Category Archives: Technology, Communication and Transport
Bioproduct and Process Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Laboratory Engineering, Construction Site Management, Construction Architecture, Construction Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Building Services Engineering, ICT Engineering, Vehicle Engineering, Wellbeing Technology, Automation Engineering, Strategic Leadership of Technology-Based Business
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.
It’s now half way of my exchange so I thought that it might be good time to write some thoughts here. In spring 2018 I decided to go study abroad and after long consideration the best city for me looked to be Kortrijk in Belgium. Kortrijk is quite small city with only 75 000 citizens, but the center isn’t feeling so small as you might think because most of the people are living there and that makes Kortrijk look bigger than what it is. Kortrijk is located in the west part of Belgium and main language here is Dutch, but many people can speak French too.
I’m studying automation technics and the school where I study here is called VIVES University of Applied Sciences. I have studied mostly by myself or with local students because here isn’t any other Erasmus student from a different country in my field of studies. In my opinion studying here is more practical than in TAMK. After short part of theory there are many project-based courses where you need to be ready to study independently. Of course, teachers will help you every time you ask some help from them. In the matter of fact, local students are also very helpful at the lessons.
Before I came here in Belgium I searched apartments where to live and found that there is chance to get a room from a student house by VIVES. There’s approximately 80 apartments at the house and they are all wanted so I was very lucky to got one. Rent is also quite reasonable, 350€ per month. The best part of the house is that it’s full of exchange students (well mostly Spanish of course because they are the most eager people to do exchange with their big groups…) so it’s easy get familiar with people from different culture. One thing that has surprised me is that Erasmus students here is quite bad in English (me included as you can see) but luckily locals are much better, and they are willing to speak English.
In weekdays after school I usually do some sports or then I hang out with other Erasmus students at the residence. In the weekends it’s very easy to do trips to other city in Belgium, France, Netherlands or Germany. Travelling with train here is very cheap, only 6-7 € per ticket and if that feels too expensive, you can take Flixbus which is even more cheaper. During my exchange I have visited in four different counties and ten difference cities.
I have still couple months left my exchange and I’m going to enjoy every second of it!
I’ve been doing my exchange in Brno. Brno is located in South-East part of Czech Republic, and Czech Republic is located in the heart of Europe.
Brno is student city, as roughly 20% of population are students. And there are around 400 000 people living in city of Brno. Wherever you’re walking, you always meet up with students. This makes the city to increase the amount of services offered especially for students. For example traveling is really cheap – train ticket to Prague can be under 1 euro.
When traveling outside of the capital Prague, be prepared to use hand gestures for communicating or learn at least a little bit of Czech. People over age 40 do not speak English at all in general. And most of the people working in customer service don’t either speak English usually.
Living in general is really cheap compared to Finland, and I haven’t really needed to think how I’m spending my money on everyday purchases. I’m afraid to return to Finland and feel Finland’s prices again 🙂
Studying is based more on individual doing than in Finland. You are given lectures, and then you have laboratories where you have to do certain task in given time. I have most courses from faculty of Information Technology, where level of teaching is pretty high in my opinion. Difficulty of subject varies a lot depending on course, but mainly the courses are easier than same courses given for local students. That is good in my opinion, so Erasmus students don’t have to spend all time studying in the library. Difficulty isn’t really be comparable to Finland, as I’m not studying same subjects, although work amount is roughly the same.
Faculty of Information Technology is combination of old and new. It used to be an old monastery, and it is well renovated.
The best part is definitely getting know to new people, and amount of traveling that is possible to do here with small amount of money. Also the amount of nice castles and churches is surprising. You don’t necessarily have to go to search for them – you will find them when you are doing road trip in Czech Republic. For example here’s a nice backyard of a castle in a small city where we just went to take some gasoline.
Also don’t be surprised if you get a beer like this. This is the normal Czech way of pouring beer. Foam is there to protect the flavors from running out.
I have enjoyed my time in Erasmus, and I will most definitely enjoy it until the very end. If you’re thinking whether to go to exchange or not – do it. I have not found anyone who hasn’t liked his stay here, or who hasn’t found a group of friends to share the experience.
I am spending my exchange period in Belgium, in a small town called Kortrijk. Kortrijk’s population is approximately 70 000 and it’s located right next to border between Belgium and France, only 30 km away from Lille. Daily life is very similar than in Finland except the culture of using bicycle for going to school or work. In first weeks I also rented a bike and joined this massive group of cyclists. First two months have gone so fast that I haven’t even noticed it! Let’s open things a bit.
Studying in Belgium is quite similar that it is back in Finland. You have lectures for theory and then lots of laboratory work to support theory. Here in Kortrijk school have great facilities and resources for those laboratory courses. Every time in the laboratory there is all the time teacher from who you can ask help if you need. I have done some laboratory works in the lab while there are local students, beside working only with exchange students, and I have found out that they are very kind and helpful if you just ask something from them, local students english skills are also in a good level. Same thing is with teachers here, they help you with good patience and knowledge and make sure that you really understood. After all teaching methods doesn’t really difference from Finland style, it hasn’t been as big cultural shock as I thought before exchange began!
I am living in residence owned by the VIVES (school where I am studying). There’s over 100 people living in there, mostly exchange students but also some local students. In my spare time I go to gym and spend time with my friends at the residence. In the residence atmosphere is very nice so everyone gets along with everyone. Belgium is a small country, so couple of other countries are just couple hours away from our city for example Netherlands and France. So far I have visited with my friends cities like Brussel, Brugge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Lille and couple smaller towns in Belgium. In autumn break we did four days visit to Milan, Italy. Cities in Belgium looks similar a lot compared to each other; old churches, market square and same architecture all around cities.
Now I understand why Belgian beers are so famous, even though they are strong they doesn’t taste like that. So far Belgian beers have been best beers I have ever tasted. Beer is also very cheap here! Belgian waffles, fries and chocolate are also very good according to my experiences with them. I have also seen two Belgium’s top league football game and one Italy Serie A game during this time.
There is still few weeks left of this exchange and I’m going to take all advantage of this time left in here.
I did my practical training in Bangkok, Thailand. My practical training lasted little bit over 3 months. My workplace was 25 km from Bangkok downtown. I rented apartment close to office because Bangkok´s chaotic traffic would take too much time if I had to drive in rush hour. My title was HVAC engineer and most of my job task were related to cooling systems because Thailand’s very hot climate. My days started at 9 am and workday ended 6 pm. I had 1-hour lunch break.
In Thailand working culture hierarchy and respecting older people are very important. Rising voice or losing temper are things you should try to avoid. My co-workers were very helpful and interested in Finland. I learned from them lot of about Thailand and its culture. In Thailand people have more relaxed attitude in work and free time. Sometimes it caused some problems, example in Finland I got used to that if we agree to meet at 6 pm it really happens 6 pm and not 7 pm.
In weekends I tried to explore Bangkok or travel around Thailand. Bangkok is very big city and there are lot of things to do. Many markets, shopping centers, temples, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Domestic flights in Thailand are very cheap and it was easy to fly to different cities to explore more Thailand. Good location of Bangkok offers change to go explore neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia or Malaysia. My favorite place where I traveled in Thailand was Phuket. Phuket is big island in South Thailand which offers many nice beaches and beautiful nature. I had also time to travel to Cambodia and Malaysia.
Time flies in Austria. As soon as I arrived to Airport in Vienna, I knew I chose the right place to come studying. Beautiful landscape with its old cities and historical places got me feel like that I won’t get bored during my stay here. Even though the city of Wels felt first like it was quite small for a five month visit. Already after first two weeks, I got to know most of the common places around the city. But it didn’t bother me, because I knew that the location of the city is perfect for traveling. In the beginning using almost every weekend to go to new places, was definitely one of the best things to do, because I knew that there will be more schoolwork to be done at the end of semester.
Studying in Austria is a little different that I’m used to in Finland. As in both countries most of the people are well motivated and the professors have a really good knowledge about their subjects. Still the feeling I have about the studies is that most of the courses in Austria are, more or less, just trying to learn new things by reading it from a book. Then later at the exams there’s a big hurry to put all you know to the paper with so little time to use. Normally I prefer more hands-on doing by discussing more and analyzing the new information we get by doing exercises. That’s why I think that the best experiences I have from the university are the project classes with local students. It is a nice way to see how they work as a group and support others in their team.
Even though the times I have spent at Wels have been one of the greatest of my life, I know that getting back to studies in Finland is something I like more. Still I feel that the Finnish way of education suits me better.
The past year has been quite balanced with its ups and downs. Stressful self studying and exams counterweighted by days playing boardgames and drinking various beverages in good company.
Compared to Finland, the studying hasn’t been that much different. There’s more to do, but there’s also more time to do it. However in exams it’s different. There’s more to do and less time to do it.
There is beautiful green nature between the school and my apartment, but I rarely walk to school. I’m lazy like that. And I had to pay a small fortune for the unlimited access to public transport so not using the service would be a waste.
Sometimes the surface of the local man-made lake, Maschsee, is soothing to look at. When it’s not populated by tons of boats. There’s also a path along the edges of the lake, which makes for a perfect place to get your morning jog in and enjoy the view. Not that I have.
I saw this while wandering about near the main railway station in Hannover and it struck me as something different from normal art-pieces. As it’s upside down, stuck on the bottom of a bridge. Apparently it’s a sculpture from 1991 called “Hang Over Hannover” by artist Andreas Freiherr von Weizsäcker. The cars are obviously not real, but are realistically sized. (Details from Waymarking.com)
Here’s a slightly amusing reliever to end this post. It took me a few moments to process this wasn’t written in english.
I have been taking Paper Science and Engineering , Chemical Engineering and Environmental courses while my exchange. School has higher work load and professors are expecting you to handle it. Work hard, play hard
On my spare time I have been traveling some major cities. I have also seen some smaller places and nature. We have had couple camping trips with the whole dorm. We have had also a lot of other activities as a dorm.
With my friend we have seen lots of sports. Carolina Hurricanes games especially, since the arena is only 15 min away by bike. Tickets for students are only 15 dollars. Cheaper than Tappara’s games.
I really encourage people to go abroad ! It’s fun !
This is my second time in the most beautiful city in Portugal, Porto. I was doing a study exchange last year for one semester and I felt like coming back – so here I am! I am studying and doing my internship and thesis here. This time it is different – I am doing my internship and not just studying.
The internship company is different compared to the average company in Finland. I am working as a lean engineer in a quite small manufacturing company. In Finland there isn’t many small manufacturing companies anymore because it is too expensive, the automation is on and the bigger companies have taken over. It is really interesting to see how it is done here and how a small company can still run independently.
The working culture is different, people are working really hard in Portugal and the manual working phases are still there, and by that I mean a lot of paper, for example. Working days are longer and vacations are shorter.
I haven’t had too much spare time since I am studying, doing my internship and also working from here for a Finnish company too. The spare time I have, I love to spend in the garden enjoying the sun and going to the beach, having long walks in the city and meeting friends. It is an amazing country and I am really grateful being able to be here and I have learned a lot.