Category Archives: Culture

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

Greetings from Lincoln🇬🇧

I spent last fall in England as an exchange student at the University of Lincoln. I’d never heard about the city before being accepted to study there so I didn’t really have any expectations before arriving. Everyone was just telling me to watch out for rain while in England but to be honest, it didn’t rain almost at all.. Didn’t get to use my raincoat even once. What a bummer (not).

Lincoln is a super cozy city with such an interesting history behind it. I would recommend to explore the city and after that travel around England as much as possible on your days off. Lincoln is located in mid England so you can easily travel to most big cities from there; the fastest train to London takes 2 h and you can even get to Scotland by train. On my stay in England I visited York, London, Dublin, Oxford…  many different cities, some of them even a couple of times.

The University of Lincoln is a great school! The university grounds are huge and all the buildings have a modern look to them. You can find many kinds of bars, cafés and restaurants as well as a library. The university has over a hundred clubs and sport teams that you can join and everyone is so welcoming towards international students. Also the students union and exchange students department try their best to organize different kinds of events for all the international students, especially in the beginning of the semester. Teaching was good and the courses were interesting, even if I had far fewer lessons compared to our school and some teaching methods differed quite a lot from what I’m used to. I attended four courses on my one semester exchange; two of them were basic essay writing courses regarding games cultures and heroes and villains in film, one was a 3D course and the last one a digital media course where we had four different workshops.

What I loved the most about my exchange was to be able to travel all around the country and both learn and experience as much of the British culture and history as possible. The only downside I had was problems with accommodation (I was going to get a room from the campus dorms but the school told me that that wasn’t possible anymore and I had to search for another place on my own in a little time window, didn’t go that well..) but otherwise I’m happy with my stay. Get to know the locals as well as your international student buddies, attend activities together or even host your own! One event I’ll always remember fondly was when all the international students made traditional food from their home countries and we tasted them together as a group. I really miss my time in Lincoln and I’m really glad for all the great people I met and the memories we made together. ❤️

Hola from Madrid!

Hola!

Time has gone flying here in Madrid. I came here with two of my finnish friends also from TAMK and I’ve got so many new ones in here. The studying here is somewhat similar as in Finland. However, here it is not mandatory to attend classes. One of our teachers even said that he doesn’t want to wake up as early as we have classes, so we may as well skip it.

Even though the classes aren’t mandatory, it doesn’t mean that here wouldn’t be any work to be done. I mean, almost in all of our classes we have group works. Usually I do enjoy group works, since I get along with different people very well. However in Spain, the Spanish and Finnish way of doing school works are really different. Also, the language is a problem. There are not many Spanish people in our school that would speak English all that well. So you kind of have to learn to understand Spanglish.

We do have similar school tasks as in Finland. For example in addition to group works we also have to write essays in almost every class. Although I have to say that in here it doesn’t really matter what you write in your essay as long as it has lots of pictures.

Spanish people have siesta. That means that between 12 and 16 there is no hope for finding anything to do. Most of the stores are closed and most of the people are at home. It the evening however the city comes to light and everyone comes to hang out together. Despite the siesta In Madrid here is also really nice things to do and see. Like tasting all sorts of different tapas and experiencing the culture. Like visiting the royal palace for example.

Although I’ve had a nice time here, I sometimes miss the fact how everything works in Finland. Everything and everyone is on time. You don’t have to prepare for everything being late all the time. Also here is no concept of personal space and sometimes that can be a little bit overwhelming.

However I am enjoying my time in Madrid and adapting to the culture here.

Exchange to the Deep End of Cultures

Greetings and a humble wai. I study in one of the top universities in Thailand, Chulalongkorn University, and it looks like it, but sometimes just doesn’t feel like it. I study culture and literature in the arts department, which is all new to compared to my home studies which are more about film and television. Studies are homework heavy oriented and there are only three days of school in a week and this suits perfectly for my passion to travel. Usually I do my homework in those three days and head off for the long weekend.

There aren’t too many westerners in the arts faculty so to my luck most of my friends are local and with them I get too see the authentic Bangkok. I quickly got used to the millions of people always around and now I feel almost cozy passing through a mall after school at rush hour to get to my apartment. I have already spent a share of my time in Thailand in the past, so now my travels take me mostly abroad. Travelling is super cheap here and doesn’t bankrupt me even if I occasionally fly instead of taking a bus or a train. In Bangkok I try to live like most of the local students: eating at some shady, but great food stalls, going to a cheap weekday movie or sharing a beer tower in the local night market. There is a certain kind of party- apartment building in the other side of the campus where there is a party every night, but I try to avoid that place because there is a bit too “eat at the Burger King”-vibe for me.

Studying in Chula is very different from my home school in Finland: here it is all about lecturing and taking notes while in Finland we mostly learn through practical exercises. The general school atmosphere among students reminds me of my years in upper secondary school where most of the pupils weren’t interested in what they were teaching but more likely were forced to sit there. I haven’t seen this kind of attitude since, because in TAMK everyone has gone through the entrance examination process and to do that you must have interest in the field and not just because “you have to”. Although here people are still young (aged 17-18) when starting university and most of my local friends still seem to be on the fence what they really want to study and to do in life, as was I when I was that age.

Studying abroad is the best and the easiest opportunity that I have grabbed on during my studies and would highly recommend it. Thailand must be one of the best places to do your exchange studies: you get your worldview widely broaden only from the food culture. There are countless of adventures to explore only in Thailand or with the price of a Finnish train ticket go and explore Philippines for example. Make your time in exchange look like you!

A wee greeting from Glasgow

I actually didn’t know what to expect. I left to this trip without expectations, so I could enjoy it fully and I kinda succeed in that. I had almost a week free before starting the school and that time I used to walk and get known to the city. Glasgow is full of beautiful old buildings and it makes you wonder what kind of life they had before the modern times.

Anyway.

The reason I chose Scotland for my destination was kind straight forward. I wanted to go to a country where I can manage with my own English and is not “too far away” from Finland and there I had it. Country where I can live with english and study environmental engineering.

Lectures started, and it was little different what I would have thought. Students mostly sat and listened and then we headed home, and work needed to be done at your free time, but I got used to it kind quickly.

Days went by day after day and week after week.

Since accommodation was next to the school no public transport was needed. Just crossed the road and there you are but there was a major difference, yes, I mean traffic. It took 2 months to get used to the fact that first you have to check right and then left. Not vice versa.

Free time mostly went just walking around the city but time to time school event team organized day trips to further away with cheap prices. I got to see Edinburg, Stirling, Kelpies and lots of many other things that cannot be seen in Finland. The most breathtaking and mesmerizing event was enchanted forest and it is way beyond describing.

I don’t see much of a difference in studies between Scotland and Finland. Both have lectures and esseys and reports you work at home. One thing you had to do was to “check in” with your student cards which indicates that you are in class.

Time went flying and my exchange studies have almost come to an end and I say you if you got the opportunity to do studies abroad, JUST DO IT.

My time in Munich

I chose Germany as my exchange destination since I have studied the language for a couple of years and because I have been snowboarding over there at the alps.

My school was located about five kilometers away from where I lived. I traveled to school every time by bicycle. The school itself was nice and they had very good food but the prices were very expensive..

Since I only had school 3 days a week I had lots of spare time. Most of the spare time I spent with a close Belgian friend. We went to the gym together, watched movies and went to parties, it was awesome!

We also went to Oktoberfest a couple of time and had really good times!

Also spent one entire week in the Alps in Austria, the weather could not have been better!

 

 

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO SCHOOLS IN FINLAND

In Munich the school was very punctual, all the lessons and lectures started exactly on time. School food was much more expensive and the only way of paying for stuff in school was by first uploading money (cash) to your student card.

 

 

Wonderful life in Prague

Living and studying in Prague has been great. I fell in love with the city at first sight. Even though it’s the capital of Czech Republic it feels relaxed and very easy to get to know. The buildings and nature are gorgeous and that alone makes it great to live in Prague. The city is full of culture, one of my favourite things here has been going to a jazz club to listen good music in cosy atmosphere. I’ve seen a lot of stand up (in English), almost every evening there is stand up at some club for only 4 euros. Prague is full of cheap restaurants with great vegetarian and vegan options, which was a nice surprise. One of the best things is that here are a lot of dogs without a leash. They put a smile on my face every time.

The studies here have been great. I study film in FAMU (Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) which is located right next to Vltava. From the classrooms I can see the Prague Castle. I have a lot of classes which remind me of my years in university. The teachers are very enthusiastic and they really know what they are talking about. We have discussions in class and we watch a lot of films. Studying here have been a very inspiring experience. Comparing the courses to TAMK, it’s more theoretical here. In TAMK we do a lot of projects. It is possible to join the other students’ projects here, too, but I’ve really enjoyed the university-styled studies.

All in all I feel really good living here and hopefully I can return here after the exchange, too.

Konnichiwa from Beppu the onsen city!

The view from our dormitory lounge.

My exchange studies began well in Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. The city of Beppu and region itself have been delightful and the life is so different here. It has been quite a learning process to get hang of everything (and a money sink) but nonetheless, it has been a nice experience.

The pictoresque twin towers of APU

In TAMK, I’m a media student but here in APU I’ve been studying more common topics: Japanese language, history and multicultural studies. The university offers some media courses but they are more analytical than practical ones that we have in TAMK (well, APU has media lab courses but they are in Japanese). My media studies here have been about analysing media theories and its history. Basically we have been watching movies and reading texts and then analysed them by discussing or writing essays about them. It has been interesting change of study style. And even though I ended up studying more non-media courses, it is nice and interesting to acquire common knowledge about this part of the world – I also think that the knowledge is very valuable if I try to get into Japanese media market in the future!

The lunches are very nice and tasty in APU cafeteria.

The study style is very different in APU when compared with TAMK. APU is an academic university so the studies are more about listening to lectures and writing essays. It took some time to get used to it. The class schedule can also be quite daunting: earliest classes start around 9 a.m. and last ones end at 8 p.m.! The school days can be quite long, depending on what courses you pick (I’m still wondering how the actual degree students here cope with it because they have even more courses than I!). APU does not have separate lunch hour for students and therefore, we have to schedule our lunches or snack breaks by ourselves – which might be hard if you have multiple subsequent lectures on a day. It is not a surprise that multiple third-party food stalls dot the university yard, providing grab-and-go sustenance for the busy students.

Beppu offers multiple nice activities to do during my spare time. The region is especially famous for its big number of onsen (hot springs), e.g. “Hells of Beppu”, but there are of course many other tourist attractions like the monkey mountain, aquarium, shopping centers etc.

The monkey park in Beppu
Otherwordly hot spring at Hells of Beppu attraction.

The area is also very beautiful: it is nice to stroll around the city and check out the Japanese architecture and nature because it is so different in comparison with Finland. There are always interesting new side alleys, little shrines and nooks to explore. I’m not a big foodie person but it is still very delightful to try out the local restaurants because the price level is a lot cheaper here! Obviously, the food tastes crazy good too – even though I have to evade seaweed and raw fish almost all the time (not a big friend of those).

Lots of sweet and snack stalls were present at the Christmas fair of Beppu

See you!

 

別府からこんにちは!Warm Greetings from Beppu!

Did you know that in Finnish Beppu really sounds like a soft way to say butt? Needless to say, my exchange has been full of bad jokes on that accord!!

Welcome to Beppu!

Jokes aside, my study exchange in Beppu and in Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) has been an absolutely amazing experience. Initially, I had the choice between Beppu (APU) and Kōfu (Yamanashi Gakuin), both quite small cities but Beppu in the south and Kōfu a couple of hours outside of Tokyo, and I was wondering if I should have chosen to go to the Yamanashi prefecture after all. Now, after living in Beppu for half a year I’m glad I chose this way since I got to experience so much, both in and outside of the city.

Photoshooting kimonos at the neighbouring beach

Beppu in itself does not seem to offer much, given it is a small city in the Oita prefecture, but during these past months, I discovered loads of interesting things to see and do. Beppu is famous for having approximately 2,000 hot springs or onsens across the area. We were lucky enough to have our dorm right next to a large, a rather modern onsen with both inside and outside baths, and needless to say, it became a regular spot for us to visit.

View to the next door onsen (on the left) after Typhoon Trami

In addition to bathing onsens, there was also a famous area called the Hells of Beppu, Beppu no jigoku, which held eight large natural hot springs of various colour that were too hot for people to bathe in. The jigoku area was covered in awfully sulfur-scented steam but offered some of the most beautiful views in the city.

Path to Umi Jigoku

Our massive campus was located on top of a nearby mountain and offered a breathtaking view down to the city – as long as it wasn’t foggy!

View from campus on a sunny day…
…and on a foggy day.

Studies in APU were very different from the ones I had gotten used to in TAMK and quite curiously the university did not offer us any actual media and art subjects, meaning we had to assemble our study plan from language studies and a variety of subjects that kind of supported our topics back in Finland. I didn’t personally agree on all the teaching methods of the professors in APU as for me it felt like they didn’t have a common guideline for the lesson structures or especially for the exams, but I also found some subjects I really enjoyed! One of them was the Japanese language course I took, and I am determined to keep studying the language in Finland as well! Compared to TAMK, the days in APU could get tiringly long (I had from 10:30 to 19:30 twice a week + commuting to campus 30min one way) and we often got tons of homework, resulting in less exploring during weeks than I would have liked to do. In that sense, I am really glad to be back in a practical university!

Studies starting in 3 2 1!

As it’s common for students in Japan to join in one or more extracurricular activity circles in the university, I was also looking forward to finding an interesting circle to join. APU had a reputation in that accord as it had tens of circles to choose from, including a traditional taiko drum group, large and loud dance group Yoshha-Koi and several other dance groups and others. In the end, I joined a Japanese archery (kyūdō) circle and was the only Western student to do so! I was really happy that I was allowed to join and practice with them, especially after hearing how some universities have banned Western students from joining their more traditional circles.

Training on a makiwara target

When I think back to all the adventures I had during this past half a year I am really happy I chose to come to Japan and to Beppu. As commuting to the nearest bigger city Oita was cheap and took only fifteen minutes by train, we could explore there during weekends and even after shorter days at uni. In addition to the Oita prefecture I had a chance to visit Fukuoka, Hiroshima (a tour arranged by APU), Osaka, Sapporo and Tokyo. I made countless of amazing memories and most importantly, met people from different backgrounds and made friends who I know I’ll be keeping in contact with.

It wouldn’t be an exchange without all the group selfies!

I feel that even though I got to see so much, I have yet only scratched the surface of what all Japan has to offer and I know I will be coming back in the future.

またね、日本!

From Aichi with love

Greetings from Japan’s Aichi prefecture, where I have been doing my exchange studies since september 2018 in the composition department of Aichi University of the Arts, or AUA for short. The spelling of the prefecture’s name, ”Aichi”, contains characters meaning ”love” and ”know”, which is very appropriate since the place is quite lovely!

The studies here have been quite similar to what I’ve been used to in Finland. There are the usual solfege and theory subjects, as well as private composition lessons and concerts for performing the students’ pieces. The focus is mainly on European music, perhaps with a little more stylistic spread than in Finland, but traditional and modern Japanese music has been covered as well during intensive courses.

I made it my goal to travel as much as possible during my free time, both in the areas near the university and a little further as well. Since this was my first trip to Japan, I wanted to experience all the ”basic stuff” during the exchange, such as going to a hot spring bath, seeing the world-famous Miyajima torii gate and trying the weird foods you always see in traveling programs.

The local studying culture in general is not particularly different from that of Finland. However, because of university tuition fees, practically all students have to do part-time work. I’m amazed at their ability to finish schoolwork and produce great pieces despite the time and energy they have to put into their part-time jobs. A lot of times I’ve witnessed the overworked poor things sleeping or dozing off on classes. Regarding student work in general, I had heard rumors of immense amount of schoolwork in Japan, but at least in my own experience I feel the amount of work is approximately the same as in Finland. That may however be more indicative of the huge amount of work required in the music field regardless of country.

For anyone considering doing their exchange period in Japan, I can wholeheartedly recommend AUA. The school is in a naturally beautiful area and you don’t get the culture shock of being thrown into a crowded neighborhood since day one, but at the same time it’s quite near to Japan’s 4th largest city, Nagoya, which in turn has great traffic connections when you’d like to travel a little further away.

 

Mind the keyframes

I did my practical training with Squeezed Media in London, UK. They are an animation and video production company in central London, with a diverse client base featuring several well-known international brands, some of which I also got to work with.

An illustration of mine in the office kitchen

The five months went incredibly fast and the experience was more than valuable. I helped animating 2D explainers, created some animation assets for use in projects, made small animations for the company’s social media, carved a pumpkin, and studied new softwares in the spare time. With a solid knowledge of animation already, I dived deeper into the world of motion design and learned to apply animation principles in motion graphics work. To sum up the time with Squeezed Media it was only fitting to make a small animation:

Moreover, I got to see how a well functioning creative company works in the UK and noticed some cultural differences too. “Friday beers” is a very common thing on the island which feels a bit strange to a Finn. I learned some new English phrases too. For example, the correct answer to ‘thank you’ is “that’s all right”. Very rarely does one hear ‘you’re welcome’ like they taught in school.

A strange concept to a Finn, having to travel for an hour to see a forest. Picture from Epping Forest.

The UK has some other interesting features too from a foreigner’s perspective, and especially London is overwhelming to someone coming from a small town. As the center of the world – at least historically – it’s incredibly diverse. British cuisine may not be the most famous aside from their fish and chips and I believe they might not even realize it themselves but avocado has totally taken over the island as a work of mine demonstrates:

Traffic in the UK is very smooth and easy. One only has to know from which platform the train departs (it’s usually not announced in advance), some buses have a special smart card to pay for the journey, in some one can pay by debit/credit card, some take cash only, some have change and some only accept exact fares – simple. Of course they drive on the wrong side, but to make that easier there are signs on the road telling pedestrians which way to look.

All in all, Squeezed Media gave me a strong professional skillset and experience for the UK market, and as a result I will keep minding the gap and exploring the island further.

Above a small animation I made for World Kindness Day.