Category Archives: Culture

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

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. 🙂

The city of sunshine

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!

Mannheim #läuft

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.

Alfred-Delp-House, my home in Mannheim.

 

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.

Me enjoying the sun and 26 degrees between rehearsals.

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 set-up at the symphony orchestra.
Lanterns in front of the Concert Hall of Baden-Baden.

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.

Inspiring marimba music at the Mass.
Wine region from Mannheim to the west and south

In January I travelled to the French Alps with friends and in the Easter break to Rome – two unforgettable and influencing trips.

Breathtaking view over the French Alps.
Rome – city full of culture and beautiful architecture

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.

Neckarwiesen – meeting your friends for barbecue by the river is a popular activity!

Frühlingsgrüße aus Monnem’ 🙂

#läuft – a popular German word which means that everything is in a good balance and you enjoy life everything you do!

 

Foodstyling in Hamburg!

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.

www.747studios.de/en

Hoe gaat het?

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!

Leeds, UK

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.

Leeds city centre

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.

Kirkstall Abbey, monastery ruins and park in Leeds

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.

Headingley campus library

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.

 

Toronto, Ocad and I

Hi everyone!

Streets of Toronto

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!

Streets of Toronto
Classroom from Ocad

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!

Niagara falls

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.

Ottawa, Parliament Hill
The Montmorency Falls, Quebec
Mont-Tremblant National Park

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!

Toronto skyline