Category Archives: Social Services, Health and Sports

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Éirinn go Brách!

I spent nine months in Ireland, more specifically in Tralee.  The town is small, yet it has everything you’ll need: Penneys (Primark) and other shops, lots of pubs ranging from traditional Irish pubs to nightclub-like venues and restaurants. There’s also a beautiful, peaceful park in the middle of the town and it can be used to hang out or for sports.

On the first semester I was an exchange student in Institute of Technology Tralee, studying social care, early childhood education and youth & community work. One semester lasts about 4,5 months, the first semester started in the beginning of September with the orientation week (parties, bbq and all kinds of events every day) and we had some of our final exams in the end of December and the rest of them in the beginning of January. On my second semester in Ireland I was doing an internship at Kerry Parents and Friends Association. KPFA offers residential care and day services for people with intellectual disabilities. Doing an internship in Ireland was also really great, I am happy that I got to experience that.

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The famous Blennerville Windmill of Tralee

Tralee is quite small, yet lively town in Kerry. Anyway, without all the other students to spend your time with, you’d be bored. Getting to know other students is easy – IT Tralee has lots of different societies and sport clubs such as rock climbing, surfing and gaelic football, most of them for free. There’s also a water park (Aquadome), cinema and lots of pubs with traditional Irish music.

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Killarney

Kerry is one of the best-known counties there on the southwest of Ireland, with lots of mountains and beautiful nature. The national park in Killarney is definitely worth a visit, for sure. Anyway, Tralee is not such a big city, so even from the town centre, you will be able to see the mountains and the beautiful Irish nature. You don’t have to go too far from the centre if you want to see sheep, mountains, cows and get to know the countryside of Ireland.

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Tralee town centre

 

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Ireland certainly has some of the most beautiful landscapes you could wish for. Ring of Kerry is a popular route going through the coast of Kerry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Institute of Technology Tralee is quite small, but they’ve got a lot of international students from all around the world – there are about 3500 Irish students in ITT and 400 international students. During my Erasmus year in Tralee I got to know people from so many different countries even though you wouldn’t expect that!

Studying in ITT felt more like being back to secondary school again – you need to know lots of things by heart, always attend all the lectures and in the end of the semester you’ll have the final exams. Anyway all my lecturers were nice and extremely helpful, they also helped me a lot with my internship even though they didn’t need to. That’s what Irish people are like – they’re kind, helpful and always up for a good craic (=fun)… and that is exactly the reason why Ireland is such an amazing country.

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Kilkee Cliffs

Greetings from North Ethiopia

I spent three months in Quiha, North Ethiopia on work training from March 1st until the beginning of July. There are about 12 000 people living in Quiha town and I was the only European (white) person there. The nearest big city is called Mek’ele and the population is about 200 000. Living and working in Ethiopia was challenging but also rewarding in different ways. I defenetely had to move outside of my comfort zone many times. Staying in Finland would have been an easy alternative but I am happy I chose to take a risk.

Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Quiha

As part of my studies of Bachelor of Social services I worked as volunteer in Lola Children’s Home in Mekelle. There are 46 orphan children in of whom 11 are HIV positive.  They also have day care for the the children of local single mothers who go to school or work. It was an amazing experience to work in Lola and I will never forget the children and the staff who were very kind and nice. I was teaching English, arts and craft and outdoor games to the children. There were voluntary workers from other countries too. The children taught us some traditional Ethiopian songs and dances.

 Lola Children´s Fund

As I stayed in an Ethiopian family I spent most of my free time with them. We went to the market Place to buy food and clothes, to the night club to dance and prepared  local food. We  went on a road trip in a minibus to Aksum which is an old town and religious center of Tigray, North Ethiopia. Most of the time we spent at home washing dishes and clothes by hand, taking care of the animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, chicken and cows) and living everyday life. In Ethiopia there is a lack of everything: water, electrity, internet connection etc. What makes Ethiopia special is that in spite of the poverty people are extremely friendly towards strangers. I always felt welcome and got many friends for life.

Ethiopian coffee ceremony

 

Hallo from the Netherlands!

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I’m now almost at the end of my semester here in Nijmegen. I came here to study intercultural social work at HAN University of applied sciences. Soon I’m leaving here with a better understanding of cultures and intercultural communication. Now I have more ways of dealing with cultural misunderstandings and conflicts and I’ve opened my eyes to many problems considering racism and social exclusion.

My study program is called Intercultural social professional. Our schedule includes three days of internship every week and two days of school, so the program does keep me busy. Teachers like to keep us moving, so the classes fill up from different method exercises and practical assignments. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down in a chair and just listened the teacher even for an hour.  I ended up doing my intenship in a primary school, where the children don’t speak English. Even without shared language, I’ve learned a lot in my internship and the Dutch hospitality has really shown there. Doing an internship has given me a way to really work with local people and get to know the culture on a deeper lever. Still I’m happy that I didn’t choose to do just an internship abroad, because with the studies I’ve gotten a huge community around me and I feel like I’m getting the whole Erasmus-experience.

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HAN seems to have a lot in common with TAMK and actually on a quick visit to HAN, you might think you’ve come to a Finnish University. The differences are there, but deeper. Compared to our studies in Finland, teachers here expect more from you. I’m not talking about knowledge or actual skills, but the expectation is that students handle their studies independently and if they need help, they will get it from other students. I like this mentality that you’re an adult and you have the responsibility of your studies, but for an exchange student that can be hard. It’s not so easy to get support, information or help with figuring out everything here. The working mentality is a little bit different, since the students pay for the studies. They expect to get great teachers and they say directly if they’re not pleased with it. Sometimes I’m terrified of how students speak to teachers, but it seems to be fine to them. Dutchies work hard and play hard and they don’t mix those together. Free time is appreciated and it’s not a shame if you end your school day enjoying a beer in the school’s restaurant.

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Soooo, moving on to the free time. I was lucky enough to get to live in Vossenveld, which is a student complex for mostly international students. This complex has made it easier to get friends and keep in touch. There’s always someone banging on my door or texting me to go outside, so if you don’t want to, you’re never alone here. We often say that Vossenveld is our own little village. It’s extremely easy to travel in the Netherlands by train, so I’ve seen a lot. I’ve also got to know the neighbors Germany and Belgium pretty well. Nijmegen itself offers everything you could ever need. It’s beautiful, old and a really alive city with a lot to do and see. Nightlife here is also pretty great, since this is a big student city! Dutch people are helpful, open and generally nice, but they’re also busy, so making real friends is a task. Don’t put your hope on “let’s hang out sometime”, no you won’t. Make up a date.

My experience in the Netherlands has been amazing. Besides getting a bunch of new, life-long friendships and unforgettable memories, I’ve learned and grown as a professional and as a person. This is a country and a culture I could honestly picture myself living in. Although then I would have to build my own sauna and find forests somewhere.

Beste wensen, Jenni

 

Sous le ciel de Paris

To start with, here’s a video to get you on a Parisian mood (opens in  a new tab):

sous les ciels parisReturning to Paris after living there before for two years felt like happy comeback home. Even after a bit longer time, the French metropole doesn’t cease to amaze me and take my breath away – both in good and bad. This time Paris called for the internship of the 2nd year of my social work studies, taking place at a small association. They help those who are victims or in the danger of prostitution or pandering and who want to be assisted in their social reintegration. And now over the half of my 3 month internship has already passed!

paris1Getting the possibility to join this team has been an eye-opening experience and the things faced here aren’t easy. However, it’s very interesting and diverse: meeting and accompanying customers in various matters, planning and realizing projects, familiarizing myself with the life of an association.. Apart from all that, I’ve also got the chance to participate in a training and to follow a hearing at the tribunal.

I like the fact that at this association the relation to the customers is rather warm, close-knit and at times even a bit non-official. As I don’t yet have much working experience in the field of social work even from Finland, comparison in these terms is rather challencing. The cultural differences I’ve been able to notice are pretty much the same as in daily life: starting work later in the morning, greeting by a “how-are-you-doing” that doesn’t expect a long reply, using a lot of politeness structures in emails, wishing “bonne appétit”, sometimes everybody is speaking at the same time, exchanging cheek kisses.. Also the language barrier to French causes some extra difficulty and can be very tiring at times but I’m learning more every day.

landscapeMy freetime in Paris is mostly filled with spending time with my French boyfriend and also  discovering new parts of the city and things to do in Paris that I wasn’t yet aware of. Apart from that, the daily life is rather similar as in Finland, the routine happens everywhere. Anyway, I’m enjoying  the goods sides of living in a big city before coming back soon to my favourite city in Finland, Tampere 🙂

 

baking1       And to fin(n)ish, some homemade Karelian pies – bonne appétit!

Hälsingar från Göteborg

Hejsan alla!

I study for a degree program of Social Services and I’m doing my practical training of the second year now in Gothenburg, Sweden. My training is for three months, but I still have only two weeks left here.

As you may not know, Gothenburg is a part of a Finnish administrative territory because of the many people with Finnish backround living there. I am here to explore especially the services for the elderly but also getting to know with some Finnish organisations and Swedish Finns culture.

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The biggest difference between working as a socionom (= bachelor of Social Services) in Finland and in Sweden is that in Sweden the socionoms can do the same work as the social workers do in Finland. And still their degree program lasts as long as ours (3,5 years).

As a second biggest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is still very down-to-earth and cosy place to live. I could actually compare it to Tampere, because even when the city is so big with it’s manymany people, the atmosphere is still very open and welcoming to every kind of people. Also I love that there are many different kind of landscapes here. You can just wonder around the city and the next thing you know, you can see the whole city under your feet.

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The Swedes “fika” all the time. It means having a coffee and something sweet or sour with your friends/family/workmates. The best place to “fika” in Gothenburg is in Haga. There you can find the cutest little coffee places with these huge cinnamon buns! It’s a nice part of the city to just relax and have coffee. And you can also climb up the hill there and watch the whole city while drinking your coffee. It’s magical.

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Also what we like to do with my friends here is to play “kub” which is almost like Finnish “mölkky” but the Swedish version of it. There are many beautiful parks where you can go and play or have a picnic or even little barbeque. The only minus side of this city is that it’s always windy here. So even if the sun shines, it can still be quite chilly… And that’s why there’s no point of using an umbrella if it rains, because you’ll get wet anyways.

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Salut de Brussels!

Greetings from the heart of European Union!

Now the three months in Brussels are at the end, and it’s been really great time!

I’ve worked in three “stages de kiné” (internships of physiotherapy). The first stage was in orthopedics, the next in an intensive care unit and the last one in a trauma rehabilitation centre. All have been interesting places and I have got a lot of experience from many different fields of physiotherapy.

As a city I just love Brussels! It’s a very lively and vibrant, international environment, with an air of a smaller town. What surprised me was the beauty: very pretty old buildings and nice parks all around. There’s always something interesting going on, such as festivals, dancing, concerts, museums etc. Also I’ve met many new people from all corners of the world.

At work everything is very social, usually the “kinés” all work in the same big room with their clients and a client might have more than one person responsible for them. The schedules are busy and the workdays long, so it has been fairly tiring with the French language. However, it’s been worth it, I have learnt so many new things. I can thoroughly recommend coming to Brussels for exchange. 🙂

Edge of Europe

Hello folks!

We have been on exchange program in Ireland, County Kerry and Tralee. Time has flown very fast and in a sense it is harmful leave from here, but in other hand it is nice to go back Finland and start summer work in familiar environment. Contradictory, or what you think?

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One of the Ireland’s hundreds ruin castle.
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The highest peak in Ireland, Carrauntoohil. And surprise! There is sheep on top of the mountain.

Ireland has given very good experiences to me and my wife. We’ve seen amazing places and met great people, locals and foreigners. Irish people are very nice, helpful and they have great sense of humour! Here is only one problem, accent. Kerry’s accent is sometimes crazy. They speak very fast and their lips don’t move, I don’t really understand how anybody can speak like that, but Kerry’s people can.. Too many times I had to rise my hands up and said: “I’m very sorry, I didn’t understand anything.”

But to return amazing places, Ireland has launched at 2014 great travel route called Wild Atlantic Way. It is unbelievable set of peninsulas, gulfs, cliffs, beaches, villages, castles, ruins and history of this great green island. Here is some pics from this 2 500km long way (no, I haven’t driven whole way. No time, no money.), because pictures tells more than thousand words.

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Slea Head, County Kerry

I have placement in Kerry University Hospital. It is quite little hospital, but it is enough to me. I don’t need massive hospital complexes.

I have been a little bit surprised about hygiene here. I heard horror stories about large MRSA problems before I came here and I waited something terrible inoperative system. But luckily this system is good and it works! System is quite same than in Finland, but we have computers, Irish has papers.

The time in hospital has been very very good experience to me although I haven’t learn very much like new “tricks” to care patients. But I have learned lots of English, so I have reached my target. But process ends to satisfaction, so keep learning lads!

That’s it guys, Ireland has shown the best side of this beautiful country!

May the road rise to meet you and may the wind always be on your back! (Part of Irish blessing)

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Flowers for the summer!

Cheers!

Oskari

For the last time; xin chao!

The time in Vietnam has passed very fast and my time in the exchange  is going to end this week. I wouldn’t believe. The flight home came as fast as coming to Vietnam for the first time. At the same time I feel excited to go back home but at the same time I also feel I will miss my time here. I don’t know why, but at the moment I feel a bit empty and I have given my best effort for this exchange.

My last practice has been at the ICU department at the Bach Mai hospital. Everything is new for me because I have no experience about critical nursing and of course the protocol and the equipement is different in some points. I still think I have done quite good; I have been observing a lot because sometimes you don’t have any practical job to do and some days I can do more like take blood samples and feeding the patients. Here in Vietnam practicing in hospital is very different than in Finland. My vietnamese friend and a english speaking nurse student has been a huge help for me here. Most of the nurses don’t speak english so you might guess how hard it is to understand or even do anything when we don’t understand each other.

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Blood goup testing

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Big gas bottles on the hospitals’ yard.

On my freetime I have gone around  Hanoi and Vietnam. I have had time to travel also which is very nice. The latest I visited Phu quoc and Halong bay. Places were different but both beautiful.

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Small beach bar in a quiet beach in Phu quoc.

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Beautiful view from Monkey island in Halong bay.

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The best view in Vietnam. 1kilometer high in Cat ba islands national park.

I think the biggest difference between Finlands’ and Vietnam practice is that in Finland everything feels organized, as a student I know what happens at the same week and month, in the practice there is someone professional to guide me. I think that exchange student who goes to Vietnam, has to be mentally orientated and very very independent, there will be a lot of cases when things won’t work as you wish so you need a looong nerves. I think the time here has also tought me a lot more calmness, I can cope with the unknown and I have learned to laugh (in my mind) to some situations that haven’t gone so well at first. But everything will be handled, it just takes more time usually.

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Many kilometers long mosaic wall in Hanoi.

I hope I didn’t sound too rough but I know what I’m talking about. In my case I have done a lot of practical stuff in the practicies and also observed. I feel the biggest lesson here and in an exchange is not the practical stuff, it’s the things that happens inside, mentally. Vietnam is not an easy case, but when you handle it, you can be very proud of yourself. You have time to do practical things in Finland but nurses’ profession is a lot more and I really recommend Vietnam. Are you ready!

Henna

Hej from Denmark!

Hello you people and greetings from Roskilde!

I have been on exchange here in Denmark since end of January, and now I have only 4 weeks left anymore. Time is flying so fast, I don’t get it!

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Three vases in Roskilde
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The spring time in Roskilde

Roskilde is a bit smaller city (about 50 000 people living here) and it’s only 30km from Copenhagen. Probably you recognize the name from the Roskilde festival, which takes place here every summer. And other things why I would recommend this city – there’s beautiful nature and magnificent harbor where you can have a nice walk for example. Also the Roskilde Cathedral (Unesco world heritage) is a worth to see! Almost 40 kings and queens of Denmark are buried there, and it’s really impressive with all those graves around!

But about my studies – I study Social Services in TAMK, but here I’m following course called ALECE (Aesthetics and Learning in Early Childhood Education) and it’s more concentrated to early childhood studies. Actually, it’s the only thing we do here. If I would know that this course teaches more kindergarten teachers and pedagogues, I’m not sure if I would pick this at all.  It’s been an interesting journey, and first I really liked all the drama and aesthetics we did, but because I don’t want to work in any kindergarten in the future I think this is too much for me. Not saying this is bad at all! Just not the right one for me, if I think how much I will gain this to my future.

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Otherwise, the school here isn’t that different than our school in Finland. With all those aesthetics, we also have to write assignments and read articles for example. There is one different thing though – here we do our all works in groups. At first it was a bit strange and frustrating, but I got use to it really fast. And in my opinion, it is important to learn to work in groups with different people (and from different cultures).

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Statue of the Little Mermaid
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Famous Ny Havn in Copenhagen

You would like to know something about my spare time? Well, this it the time I want to praise my new friends here. We have such an international class – people from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Spain, Vietnam, Czech Republic… In the beginning of this exchange, I was afraid that I won’t have that many (and close) friends than the others, because they live at Campus and I don’t (didn’t have room for me anymore, I found my place via AirBnb… Trust me, it’s really difficult find apartment in Denmark.). But it hasn’t been bad at all! This people are so nice and friendly, and they’re always welcoming me to stay night at their places if there’s a party or something. And we do lot of things together even I don’t live with all the others. We have visited different places in Roskilde, Copenhagen and once we went to more Northern Denmark to visit Frederiksborg castle. Few people from our class even did road trip in Denmark during our Easter Holiday. And of course you have to cook and clean and do homework here as well, not only having fun. I could tell you so much more, but I think it would be too long postcard. So if you’re considering to go an exchange to Denmark, I highly recommend that. You can also read more about my journey from my blog (in Finnish): http://vaihtariroskildessa.blogspot.dk (you can also find more pictures from my blog, somehow I’m struggling to put my pictures to this blog nicely…)

 

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Can you feel the Danish “Hygge” via this picture?

This exchange has taught me so much – not only about the studies I have had, but about myself. I also got many friends here, and I’m already planning to visit my friend in Belgium during this year… It feels horrible I have to leave all this behind only in four weeks. But gladly nowadays you can always call or chat on Facebook, and see how people are doing! Hopefully you enjoyed my short story about my exchange, adios!

-Jenna

My day in Marbella

Hola!

I have been doing my practical training here in Marbella, Spain. And I just love it! Of course sometimes I have been frustrated and missing home but most of the times I have enjoyed my time here. The weather has been perfect and food is delicious so I would say: all good in Marbella.

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Churros with chocolate

First I was in healthcare center and then I went to the hospital. In both places working habits has been quite different than in Finland. I think the biggest different is that everyone is in the same room. I mean everyone. There is a big room, like a small hall where is 8-12 tables were physiotherapist can do the treatment to the client. There is no curtains or walls so everyone can here everything. I think that is weird because in Finland it is very strict that you can not speak someones things to another. But no in Spain. For example if there was a baby everyone tried to entertain the baby. I think there is good and bad things that everyone is in the same room: clients made friends during their treatment period, but sometimes it is so noisy in the room that you can’t even here your own thoughts!

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The healthcare center and my colleague.

When I am not in work I try to explore the area as much as I can. I have visited cities nearby such as in Estepona, Fuengirola and also Sevilla. I have also done some hiking because Marbella is surrounded big mountains and you can walk up to the highest point named La concha. It means a shell and it is 1200m high! The view is absolutely amazing and when there is no clouds you can see Africa. Amazing right?

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At the top of the mountain, la concha

Like I said before: all good in Marbella

Saludos,

Veera