is a very cozy and beautiful university city! It has a lot of old buildings and it is surrounded by Schwarzwald forrest (The Dark forrest) and vineyards.
Freiburg is located at the border triangle of Germany, France, and Switzerland. So I have a good opportunity to visit easily also other countries nearby.
The first few months were really intense, funny but also quite tiring. Though I knew already a little German it took (and takes) anyway much energy to translate the language in mind all the time. Also everything in the university was new and they demand much more from students than in Finland. I have had also many chances to perform in many student concerts and also in churches.
Since Freiburg is a university city it has a lot of student campuses and I live in one of them. It is a very good alternative because there is to get to know people easily and fast. I live with 8 persons in so called WG. We hang around al lot together and spend evening cooking, chatting and usually drinking tee or vine 🙂
Of course a very special thing in central Europe during Christmas is Chirstmas markets in every town or city- in Germany it´s called Weihnachtsmarkt. People come there to to meet friends, drink Glühwein and just enjoy all the beautiful decorations and lights!
Now we will start waiting for the spring to come and the first green grass to grow!
Liebe Grüße aus Mannheim – warm greetings from Mannheim,
one of the cities in the Rhein-Neckar-Metropole-region in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. My time so far here in Mannheim has been an unforgettable time and I am looking forward to my remaining time here until July. I speak German as my mother tongue which means, that I can’t have the view of a “foreigner” but on the other hand I have been able to see a lot deeper into the everyday life and society here.
Mannheim was almost completely destroyed in the second World War and after that they decided to build the city center into squares which gives Mannheim it’s own flair – no street names (only letters and numbers, mine for example D6, 12), geometrical routes from one place to another and a demanding organization of the traffic. Mannheim is also a multicultural city where especially the Arabic culture meets the German. I have the opportunity to go to a Turkish bakery, super market or café – that is amazing and gives Mannheim also a special flair.
There ist a University, a Music University, 2 Universities of Applied Sciences and some smaller Institutes here in Mannheim and because Mannheim isn’t a huge city itself you can feel the number of students in the street view.
I study at the Musikhochschule Mannheim – the Music University – which has about 500 students from all over the world. As in most Music Universities in Germany over 60 percent of the students are not from Germany. In Mannheim there are especially many students from Asia, mostly from Taiwan and South-Korea. Since the beginning of my studies last September I have had the chance to study in a very special intercultural environment – sometimes it’s me, who doesn’t understand a word of the conversations when for example my Taiwanese friends have a intense dialogue in Chinese. Also the working moral of the Asian people is something all Europeans look up to. On the other hand I’m also aware of how privileged I am – as an Finnish-German European citizen I don’t have to worry about visa, student grants, language prejudices or collisions of two very different cultures. One of my prejudices has also turned out to be wrong: Though the music students from Asia are a class for themselves when it comes to music organizing or being well-organized in other fields of life is not their strength, I think this is a funny fact 🙂
In general I can’t compare the university here with the tiny music department of Tamk. For the first time in my life I only have all kind of music students from different programmes (performing, pedagogical, solo, music education, composing, conducting, media) around me and there is a special spirit at the university.
My studies here consist of percussion classes with two professors, music theory subjects, music pedagogy seminars, orchestra and choir project, chamber music, percussion ensemble and Alexander technique and of course all the practical projects end with one or more concerts. Last week the choir of the University sung together with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra and last December we sung Händels’s Messias-oratorium.
During my semesters here I have tried to take as much classes and seminars as possible. Here comes also the first difference to my studies in Finland: financial ressources and the ability to form your studies by yourself. As a student you can choose from a large spectrum of seminars and the groups in music theory subjects are very small (sometimes just 2 students). At Tamk I don’t really have the chance to choose freely from different seminars. I have noticed that I like more the system here in Mannheim than in Finland.
The academic standards for home essays are high – Germany is one of the leading countries in Music Research and Music Sciences. Learning the way of the academic writing is one of the things I wouldn’t learn in Finland. Also the students are high educated – the have to have finished high school with matriculation examination.
At Tamk I am used to the evaluation of the seminars and self-evaluation and the dialogue between the students and the professors. The university here has a old-fashioned hierarchy and the students can’t really cititicise anything. Recently the student body has gotten more active and pointed out some really serious things which the university has done against the rights of the students. In this Germany could learn a lot from Finland.
Because Germany is also a home to me I don’t feel the urge to travel around Europe like most exchange students – I focus on the everyday life and sometimes I visit my relatives here in Germany. I live in the squares and right next to the Unisport – in my spare time I do a lot of sports with friends. I was lucky to get a room in a student home of the Catholic Church (it means this student home is modern, we can do lots of activities and the students have to pass an interview in order to get a place). This week we had already 27 degrees and today we opened the barbecue season! 🙂 I also work as a musician in the Holy Mass of the Catholic Student Community which is a great opportunity for me to get work experience.
In January I travelled to the French Alps with friends and in the Easter break to Rome – two unforgettable and influencing trips.
As a conclusion I would say that I would like to continue my studies here right away but of course I will first come back and graduate from Tamk – after that I can imagine that my life will continue here in Mannheim.
Frühlingsgrüße aus Monnem’ 🙂
#läuft – a popular German word which means that everything is in a good balance and you enjoy life everything you do!
Back in my home country and my favourite city, Hamburg.
Here I’m doing an internship at 747 Studios, a company with almost 60 employees which specializes in food and non-food photography, CGI and VR.
(entrance hall at 747 Studios)
(I’m obligated to maintain secrecy, so this post might not be that rich in details)
I’m working in the food styling department which means I have to help preparing the food or products we shoot and arrange and drape them in an interesting and good looking way in front of the camera. We work for national and international customers and cover almost their whole range of products (food, non-food, clothes, technology, decoration, accessories etc.).
Two times so far I could do my own photos, so I could choose the topic, the mood and train my foodstyling skills. A photographer and stylist helped me implement my ideas well. The first time I bought a complete salmon and processed it over a series of photos. The second time I chose drinks/cocktails as a topic. These photos I can now use in my portfolio.
(own photos, topic 1: salmon)
During my spare time (which is not much) I sometimes explore Hamburg and test new restaurants, visit shops or go to the cinema or concerts. A lot of my free time is spent on traveling by train since I live at my parents for the time of the internship (3 h train drive each day altogether)…but at least I save money for rent. If I lived in Hamburg, closer to the workplace, I would definitely save time and money on trains.
I have never worked before in Finland, but I definitely can say that I needed some time to get used to the more fast paced, more professional and less laid back daily working routine at 747 Studios, compared to my studies. I still need to improve my cooking and foodstyling skills and probably will pursue a culinary education after finishing my studies.
Chao’s Cafeteria is maybe one of my favourite places to eat. Most of the staff doesn’t speak any language, so it doesn’t help if you have spent months in Duolingo trying to learn some Dutch. But the important thing is that you get fries with mayo for just a couple of euros.
There’s some mold in the walls but it’s not in the fries I think so you don’t have to worry. Oh and there is some strange thing hanging from the roof that teaches you mean words in many languages. Schlappschwanz for example (German, not Dutch). My belgian classmate ordered there once also some strange grey-ish sausage and for some reason I ordered it too. It was… interesting.
Wow, look at that knakworst! Chao has really prepared this one.
But Dutch people eat much more healthy and with variety than just fries with mayo. Like… bread, for example. And toasts. Here are some of them:
And the traffic. So amazing. Cars are for Schlappschwanzels. Bikes are the master rac… I mean, the thing! Whew, that was close. Didn’t remember this was a school blog. Anyway, look at this gif I made:
Makes you feel bad to watch that for a long time. There are bikes like mosquitoes in a forest in Orivesi. In Utrecht there are 3 bikes per resident (source: the wall of my hotel in the first week).
So that’s it for now. Weltrusten! Ik ga nu luisteren naar de trap zangen van Jacin Trill. Tot ziens!
I can’t say I had heard of Leeds before my studies there. Kind of weird, since it is the third biggest city in England, with a whopping 2,4 million residents in its metropolitan area. The truth is that I never even applied there; I got to find out during my application process that in order for me to study in the UK, I need to take a spot in Leeds. And so I did.
What I really applaud Leeds for, is that as a small town girl who thinks even Tampere is big, Leeds never felt overwhelming. The city centre is big compared to Tampere, for sure, but it’s also oddly compact. If you leave the central area you will quickly find yourself in the suburbs and more sparsely populated areas. Our campus was not in the centre either, but in an area called Headingley, which I really liked despite having to travel a bit more to get there.
I felt like the studies in Leeds more or less matched with what they are in Finland. I had three modules (that’s what the Brits call their courses), and I think it was just the right amount for an exchange student, since you really don’t want to spend your whole time just studying. Even though my schedule felt quite empty, the modules did require a lot of time and effort, so it was a good balance. I really enjoyed the lectures and the assignments we got, so could have not been better in my opinion.
I think the biggest difference to Finland is just the sheer size of the campuses. They are absolutely massive! Headingley campus alone had over ten buildings you might have your lecture in, there’s a huge library that’s literally open 24/7 (I mean how cool is that?), the campus cafeteria had three restaurants to choose from, and each campus has its own bar. Yeah, a real bar you can get a drink at. Oh, and campus shops. Reasonably priced campus shops. Definitely miss that.
On my free time I did quite a bit of travelling around UK with my flatmate and classmate Tiia. We visited York, Whitby, Alnwick, Durham, Edinburh (twice!), Bath, Stonehenge, Lake District and London. I also visited Glasgow and Manchester. Dublin is definitely something I would have liked to see as well, but we only had so much time and resources. I have so many memories from this entire journey, so many pictures, so many people I met, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I just spent 4 month in Toronto, at Ocad university which is the largest art, design and media university in Canada.
Ocad had a really wide selection of an interesting courses, so I got a bit greedy by taking 5 instead of the 4, which was the recommendation.
Now I know better. I recommend taking just the 4 courses, because they all are very time consuming and the teachers expect you to work a lot, all the time.
Choose wisely, you don’t want to spent your whole exchange doing nothing but school work!
I would also recommend taking the figure drawing and painting classes,(If you are interested in painting and drawing, of course.) those two were my favourites and I learned the most from them.
But regardless the busy schedule with the school, I did managed to travel a bit! I went to see Niagara falls, it’s only two and half hours away with a bus from Toronto.
Totally worth it, even though it can feel like a tourist trap during the summer seasons, at least you can do it in one day!
During my study break I went to Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec, which was a great experience, especially in Montreal and Quebec you could feel the difference, people spoke mostly French and it was a bit smaller city and the nature felt a lot closer.
I felt that in Ocad, or in Toronto in general people were pretty busy. The public transportation wasn’t great, and it was really expensive so if you can, try to find place close to the school. But then again, also finding the apartment can be tricky and expensive for sure.
I had a lot of fun during my exchange, and I hope I can visit Canada someday again!
My studies in Southampton have been constructed by different units from different courses. I am studying Music Production in TAMK, but wanted to add a little bit of visual media studies while I was over at Solent University. In the end my studies in Solent included Studio recording and mixing, music video production and practicing a live set with a university band. It turned out to be a nice and balanced combo of units. A big percentage of the studies was working with groups, but we also had some little individual assignments to go with it.
Southampton is not exactly the place one would like to go visit on the holidays. Though it is a coastal town it does´t really have the coastal feeling that most would maybe hope for. Most of the shoreline is covered with ports with big ships importing and exporting goods, and the beach is no where to be seen because there isn´t one. Though it´s not the most idyllic coastal city, it has a certain rough romantic touch to it. If it so happens that you´ll get bored with Southampton, there´s a lot of great places to visit by just spending a little of your time on a public transportation system. Bournemouth and Brighton for example; do have the idyllic beaches and would be the kind of place to visit for a summer holiday.
There is a good music scene in Southampton, with cool venues and open mics all day. I have got to know some of the locals involved in music, and through them I have found myself in some house parties/music events that I would have otherwise missed completely. There is a lot of activities to choose from, if you want to activate yourself and get involved in stuff. There is even surfing and scuba diving if you want to go all in. I myself settled to start a little climbing hobby which included a weekly climb at The Boulder Shack , social nights of drinking and chatter, and an occasional trip to a climbing destination. All in all my stay in the UK has been a blast and there will be a lot of friendly faces missed, though I think I will not be settling down in Southampton for longer. Been there, done that, got the hat.
Here in the city of Kofu my daily life is full of studying at iCLA, Yamanashi Gakuin University of Liberal Arts. I spend my days watching films and discussing about them and their impact to Japan’s culture, or studying acting guided by a professional actor from States. I also read many novels and poems for the literature class where we talk about them and how they give a shape to their writer’s thoughts and how they reflect society. Of course, I also study nihongo, which means Japanese in Japanese language.
Most of my time goes for doing my homework and reading for exams, but when I have time I try to visit new places, or I hang out with my international friends. We love to go to eat sushi, or to go to drink coffee in different coffee shops. iCLA is half an hour away from Kofu’s city center, but you can get there really fast by local train. We like to go there sometimes to sing in a karaoke and spend time. You can also get to Tokyo by a bus and it takes only two hours to get there. I have visited Tokyo two times and it is very popular place to go among students. Tokyo is huge compared to any city in Finland, there is so much to see and so many people walking on streets, so much life! I have visited many old temples and admired Japanese architecture here in Kofu, and I went to see Mount Fuji up close, Kofu is located so near to Fuji that it only took me one hour to get there by a local bus.
Differences between studying in Japan and in Finland is that you really must study in Japan. There are so many school assignments to do! You really must do your homework and read for those exams, so it is common that you are still working for school during late hours. Or that you don’t get to sleep much during nights.
Film studies are different, we mostly watch films and talk about their plots and how they have been affecting society, and why such films are made. Back in TAMK we study film making, which is totally different. We don’t really talk about meanings of those films (or maybe they do in script writing studies, I don’t know because my major is light & camera and sound design ), but we go to and make them from script to screen.
South America, Uruguay, Montevideo. Very little country which seem to have it own “bubble”, so unlike it’s often said – also by the humble Uruguayans – the country is nothing like Brazil or Argentina. My university here is private: Universidad ORT Uruguay. There is just one public university and the rest are private. That changes things for sure. The other students are either spoiled or those ones who are working along side of their studies really hard! The studing is kind of relaxed, but when it comes to middle of the semester exams and the finals, they are really strict and the minimum points to pass the exam are suprisingly high. For my career, Audiovisual – Cinema & Television, there aren’t practically an exams, just creative work or essays to do. Of course this depends how academic courses one wants to take. Still, studying in a private university makes automatically a gap between the social class distinctions, which I mean that many people starts to threat you very differently (and not in the good way) when they heard where I study. So in very early phase I learned always to add up that the exchange is free for me.
Like mentioned, the social-economical classes varies a lot here and has huge differences, not the biggest ones in SA, but still huge compared to European countries. This makes kind of problem of where to fit, of course it’s allways a problem in a new culture and country, but here it kind of means that you have to “take sides”. It’s horrible, but for example I accomplished to be disrespectful between the classes, trying to fit them but ending up being two-faced. Not my purpose, but to be fair and understanding, it’s very difficult, but in the end I succesfully was accepted in many different kind of social groups, which was very satisfying for me and supposly for them also.
The spare time is mostly hanging, relaxing on a siesta time. Uruguayans don’t worry too much, they aren’t very ambisious unlike Argentinians could be. The being, just hanging around could sound boring or waste of time, but unwise they get most from the moment, they are very life like people who doesn’t do or stress nothing that they doesn’t have to.
In life and with studies Finland is much more counciouss about goals in life and the studies. That makes automatically a pressure that one needs to become something. In Uruguay it’s kind of confussing, their way of teaching isn’t very professional or coherent, but instead of becoming they subjectively just decide to be what they want to be. That doesn’t lead in very great actions or accomplishments generally, but one’s life doesn’t have to be anything huge or especial, it matters what you are for yourself. So if someones wants to come really study hard and a learn a lot of new things in that sense, Uruguay can be frustrating, but if one wants to come more far from that occidental accomplishing and making an own signifigance meaning by success or others opinions, this is a right place. This country is a small bubble where the people are the heroes of their own lives. Along all the relaxing atmosphere I still have to remind that this is South America, which means need to be caucious and sometimes things are restless, not violent or corrupted, but restless. It doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out where you can go, at what time, who to trust etc. Still one should be open minded here, because the most typical Uruguayan characteristics and people I met in the streets. Good hearted, eccentric, but not maybe the most trustable with an indegious Uruguayan accent which I still don’t understand practically nothing..