Goodbye Hungary and hello Finland! My exchange is about to end and it has definitely been an experience that I wouldn’t change. I am studying in Metropolitan University for five months for Tourism and Catering services. I had a bit of fuss around my learning agreement and I had to redo it quite a few times and I ended up taking classes from Business as well in Tourism. I also studied Hungarian language and Middle European history to increase my knowledge. So many of my friends questioned my decision to study Hungarian, but to say I didn’t regret it. It was interesting and it is nice to understand at least a bit of the surrounding country.
The teaching in general is very theoretic compared to Finnish teaching. Mostly the studying was sitting at the lectures and taking notes. I had few courses where I had to return an essay or make a presentation. One thing that was considerably different to Finnish school was the exam period. Here we had roughly three months of teaching and then two months of exams when there is no teaching and you can only focus for the exams. Or you could plan your exam period to have all of the exams in the first few weeks and then chill. However you wanted to plan it.
For free time Budapest offers a wide range of different kinds of bars and clubs and you can choose whether you want to just sit down and talk with your friends, or dance and have fun. Here is also a lot of cafés from really fancy and expensive to really cosy and warm places. Maybe you don’t want to spend money, so then you can go see awesome views from Gellert Hill or just walk the riverside of the Danube.
I live with four other Erasmus-students in a shared flat and I can say it’s rarely quiet here. My Spanish, Cypriot and Italian flatmates are always planning trips, parties or just inviting people over. And if not, we are having mental breakdowns over exams and deadlines together.
The great thing in Erasmus is, that you can always find a person who would like to go for a beer, watch a movie, have a party or even go to Vienna with you. (Or maybe just have a brunch all together.)
I have been now over three months in Cyprus. Time flies so fast! I started my studies in October, but i came to here in Septemper to spend some holiday before studies.
Mediterranean climate provide great weather for holidays and it is nice addition when seeking for warm and non-rainy circumstances during studies.
Still in October here is approximately +25 degree so you can guess what i was doing on my weekends here 😉 Yes, i went to the beach! Because my school is in Nicosia where also my flat is, i have explore other cities whenever i had time. Unfortunately Nicosia is in the middle of island so apparently there is no beaches.
Even Nicosia do not have beaches, here is many other things to see and do. Here is many beautiful churches, shopping street called Lidras, Turkish side and art gallerys etc.
Myschool is Higher Hotel institute Cyprus (HHIC) so its more like high school than university. I study Travel and tourism Management. I am the only one Erasmus-student here in my school, but luckily i found a Facebook group for erasmus students in Nicosia. In here Nikosia is about 5 different universitys with hundred of exchange students all around world! I ALSO FOUND MY OWN ERASMUS FAMILY <3
I study with the last year students so i have many difficult but interesting courses. My lecture schedule is from monday to friday, so its pretty intensive and demanding combaring timetable to my studies in TAMK. Technology here is little bit late than TAMK aswell. We have Moodle, but teachers dont use that a lot, but they give us notes.
Overal, my experience here have been quite educational, since i have put a lot of effort to my studies. I wanted to improve my english skills and that i did. I also have get to now better this culture which is sincerely different than ours. I have tried many variety of local dishes and good wines which i love!
“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world” – David Sedaris
One thing was sure to expect; better weather. And yes definitely it was better than in Finland!
Moving abroad and starting over in a new country is one of the most terrifying and gorgeous exhilarating adventures ever. (Even though it was already my third time doing that. Still every time it surprises me again)
When I heard about the opportunity to do an exchange abroad, I didn’t think twice. Mayor problem for me was; Which country will I apply to?!
I started my exchange period in august in my host university “Rey Juan Carlos” which was located in Vicalvaro. University was okay, literally okay, but that’s mostly all how I can describe it. I was studying in the university of Social Sciences and law (grado en turismo).
Luckily I got a change to mix subjects so I picked those subjects which were interesting. Mostly from tourism sector and rest of the subjects from marketing. I was slightly disappointed about the education system in Spain, even thought I knew it’s not as good as it in Finland. International students were mixed with the normal class, on the other hand it was nice to get to know with local students but on the another hand teachers changed the speaking language all the time to Spain, so it was quite hard to follow the lessons.
I lived in a neighborhood where I literally were “the only white girl in the town.” I lived in a flat with my Spanish roommate and It was great. I had a chance to increase my cross culture awareness really in an “inside” perspective.
I had a bit of a culture shock during my time in Spain, mostly it was because of the late dinner times, ( WHO EATS DINNER LATER THAN 10pm?) If I wanted to have a dinner at 5 or 6 0’clock there was only a few places open. People weren’t able to communicate in English. So it was necessary to start practicing my Spanish. During my time in Spain I travelled a lot and went to see all those heritage villages near by. with a student card you can travel as much as you want inside of the region, FOR FREE ! In a city like Madrid, I bet there will be always something to do to spend you spare time.
Here are some tips for you, if you’re thinking about going for Erasmus in Madrid:
Before your take-off, start learning Spanish! You definitely will need that!
Don’t rent a flat, even if it’s a bit difficult, there’s no doubt you won’t find one. It’s better to see first and then make a contract!
Take your winter jacket and woolen socks with you, at winter time heating systems in houses are not as good than in Finland.
BEWARE with your bags and phones, Sol is a heaven for the thieves at Christmas time when its crowded.
…. last but not least, make your intercultural competences tasks on time….
The ground of a narrow hillside path burns my feet through my shoes as I wipe sweat off from my forehead. In the distance I hear a ship horn, closer around me the chirping concert of thousands of cicadas. An old lady appears from behind a corner, gives a smile and says “Konnichiwa”. I respond with the same and smile back. But the smile doesn’t last long as I am immediately forced to swipe off more sweat from my face. It’s so scorching hot and incredibly humid that even the cats that this town is famous for lay in the short shadows as an occasional sweaty tourist tries to take pictures of them.
Welcome to Onomichi, a lovely small port town of about 40,000 residents in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan. I’ve been working here as a practical trainee/helper staff in a guesthouse/café since mid-June. The place I work for is called Miharashi-tei, a building originally built in 1921 in the traditional Saen(tea culture) architectural style. It stands on a stone wall cliff about 300 steps up from the town. It operated as an inn for a short while after the second world war but had been out of use for almost 30 years before it was renovated into the guesthouse that it has been operating as since March 2016. The guesthouse is run by a non-profit organization.
My main duty here is to help in the reception and give house tours for guests – both Japanese and foreign – after they have checked in at the reception desk in the guesthouse café. I take the guests around the facilities, explain house rules and finally show them to their rooms. I also help in the café/bar and when I have morning shifts I work with the cleaning/maintenance staff.
On my days off I have explored Onomichi and done a few daytrips to nearby cities such as Hiroshima and Okayama. I went to see the yearly Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima on the date of the atomic bomb of 1945. On normal evening shift workdays I spend the morning studying Japanese in the Onomichi Municipal (air-conditioned) Library.
Japanese work culture is known to be strictly hierarchical but a non-profit guesthouse is a slighty different thing. Here even the manager does dishes and fixes drinks. Everyone’s effort is equally valued and, as probably in every Japanese workplace, here also the sentence “otsukaresamadesu” is an essential part of the daily cycle. It’s a ritualistic Japanese expression which translates to something like “you must be tired” or “thank you for your good work”. People say it to each other when someone leaves the workplace.
Living and working in Japan has been my long-time dream and this training period has been a wonderful and useful glimpse into what life here is like in reality. I hope to be back as a trainee and exchange student before my permanent stay.
I came to London for two reasons, I wanted to work in a cocktail bar in the city which has the best bars in the world and secondly I wanted to visit those bars and see why they are the best.
Nine to five
I started work at the end of May in Bethnal Green, area in East London. The bar is called London Cocktail Club and it has eight venues all over the city. The venue I work in is the only one above ground and it has a terrace, which means I don’t have to rot the whole summer in a cellar bar without seeing the sun. We were also the only bar without air con, which meant lot of sweating during busy days. Luckily the those times are over, because now we have a cool breeze coming from the brand new air con -machine.
For the customers the bar is kind kind of a party place, like the company’s motto says: “… a bartenders paradise! A bar that parties like the best of them, and mixes the worlds greatest drinks to perfection. A place where you can dance on the tables whilst singing to AC/DC, sipping on the perfect dry Martini!” And it gets crazy during the weekends, customers are literally dancing on tables and everyone is having fun, including the staff.
But as we work there, we can’t just party all the time, we also work and train ourselves to be better. Lots of prepping and cleaning to do also, I’ve had to juice lemons, limes, grapefruits, make sugar syrup, pre-batch liquors, wash glasses by hand (we don’t have a dish washer) and break down stations after closing time. So basically just normal bar work, what I’ve used to do. But I have also learned a lot new things and skills during my time here.
For example I’ve had to learn a completely new way of pouring, free pouring, which means you can’t use a jigger and you have to count the amounts in your head while you make the drinks. That took a lot of practice and I still have to practice it daily, but I’ve become quite good at it now. I also had to memorize the whole menu and specs for the cocktails, which includes about 70 different drinks. That took me couple of weeks before I passed the spec test and pour test, so I could start bartending.
We also do training with the whole company on Thursdays, the subjects vary from different spirits to opening your own bar, so they have been very interesting and educational.
At the beginning, when I had more spare time, I spent a lot of time seeing things and going to places. Because I live kind of in the middle of the city, it’s not too far to walk anywhere, so I like to do it a lot, which is weird according to my work mates, even though the buses and tube are very easy to use as well.
I’ve visited many museums, like Tate modern and British museum, which is five minute walk away from my flat. My goal is to see everything in the British Museum before I leave, don’t know if I have time to finish that though. Another hobby of mine has been walking around looking for street art, especially Banksy’s.
Otherwise I have been kind of a bad tourist, because I have been here for almost three months and I still haven’t gone to see the Big Ben, and it took me almost two months before I even saw Thames.
My touristic sight seeing has been more of going to the bars which I’ve read a lot online and heard so much about, like Dandelyan, the top-3 bar in the world, The Gibson, bar that serves the weirdest looking cocktails what I’ve seen, and my personal favourite: Happiness Forgets, a small cellar bar with very good atmosphere and minimalistic cocktails.
I’ve also spent time with my work mates, we’ve been out couple of times together, seen movies and just hanged around, we even went to a festival in Victoria Park with everyone in the company.
On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot of my spare time at home watching Netflix and doing chores like laundry and washing dishes, because nowdays I work much more than in the beginning so it’s nice to relax and do nothing during the days off.
Differences to Finland
I see a lot of same in the working culture over here that we have in Finland. The British people like punctuality and precision like we do in Finland. The wages are about the same in both countries.
The biggest differences what I see is the customer service, because it is more personal in here, it is the most important thing what you have to do, little bit of small talk, making guests feel comfortable etc. Here it’s been taken to an another level compared to Finland. And that is one of the thing what I came here to learn. Partly customer service is on that level here is probably because of the general culture, like the small talk, and partly because some of the restaurants and bars have a service charge added to the bill, which goes directly to the staff, and if you don’t serve guests well, they don’t want to pay it. But still there is the certain something that makes you feel comfortable when you walk in to a venue with good service.
Here the alcohol industry is very close to you when you work here, there’s lot of different events, competitions, exhibitions and lot of leg work by brand ambassadors coming to showcase their products to you. And that brings you closer to professionals and industry leaders, and gives you more possibilities to advance in your career.
But all in all bar industry is pretty much the same everywhere and there is similar working cultures around the world and at the same time two bars on the same street might have totally different ways of working and doing things compared to each other.
“My house in Budapest
My, my hidden treasure chest..”
If not earlier, at the latest George Ezra made you know this beautiful city by his great song. (Which doesn’t tell about Budapest at all, though.)
I had visited Budapest two times before my exchange so the city itself was familiar to me. From the very first trip to Budapest I fell in love with the city. How those majestic and glorious buildings meet the rugged and ruined houses and how Danube divides the city into two totally different parts. New bars and street-food restaurants are opening every week so you always have new cool places to visit. Eating and drinking out is really cheap comparing to Finland, too. It’s not difficult to fall in love with Budapest.
I finished my studies in Budapest Business School in May. We had lectures in two different buildings, both located just few hundred meters from the famous Parliament building. I took courses that are very different to which are offered by TAMK. I studied intercultural communication and business communication, environmental management, cultural tourism, Hungarian language, Hungarian history & culture and Hungarian gastronomy.
I really enjoyed Hungarian language course. I have always been interested about languages and such an unique language like Hungarian was really fascinating to me. Finnish and Hungarian are both Finno-Ugric languages and you can find many similarities between them. Learning Hungarian was probably much more easier to Finnish-speakers than, for example, English- or German-speaking students. I learned words and phrases that are useful in every-day life and also numbers and some vocabulary.
Comparing to studying in TAMK, teaching was much more theoretical. It sometimes felt similar to studying in high school; less interaction between teacher and students, lots of powerpoints and notes to write down and only 1,5 hour classes. As I am more practical person I usually prefer more interactive learning methods but I didn’t find it hard to manage the courses. In BBS you had more optional courses to choose and that way also more freedom to make your schedule personalized.
During my stay in Budapest I have traveled a lot. City’s location in the middle of Europe has enabled me to travel budget-friendly to many countries. I visited Vienna and Bratislava during my winter holiday. In April I traveled to Prague to visit my friends and in May I had great trip by train to Belgrad, Serbia. In the beginning of June I returned from 10-days road trip which led me to Slovenia, northern Italy and to Austria. I also visited my friend’s hometown Nyíregyháza in Hungary, which was charming little city close to Ukrainian border. I think I have been such a privileged to experience all this during my exchange semester.
My favorite hobbies abroad, eating and drinking, were easy to put into practice here in Budapest. Although prices have risen in Hungary food is still very affordable in restaurants. I have eaten such a delicious food and have drank great Hungarian wines and beers with my Erasmus friends. Traditional Hungarian cuisine is very heavy and based on meat. Gulyás is one of the most famous dishes in Hungary. It is known as goulash in many other central-European countries. Here in Hungary it is more like soup when, for example, in Czech it is traditionally a meat stew. Lángos is “Hungarian pizza” and very famous among the tourists. It is round-shaped deep-fried pastry that is usually topped with tejföl (like sour-cream) and grated cheese. Not the healthiest choice but soooo yummy!
I’ve also visited famous baths that are very popular here in Hungary. There are numerous natural warm spring waters under the city and several baths (fürdő in Hungarian) have been here in Budapest for centuries. Many locals believe that these thermal waters really keeps you healthy. Who knows, but I will definitely recommend to give a try!
Five months in Hungary have been absolutely great! Weather has been lovely since April and life really laid-back after exam period. I could easily stay one more semester here but it also feels good to go back to Finland. I miss Finnish nature and quietness but life in lively metropolis has been pleasant too. After five months I feel that I have a second home here in Hungary and it will be great to return here one day.
I spent my spring in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, studying Hospitality Management. I stayed at the halls of residence there on the spot, upstairs of the school. For me that worked perfectly, since I am not a morning person I could just wake up and be in class in one minute. I shared a room with one girl and I was lucky enough to have someone so great as a roommate. Others shared their rooms with two or three people, ours wasn’t that crowded. I enjoyed the dorm-life very much.
Studying in HHIC was sort of different from studying in TAMK. I had seven “subjects” in total, two lessons a week each and a final exam on each as well. So at the end it was quite hectic to try and memorize all that information from four months time. If I were more clever, I would’ve studied during the period, not only the last two weeks!
Nicosia in itself is quite boring. Luckily, Cyprus is a small island so I could easily travel around by cheap buses and it would take only max two hours to get to places. I visited Limassol many times with my roommate, it was nice of her to take me with her on weekends. Otherwise I would’ve had to stay in Nicosia all by myself since everyone left home for weekends and I was the only exchange student there. I also traveled to Larnaca and Paphos as my family, my boyfriend and my friends came to visit me. Those were the times when I got to see the proper Cyprus outside Nicosia.
Food was amazing, weather excellent, studies quite easy and doable, people were nice although they tended to speak only Greek if I didn’t remind them to use English. I would say 3,5/5.
I’m studying in Universidade Europeia, one of the few private universities in Lisbon. Studying here is a bit different from what I’m used to in TAMK. Here I have school a few hours every day with different subjects and professors, whereas in TAMK we have one or two subjects per period. I have classes in Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality.
In TAMK we also do more practical work, when the lessons here feel like the lessons I had in the high school, with teacher doing most of the speaking and trying to explain things. All my courses are in English and most people here speak English very well.
Portuguese people are really friendly and laidback, but also a bit impatient. You can see that every day if you’re walking in a city, when people cross the street whenever they can or when the drivers use the car horns much more than is needed.
The Erasmus activity in Lisbon is really good. There are at least three Erasmus organizations who all arrange parties, BBQ’s and trips to all over Portugal, and to Spain and Morocco too! I have been on these trips to Sintra, Braga, Guimarães, Gerês, Nazaré, Berlengas, Obidós and Torres Vedras (Carnival!).I wish we had so many trips for the Erasmus students in Tampere too.
By myself, I visited the Azores, which belong to Portugal. I still haven’t gone to Madeira, although my Madeiran roommates tell me it’s heaven on earth.
My most favourite thing here is to drink coffee or wine in a miradouro, a viewpoint where you have really nice views over the red roofs. There are many in Lisbon. The city really has a rough style of beauty, with lots of graffitis, street art, old houses and narrow tiled streets.
As the summer is here, the temperature can rise up and over +30C, which is insane to a white Finnish person like me. Luckily there are beaches, terraces and all kind of activity you can do outside. Also, many flowers and trees are blooming! Even the night is warm to me.
One memorable thing for me will be a volunteer trip my school arranged to Setúbal, which is south from Lisbon. We were in a beach, collecting the plastic waste from the beaches. I really love the ocean and the plastic pollution has always stressed me out, so it was nice to help, even a bit. Afterwards we could enjoy the beaches.
Lisbon and Portugal will surely have a place in my heart. As my friend said, Lisbon is a state of mind.
Ireland, the land where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible!
They say that times fly when you’re having fun – Which is very true in my case. I was almost five months in Ireland having the most wonderful time in my life and can’t believe it’s over now!
I lived in a little town Athlone, in the midlands. School where I studied is Athlone Institute of Technology and I liked it very much. Lecturers were very friendly and there was a lot of exchange students from different countries. The courses I chose were about tourism and hotels, also including revenue management and professional/enterprise development and I liked those courses a lot. There was four other erasmus students in my class so it was nice to study also with Irish students. I took a English for studying skills- course to support my studies and I think those classes were my favourite. The English lecturers were so friendly, always so positive and welcoming and it was nice to learn with so many different nationalities and have interesting conversations during the classes.
One thing I found challenging there. In Finland we do most of the assigments in teams, but here almost everything was individual. First it was hard, but by time it became easier and I found the best ways to study. We had to do different reports, project, wordbook, essays and at least five different presentations and after submitting the last one, I felt so proud and relieved. Also the final examination weeks were hard trying to read as much as could and exam situations were different compared to Finland.
During the semester, I got so many new friends and spend amazing time with them. Many times when we had free time, we spend time in a pub next to our apartment playing pool and enjoying Guinness or going to parties organized by International society or other erasmus students. I think that always people who you meet wherever you go, makes your time there. That semester wouldn’t been the same without all those lovely people.
During that time, I saw a lot of beautiful Ireland. And I really mean beautiful. Green scenery everywhere, numerous mountains and cliffs, fields with sheeps and the coastal roads with ocean views. Seriously breathtaking country which I fell in love. Definitely going back maybe after few years to experience the whole Wild Atlantic way and other cities I didn’t see.
I made trips when having free time. International society organized few trips to erasmus students to Cliffs of Moher and Wicklow national park. Also in St. Patrick’s day, there was three buses full of exchange students going to Dublin to celebrate. With friends I made trips to Dublin, Galway and to Belfast and all those cities were so nice. Including to our courses, we made fieldtrips to Dublin, Westport and Clonmacnoise visiting different attractions and learning about tourism. Everywhere was a lot of activities and attractions for tourists and sometimes it was difficult to choose what to do and see.
To people who are thinking about going to Ireland, I can only suggest that lovely country! Not only because the scenery, but also because the Irish people, culture and way of living!
For now I’ve been studying in Kyung Hee University for one month. My school is ranked as 15th best university, from 191 universities in South Korea. My major is hospitality management, and courses I study are “principle of cooking”, “basics of Korean language”, “cultural tourism” and “theory of marketing”. I’m pretty happy with courses I finally got, because they are all really different with different teachers, so I don’t get bored during school days.
Kyung Hee University campus
One huge different to studying in Finland is that every class takes only one hour and 15 minutes! Also it’s a lot of lectures, and not much interaction between students. I think it’s nice for a change, but I couldn’t study like that all the time for 3,5 years.
Studying in here is also pretty competitive, from getting courses to your final grade. I was lucky to get in almost all the courses I originally wanted to take, but there were lots of troubles on the way. There’s not that many seats to all of the courses, so you really need to be ready when course registration opens. Also, on some courses, professor can give only certain amount of A:s for students, and that might effect on students behavior during course, for example not to help each others that easily etc..
On first week, one professor told us “exchange student compete against other exchange students, and Korean students compete against other Korean students”. I was really shocked about his comment, because that’s something you would never hear teacher to say in Finland! For us it’s always just about competing against your self and giving your best.
On first week it was very common for professors to say “this course is really difficult, so I recommend you to consider if you really want to take this course”. That felt pretty ridiculous for me, because I’ve got used to teachers say for us that “yes, this might be a difficult subject, but we will learn it together”.
My Korean language studies are proceeding well, I have already learn Korean letters. Next step is to learn basic phrases to help my daily life here. It’s surprising that they don’t speak English lot in here.
After all cultural differences, I’m enjoying school a lot! Usually, I don’t get homework from classes and my schooldays are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, so I have a lot of free time here! I’ve made friends with girls from my dormitory, who I like to explore Seoul and experience all interesting and new things with.
I like Seoul because there’s so many neighborhoods and they all have their own character, if it’s a good area for shopping, eating or clubbing for example. Weather is also getting nicer all the time, I cant wait for summer in here! One thing I’m really looking forward to is having picnic at Han-river and spending all day outside. Now we are all a bit sick, because we spend long times outside but especially when sun sets weather gets quite cold.
My Korean friend Jisoo has shown me lots of cool places in Seoul, I got to know her from “Each One Teach One” course last year in Tampere!