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Greetings from Wolverhampton

Greetings from the United Kingdom.

I’m now having my last month in the UK, just need to finish my assignments and exams and then my Erasmus exchange comes to its end.

I’m studying at the University of Wolverhampton, and here I’m taking a Construction Management course. First weeks I had problems with understanding the teachers, because the local accent is quite difficult to understand. With time understanding them became easier and I started to remember words related to construction industry so I didn’t need to translate everything I read or heard. I was the only exchange student on my modules and the teachers took it into account, for example they were often asking if I was able to understand them because of the accent.
At my exchange university there are not many lectures and tutorials for a module. There are four hours of classroom teaching per a module in a week, but students are expected to study a lot on their free time. Often after the lectures I go to the university library to work on my assignments.
What I like about the teaching style in here is that the teachers tell about their own experiences at lectures, which keeps them interesting. They also often bring up current topics from the construction news.

    

I have lectures only on three days a week, so I have quite a lot spare time here. Usually during the weekdays I spent my free time at the gym and with my friends. There are not that much to do in Wolverhampton, so we usually just hang together with our Erasmus group.

When weekend comes I usually do something more ” special ”, for example travelling. Only twenty minutes by train and we are in Birmingham, which has many thing to do. I’ve travelled a lot on my own, but also the university arranges trips for students to different cities in the UK. I think the trips arranged by the university have been great, we take a bus together but we can spent the time on the cities as we want. Because of these trips I’ve seen many amazing places where I wouldn’t have thought about going by myself.

Studying culture in here is quite different compared to Finland, studying here is much more relaxed. For example a student being half an hour late from lecture is normal here, and the teachers usually don’t mind.
In here they don’t have mandatory attendance, and there are usually a lot fewer students at the lectures at the end of the semester than at the beginning.

I’m really glad that I decide to have an exchange year, because this has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Greetings from Munich

I have been living in Munich almost six months now and it has been the best time of my life so far. My semester started in early October, but I arrived in Munich in September to get to know other exchange students and the city by its self before starting studying. I chose to study engineering subjects and that turned out to be a little challenging road. We had quite a lot of work to earn our credits, but in the end, everything went well.

During my exchange period, we had a lot of free time to hang out with friends and to travel all over Europe. We made multiple road trips to different countries like Croatia and Italy, but my absolute favorite was our ski trip to Sölden with other exchange students. We also made several day trips to different ski stations in Alps during the exchange.

Day trip in Axamer Lizum, Austria

What comes to spare time in Munich the highlight was definitely the Oktoberfest. But besides that, Munich offers a lot of other things to do. Most common way to spend time here is to gather a bunch of friends and go to grab a few beers in beer hall or beer garden. And of course, when you are in Munich you have to experience at least one Bayern München football match even if you don´t care that much about football. Just the atmosphere in the fully packed Allianz arena with 75,000 people is something to see.

Bayern München vs RB Leipzig
Marienplatz

Studying in Germany has been a little bit different compared to studying in Finland. The main difference is that usually, it´s not mandatory to attend lectures. And the lectures go so that the professor talks the whole three hours and students take notes, or not however you like. It turned out to be a really boring way to teach. But one benefit was that they didn´t give any homework so you can enjoy your free time without thinking school. Of course, all the courses and the professors are different, because MUAS offers a large variety of different kind of courses where to choose.

Overall, I´m really happy that I decided to spend my exchange period in this amazing city!

Life in the city of beer

Now that my exchange is about to end here in Munich, I could tell you something about my experience here. My semester in Munich University of Applied Sciences started in early September with two weeks of intensive German language course which was a fun start for the semester. After that we had a gap of two weeks before the actual semester started. This offered a great chance to enjoy the Oktoberfest – which was awesome by the way – and to travel as well.

Oktoberfest.

During the first weeks we had to choose our courses which was a bit of a mess in the beginning. We had to apply to the courses and it wasn’t always sure that you would get to the course. Well, if you chose engineering subjects it was sure, but other than engineering not. There were not that many people taking engineering classes. In the classes I had there were approximately 5-10 students attending the course. Even if planning the courses was hard there was a good side in it too. I managed to have Fridays off, which was awesome!

What comes to Munich, it is a beautiful city and I find the atmosphere really similar to Helsinki but the beer is better. Adapting here was easy. On the spare time I met friends and we did different kind of activities such as drinking beer in a beer hall or beer garden. One thing which was a surprise for me was that you can surf in Munich as you can see in the picture down below. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to surf even though I tried it on my trip to Portugal.

You actually can surf in Munich.
Sölden ski trip.

Munich’s central location in the Europe is a good benefit. Traveling from here to all over the Europe is really easy. Easiest and fairly cheap ways to travel were by a bus or a train. But the best way was to rent a car with a bunch of friends and go wherever we wanted. And you know what you can do once you get to the Autobahn. For example, we did couple of road trips to the surrounding countries and a ski trip to the Austrian Alps.

Road tripping and completely lost somewhere in Croatia.

 

 

 

Studying in Germany seemed different than in Finland. At least studying engineering subjects. The teacher usually just kept a lecture and the students took notes, that’s it. Sometimes it was quite boring and hard to focus. On the other hand, there was no mandatory attendance neither homework which was a good excuse to travel more.

¡Hola, estoy en España!

Valladolid is known of beautiful religious buildings. For example the cathedral of Valladolid or the church of San Pablo and many others. Valladolid is not much bigger than Tampere. It is a city of 300 000 people and is located 200km north from the capital of Spain, Madrid. I think the size of Valladolid is perfect for Erasmus. It`s not too small but small enough to know, where you can find other Erasmus students when you want to spend your evening outside. The size of the city made it very easy to adopt the Spanish life.

   

 

I study building services engineering and all courses I chose in university of Valladolid were in English. When I arrived at university of Valladolid, I had a problem with my courses. Due the lack of information all courses I had chosen were available only in the spring semester. I met my responsible professor to help me with the courses. Even though the responsible professor didn`t expect any students from Finland, she helped me to find the right courses for me. I had to take courses from the field of study of chemical engineering and industrial engineering. It was easy to understand a big difference between Spain and Finland: The things did not work as smoothly as they do in Finland. Every appointment and process were always delayed and took a lot of time to happen. First it was really frustrating, but I got used to it and I just had to accept the way it is. Although the people had difficulty with time, all teachers and persons I met at university were really helpful and kind.

I came to Valladolid with my Classmate and being in Erasmus with a good friend is great. We have been living and traveling together, which have made everything simpler. The best way of spending your weekends in Erasmus is traveling. We have been all over Spain and Portugal visiting many beautiful places. One of the best part has been the atmosphere in the football stadiums around Spain.

Saludos de España

Hola! I’m studying building services engineering in Spain, city called Valladolid. Valladolid might be unknown place for most of you, but it’s a beautiful old city located 200 km up north from Madrid. The city has a lot of old architecture, narrow streets and small river flowing through. Along the river is a small beach where was nice to play beach volley and take a sunbath in a beginning of exchange when the weather allowed it. Although the city doesn’t have many specialities, so it’s pretty unknown and tourist free. Moving around the city is easy with a good bus network and citybikes. Citybikes are cheap and useful way to go around the city and you can reach all the places in an half hour. I think Valladolid was perfect place for me to do my exchange. Good parts in a smaller city is that you will get to know the city and the people more easily. Valladolid gave also good opportunity to learn the new language because they speak clean Spanish here (in Spain they have lot of different dialects and languages) and the lack of English speaking people force you to learn Spanish.

First thing what I noticed in Valladolid was that no one speaks English at all. It was quite interesting for me who didn’t know a word of Spanish before reading travel guide for Spain in an airplane on way to here. After two Spanish courses, help from the other exchange students and a tons of Google Translate the Spanish language starts running pretty smoothly.

 

I came to Valladolid to study building services engineering on the University of Valladolid. Due to my bad Spanish language, all courses I took was in English and matching with my own field of study. However after wrong informations and misunderstandings all the courses I had chosen in Finland, wasn’t available on autumn semester. To replace these I got courses that were taught in English from different field of study. On top of that my responsible professor in Valladolid didn’t even expect student from Finland. These kind of lacks on organising made me realize the biggest differences between Finland and Spain. After all the teachers tried to do their best to find the most suitables courses and helped me with every problem I had.

I was lucky that I could do my exchange with my classmate from Finland. We have lived, studied and done almost all together. Traveling with your good friend has been also awesome and easy. We made a lot of trips together or with other exchange students. In this five months I have visited places like Bilbao, Madrid, Salamanca, Porto, Sevilla, Valencia, Alicante, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Málaga, Gibraltar and maybe something more before I come back to Finland.

Getting educated i Sverige

Hejsan alla

Exchange period is coming to an end and snowy Christmas is not here either! First when I heard I got to the exchange studies in Halmstad, I was happy and excited because everything is going to be little different than back in Finland. All the thoughts and stereotypes about Swedish people being so much different than us Finnish.  But during exchange all of that was taken down piece by piece.

Halmstad Högskolan with the landmark of Trade Center in the background.

I was staying in Halmstad, southwest part of Sweden. Nice smallish place of about 70.000 people between Göteborg (140km) and Malmö (137km). The weather has been really rainy but for people living here it is the normal weather I hear. When I first arrived here I didn’t think it would snow at all, but I was wrong, there has been a couple of days of snow, just like in Finland!

Picture taken during a hike along Prins Bertils stig, which is a route from city center to Tylösand and back

City center has its shops and a canal splitting the city in half. City center has a big open square area in the middle and streets going to each direction, providing easy Access to all services needed. I would still recommend buying a bike on your trip to Halmstad as it is not necessary but it will let you experience so much more. There was good bus connections around the town, so you wouldn’t have any excuses for not going somewhere.
Also connections to other cities like Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm and Oslo most of which are accessible by train within couple of hours. And for people who have not seen Lapland local student organization arranged a trip to Kiruna with snowmobile and husky rides!

Down below iconic views from Stockholm, Copenhagen and main square in Halmstad.

What comes to studying in Sweden or Halmstad, it was delightfully similar to studies at TAMK. Most of studying had to be done on your free time having only a few lectures every week. With this in mind you have to have motivation and preferably a few friends to help you with the studies.

PCB milling during Electronical design and implementation-course

Teachers help whenever they can, but of course are booked most of the day. I had Electronic course which was project based as we designed and manufactured a PCB and assembled a working gadged of our choosing. On Working environment and leadership course we had many visiting lecturers from whom I learned how similar Finnish and Swedish working environments are. As a third course I had Computer Networks which was a certified CCNA course by Cisco academy. It was the basics of Computer networking, security, administration and maintenance. In whole my free time consisted mostly of studying and on weekends I tried to make trips around and connect with other exchange students. What was connecting factor with each course was that each of them had a theoretical and practical part in it, which I feel greatly improves learning experience and makes it more interesting.


Field visits to building site and EMC lab in Halmstad

As a closure: I had a good time in a lovely country with nice people. And as an advice to others going: get a bike and secondly remember that Swedish people are like us, we don’t go talking to people but usually like helping and talking if someone comes to talk to us!

Ahoj a Zdravíme z Česká !

PICTURE 1. City of Brno

My studies in the Czech Republic surprised me mainly in a positive way. The teachers being late from the start of the classes every now and then was a little disturbing but otherwise the quality of the courses I took was satisfactory to say the least. The facilities of my faculty were great and recently renovated so the overall atmosphere of the school was really nice. The quality of the courses themselves was good and due to the expertise in aeronautical engineering probably even better than in Finland in some cases.

PICTURE 2. Wind tunnel testing in the Aerodynamics course

 

When comparing studying in the Czech Republic to studying in Finland, I’d say I was a little surprised about how much effort I had to give to pass the courses in my usual level. My expectations were set to a little lower level than what I faced in the school but after I learned the syllabuses from all the courses I adapted to the new situation. The duration of the weekly classes were a big surprise to me, as more than half of my courses lasted usually 3-4 hours per day. In Finland 3 hours has been the longest duration for one course for one day and even that is a rare case for a course. One particular detail that really pointed out about the courses was one of the courses that always started at 07.00 o’clock on Wednesday mornings. And the biggest parties of the week were always organized on Tuesdays… So, I really don’t understand why would anyone organize a freakishly early morning like that for ERASMUS students, perhaps the guy had some personal friction with the the foreign students I don’t know… All in all, I didn’t run into any problems with the courses I took and even managed to make it to at least half of the 07.00 o’clock classes.

 

What comes to my spare time in the Czech Republic, well, I’d say I did exactly what you’d expect from an ERASMUS student, partied and traveled. The International Student Club (ISC) organized parties for us at least twice a week and during the weekends we held our own. During our travelling we visited a few places in the Czech Republic and all the border neighbor countries, which are Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. And in addition to those we also visited Slovenia due to one person of our group living there and she asked our group to join her to see her home country.

 

PICTURE 3. Move In Europe -Event                          PICTURE 4. We won the event

 

I was really positively surprised that the ISC organized a lot of different kinds of events (also non-alcoholic ones) for the ERASMUS students. To be honest I would’ve liked to join every one of the events they organized but sadly that wasn’t possibly due to travelling. But the ones I did join were indoor paintball, laser tag, go karts and jump park. One of the events I enjoyed the most was the pub quiz which was organized every other week. Sadly, my team didn’t win even once but we were close many times… All in all, I have nothing but good things to say about the local ISC, they really made a huge effort to ensure a pleasant stay  for us and they sure did in my opinion.

PICTURE 5. ERASMUS Birthday parade                PICTURE 6. The Finnish group of the parade

 

PICTURE 7. Indoor paintball                                     PICTURE 8. Halloween party

Saudações de Porto!

Porto is a very old beautiful city in the northern Portugal. It’s the second largest city of the country right after Lisbon.  Porto is known for it’s gorgeous bridges along with the medieval riverside district (Ribeira) with it’s narrow cobblestone streets. It is also famous for it’s Port wine production.

Porto

https://www.visitportugal.com/en/destinos/porto-e-norte

I spent my time trying to experience everything Portugal had to offer. I did trips to different cities around the country, went watching champions league games, tried experiencing different foods and drinks, but the most memorable trip was the trip we took to Azores islands. They are volcanic islands in the middle of Atlantic Ocean. They have very beautiful waterfalls where you can take trips to do canoying. They also have hot springs for relaxing and even volcanic hot beaches in the ocean!

Universities are quite different from what I’m used to in Finland. The teaching is “old school”, as in you have to respect and call your professors by their title. What I found extremely interesting was how the university students in Portugal dressed in these “Harry Potter” like school uniforms. It is known that the author of Harry Potter got the idea from these exact uniforms! The freshmen of universities go through embarrassing looking rituals every day during their first year. Also they have to wear the same white t-shirt and a paper “crown” every day for the whole semester without washing them even once. I talked with the freshmen about it and they all did it with pride because it was their traditions and I really respected that.

교복입는 대학교.jpg | 인스티즈

http://www.instiz.net/pt/4067175

Halo!

Coming for practical training to Namibian winter for three months was one of the most spontaneous, stupid and best things that I have done. I exchanged summer in Finland, a practical training with a salary and my friends, to an unknown environment and work.

A view over the city of Windhoek

I always wanted to go somewhere exotic for practical training, so I could expose myself to different opinions and culture. When I read an article of Namibia in Rakennuslehti, a Finnish magazine for construction engineers, I knew I should try to get in there. So I contacted the writer of the article.  She guided me to one Namibian engineer and after few emails there was no way out anymore. Arranging everything went fast and without trouble.

I came to Namibia in the beginning of May. The first two months of training went fast, everything was new and exciting. After two months the days have slowed down and certain routines and habits has taken place in the mind and life. Now when my training is soon over, work days have the same pattern, and I feel like I have received the cultural education I came here for.

Namibia is mostly desert and Windhoek is surrounded with mountains, which are great for hiking during weekends. The climate of Namibian Winter is very nice. Even though it is called winter the temperature during days is always above 20°c but in the nights it can go below 10°c. Windhoek has 3605 hours of sunshine in one year (Helsinki has 1858 hours) and after my arrival I have seen clouds five times. I have been lucky to visit some projects like Ai-Ais hot spring spa in Fish river Canyon. I also visited the coast and huge sand dunes in Walvis Bay.

Here is a fancy pic of me on the Dune 7, close to Walvis Bay

 

In Namibia you can hear many languages spoken around you. The official language is English but there is a great amount of national languages. They are Oshiwambo (the heading and greeting in the end), German, Afrikaans, Otjiherero, Khoekhoegowab, Rukwangali, Setswana and Silozi. What I heard most from the smaller languages were Oshiwambo and Afrikaans.

Katutura – “The place where people do not want to live” in Otjiherero

Night life in Windhoek is flourishing there huge amount bars or clubs in the city. There are modern shopping malls with Western brands, good cafes and restaurants. If you still end up hungry you can find locals selling fruits and fresh Braai (BBQ) meat and Biltong dried meat from countless places around the city, along roads and inside stores.  during my spare time I hang out with my boss’s son, he shows me the city of Windhoek, the good and bad in it.

The Grove Mall of Namibia- A big shopping center in Windhoek

My boss studied in Technical University of Tampere and many engineers have studied abroad in England, Russia or Cuba. In work this reflects as enthusiasm for engineering and long hardworking days in the office. In this company Africa time does not exist. Superiors are addressed as Sirs, Mrs’s or Miss’s and dress code is smart and casual. All these might sound strict for a Finn, but after you get used to it everything comes out naturally without thinking. My work is mostly done with a computer with modern engineering programs like AutoCAD, so the work itself is not so different than in Finland.

Likwata  nawa, take care!

Elmer Halonen

Even late, bonjour la France!

During the last semester, I went in training exchange in my home country, France and more precisely: next to Paris. Now, even though it is a country I know — and with which I keep a love and hate relationship –, this semester was rich in experiences.

… do I really need a caption for this?

My practical training consisted in elaborating a tool for a grocery store, which would help them in keeping track of their environmental impact. This was a very valuable exchange, as in addition to my main project I got lucky enough to participate in the daily life of the grocery store and in a management seminar which taught me a lot about work life. In addition to this, getting along very well with nearly all of my co workers (and with my superiors) was  plus that I enjoyed a lot.

As you can see on the picture, they enjoyed my last day…..! (I blurred the face of my co-worker, don’t be scared)

 

 

Apart from work, my time also was amazing. I met a ton of new people: I have been an activist for animal rights for a long time, and I made sure that this semester was full of events. You can see in the picture below an example of a demonstration that I participated in in Paris and for which I came back home covered with fresh red paint…

Demonstration for animal rights in Paris for the Organisation 269 Life France.

Of course, I cannot write about my semester without talking about the elections for which… surprise surprise, I was also an activist. I participated in my first political demonstration, which I thought would have been less peaceful but turned out to be thrilling. Whether you agree with the outcome of the elections or not, this process was very enriching.  In the picture below, you can see my friend Christophe and I holding our sign, “Vegans insoumis”.

I by the way made this sign! This happened on Place de la Bastille, in Paris.

And to top off my semester, my friend took me to Etretat, an amazing city that I enjoyed beyond words. You can see a picture taken with his GoPro camera on top of one of the hills of Etretat on the right!

 

 

All in all, this semester was a very good time. I cannot unfortunately tell you how different working in France is compared to Finland, as I have not yet had the occasion to work in Finland. But truthfully, this exchange was “formidable“!