I did my exchange in Graz, Austria and I was studying music and especially flute. Graz is the second biggest city in Austria, although it was sometimes hard to believe. If I described Graz just by one word, the word would be cozy. The center of Graz is not very big but the suburbs are. Still the center is beautiful filled with old houses and view to Schlossberg, which is a hill in the middle of the center.
I had the chance to study in University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and I couldn’t be happier that I got into that school. In Austria I studied in the programme of Orchestral Instruments, so I wasn’t able to do pedagogical studies there. Luckily I was able to do some courses as distance learning to TAMK.
The official language of the school is German, but there were some courses offered in English too. I was also lucky that my professor spoke good English, so the lessons with him were very rewarding.
The studying in KUG compared to TAMK was more demanding. For example our lessons with the professor were longer and he expected that we would have something new to play to him every week. Also every second week we had a group lesson, where we played by ear and we had to perform some study by heart in front of the class. Even though it was hard, I learnt a lot. I was happy to be at my professors’ class, because all the other students made me feel very welcomed.
In my free time I visited a lot of concerts and also premiere of Cinderella -ballet. The ticket to the premiere costed only 1€ for the students of KUG! I think the best concert I visited during the exchange was by Vienna Symphoniker who played Beethoven’s 5th and 6th symphonies.
Cinderella -ballet Some cake and sturm!
We also explored the city with my friends. I visited the Schlossberg and also Eggenberg, which both are beautiful places! I had to end my exchange very quickly because of the coronavirus situation, so there were still much more things I had planned to do in Graz. Luckily I am always able to go back there to visit my friends and do all the things I didn’t have time to do during my exchange!
When I was choosing my location for abroad studies, my main goals were to learn to speak English better and more confidently, the place needs to be easily accessible to home and there would be no need for learning a new language. With all these three combined, I decided to send an application to the University of Reading.
I didn’t know anything of this town before I searched the places, and the first impression of googling it out was “kinda like Joensuu but easier to access.” I got accepted, rented a room of these traditional, semi-attached houses and moved in a little after new year.
I chose to study some typography courses, virtual reality and modern Britain, and the studies itself were much different than in my home university at TAMK.
I was used to learning by doing the thing, but Reading uni turned out to be very academic and their studies included a lot of reading (hehe), making notes and researching by yourself. Most of the study hours are self-studying, and it could be hard for a person like me who likes to know exactly what to do next and what you need to read to learn the right stuff. Most of the grades are given based on the tests. Difference could also be that my home studies are interactive media, and we do most of the stuff digitally.
The University has a lot of student free time activities and social clubs, and you will find whatever suits you the best. I was just enjoying my time alone, and spent most of my time at home. Campus is its own little town: there are bars, a grocery store, a library, coffee houses, restaurants… If you live at the university halls, you don’t need to walk farther than the campus area to get along.
Little bit about the place: Reading is a town, where people move when they get tired of London and they want to settle down. It’s really easy to travel to London for work, but it’s cheaper to live in Reading. London is only 40 minutes of train travel away, and the train takes you straight to Paddington station.
It’s also really easy to move around in town itself. Public transportation is easy to use and not too expensive, and buses are easily figured out.
It was “middle winter” when I got there, but basically the whole 3 months were like a long spring to me. Grass was green, weather changed really quickly from sunny to pouring rain and nature was alive. It was so refreshing how green there was! And now I understand why Brits like to talk about weather.
Brits itself are kinda like Finns: Helpful but a little bit reserved. Don’t try to smalltalk with the store clerk. And the same time, it also took me a while to learn to answer the “How are you”-question with just “Fine, you?”
Unfortunately, this spring the COVID-19 situation ended my (and many others) abroad studies earlier than expected, but I’m happy to be home safe and sound. University were really great at informing students about the situation.
After all, I’m really happy of my time there, and I’ll look forward to visit the town again later in life.
I chose to start my third year of culture and art studies in Lisbon, Portugal. My exchange school Escola Superior de Comunicacao Social mainly focused on social communication studies, whereas my studies in TAMK focus on film and television. I had school only around 10 hours a week and projects and essays did not take a lot of time either. The level of teaching was notably lower than in TAMK and therefore my exchange was way more about free time and travelling than studying. I do not recommend this school if you really want to study, but for more relaxed semester Lisbon is the perfect place.
Portuguese people are also quite chill, which is a nice way of living. However, when you need to get things done it can get frustrating. I had a lot of problems to get even accepted to my exchange school, just because they did not do the paper work on time and it took weeks to answer my emails. Buses never come on time and workers at cafes do not hurry with your coffee. For Finnish people it can be irritating, because we are used to get things done on time. After accepting the slow and relaxed way of Portuguese people, I started to enjoy the relaxed and laid-back way of life.
Lisbon is known for the countless amazing viewpoints around the city, where you can enjoy a wide view of the city and cheap wine. Most of the things in Portugal is cheaper than in Finland, which makes life even more relaxed. The weather is amazing all-around year and it really affects your mood and helps with autumn depression. This year beach weather lasted till the end of October and in December and January it was still mainly sunny and about 15-20 degrees. There are tens of beaches close to Lisbon and trying out surfing is a must. Portugal is a quite small country, so all the beautiful places of Portugal are easily reachable, for example Porto, Algarve and Obidos. Also, it is easier to find cheap flights to other European countries, one way starting from 10€. I recommend buying Erasmus cards to ESN and ELL, the Erasmus organizations which arrange various events, trips and parties. For example, I got to do skydiving and surfing, which were great experiences.
My experience with the school was not the best, but I would not change anything about the experience. Lisbon and Portugal is full of other opportunities, so you will not get bored during the exchange.
I’m gonna tell you something about my exchange in Lissabon. I went there in September and stayed there five months. At first we had Portuguese language course which lasted two weeks before our actually studies. That was really nice way to get to know people before actually starting school! The actual studies were full of group works and presentations, which was nice at first but you get tired of that little by little. Studies were a lot different than in Finland, but I didn’t expect that I would have better studies abroad than in Finland. At least the city was so nice that not so good school wasn’t that big deal.
Best way to meet all the exchange students and get to know people as much as possible is to go to different events that ESN and ELL organize. (https://erasmuslifelisboa.com). They organize pubcrowls, trips to smaller cities, skydiving (which was so cool, huge recommendation!!), speed friending and a lot more. By participating to these, you will definitely find interesting people from different countries!
I travelled around Portugal, to smaller cities. The most beautiful place I can recommend is Setubal, a lot of beaches there and so quiet, totally peace. I can tell you a couple of places also in Lissabon, you should visit. Beautiful beaches, like Carcavelos and Cascais. You get there easily with train. Tram 28 is the most famous tram in Lissabon and it goes through the whole city, so that is good way to see city also if you don’t have energy to walk around city. Lissabon is full of uphill, so many people use tram 28 to see the city. Belem is near to the center, and there is Torre de Belem, which is worth to visit. There is many viewpoints in the city, where you can see beautiful sunsets and the whole city.
All in all, my stay in Lissabon was really good. I wouldn’t change a day!
I arrived back home June last year, but let’s pretend it’s spring 2019 and I’m still living in Tallinn.
I like the name of this blog as Estonia is the country eighty kilometers below Finland – so not so far away. That’s why I named my post So Near but Still Far Away. Tallinn is a South Helsinki for many people from Finland like Helsinki is North Tallinn to Estonians.
One time in this comedy club an Estonian woman, who works as a guide in Tallinn said
“Everybody asks me that what should you see while staying in Tallinn?
I tell them
I’ll start to use that in reverse.
In my spear time outside of Uni and school work, I hang out with my friends, eat, travel, see movies and go to different music events or clubs. I have already seen many movies in the theaters in Tallinn and will see many more! The ticket prices here are so much cheaper compared to Finland. And this spring is coming so many good new movies out. The more sunnier and warmer it gets I’ll spend more time outside. I have visited once Budapest, Hungary and Riga, Latvia. Many times Finland – Tampere and Helsinki. To Riga I went with a bus which took approx four hours and the bus ticket was like five euros. From Tallinn you can take bus to multiple big cities like St. Petersburg and Vilnius. So if you come here for your exchange – try to visit even one European city among Tallinn.
I study in Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School at Tallinn University. I have six different courses from different study fields. Even couple from Master’s Studies. I have classes only two to four days a week, one or two classes a day. Well we have a lot of essays, readings and other tasks beside lectures and classes.
“Tallinn University is the largest university of humanities in Tallinn and the third biggest public university in Estonia. We have more than 7,500 students (with 9.5% of them international), and over 800 employees, including nearly 400 researchers and lecturers.”
I hope everybody has a great time during their exchange!
I have been doing my internship in Fuengirola, Spain for almost 5 months now. Fuengirola is a small tourist town not far away from Malaga (about 35km). It is located on the south coast and belongs to the region of Andalucia. It’s a very popular tourist attraction especially among Finnish and British people.
My workplace is a Finnish company named Barona, so most of my time I spend surrounded by Finnish people. The local working culture seems extremely relaxed. Most of the cafeterias are open from 10am to 1pm after which they have ‘Siesta’ for about 2-3 hours and then they open up again around 4-5pm.
I spend most of my free time with my co-workers or at the gym. I have made some great friends here with whom I have been visiting some of the most beautiful places in Spain. There are still many places that I haven’t visited and would like to see, but fortunately I have another 5 months in Madrid starting January, so I will have time for that later.
I wanted to do my exchange studies in Seoul, South Korea because I wanted to experience East Asian culture. I have travelled quite a lot around the world, but I have never been to East Asia before. Now my studies here is almost done and after all, this has been a very exciting trip. Culture is very unique in Korea which has made this trip very interesting. South Korea has also given me a new interesting perspective to understand the world.
I chose Sungkyunkwan University because it was the best university in East Asia for my studies. I got enrolled in all the courses I wanted. My major has been here Design and I have studied only art courses. I have liked all courses a lot and my professors have been very good. I have got many new ideas and learnt many new skills to do my artwork. I have studied 5 courses which are quite a lot for an exchange student in South Korea. It has meant that I have not had so much free time here.
The most challenging thing for me here has been living in a 25,5 million people metropole. There are people everywhere and it has been hard to find empty places and own peace. Many places are also very tiny in Seoul and it can feel uncomfortable first. I didn’t want to take a room from the University’s dormitory because there you have to share a room. So, I have been living in a very tiny goshiwon room, which has been a unique experience too.
I recommend Sungkyunkwan University for all art students. Teaching is international and high quality. You can get here new inspiration and learn new technical skills you have not learnt in TAMK.
I fell in love with Ireland. Irish people are heartfelt and funny, nature is gorgeous and there is live music everywhere, everyday. I studied at Cork Institute of Technology in Bishopstown. My course of study was Creative Digital Media (BA Honours). I think I was the first media student from TAMK in Ireland so far? Therefore, there was a great deal of misunderstandings though. To prevent anyone else to go through this: TAMK don’t have a contract with CIT in Creative Digital Media, only with the Fine Art students. After all the trouble I had to go through, I got a permit of exception from CIT to study one semester in Creative Digital Media and I’m truly grateful for that.
It was very heart-warming how well the Student Society kept an eye for students’ well-being and how much there were organized trips and events by the International Student Society as well. In addition, we had a chat with our course lecturers from time to time as they wanted to know how we are keeping up.
In Ireland after school clubs were a big thing. There were a whole lot of sport clubs and society clubs to choose from. One of my best decisions during my exchange was to join the CIT Canoe Club. That was basically how I truly got to know Irish culture as the whole club was full of Irish students. I had the chance to make Irish friends and have long chats with them about life in Ireland. There were meetings outside the canoeing as well. Their team spirit was incredible and I felt very welcome. There was always help offered in everything before I even asked for it. I got to see more of the beauty of Irish nature as well. One of our trips became one of the most incredible experiences in my life. We drove to a bioluminescent lake of Cork on a dark night. We kayaked around the lake under the wide and starry sky. I even got to see Saturn and Mars in the sky. If you touched the water, it started sparkling! I felt like I was in a fairytale.
My free time in Ireland included kayaking, jogging with my roommate and seeing my other friends. One of the best things were road trips around Cork County and Galway. I really enjoyed that all of my friends lived so near, so we could walk to the campus together and have dinners at our student apartments. As I had French roommates, the best ones I could have wished for, sometimes I felt like I got to know French culture even better than Irish. I got very familiar with Frech foods and ways of life. We had a custom to prepare both French and Finnish dinners together and talk about our cultures. I taught them some Finnish and I learned some French as well (my roommate still remembers “rock, paper, scissors” in Finnish).
But back to Ireland – I really liked Bishopstown. Its size was perfect. You could find anything you needed and there were always people around but it still had the feeling of a small, heartfelt town. We participated in the events of international student society, went to the movies quite often, including Cork Film Festivals and of course visited quite many pubs. We had one favorite place, called Franciscan Well, as they had delicious brick oven pizza.
Speaking of food, fish and chips dish was as good and common as it is in England. Even though the traditional food of Ireland is meat stew, different sea food came a cross more. Not a surprise though, as Ireland is an island. What comes for Irish drinks, I really liked fresh Guinness and Beamish as they are very soft and tasty. However, Irish Coffee and Orchards Thieves cider became my personal favorites. If you are having a night out, a strong recommendation for Baby Guinness as well!
My courses in Ireland were Applied Animation, AV Technology, Creativity Innovation & Teamwork and Web Design Basics. Compared to my course of study in Finland I had less lectures to attend but much more assignments and tests to do. I really liked that we had two exam periods, the first one in October, so everything didn’t build up for December. One thing I was really shocked about as a Media student was the poor equipment. In Finland we have a large storage of different cameras, lenses, lights, recording equipment and basically almost anything you could think of needing. In Ireland we had a couple different Canons, one or two stands and not a single light or even a reflector. In addition, the “equipment storage” wasn’t open every day during the week and there were certain days for rental and for returnings. This made scheduling quite challenging with other students and modules. When we had to do the music video with two Canons and zero budget, I started to appreciate our circumstances in Finland in a new way.
I was told in advance that in Ireland there can be very thick accents. I was a bit worried at first how I could manage, with school especially. It was comical how shocked I got in the very beginning of my way to Ireland, as I sat in the airplane and the first announcement came. I couldn’t understand a word. So many thoughts rushed in my head how hard this would become, until the announcement came in English. The first one had been in Irish.
So, I didn’t have a hard time with the accents after all. Cork accent is very nice to mind, actually. All my lecturers spoke loud and clear. I had only two times when I couldn’t understand what someone was saying and both of them were older people, one was a janitor and one was a bus driver with a very thick Cork accent.
Being in exchange offered lifelong memories and friends. My self-esteem grew as well as my interest towards other countries and cultures. I learned a bunch of new things and I got better with speaking English, significantly. After being exchange, some kind of longing for living abroad again arose. I can’t wait to go back to Ireland again.
Funny that am in Mombasa making music! the irony of it all is that there is a Finnish song called Mombasa that actually doesn’t visually portray the vibrancy and love culture of this city.
Can show you around my city? Yes, of course, now you know that this city has grown me. Just some bit of History maybe? well Mombasa is a coastal city of Kenya along the Indian Ocean, actually the countries oldest and second largest city after Nairobi
its spiced up with a mixture of cultures tracing back from Arabic origin, tourists from Europe especially Italy, among other countries, locals, Indians, Americans actually everyone is represented here.
Music here has a lot of Arabic influence, coastal taarab and a lot of nice mellow rhythms, this is where I developed my own music genre, this is where it all started. I came home to work with other experts on what I started, I am currently working in studio with Shirko Media an amazing music label, the producer and owner is a multi talented young man.
During my spare time, am either on the beach, out hiking or just sleeping since I don’t get to sleep well as I work a lot at night. Working with women and filming documentaries about women issues.
Comparing our way of studying to Finland, we are actually more into theory, understanding something completely then practicing after, My university is Finland is more of Hands on, with all these together, its a Win for me.
Talking about culture, Mombasa people and loving , caring and gentle.
When we landed in Oita Airport, I was too tired to even keep my eyes open, but I was still so fascinated by all the blossoming cherry trees and beautiful mountains. Everything was new and beautiful. I am glad that even after living there for a semester I still see the same beauty in the surrounding nature and cozy houses by the rice fields.
We settled down in a dormitory building near our campus, where other international students greeted us, showed the place and gave us free bikes to use for the whole semester! They helped us get started and we biked to some stores together, where we needed help with the language. I did not know any Japanese going there and studied mostly the language all semester.
During the studies we learned Japanese at an insane speed and went through the whole Genki 1 book. In addition to language studies, in one course we got insight on the problems and beauty of the culture, society and history of Japan. Maybe the most interesting part was to gain awareness of the reasons why Japan is the way it is, what causes the inequality and working culture problems. Oita University however was not interculturally very prepared and did not have clubs or weekly activities for English speaking people, which was a disappointment.
We made multiple road trips to Kunisaki, which a 1-hour travel from Oita. Kunisaki has very interesting spiritual and religious history as well as beautiful nature. In Kunisaki we joined a rice festival, connected with the locals, tried zazen meditation in a temple and heard a piece of history from the resident minister of the temple. We also saw multiple beautiful shrines and next to temples you could sometimes find “ojizosan”, little buddha statues.
After we were done with school, I travelled throughout Japan with my friend. First, we flew to Tokyo and started slowly traveling downwards from there by train, sleeping in Airbnb or hotels on the way. From Tokyo we went to Nagoya, where we visited some local tourist attractions and I finally bought a phone with a proper camera. From Nagoya we headed to Kyoto, which was stunning with its nature and old architecture. Kyoto was one of my favorite places I visited while in Japan. Next stop was Osaka, which was right next door and after staying there a few nights we went to Hiroshima for a little bit longer time. Hiroshima was another of my favorites, maybe because of how good accommodation we got! Then it was time to go back to Oita and pack our bags to head to Finland.
Overall the exchange was great. There were many happy moments and many disappointing moments, but it is all part of the experience. I have much better understanding of Japanese culture and people, and I have more perspective to life in general through this intercultural experience.