Category Archives: Culture

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

A wee greeting from Glasgow

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

Anyway.

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

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

Days went by day after day and week after week.

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

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

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

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

My time in Munich

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO SCHOOLS IN FINLAND

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

 

 

Wonderful life in Prague

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

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

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

Konnichiwa from Beppu the onsen city!

The view from our dormitory lounge.

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

The pictoresque twin towers of APU

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

The lunches are very nice and tasty in APU cafeteria.

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

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

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

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

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

See you!

 

別府からこんにちは!Warm Greetings from Beppu!

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

Welcome to Beppu!

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

Photoshooting kimonos at the neighbouring beach

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

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

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

Path to Umi Jigoku

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

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

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

Studies starting in 3 2 1!

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

Training on a makiwara target

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

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

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

またね、日本!

From Aichi with love

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mind the keyframes

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

An illustration of mine in the office kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above a small animation I made for World Kindness Day.

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!!!