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Frankfurt, die Bankenstadt

I started my exchange studies here in Frankfurt in the beginning of September. Now, a bit more than four months later, I can’t imagine how fast time has passed.

This was my third night in Frankfurt. I can’t imagine of a better start to the exchange than a pub crawl in Sachsenhausen.

In September, my only course was a German intensive course, so I had plenty of time to explore the city. All the other courses started in the middle of October (that’s when the “winter” semester starts here).  All in all, the courses have been okay. Some teachers are better than the others, but I think that’s a common thing all around the world. I still have the exam week waiting for me in February, so I can’t compare the level of difficulty to TAMK yet. I hope they are passable.

Frankfurt at night.

During my stay here in Frankfurt, I’ve been able to travel easily. I’ve visited some towns nearby, as well as some further away. Here are some pictures:

In September, we visited a wine field in Rüdesheim, the wine was tasty.

Oktoberfest is a traditional festival in Germany. It is mainly celebrated in München. As one of my friends is doing their exchange there, I paid him a visit.

The Christmas markets in Frankfurt during Christmas time were very pleasant to the eye. Not to mention the skyscrapers giving the view a nice touch.

 

I also play a bit of ice hockey here. It has been nice to have something on the contrast to school. I’ve also made some awesome friends from my team. Without overlooking all the exchange students and other people I’ve met during my stay.

To sum it all up, if you have a chance to go study or work abroad, do it. At least I have enjoyed most of the time being here, and the experience or knowledge that I have gotten is something you can’t learn from books.

Thanks,

Jere

Mis Experiencias en la Ciudad de México

At the beginning of August 2018, I started my exchange studies in huge Mexico City. The five months in the city and in my university, Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, went really fast and I can recommend the place to everyone. Studying in Mexico was different than studying in TAMK and especially the courses taught in English were quite easy for us exchange students. In the courses I chose, I didn’t have to take any exams but mostly do group works. The teachers were very nice and understanding, and missing classes because of traveling was never a problem. In the picture below you can see my university.

My experience in Mexico was so much better than I expected. Adapting to a new, totally different culture was so much fun and eye-opening, also sometimes a little bit frustrating of course. Exploring the spicy food, learning about people who always want to help despite the language barriers, and experiencing traditions, national celebrations (for example, the Independence Day and the Day of the Death) and amazingly beautiful places are some things that I will always remember.

Before arriving, I was worried about many things and probably mostly about the safety and how I’m going to get used to so different culture. Now after 5 months, I’m happy to tell that not even for once I felt dangerous there. During the introduction week, we were told about safety in the city and what places to avoid, and I didn’t have any problems with anything.

In a city like Mexico City, you can’t run out of things to do in your free time. Outside of the school I was mostly exploring the city and visiting its touristic attractions which were all free for students, and during the weekends I made a lot of trips with my friends to the cities close by. Traveling in Mexico was quite cheap and by paying a couple of euros more, you can take “a luxury bus” with Wi-Fi, air condition and a movie selection. In Mexico City, I always took an Uber because it was the safest option and also cheap. There is a good and really cheap subway system as well but during the rush hours it gets really crowded and a bit dangerous.

Liebe Grüße aus Bielefeld

I have been now in Bielefeld, Germany for 4,5 months and the exchange semester is about to come to an end. The time has flown by very fast and the experience has been very rewarding in many ways.

About the city of Bielefeld. 
Bielefeld is a city about the same size as Tampere, but still for Germany it cannot be counted as a big one. It has everything you need (even a tram/metro!) and (center) area is kind of cute, but is definitely not a very interesting city. There is a castle, which I think is the biggest sight in the whole city. Also, Dr. Ötker comes from Bielefeld and the factory is located also here. Luckily, with the semester ticket you will get, you can travel limitless within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia which includes also cities like Düsseldorf and Köln. That’s a lot of land to explore!

View from the Sparrenburg Castle over Bielefeld

Studying in FH Bielefeld
The semester started with an orientation weeks which included practical information about how everything works, at the university and with student dormitories (since most exchange-students lived in one). The main part of the orientation was still the German lessons which took place everyday for 5 hours (that’s first 3 ECTS right there!). For some reason there was a week break between the actual courses started, so I did an extra intensive course about Blockchain during this time of which I earned the most easiest 6 ECTS of my life.

For this reason I needed to take only 4 courses. I took German, Spanish, International Taxation and Consumer marketing. Each of these were 3h a week, some in 2 parts, so hour-wise it wasn’t much of sitting at the university. The lectures of non-language courses do not differ too much from what they are in TAMK. The biggest differences I see in the language courses, I cannot really explain but the style really doesn’t suit for me and I feel I have learned only very little from the classes and do the work at home. Also, the Spanish class in in German, so that makes the whole thing even more confusing.
All in all, the studying has been a bit easier here.

What was a bit unexpected, things aren’t as organized in Germany as in Finland. The information flow is very bad, the local Tabula etc. systems are ancient and a a lot of things are made unnecessarily difficult and formal + a lot of times I got the feeling no one knows anythings. Patience is what you need…

Christmas Market in Bielefeld

Living and free time
Living in Germany is cheaper than in Finland, especially in a city like Bielefeld where the rent prices are also super low! My Erasmus experience differs a lot compared to many other exchange students who came to Bielefeld and a big reason is that I was lucky to get a room from a private shared apartment instead of the student dormitories. I have been living with two German girls together and I couldn’t be happier about that. With them I have experienced and done so much more that I would have without. For example I have gone to the Köln Karnival, had  home made lunch at “Grandma’s” and even found myself from a Finnish SitSit style birthday party which was organized by Germans who had been to exchange in Finland! Also, I have been travelling quite a lot, since the prices are just so low not matter if you fly or take a bus.

Köln Karnival

If something, I would recommend to try to find a flat with the locals (WG-gesucht.de 😉 ). That gives so much more if you actually want to see the culture, make connections and live more cozy life than in dormitories (yes I have seen and heard about these). I can say that I have really been “exposed” to Germans and German culture and at the same time me German has improved massively! Surely there has been some Erasmus events but I didn’t take part in most. From other Erasmus students I have found a few very good friends but the most close friends are my roommates and they are one of the only things I will miss here!

Grüß Gott aus Wien!

I’m currently spending my exchange semester in a beautiful and amazing city; Vienna! Vienna is the capital city of Austria and is a perfect place to spend your exchange semester.

 

I study in FHWien der WKW. The school is mainly focused on management and communication and I have found there many interesting courses. This University of Applied Sciences is very similar with TAMK and the teaching methods are quite same; group works, presentations and exams. One thing that is different from TAMK is that my timetable changes almost every week! Some weeks I have only 1 or 2 lessons and some weeks I’m spending almost my whole time in school. All my teacher in here have been really nice and professional and their English skills are really good. All my courses are mainly with other Erasmus students and in English, but you can choose courses in German too.

I usually have school only 1-3 times a week and that is why I have had plenty of time to travel. Vienna has the perfect location to travel cheaply. During my exchange semester I have visited Bratislava, Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Krakow. I have also made trips to Austria’s other beautiful cities such as Graz and Salzburg.

Vienna is full of beautiful architecture and the cultural activities are almost limitless. You can choose from many different kinds of museums, theaters and operas. Me and my friends have explored so many museums and cafes during our exchange. (Hint: on first Sundays of the month there are many museums that have free entrance). In every time of the year In Vienna there is so much to do and see! Autumn is so much warmer in here and the Christmas time in Vienna is amazing. The whole city is full of Christmas markets and the smell of Glühwein fills the air.

 

You can’t have boring moment in a city like this!

All in all, I can highly recommend Vienna as an exchange destination and if you have the chance to go abroad, take it!

My student life at Korea University

When I first got the notice that I will be attending one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea I could barely contain my excitement, yet at the same time feel the weight of this opportunity resting on my shoulders. SKY universities are the schools all Koreans with high academic aspirations strive to get into and where only the select few, the brightest and the most hardworking actually qualify for. They were going to be my peers and the standard all my professors were going to be expecting.

The first two weeks of my autumn semester were spent attending classes which turned out to be completely different from what I had expected, then hastily scouring through the school’s course selection and enrolling to new ones. After a 4G high speed online competition for those few vacant seats in highly sought after courses, signing permission slips and dealing with a constantly changing curriculum I was finally enrolled to courses that were at least going to award me enough credits to not get me kicked out of the school before my semester even begun. To anyone planning a semester in South Korea, during the preliminary enrollment period be sure to read the course descriptions and syllabuses VERY carefully before you enroll and have your plan B, C and D ready.

Regardless of my early hurdles I was able to attend interesting courses and study subjects unavailable to me at Tamk. I had preconceived notions of students having to spend hours every day in the library cramming knowledge in to their over worked brains from an amount of related literature that vastly outweighs any doable level of effort that could be considered humane. Thankfully they turned out to be ill placed, at least on my part. While the materials for my courses still exceeded anything I’ve had to digest at Tamk during exam weeks, I still managed to pull through without a hitch.

Seoul is an unfathomably massive city for a young man who grew up in a city of not even 200 000 people. Thoroughly exploring the city, let alone the country is going to require a stay longer than just 4 months.

I have eaten pretty much everything I came across. I have seen the tourist attractions and accessed secret places only known to locals. I explored the concrete jungle, made my way though forests, hiked up many mountains and laid on beaches all over the country.

  

And yet I still have so much more to do…

Love from Turin

I chose to do my Erasmus exchange in the University of Turin. Turin is an industrial university city in the north of Italy, near to the Alps and the boarder of France. There are roughly 900,000 inhabitants in the city and it`s well-known for their delicious chocolates. Within the university there is multiple campuses and my courses are luckily in just two of them, which makes going between the campuses a little bit easier.

I arrived here on September and now it`s already December and time to leave. The has gone by so fast by getting to know to a new country and most importantly to a new city. I had already visited a lot places in Italy but I have never been in Turin before I moved here to do my Erasmus. The city is full of historical things and me as an historic enthusiast, enjoy the view of the old buildings and museums I see every day, on my way to the university.

 

When someone says Italy, people usually think of a sunny country with people being happy all the time and eating a lot of pizza and pasta. People are eating pizza here for sure but the climate is totally different in Turin than you would think. It has been raining 90% of the time since I arrived here. A couple weeks ago the river was floating so badly that some of the restaurant next to the river had to be shut down due to water damage inside and making sure no one would get hurt. Being a runner myself, it has been real interesting to run in the rain for the last couple months to put it nicely.

In addition, of doing sports like already mentioned, I`ve visited some historical and cultural sights like Villa Della Regina which is a beautiful castle on top of a hill.

Villa Della Regina from the top of the hill

Villa Della Regina`s beautiful inside decor.

The city had some really nice sunsets which I was lucky enough to see from my own window and also got to admire when I took a walk next to the river Po.

Living in Turin was really different than in Finland and especially studying. The school system is not exactly the best one, so bending the rules and being really creative was something I had to learn. When you are used of things working pretty smoothly in a Finnish school, adapting the “rhythm” of an Italian school was not the easiest task first but little by living I got the hang of it.

 

Until next time Torino

Experiences from Tallinn

My studies in Tallinn have been an insightful experience into a different kind of education culture and to a top 3% technical university. My goal in question is to take advantage of the course offerings available for BA students on environmental economics and a plethora of law studies.  The courses have been far more difficult than anticipated, so it has definitely been a fit challenge and it has taught me a lot about study ethics.

Due to the nature of my exchange, I spent my spare time mostly at the academic hostel. Otherwise, since I’m not into partying, I prefer walks around the iconic, historical and beautiful old town and other places of Estonian cultural heritage. Obviously, there are the non-party related activities at the hostel with other exchange students, especially my Italian roommate Gaetano.

The studying culture is different from Finland, more formal and strict in practice. The teachers are just as approachable as in Finland and do not need to be addressed any more formally, but the in-school processes involve a lot of bureaucracy and the teachers themselves seem to have much less “power”, since most things – even the smallest exceptions – must be negotiated with the dean of the faculty.

Above is a picture of the old town from an aerial view!

Just a kid from Finland exploring America

Hi everyone! So, I’m in the United States of America, in the state called Minnesota, and the city is called Bemidji. It’s pretty up in here in north. I’ve been here since August so, over 4 months already. It’s been amazing at so far. I want to separate this ”postcard” to two different parts. First one is that I’m going to tell you about my campus life, and the second one is about my travelling experiences.

My studies have been really easy, because I took courses which works for me, for example the best ones are Sport Marketing and Sport Management. As a business administration student, I wanted to take courses what we don’t have in TAMK. Mostly, we had presentations and some group projects, but also every week smaller tests about chapters what we went through in that week, so it really keeps you to pay attention where we are at the moment and what is coming. Compared to Finland where we usually have couple of assignments in course and end of it we have huge final exam. I’m not sure which works better, sometimes I like this way that I don’t have to stress in the end of the semester that am I going to pass the course or not. In the beginning, we got the list of everything what we are going to do on this semester, so basically you have chance to do assignments on your own time. Like how I did, I did almost everything in September, so I had chance to travel in October and November.

 

So, campus life in here is something unique compared to Finland. Everything is so near, and we have like our own community. I love that it takes couple of minutes to walk to the classrooms, or to the gym or to restaurants. I realized that I have so much more time for everything when I don’t have to use it for moving from place to another. One senseless thing in here is that we have tunnels underground, so when it gets really cold, people are using those to move around.

 

My normal day includes lectures, sport and chilling with friends. Sport facilities here are so great. I don’t have early classes, like my earliest class starts at 10 am so there are good hours in the morning to use for whatever I want. Also, I had approximately 2 hours classes per day, so yeah, there is lot of free time. We have here some restaurants, the best one is buffet place where is all you can eat all the time. We have own currency here called Beaver bucks, and we had to load those on our student ID, so we can use it here at the campus. So, if it’s just a normal studying day, there is enough time for homework and classes, enough free time to be active and do sports and enough time to chill out, relax and sleep.

 

We have almost every day some events here for example movie nights, live music, free food and chilling, whatever they make up + all the groups like sports. If I would involve in every event here, I would never have problem to think about, what should I do to not get bored. I like mostly to watch college sports like football, hockey and basketball. It’s nice that we have every week games here and our fan culture is so supporting.

Finally, we get to the main topic and it’s travelling. I think I did that in the best way as it was possible. I got to know awesome exchange students from Switzerland and Denmark, and together we have done unforgettable trips. First, we started to explore Minnesota, we wanted to see whole state. Later in October we went to Canada, so that was little bit bigger step to rent a car and cross the board. It took only 4 hours to drive to Canada, so that was one must thing to do here.

After 3 months being here we got so used to this place that we wanted to travel somewhere else and see more states. Two swiss guys and I decided to rent a car for 10 days and drive from here where the Mississippi river starts flow, along it all the way down where it ends in the New Orleans. It took 4 days to drive there, but we stopped in Cedar Rapids, St. Louis and Memphis. We made plan for what we want to do in every place and what we wanted to see. After couple days in New Orleans we decided to ahead to Nashville and after that to Chicago. We saw so many things and places on our journey that is for sure my craziest and also the best memory of all time.

 

So, it took 10 days, we drove over 5000 kilometers, and we sat in the car over 50 hours. It was totally worth it, and idea wasn’t just to get from place to another, we wanted experience the freedom while driving to new states and see roads and nature. We visited 12 states! Sometimes crazy ideas end up being master plans. I’m very thankful that I had this opportunity to do this and also that I found those two as openminded people as me to share this experience with me.

Greetings,

Aukusti

Bonjour de Nice!

I started my exchange semester at IPAG Business School, Nice, in the end of August 2018. The time has gone by so fast and now as it is already December, my study exchange has almost come to its end. That’s why, as a tip number one: you should enjoy the exchange while it lasts because time flies when you are having a great time!

And indeed, I have had the time of my life in the French Riviera. Studying at IPAG has been quite nice, although you should be prepared that it is not even closely as organised as in Finland. My favorite courses at IPAG have been French Culture & Civilization and the French classes, and I would definitely recommend them for anyone who is going to study at IPAG. Especially the French classes have been the best language classes that I have ever had in my life – the teacher was extremely entertaining but at the same time I was able to improve my French skills more than ever before. The teacher talked only French during the classes, which was also a very effective way to learn French.

As mentioned before, studying in France is a bit different when compared to Finland. For me it took some time to get used to the French style of the lectures. For instance, when having an exam, some of the teachers expect you to remember everything that they have said in the class, but what cannot be found anywhere written down in the course materials. After I learned this, I started to write everything down that the teachers said during the lectures.

When it comes to free time, the French Riviera has so much to offer. I’ve been enjoying especially the vibrant student life and the beautiful city of Nice in general. During the first two months the weather was unspeakably gorgeous with the temperature of up to +30 (or more) degrees Celsius. Most of this time I spent lying on the beach after school and getting to know the sight-seeings, as well as the lively nightlife of Nice. Something worth to mention too is la cuisine française, which will never let you down. I have tasted the most amazing things in France, and cooked delicious meals together with my roommate. What I have learned is that the French food culture is so much more than wine and cheese, and it will always keep surprising you positively.

In my opinion, it is hard to run out of things to do in the French Riviera. Nice has many beaches and other stunning places to see and it is surrounded by beautiful villages which are easy to get to with paying only 1,50 euros for the bus. So far I have been to Monaco, Antibes, Èze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Marseille. In addition, it is very easy to travel to other countries from Nice and it is possible to do so even by bus or train. For example, I was in Italy together with some of my classmates (which was awesome). We travelled by bus and train only and visited Venice, Florence and Milan. As Nice has a broad variety of cultural events as well, I went to Maître Gims‘ concert, which was held at Palais Nikaïa. Maître Gims is a Congolese-born French singer and my favorite artist at the moment.

Something that everyone should know who are interested in living in France, is the French culture of protests and strikes. Especially during my exchange semester, there have been many protests in the whole France, including Nice. So far it has been safe in Nice during the protests, but you should take into consideration that the public transportation may not work during those days and furthermore, you should definitely not reserve a trip to Paris when the worst protests are going on (like I did, though couple of weeks beforehand and without the knowledge of the future events).

What I didn’t know before coming to Nice is that it can be a bit rainy and cloudy in November–December. So if you plan to stay here during the autumn or winter, I recommend you to bring an umbrella with you (because I didn’t)! What also surprised me is that there are many type of activities to do in Nice also in the autumn/winter time. For instance, my friends and I have been ice-skating multiple times and there is also a beautiful Christmas market and Christmas lights decorating the streets in December. We have also been swimming in the sea still in December, which is quite unusual for me. The sea water is still quite warm, around +17 degrees Celsius.

All in all, I would definitely recommend exchange studies in Nice. I can guarantee that you will not get bored easily and you will definitely have the best time of your life, as I have. Once you settle to live in Nice, the city will never leave your heart.

 

Bonne chance avec votre expérience étrangère,

Elina Oksanen

Servus! (from Munich)

I have been in Munich for nearly two months, the time has passed really fast. At first it took time to learn everyday things and learn to know a new hometown. On Weekdays I am studying and also try to do sports. On weekends I also try to keep some free and do nice things. My friends from Finland have visited here.

I’m studying here on a master degree program business. My campus is only 4 km from my home, so I will go to campus by bike or bus. I have chosen some interesting courses and I am trying very hard to learn the German language. Studying here is a bit different than in Finland. Seminar papers are wider and usually they are done in groups of 3-4 people. In Lectures are also done in a various of assignments in addition to the theory.

At the beginning of October I was running the Munich marathon which was a very fun event, then there was still +23 degrees warm and the sun was shining. A couple of times I have went to hike to the Alps . It’s easy to take a train and go anywhere. Also railway tickets are very cheap here.

The Munich city is really beautiful, where are lots of old buildings and culture. The public transport is easy to use and here is very safe.German is almost similar to Finland. A few things surprised me, cash was used here more than in Finland, it is only way to pay in many restaurants and kiosks, local food and organic products is used more than Finland and selections are really good. Stores are not open on Sundays, except very rarely in special cases (for example, Christmas or even Mother’s Day).

Last weekend here opened the first Christmas Market. The center of the Christmas market here is the historic Marienplatz square. Sale of the stalls spread over several streets around the old town. Many tourists will come here to look at the Christmas market.

Happy Christmas time! / Fröhliche Weihnachtszeit!