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I spent my fall semester 2018 – 2019 attending the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. It is divided into four campuses in different cities around the state of Upper Austria. The engineering programmes are in a small town called Wels. It´s located in the middle of the train route from Vienna to Salzburg. The town is small, but cozy. You will get to know the city center pretty quickly. The Traun river flows right through Wels. Where in the summer it’s nice to take a cooling dip in or if you are daring a refreshing one in the winter.
The campus of Wels is really nice and modern. The campus consists of 8 buildings that are spread around the city center. Most of my classes were held in the main building. I stayed in a dorm during my exchange. It allowed me to meet many people, locals and other international students. Austrian food also came familiar through the warm dining and breakfast opportunity that was included in our accommodation.
I found the lectures and teaching methods to be pretty similar to what I have experienced in TAMK. Of course, there were minor differences. For example, the scheduling system with weekly changing timetables and the occasional workshop-oriented courses. That would last up to 7 hours a day for three days and then the course is completed. The exams here are also a bit different being more condensed and therefore the exam time shorter, usually about 45 minutes to one and a half hours. Another thing is how the semesters are determined. In Austria there is a summer and a winter semester instead of fall and spring semester. The winter semester stars in October and ends in February while the summer semester goes from March to June. This unfortunately caused me some troubles at the end of my exchange because the semester in Austria had not finnished when the spring semester in Finland had already started. The school community is active, they organize events and trips. For example, we got to visit a famous cookie factory. Also, there is a Seidlstandl every other Thursday in the school courtyard. Where you can have a drink and get to know other students.
In my spare time I aimed to travel as much I could and see around Austria and Europe. Take advantage of the great location of Wels. Like I mentioned before Wels is located on the main railway route from Vienna and Salzburg. Therefore, it was super easy to get around using the train. (Tip: buy an ÖBB Vorteilscard Jugend for 20 € and get 50% off all the train tickets for a year) At the beginning of my exchange I got to explore Austria and witness the beautiful mountain landscapes. There are too many opportunities for great hikes and enjoying the nature in Austria. It was also worth visiting the bigger cities of Upper Austria, like Vienna and Salzburg. Wels is also positioned well for traveling around Europe. Always nice to return from the bigger cities to the calm and quiet city of Wels though. Lastly, you can´t fully enjoy Austria’s alps without having a little go at skiing or snowboarding. Two weeks before my exchange came to an end I got to squeeze in a day to go snowboarding to Grünau Kasberg a close by skiing resort.
Although I struggled a little academically in all I really enjoyed my exchange in Austria.
What a journey this has been! Before I left to Thailand I was pretty nervous because I didn’t know much about how my exchange is going to be but now I have to be honest and say that I was very lucky to get here! Even thought all of the planned courses was not available the courses which I took turned out to be excellent for me. Studying here is more intensive than in Finland. Local students start in the morning at the uni and after school they might continue studying at the library. This is usual before exams when many students sleep at the library! Never seen this before. But after all level of education is great and professors are professional!
During spare time we have traveled a lot with my roommate. It is very easy and cheap in south-east Asia so we have visited in almost all neighbour countries and after our midterm exams we went to Korea and Japan. In Korea we met other exchange students from TAMK and we had group of almost 10 Finns there! We had a ball during that time. We also had field trip to Kanchanaburi with my classmates and it was very nice. We planted trees to the jungle and we built a little dam there. In the evening we had party. I would like to see this kind of charity trips in Finland too
As I said the studying culture in Ton for that. It is not usual to re-take exams so you have to pass with first attempt. You really don’t want to waste your tuition fees for F grades. It is a good motivator but sometimes studying takes big part of your day.
Wels, such a tiny and traditional city in northern Austria where I decided to spend my exchange semester. The city with its all train connections wasn’t a bad idea at all!
I am studying in Engineering Wels campus of University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. Studying here is not so different and teachers use the same methods. The campus itself is very nice and there has been spent many late hours especially in January. Campus food is more expensive (4-6 euros) so eating in dorm or making own food are more common options among exchange students.
Concerning to organized things any problems didn’t occur, and all things went like they were planned! Courses I chose were interesting but very quickly I noticed they were challenging for me. Let’s see later how I did!
It’s fun to think about differences afterwards so here I have a list with things I noticed to be a little different comparing to studies in TAMK:
Students are almost always in class before the scheduled time and some teachers close the door before classes are planned to start. Going to class after that is more eye-catching.
Sometimes during lectures students really throw the comments and answer if teacher is asking something
You schedule will be different every week
One thing you get also familiar with: very late lectures
Lot of questions and little time!
Now when we come to the more interesting part I can say travelling is very easy from Wels to everywhere and during the first month I came familiar with many beautiful places. Views here are something amazing! Also, exploring in Wels during the sunny days was so nice. My exchange wasn’t only travelling from place A to place B or studying. Good restaurants and cafes are locating in Wels for spending spare time with other exchange students. I can name at least three places that I am going to miss: Urbann Café, restaurants Lili Asia (very cheap and delicious) and Indiya, and Bar Stadtbeisl Wels (one place for karaoke nights).
It’s Kati again! As I stated above, I was half-a-year student in China, Jinan. Let me tell you some aspects of my daily life!
Studying in an Asian country is -of course- very study oriented, but the courses are not so difficult. The campus is big (1,5 million squares according to Wikipedia) so the distances between school buildings are very long. You easily got 10,000 steps by just going to classes and canteen. There were many school buildings, about 15 when counting 3 canteens, library and doctor’s together, which was a huge surprise compared to tiny little Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Everyone should be addressed with their surname, like Mr. Wang. There was also a brewery, tea house and other warrants of the school which we visited.
Picture: Me(second from the right) and other transfer student in the tea house of Qilu school.
There were many ways to spend your free time and many Chinese chose to study. I found different ways to stabilize my everyday life by going to jog and to a gym, hang around in bars, playing pool and table tennis, hiking a mountain, travelling to different cities, seeing different tourist attractions, and just walking around the schoolyard. Why I mentioned walking around the school? Well, there were many statues, places to relax and they were usually quiet and empty. There were many opportunities nearby the school, you decide where you want to spend your days!
Picture: City of Jinan
There were also different kind of weather, as there only snowed once during my stay, even I was there on the autumn semester! The snowflakes were tiny and melted away in an instant. Also, the lunchtime were about 2 hours as there were 15,000-25,000 people on the same time who went to lunch. Sometimes we went to the nearby restaurant to have lunch as in the canteens there were very noisy and no seats left. One cool aspect of the school was to see different kind of clubs, as in TAMK there is only (maybe) 2 clubs, which are Paperikerho, a “club” for paper engineers and Ääriraja, a theater “club”. During my free time I saw for example the band club, rollerblading club, hiking club and dancing club. I wish there would be as many clubs in Finland too.
I have lived and studied in Upper Austria now for three and half months and now it’s time to tell you a little bit about my stay here.
It has been a really interesting for me to experience a bit of Austrian school system. Basically, I had no prejudices or expectations about it before I came here, but now I can say that it has been a positive surprise for me so far. There’s a couple of characteristics that I would like to highlight.
In Austria, people are extremely punctual and they really appreciate and even demand punctuality from everyone. You can be sure that you will be scolded if you arrive late on the lecture. Working and studuying culture is also very formal here. All the professors are well-dressed and students address them with their correct titles, and actually in everyday life also, elder must be addressed with “Frau” (Ms.) or “Herr” (Mr.).
All in all, my studies here have been interesting but challenging as well. Professors speak fluent english and the teching methods are quite similar than in Finland, so studying itself is not that different here than in TAMK.
Naturally, student exchange is not just studying. Actually I have had plenty of day offs in my schedule, so I have had a lot of time to travel and explore. My favourite way to spend free time here, has for sure been mountain hiking in the Alps. And as Austrians boast the second highest consumption of beer per capita worldwide, I haven’t been able to avoid tasting the local beer specialties.
It has been great and memorable time here and I can greatly recommend Austria as a travel destination for everyone.
I came to Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea) about three and a half months ago, and it has been an amazing experience! Korea is so much different than Finland: the food, the people, the amount of people, the city of Seoul, everything is far from what I’m used to at home. The biggest difference is the studies. Koreans really enjoy studying everything by hard, and to spend a lot of time doing so. I’m used to learn how to the solve the problems and close the book, but Koreans keep studying from 9am to 9pm and extend that a little when exams are near.
When I arrived, this was a bit of a shock for me and I didn’t know how to catch with all of the local students and their motivation/memory skills. So, after some time I decided I would not do that and continued to learn the way I’m used to. This gave me way more time to enjoy Seoul and everything else outside of school.
Here are a few photos during my journey in Korea:
The temples. In South Korea, there are hundreds and hundreds of places to visit from the early ages in terms of buildings, sites and museums. This was something I really enjoyed, since it gave really fun way to learn about the Korean culture and history.
The food. In the picture you can see what is called Korean bbq. You order your meat raw and then cook it with your friends in the middle of table. Usually when we went for a bbq with exchange students, there was some beer and soju (Korean alcohol drink made from rice) involved.
The atmosphere. Seoul has a population of 10 million people inside the city borders. If you count the actual metropolitan area, the number becomes 25 million. And it felt like every single one of them took the same subway route, visited the same market and was on the move at the same time as I was. This was an amazing experience since my home town is only some 230000 people.
If you are considering Korea as your destination for exchange period, I can highly recommend! Flights to neighboring countries are cheap and short, the people and food is amazing and it won’t be anything you can experience in the western countries!
After a proper period of stay it’s good to make a little summarize about living in one of the biggest cities in the world. I have studied in the Seoul National University of Sciences and Technology in Seoul, South-Korea. There is a huge difference in an everyday living between Seoul and any city in Finland. Seoul metropolitan area with more than 25 million inhabitants is definitely stunning thing to experience for boy a small-town boy like me.
South Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and especially the last 50 years have been so explosive that the phenomenon is called “Miracle of the Han river”. Now that I’ve lived here for some time it is easy to understand what’s the reason for that. People’s studying and work motivation is just something else what I’ve never seen. It is totally common to see university students to study in library still at midnight and people are assessed, for example, in a job search situation based solely on grades. For this reason, studying in the university is a little different than what I’m accustomed to in Finland. Professors expect students to learn a lot of things by memorize and that’s something what I personally don’t believe to be the best way to study. Nevertheless, I feel that my studies have gone well, thanks to a good teaching and motivating atmosphere.
Here have been a lot of different things that have made a big impression to me and to name one is that even though city is that big, there is a nature quite nearby. Seoul city is surrounded by mountains and that make awesome view over city skyline, especially during sunset. Mountains were historically an important part of a city defense and those were another reason why Seoul was built at the place where it is nowadays. The city center of a Seoul is split by a river that you can see on a Figure 1. The river was the main reason for the birth of a city. Seoul was that close to the North Korean border that there was no shipping on the river because the other end of the river led to the other side of the border.
Even though Seoul is highly developed city as well as the whole South Korea as a country, here is a plenty of historical culture to see. One of the “must-see” things what you can find when you make a Google-search about staying in Seoul is definitely the palaces nearby city center. In 1392-19210 Korean Peninsula was ruled by dynasty of Joseon. The dynasty built five great palaces in Seoul which are popular tourist destinations nowadays. In figure 3 there is a photo of building belonging to one of these palaces.
So far, I have enjoyed my time in Seoul more than I could ever imagine and I definitely feel this city to be my home. The biggest reason for that is, no doubt, kindness of strangers and benevolence of peoples. One concrete example of this is food culture. It is very common thing that food is shared with every people in a table and usually the meals last a lot longer than I was used to in Finland. In figure four you can see maybe the most traditional Korean dish, called Korean barbeque.
Lastly, I hope every exchange student have had as awesome exchange period so far and let’s enjoy the rest of it what’s left!
After three months exchange in Maribor it might be a good time to tell something about this second-largest city in Slovenia. Before my exchange I didn’t have any expectations from this city or even the country. But now when I am thinking about Maribor as an exchange city, there is a few things I would like to share with you. First of all, I can’t skip a fact that this is the wine city. Maribor is surrounded by mountains. The biggest mountain called Pohorje is a well-known ski resort but every other mountain is full of vineyards. In fact, here is also the oldest vine in the world. It’s more than 400 years old.
I didn’t know this first but Maribor is also very famous from its Erasmus life. Students come here just because of that. Instead of just one welcome week we had two of them and also a lot of activities during the semester. This might be the reason why here is more than 400 Erasmus students at the time and it’s growing every year.
One rare thing comparing to other countries is student coupons. What? With student coupons you can go almost every restourant in the city and order portion from their menu. And the price is 0 to 3 euros including soup, salad, main dish and fruit/desert. If eating was cheap I can also happily tell you that drinking is even more cheaper. And actually the average price level is way lower than in Finland.
I am studying in faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in University of Maribor. Usually faculties organize separate lectures for Erasmus students. But I have one course where I am the only Erasmus so I have to study by my own. This kind of studying method was totally new for me. But in generally studying here is almost same like in Finland. We have laboratory exercises almost in every course and I like this kind of practical work. After laboratory exercise I had to write report but basically we didn’t have any homework.
Of course this was a great oportunity to travel. Slovenia has a beautiful nature and it’s surrounded by interesting countries. I have visited five countries and for sure more than twenty cities. In addition to many cities, I met a lot of awesome people from different countries and culture.
Only few weeks left here so I’ll stop writing and go to enjoy these last moments!
Autumn here in Halmstad has gone really fast, and I have had some great experiences during my exchange period. Halmstad is a small but cozy city, which especially blooms in the summertime. Last summer was the warmest for a long time in Sweden, and thousands of people travelled here to enjoy the best beaches in the country.
Studying here is a bit different than in TAMK. Usually you have only two courses at the same time, and they last for two months each. I have had much less lectures with the teacher than in Finland, but every course has a bigger group project or a report that you have to work on during the course and present in the end, and this is a big part of the course evaluation. Otherwise the degree of difficulty is quite the same than in Finland. I study construction engineering, but here I have also taken courses in environmental engineering. I have found them quite interesting and sustainability and green thinking seems to be the specialty of Halmstad University. The highlight of my studies has definitely been a study trip to Copenhagen with my Sustainable Urban Development -course class!
Pictures from Halmstad and it’s beaches:
Halmstad is also very well located for exploring the area, many big cities such as Lund, Malmö, Gothenburg, Helsingborg and Copenhagen easily accessible by train or car. Most of my weekends here I have spent travelling in Sweden, Denmark and Norway and exploring new places. Halmstad Student Union also organizes a one week trip to Swedish Lapland which was really great.
I have spent my exchange period in Shenyang, China. Shenyang is medium sized city in China with about 8 million habitants. The city is located in the northeast of China about 250 kilometres of the North Korean border. The name of my university is Shenyang Jianzhu or SJZU. There are about 19 000 students of which approximately 200 are international students in the university.
Teaching language is English. The way of teaching is similar to Finnish type of teaching where professor takes the lead and students (at least try to) pay attention. There are many project oriented courses too but I’m only studying languages and Chinese culture so I don’t have to take any part in those projects. However, study timetable is different from what I have used to. Morning lessons starts at 8.30am and they last until 11.30am. Afternoon lessons starts at 1.30pm and they can last until 5 or 6pm.
There are many international students in my university, but most of them come here to study whole university degree or master’s degree. At the moment you can find only three students through exchange program, two from Germany and one Finn. Most of the majoring students comes from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and many African countries, for example Nigeria and Tansania.
Most of the other international students don’t know Finland at all or have very stereotypical knowledge about it (Nokia, cold country, possibility to have a good life and Santa Claus). Somehow many students think that we speak English as our native language in Finland.. Well, sometimes I like to shock other students telling about stories how I enjoy eating reindeers or rolling in the snow while taking a good sauna session.
There are many different reasons why life in Shenyang is so different compared to life in Finland. Biggest impact comes with a language. Shenyang is not so international city and that makes communication sometimes very hard with locals. Most of the people can’t understand English language at all and on the other hand my Chinese level is very basic and poor in spelling. In Chinese language same words have a different meaning depending how tones are said. There are four different tones and if you spell word with wrong tone you can say something very bad or locals have no idea what you are trying to say. Sometimes people try to communicate with me by writing some information with Chinese characters but I have no idea how to read them.
At the beginning I found it very hard to communicate with people but now I have learned tricks for it. Communication usually happens with simple phrases, hand signals, gestures and by using translator applications. Luckily I have managed to have few local English speaking friends who I can rely if things get too problematic. I can say that Chinese friends are the most helpful people I know on this Earth.
Other things that affects differently to my life here are huge amount of people, traffic and pollution. In this city is impossible to walk alone in the streets or sometimes even fit on the sidewalk. Don’t even think that you can find a place to sit in subway or bus. Just run inside, jump on people and try to survive! Luckily I took a single room in my dormitory so I have place to hide if things get too hectic for me.
Using public transports is very cheap in Shenyang. Subway ticket costs about 3-5 (0,5€) yuan depending how far you go. Jumping in the bus costs 1-2 (20 cents) yuan and you can drive as far as you want with that price! Driving with taxi about 10 kilometers can cost you about 40 to 50 yuan (about 4 or 5 euros). Usually drivers are honest and put the taximeter on but sometimes they can drive around a same block few times to gain more money from people who don’t know the city so well.
Traffic in Shenyang is very chaotic and makes no logic for me. Many of the taxi drivers are driving very high speeds and they use every path available (sidewalks, alleys, etc). On top of that there is no seat belts available in most of taxis. On the other hand I have to admire the way they race through city without crashing their cars.
Air pollution is a big problem in China and you can feel it also in Shenyang. Air pollution index (US AQI) can vary something about 50-150 (good day) to 200-400 (don’t go outside). Some days you can really see the pollution in the air. You can smell the diesel, coal and exhaust fumes in the air. If you are wild enough you can put your mask on and go for a jog or walk. For comparison, in Finland air pollution index is usually between 5 and 40.
Usually I spend my spare time with local or international friends. Going to city with local friends is always very interesting. They can show and tell you many different things about Chinese culture and different cuisines. I have tasted hundreds of differents foods in China. Some of them are very delicious, some are not. My personal favorite is hot pot for a lunch or dinner.
I have plans to travel and see different places in China. For now I have had time to see Dandong, Shanghai and countryside in Benxi. Getting to Dandong takes about 2 hours with train. It’s very interesting city to me because from there you can see to real North Korea. Shanghai is far more developed and international city than Shenyang. It’s a shame I had only four days to spend there. In the countryside I saw beautiful mountains and nature, cornfields everywhere and very primitive little villages.
As a construction site management student I have found China very interesting. Especially the ways how the things get build in here. Chinese people don’t really waste time when they want to build something. Building a new restaurant in my campus area took only about 3 weeks. The size of the buildings is humongous if compared with buildings in Finland! A block of flats with more than 40 layers is standard in China. They have a lot of knowledge how to build big and monumental structures in this country.
There is one familiar looking building in my campus area that got my attention when I roamed around in the first two weeks. It reminded me of a Finnish wooden house that looked a bit odd somehow. Maybe it was because of the windows? A closer look told me that the house was built in co-operation with TAMK in 2010.
There is a lot of other things I could tell about my staying here in China, but I fear that this blog post is getting too long already. I don’t regret coming here. Somehow I have spent maybe the best time of my life here in spite of the hardness of life sometimes. I’m quite sure I will return to China someday.