Category Archives: Culture

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

Among new vibes

Alarm rings at seven o’clock. Even though I have got used to it, for me it’s still (and maybe will always be?) hard to leave warm, cosy bed every morning. After basic morning routines I put my sneakers on and get outside: it’s time for morning running!

In Finland I am studying musical theatre and here I am focusing more on theatre and that makes the biggest difference in my studies if I compare them. My studies here in Estonia consist of different types of practical theatre lectures, such as body awareness, stage movement, acting, singing… And I also study Estonian language, which is quite useful here. At first it definitely wasn’t the easiest way to study, (to be the only one in a group of seventeen people who is not speaking Estonian and lectures are held mostly in that language) but definitely the best way to learn a language! The similarity between Finnish and Estonian language has of course helped me a lot also.

Viljandi, where I live, is adorable, peaceful, little town in easter Estonia. Everything is so near that you can mostly walk everywhere and even me who I am always biking from place to another have survived easily here without a bike. Here you do not have big shopping centers or vivid nightlife – but what you have is that so called ”Viljandi-vibe” which I love. Cosy cafeterias, nature everywhere – parks and forest in the centre, empty streets in the night, same dog walker passing by every morning… and many kind of cultural events which are keeping this town alive. I can say I haven’t been drinking this much green tea, seeing this much concerts or walking so many lazy walks in a parks just for fun – for a very long time.

Sure I have been exploring other Estonian also – but there is so much still to see! I have visited in Tartu and Tallinn several times and to those two months I still have left my plan is to include at least trip to Riga and some places in Estonia as well.

Christmas market at Tallinn Town Hall Square

Here the weather is quite the same than in Finland. They sell Fazerin sininen and rye bread in the stores. We have many similar words, same kind of ways to behave. I love the architecture that they have still so many old buildings left and cobbled streets.. But for me culture and behaving seems to be quite similar anyway. But here I live in student dormitory which is not usual in Finland – and this has been maybe the longest time in my life when I haven’t been in sauna. (Well, if I really would like to I could find it here somewhere as well.) As they say – everything has it’s time and place. And for now, this is definitely the right one.

Graz, a city in a valley

Hello!

I’m an exchange student at University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria. I study singing as my main subject and I’m here for 6 months, the summer semester 2017. I love my school and the city. It must not come as  a surprise, but this country is a dream for a student of classical music! I was so lucky that I got to take my boyfriend and our 2-year-old son with me, so the 3 of us are experiencing this all together.

I have been planning to travel more on my spare time, but life has been quite busy with school.  The only places I went to were Salzburg and Vienna. It’s very handy with Flixbus! Though always when we have a little chance to do something, we have been getting to know the city more. Especially after getting to know some local friends, we have found amazingly beautiful places, mostly on tops of some mountains. Well, like the topic describes, Graz is surrounded my mountains. There is also one in the middle of the city called “Schlossberg” with an amazing view of course, and places to have a beer… And because of the mountains the city itself gets very hot at the beginning of June and lasts for long! No air-conditioning trough the mountains 😀

Between TAMK and here.. we can see that in Graz the school can afford more different kinds of courses. Of course it’s a fact that people around the whole world want to study classical music in Austria, it’s very popular. Singers get 2,5 singing lessons per week, they learn French and Italian for all 4 years. They have individual lessons with correpetitors twice a week and on the side of a big opera project each year they offer high quality opera-class projects. They even have individual weekly classes with professional opera directors. The level is so high that I can only listen to my colleagues and learn how they do it all!

I’m so happy to have had this experience. And Graz is so magical !!! <3

Yours,

Piia

Lenge siden sist!

It’s been a little while since I came back to Finland, but I still long to be back in Oslo. When I took the bus towards the airport at the end of summer 2016, I had absolutely no idea what kind of an adventure I would have in Norway.

World famous statues and views from Vigelandsparken in Oslo, Norway

I arrived in Oslo about a week before the start of my studies. I did this because I wanted to spend the week just indulging in the more touristy things, aka visiting land marks and shopping. Walking around the city was a good way to get a little more familiar with the surrounding area and the place that I would be spending the following year in. At first the city seemed huge but as I got to know it a little more, I was surprised how cozy it felt after a while. Pretty much everything was within a walking distance, which was a huge perk.

Once my 3D-graphics -studies started at Westerdals School of Arts, Communication and Technology, I was bombarded by deadlines and tasks that were challenging to say the least. One course I was interested in was unfortunately entirely in Norwegian. I told my teacher I had no issue having to translate things on my own, if I could just enroll myself. He not only enrolled me, but he actually managed to switch the course language for me, including the lectures and all study material. This just shows how hospitable Norwegians can be! Out of +40 students, the language of an entire 4 month course was changed because of one foreigner. Talk about being lucky!

I also befriended people in my class and I was able to relax and wind down with them after each school day and during weekends.  We enjoyed just hanging out by watching movies and playing games, but we also took walks on top of Grefsenkollen, which is a hill (almost a mountain) overseeing Oslo. I recommend anyone who goes to Oslo to check it out, the pictures do not do it justice!

You can see the entire dowtown of Oslo from Grefsenkollen. Climbing to the top is a great way to spend a chill sunday

I spent the first half a year living right in the city center. The school was just a few minutes of walking away and I could get pretty much anywhere in the matter of 15 minutes. This was nice, but unfortunately the noise was quite bad at times, especially during weekends. This is to be expected of course, living in the center of a capital city and all. I was, however, relieved to move to a new apartment in Ullevål at the start of 2017. I had to take a tram to get to school each day, but the environment was a lot more quiet, which was huge for me.

Tramstop near my apartment on January 2017

After a few months of staying in Oslo, I was comfortable calling it my home. The language barrier was hardly ever an issue and most people were extremely helpful and friendly towards me. The year I spent abroad was definitely one of the best years of my entire life!

Tiny cottage by Akerselva, the river that runs all the way across Oslo

 

 

Greetings from Sofia

Hello! I live in the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia. My stepmother is Bulgarian and she has been getting me acknowledged with Bulgarian culture and traditions, so to improve the language skills and general knowledge of Bulgaria. I have many friends and relatives here, caring about me. I never feel lonely, yet sometimes I want to be alone, as there is always someone next to me. They care about me too much, and are afraid, that something may happen, as it is not safe to be alone on the streets of Sofia at night.
When it comes to my local school – National Academy of Music ”Pancho Vladigerov”, it reminds me of the Soviet Union, in a way. They have very strict teachers, each specialising on one specific musical instrument. Students have no right to speak their own opinions out loud and have to be absolutely quiet when teachers speak to the class. It seems that every student is always afraid to speak out or to do something wrong. I had such fear as well, so I did my best during my violin practice, in order to master it to a desired level.
I was treated the same way as native students; I was not an exception. Apparently, it is because I am Russian and come from the Slavic origin, just like Bulgarians. Perhaps, it was also because of how well I spoke Bulgarian; even looked like one. Meanwhile, I had friends from another parts of Europe attending the very same class, who were treated more kindly than us.
When it comes to my spare time in Bulgaria, I used it well, travelling around the country as much as I could afford. I had been to many places including: Kavarna, Varna, Dobrich, Burgas, Selistra, Blagoevgrad, Pernik, Mezdra, Plovdiv, Pazardjik, Haskovo, Starazagora and Banke. They all were, in their own charming way, special to me. And yet, I spent the most of my time in Sofia with one Bulgarian family, who are close friends of mine.
One of my favourite places to spend time was at the mountains. Out there, I enjoyed speaking to God, as it is such a peaceful and quiet place for a prayer.

When it comes to educational difference between Bulgaria and Finland, it seems harder to study in Bulgaria, as you have less freedom of choice when it comes to what to do and how to do, strictly following your professor’s orders. For example, during the aural training, teachers are the ones who pick individual singers, and you have to obey at once, if you are the one who is chosen, with no right to express your opinion or decline. In Finland, you may choose, whether you sing in a group or by yourself. However, in my point of view, Bulgarian students are more developed than Finnish, due to such strict orders and discipline.
I like it to be here, even though it is difficult. I have a great deal of old and new friends here. Everything is great! 

Hilsen fra Norge!

I have been busy getting to know the city better and all the people around me, at my school and neighbourhood. How lovely city Oslo is! Balance between beautiful old buildings and modern architecture, the sea, the nature nearby, but still the feeling of quite a big city. I love to live almost in the city centre and having all things near me just a few minutes’ walk away!

My school is nice and cosy, as it is quite small. There are many talented students and good teachers, I think! It has been nice to notice that my Norwegian skills improve day by day. I am glad that I had the courage to use the local language since the first day here. The studies have been quite similar to the ones at my school in Finland. I have been playing in orchestra periods and chamber music with other students. I have had my private cello lessons, and I have also been in classes with all the other cellists. In lectures I understand the language more and more. We even arranged our own festival called Fagerborgfestspillene! And one of the biggest advantages we have here is that there are enough classrooms for practicing at our school, yay!

The 17th of May was a great experience in Oslo! The whole city full of people, music and joy! “Hip, hip, hurra!”

Mail from the United Kingdom

Greetings!

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.

Sprinkles, mmmm…

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!

Have an awesome exchange!

Julia

Greeting from the UK!

Hello everyone!

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!

Warwick castle

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!

Cheers, Inka

Missing Leeds

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!

The first morning of school.

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.

Making of the animation bit for my short film”The House”.

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.

Leeds city centre.
Man United – Wigan, FA Cup Playoffs match.
Probably my favorite place in Leeds and a block away from my house, a cinema built in 1914, Hyde Park Picture House.

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.

My home street, Brudenell Avenue.

Greetings from Cyprus

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.

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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.

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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 :))

IMG_0702 Troodos Mountains

Cyprus,

see you again!

日本が大好きです!

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.

Best regards

Riina Haapakallio