Category Archives: Culture

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

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.

Saluti da Roma!

Greetings from ancient city! This metropolitan is a must see and probably that’s why it´s also one of the most important tourist centers. Among the most famous monuments are the Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum Romanum and the fountain of Trevi. Here you can also find the tiny Vatican state that has amazing museums. Living here is an every-day cultural experience. You can find here nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture in almost every corner of the street. 2.8 million residents added to all the visiting tourists around the world makes this city very lively and pulsating.

 

First Sundays of the month are the best! It’s great that in this big, touristic city you have the opportunity to visit museums once a month for free. It´s a big deal for a student living on a student budget. This city is one of the world’s most culturally rich sight. For me, Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is due to historical sites. These sights are a source of inspiration for me. Besides my studies, this was the most important thing when deciding to apply to Rome for studies.

  

I study here composing at Conservatorio di musica Santa Cecilia. More accurately my major is film scoring. In Finland, there is no possibility to study film scoring so that was mostly the reason why I applied to this school.

The range of courses offered by the school is wide, which gives for exchange students plenty of opportunities. But the problem with this school and, to say the least, the Italian schools is the logistics in organizing the courses. Here, many courses might overlap, so you should have many B-plans for different courses. But you also might find some interesting courses that are not in the studying plans. Course lectures last almost every time four hours (at least in composing), so prepare your butt muscles ready for sitting long periods!

   

I like the thing that every composing student no matter which department he/she is in, can make various studies and expand their knowledge in music.

   

I spend a lot of time composing but in my spare time I enjoy walking around the city. Every time you can find new areas and streets full of wonderful things and enjoyable meals. Traveling around Italy is also very easy and quite cheap. There are plenty of bus companies that take you to new cities even with less than 10 euros. Visit Pisa, Firenze, Venezia, Napoli, Bologna…. it´s easy and very affordable. You could get an airplane round-trip ticket to Palermo for under 40euros! Mamma mia!

Go and explore! Have fun and eat a good pizza! Ci vediamo!!!

      

In a city between the mountains

I ventured toward the Korean peninsula with the knowledge that my main emphasis during my exchange period would be more culturally oriented subjects rather than my major of media studies. One might wonder how such an arrangement may benefit me in a long run, but I can easily scoff off those suspicions, for I cannot see downsides in enlarging my worldly viewpoint and create contacts for my future endeavors. As I knew that most of my compatriots would choose the capital, Seoul as their destination, I opted to think outside the box and point my heading into Daegu and Keimyung University.

I’ve been concentrating on Korean language, history and language studies, all of which complement each other rather sufficiently as Korean happens to be one of the more difficult tongues to master and honestly, for a minuscule period of four months I need all the help I can get. I do have one media class, which has served as a great reminder for more technical aspects of DSLR-camera when using it for video purposes, though I shot myself in the leg when leaving my camera back home, so I have enforced many, shall we say, creative solutions in order to make the footage from my smart phone look “artistic” or “aesthetically pleasing ”. Been working so far.

The only routine I have developed in Daegu has been my dormitory gym. Being free of charge, it offers a nice outlet for students after a rough school day or intensive cramming session, which is pivotal in Korean student culture. Coming from a university of applied sciences and being used to practical learning, I do not put that much faith in learning all the matters between this dimension and the next by heart. Sure, I’m lucky to be interested in history, culture and languages, but the low level of English colloquial skills show that locals emphasize learning through theory. Aside from school though, we are not that different. I have wandered around Daegu with a group consisting of French, Hungarians, Norwegians, Danes, Germans, Koreans, Kyrgyzstanis and Russians. All have enjoyed bowling, arcades and drinking as much as the others while sharing bits and pieces about their native culture. I am a bit of a wild card in this regard since out of 187 exchange students here, I happen to be the only Finn. Makes you feel special. I have seen a professional football match in Ulsan and visited an UNESCO-world heritage site in Gyeongju. The amount of awe this country has instilled in me makes me grateful of taking my chance in coming here.

The time here has flown by. While I know that the moment of departure will hit me like a freight train when I board the plane on Incheon airport, I do miss the cold North and the one place I truly call home. Korean study culture is a bit straightforward and treading on same conservative tracks it has gone on for decades and even students here say that the long-proposed reforms are much welcomed. That is not to say that the system here is bad. Crime is low as in Finland, people may not know how to communicate in English, but are incredibly helpful and warm towards outsiders, especially when you yourself show to be interested in their culture.

My little dormitory room will not offer shelter for much longer, as this chapter in my life will eventually come to its end, having given me the most pleasantly potent culture shock I never even knew I wanted to experience so badly.

University of Salford, TV studies

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Greetings from St. Paul, Minnesota. United States

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

 

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

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

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

It has been a great experience thus far 🙂

Tanti saluti dalla città eterna!

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

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

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

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

And let’s not forget the most important part…

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

Sending lots of love,

Katarina

Lincoln, Lincolnshire

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


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

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

Saluti dall´ Italia

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

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

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

A pianist on exchange

My exchange year in Denmark is reaching its end. I ended up in Aarhus quite randomly – I knew nothing about the city nor the music academy when applying here. However, after being accepted I was really looking forward to a year abroad and ready for a new adventure. I did not know what was waiting for me, but loved the idea of going.

Moving in was easy, I got a lovely apartment very close to the school and Aarhus seemed really nice. My good feeling didn´t really change after the first impression – everything worked great, the school seemed really good, I met nice people and I was very impressed after the first piano lesson with my new teacher. I felt so lucky, how could everything be so well? Well, it could.

My daily life in Aarhus consist of practising, teaching and common classes like ear training, music history etc. Every week there is a piano lesson with my teacher and addition to playing solo, I have studied accompaniment with singers and chamber music with other instrumentalists. Most of my studying time goes for practising and one of the main reasons why I enjoy studying here is the great facilities for practising and having a lot of time for it.

The school also offers the students a lot of opportunities to perform. The piano class  has student concerts about every three or four weeks. In the beginning of the study year we had an annual piano festival OPUS organised by the piano students. This year the theme was L. van Beethoven´s music and I must say that it was great way to start the semester and get into the piano class.

I spend my free time hanging out with my friends from school or doing sports, either at the gym lifting weights or running in a park nearby. I really love to spend time with the piano class. We are different kind of people from around the Europe sharing the same interest. During the year we have had such a good time together, numerous discussions about music and piano, nerdy jokes, dinners at the school´s rooftop, after-concert beers in the local pub, group lessons on Saturday afternoons and a lot more.

Both The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and Tamk in Tampere have their own strengths and weaknesses. The studying follows the same principles in both schools so that in the end there are not any really big differences. The courses are quite similar and my schedule looked about the same in both places. It was mainly the studying environment which made the difference for me. There is something I really like about the music academy here in Aarhus – the physical studying environment, practising facilities, the common atmosphere among the student and the teachers. I can say that the Erasmus year has been the best studying year for me so far. I have learnt so much about piano, music, myself and life overall. But without the great education I got in Finland I would not have ended up here in Aarhus.

Groeten uit Groningen

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

Martinitoren dominates the cityscape as the highest-rising building

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

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

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

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

Friet, a mandatory photo