A full year exchange in Southampton Solent University, UK, has been an amazing journey. I major game art in TAMK and I was looking for some more in-depth teaching in that area, so I found out Solent offers great courses taught by game art professionals, I truly recommend it!
As I took courses from both first year and second year to get as much practical experience as possible I had to work harder than I had used to in TAMK. I got lots of honest feedback and support from classmates who all were friendly and great to hang around, so even as practically the only exchange student in the class I didn’t feel out of place and it was great to work in such an inspiring environment. I gained new skills and leveled up in so many areas!
Marathon watching in the town center.
The town was invaded by 100 art zebras last summer!
Southampton itself is not much larger than Tampere, so I felt pretty comfortable living there. Most of my weekends I would work on school projects, but there was plenty of time to do fun stuff as well. We explored the town with my exchange friends and classmates after school and weekends; it has no beach but an active harbour, two large shopping centres, many pretty parks, Sprinkles (the best waffle & ice cream place!), and all kinds of events during weekends, like marathons, concerts, art exhibitions, street music and so on. If you wish to go shopping, go before midday, because places get pretty crowded after school/work, as if the whole town is out there! They also have four movie theaters there like Odeon IMAX or the school’s own Sonar theater which has an amazing quality of sound.
Southampton in full bloom in May.
I also visited London once or twice a month as my close relative lives in Northern London. For that reason I had already familiarised myself with the metropolis, and I find coaches, trains and the underground easy to use. There I attended a Halloween party held by their neighbours, visited the Winter Wonderland, National History museum and Science museum (with a robot exhibition), and attended London Comic Con and EGX Rezzed (game convention). Good times! This exchange adventure has given me courage, wisdom and power more than I could have imagined!
I was doing my exchange in Southampton Solent University, United Kingdom, the last semester (2016-2017). I took courses from both game art and graphic design, but mainly focusing in graphic design. The studies were a lot different when compared to the ones I had done in TAMK; I felt that the level of teaching was excellent in Solent University, both in game art and graphic design units. The tasks were more challenging yet I felt that I learned so much more although I was there only for a year. There were a lot of feedback sessions in small groups, which helped everyone to progress in the right direction with their tasks.
During my exchange most of my time was taken by school because of the amount of tasks and how much research you had to do for them, but on weekends I usually had a day or two to hang out with my new friends. I was also able to do couple trips while staying in the UK, for example in Oxford, Warwick Castle, Brighton and of course many many times in London. It only takes one and a half hour by train to London, and if you booked your tickets in advance you could get them pretty cheap!
There were peacocks in the Warwick castle, just wandering around among the visitors.
Brighton had beautiful beaches and of course Mr. Whippies!
Southampton was a nice place to study and it reminded me a lot of Tampere, where I’m currently studying in Finland. There were a lot of coffee shops and restaurants where to hang out with your friends, and my university had clubs for almost every hobby there is. The city wasn’t too big or small, and it had lots of beautiful parks which I wish we had here in Finland!
It’s been soon three months since I arrived back from my exchange semester in the city of Leeds, UK. I can say that it was one of the best experiences in my life. During that time I travelled more than ever before, met a bunch of fantastic people, and gathered tons of new impressions. I’ve been also struck by wanderlust, and since the end of exchange period I’ve already visited four different countries!
Regarding my studies… I can’t say that I learned a lot (at least in my main field of interest). I study film making and specialize on sound design, but unfortunately didn’t really gain any new knowledge in that area in Leeds Beckett University. But I did return with my own film, which I didn’t expect. Never could have I realized an experimental short film as a part of my studies back in Tampere. I had a wonderful tutor who was excited about the idea and helped me to find my style.
All exchange students were so keen on making new friends at the beginning of the exchange period that there was never lack of activity during spare time. Leeds is a very cool city for students. It has it all: pubs, clubs, music venues, festivals, cinemas… You name it. But I wanted to see more – through a travel company aimed for students, and also by our own, we maid numerous weekend trips to different places in England, from Brighton to Edinburgh.
I don’t know when will I be back in UK again (hopefully while it’s still a part of EU…), but I do know I already miss living in Leeds.
Cyprus is one amazing island full of treasures. I did my study exchange there and my journey now continue to another place. I leaved in Nicosia which is the capital city. The atmosphere in the city and around the island is from ancient time mixed with oriental flavour.
I spend my time there in different ways. Mostly I tried to discovered and taste new things related to the culture as well as to meet new people from another countries. I was travelling, enjoyed the night life, taste the delicious food, sport, relaxing under the sun with glass of fresh orange juice, and of course my courses which I had in the University of Nicosia, where I enjoyed very much.
The climate is totally different from Finland in point that here the average temperature during the year is around 25 C. But after all even here I found some snow in the Mountains :))
Yamanashi, but believe or not, I managed to get lost between the Sakaori station and school grounds… You can see the school from the station.
Finally I found my way to my new school. I signed myself in and went to my room, my future home for 4 months. I slept first 2 days before my school started. First weeks we had orientation studies, how to enroll to courses, what are the rules, who are the teachers. As a typical Finn I found it hard to find people to connect with. But after a week or two, things started to work out for me.
My first class in iCLA was Elementary 1 Japanese. The teacher turned out to be the sweetest and most helpful lady named Akiyama Maki. In this point I have to praise her and thank her for all the help and encouragement she has given to me. Arigatou gozaimasu! I ended up taking a literature course with Romanian professor, George Sipos. The course has been a lot of work, but 10 traditional Japanese books and history papers later, I feel very happy that I ended up taking this course. Knowledge indeed increases the pain you feel but it also opens your eyes for certain things. In the end of semester George will move back to USA, so sadly the future students will not have the possibility of taking his classes. My drawing teacher Kristen Newton was half Icelandic half Californian. What a strange but talented lady. She believes that everybody can draw, we just need to learn the best way to do it. And in the end of her course I agree with her. Last but certainly not least… Professor Alex Wilds, USA. There is a character, I ended up taking 4 of his classes during my stay in Japan and I have never met a teacher like him. The amount of positive energy this teacher has… even a Finn starts to smile. It is thanks to him, that I found my love towards ceramics, clay and sculpting.
What is different compared to Finland? First of all most of the courses are very different. Of course my teachers are all from different backgrounds, while in Finland most of my teachers are actually Finnish. Lectures are shorter in here than in Finland, 75 minutes, after that 15 minutes break. Also classes are smaller and a lot about the interaction between the professor and the student. Of course there is a lot of work to be done, but at the same time the students are fairly free to choose the themes of their work themselves. This makes it very interesting.
Differences between Japanese and international students can be seen in dormitory life. It has been great to see how some of the Japanese students open up to new cultures and friends. But where there is light, there is shadow. Japanese students tend to take way more pressure of their studies. Also not all of them are quite as open minded as they could be.
But in the end, I have enjoyed every second of my stay and to be honest I am not ready to go home. But as all good things, this experience has to come to its end.
I still remember the feeling when I, after a long day of travelling saw through the train’s window the silhouette of Panorama tower. I was tired and exhausted as the trip turned out to be longer because of delayed flights and so on, so I was really relieved to finally be at my destination! 🙂 After I stepped out of the train and walked to my hotel for the first night, Leipzig felt immediately very sympathetic and cheerful town. I also marked that it was very clean everywhere. And because I had spend the previous week by my parents in Lapland, the weather felt warm and already full of spring as well. 🙂 I was really excited and looking forward to everything that was going to follow.
I arrived to Leipzig around a week before the summer semester was about to begin, so the first week went through with moving and getting to know the city better. I had been going to a pentacostal church there in Finland before, so I decided to look for one in Leipzig as well, and I found a really nice free church called TOS-Leipzig. Since the first week that church has been a great part of my stay here in Leipzig, and I am sure the connection with me and the people will continue after I I move back to Finland. 🙂 During the first week I also got to know the other person who started his exchange studies at the same time with me. And yeah, it is true that there were only two of us starting it on summer semester, as most had already started in last autumn. I also started trying to use as much German as I could with people, which turned out to be a little bit of a challenge as people then answered to me in fast German, and many times I couldn’t get a word they were saying! 😀 But little by little, that is how you learn a new language. 😉
As I study music and specially performing arts, my studies are maybe a little different as for the most other subjects. They consist mainly of personal practicing, private instrument lessons and chamber music and orchestra projects. This semester there have been two different orchestra projects, and I got to take part in both of them! 🙂 First one was a normal concert program with a symphony from Anton Bruckner and two concertos for solo instruments. The other one was an Opera from Mozart, that went on for about a month altogether. I got to say that I have absolutely enjoyed playing in our school’s orchestra! We have a wonderful conductor, called Mathias Foremny, and he is so passionate about music and orchestral playing, that he lights up the whole orchestra and inspires us players to give all we have got for the music. In the very first concert I remember having goose pumps after the peaceful second movement of Bruckner’s symphony. Another great experience was a so called Chamber music evening, where the players from our stringed instrument department and some pianists had an evening together and just played and sight read some famous chamber music-repertory while having snacks and a bit of red wine. Just nice time together with the people and good music! 🙂
One of my goals for the exchange here in Germany was to learn the language more. I have studied it in the comprehensive school, so I had a little bit of ground onto which I could start building. As I went to the International high school, where we had to use English as a language of our study, I knew the different phases of the development in the beginning. First it is absolutely horrible as you don’t understand a lot of what people say to you and you do not know how to say what you want to say. That is a vital phase though, cause you just need to step out of the comfort zone of swiching to English and come in touch with the practice of using a new language. After a while you start to learn new vocabulary and your ear gets used to recognizing words of the new language. Then your understanding gets better, and you can also start using some phrases and words that you have heard often without thinking. I also recognize from my language development, that many times there are short seasons when I learn to use some word or phrase, and I find myself using it almost everywhere. 🙂 And then it changes to another one. If I observe the development of my German, I would say I am at this phase, as I can use my German in daily life, but it still takes me time to first understand what the other person has said, then think how I want to respond, and then figure out the way how to say it. Complicated sentences in spoken language are still hard for me to produce. From this point it is good to develop it further, my goal would be that some day I’d be able to speak German so that I can express feelings and respond without having to think of it. 🙂 So, concerning the Language I would like to encourage everyone who lives abroad to study, observe and use the language of the country. According to my experience it is almost always so that people like it when you try to communicate with their language, even when it is not perfect. And people will always find a way to understand each other, which is actually the main purpose of communicating. So don’t be afraid, just use it! 🙂 Und es macht einfach viel Spass auch!
Greetings from Manchester, England! Yes thats right. A British man from Finland has come home on exchange.
I write this post after the awful events which occurred a few days ago in Manchester, therefore I am feeling very patriotic right now. Mancunians are flooding the streets getting a bee tattoo to show solidarity and to show that we have all come together. The bee is a worker bee and is a symbol of the city’s hard-working past, during the Industrial Revolution. It’s times like these I am so glad that I came back to this wonderful city and I am very proud to call myself a Mancunian still, after losing it somewhat whilst being away in Finland.
Moving to a more positive note, my time here has been wonderful. My exchange has probably been quite different to most considering this is my hometown. I think it is fair to say I did miss out on a lot of the experiences others will have. My flight into Manchester was my standard yearly flight coming home for Christmas. Except this time I wasn’t coming back..for awhile. I didn’t actually tell my friends back here in England I was coming back for Christmas, but after New Year. This lead to a delightful surprise visit from me during the traditional Christmas Eve drinks.
After some stressful organising I managed to get my modules in check. Things took a long while before getting everything sorted (others had the same problem) which is something I warn others about before applying here, although it was worth it, I swear. The University is Salford, I probably should mention that.. After confirming my modules, I was ecstatic to announce that my entire studies would be based at Media City UK. Home of the huge and most popular TV stations BBC and ITV. The modules I picked were scriptwriting, editing and TV drama. TV drama was the main module which I wanted to pick so I was delighted that it was still available.
Finding things to do was much easier than what others may experience here. I have a big group of friends here already, however I did my best to mingle with the other exchange students. My home was about an hour and a half away from the University on the bus, an hour away from student accommodation’s. It was hard to keep in touch with everyone whilst I was there so my biggest advice would be to live as close as possible to the campus and its people. This way there would be no way in missing out on activities and things like that (I don’t mean drinking I promise.) One thing I did not miss about being in Finland were shop prices! It was nice to be back in a country where I could pick up a broccoli for 45p! I also enjoyed being able to chat to shop workers etc more easily rather than in Finland because of no language barriers. I don’t speak Finnish so I don’t fully know whether conversations are had like this, but I certainly enjoyed asking the shop worker whether hes “alright?!” and whether he watched “the game” last night.
Being in Manchester I went to watch Manchester City play several times, went to wrestling shows and took part in any social activities I could do. I got to say goodbye to a hero and meet two new heroes. Not all heroes wear capes..they wear moustaches.
Being at this university has been an amazing experience. It is certainly something I will be referring to for a long time in my life. The classes have not been anything special, but I have enjoyed them all the same. The workload has certainly been different compared to TAMK. Classes have been much shorter. 3 hours Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. However they expect you to do a lot of work outside of these times. 90% of my work has been projects on my own, which is something I am not used to recently in TAMK. My original understanding was that TV drama would be a module where you create a number of different pieces in a big team together. It was actually a module designed for me to be the producer of a film and produce a 5 minute short film. The workload was then increased when I was informed I would be directing another piece also. Getting a crew together with a cameraman, actors, director and sound is probably one of the most stressful things I’ll ever do in my school life.
It was difficult getting involved in the majority of the classes as I was the only exchange person in them. I did enjoy however pretending to be the greatest Mancunian of all time.. it didn’t last long. Scriptwriting however was a completely different ball game. Every class we read out loud each others scripts in a big semi circle. Being British helped me out a lot here considering English is my mother tongue, however I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for a foreign exchange person. This was by far my favourite module as I thought the teaching was fantastic and it was so refreshing to see someone care so much about your work.
My conclusion about the country? Come to England before it’s too late, stop the Brexit!
My conclusion about the city? Manchester, I love you.
My studies at Salford University have been going well so far and there is still almost a month left of my stay, 2 weeks of school and 2 weeks of free time. I’ve been enjoying it a lot!
The structure of my studies at Salford University differ quite a lot from what I’ve been used to in TAMK. I have lectures on Monday and Tuesday and seminars on Thursday and Friday. On every day I have school it doesn’t last more than a couple of hours. I managed to pick the Performance module so I have piano lessons and improvisation group lessons as well.
The content of the courses is definitely more creativity based than in TAMK. This is an inspiring approach and I enjoy it but on the other hand it means that the studies are less practical and the things taught might not be transferable to professional environment. Comparing the two schools I would say that TAMK gives you more actual knowledge while Salford is more inspiring and encourages the students to find their own way of doing their stuff.
As mentioned, the days at University aren’t long at all. This leads to tremendous amount of free time. My room isn’t the most spacious one and in the house there is only a small living room for 5 people so I might get insane if I hang out in there all the time. Luckily, the University is right next to my place. The library is one of my most visited places: there I can relax and read in a silent environment. The school has practice rooms for instrumentalist so I’ve been rehearsing for my piano assignments there. I’ve made friend with the other Erasmus students and we see each other one in a while. But I have turned down their invitations to join them for night clubbing. I just feel too old for it.
Here are some pictures that I took while exploring the UK:
It’s starting to feel odd that I lived in Leeds for five months but it all seems already so distant. Maybe it’s the Spring Sun and the green fields receiving some saturation causing these Leeds flashbacks as the weather is now almost identical to how it was most of the time in Leeds.
Speaking of Beeston, the place was an experience. The area has its dark past of crime and violence. For example, Beeston was the home of the men behind London bombings back in 2005. In October I couldn’t walk home as I was stopped a flock of policemen who closed a large part of the street for a murder investigation. Luckily it was a matter of family drama rather than random gang violence, but it was still shivering.
The area is totally non-gentrified: there’s litter on the streets (often paved with dog poo) and once there was a dead cat on the street for a day.
The area was indeed on the rougher side, but hey, low rents and fast bus connections to the city centre!
I studied documentary filmmaking in Leeds Beckett University. We made and actual short documentary film during the first semester! For the first months we had courses where we learnt to use school equipment and how to record audio, light a scene and so on.
Studying in Leeds caused some serious cognitive dissonance. They had much more hands-on studies than what I have in TAMK, but it was still really vague. Learning was completely dependent on my own projects quality. Luckily, I had really motivated team to work on the short documentary which turned out to be good.
As an ale enthusiast I felt like I was in heaven. The country is full of breweries from smaller to larger ones and the pints are always overflowing whether one paid 2 or 6 pounds. The British kitchen isn’t necessarily the most culinaristic one, but it had its moments – especially when served with fine local ale!
My exchange in Malmö was nice. My course, called Storytelling – Narration Across Media suited my studies to become a screenwriter here in Finland. According to the course guide the idea of the course was to give a wide idea about how narration is made in different medias. So this meant we covered games, books, films, comics and even sound. It was a lot of information but for obvious reasons we couldn’t dive to depths with them (so to speak). But I liked my course and it helped me to think about narration in a broader sense, not only through screenwriting.
I also had a small adventure while there. As my application went late to Malmö University for some reason, I wasn’t eligible for student housing which they normally offer to their exchange students. So on my first day I didn’t know were I was going to sleep, as renting from private was impossible. Well I ended up staying in different Airbnb places eating up ALL my savings from the summer before and it sucked. But because of that I got to meet a lot of people I wouldn’t normally have met, and it was cool. I eventually did get a room in the student apartment due to a cancellation and slowly got to know the people there. It was hard at first because they had known each other for months by then but it went okay I guess. I met some really lovely people that I hope will be my friends for life.
Compared to Finland studying in Malmö University was pretty much the same. The education system as a whole was really similar, although student organizations were really active and they organized multiple events, had clubs and trips and everything. Teachers and school staff were really interested and active in helping their students and it was really great.