Grüsse aus Germany!

Greetings from Germany!

I have been in Essen now almost five months. Four days left and I’ll be back home, finally. I have done my practical training here in Essen and it has been amazing. I have learnt a lot about working life for an example about team work. I have also learnt so much about myself and I’m very proud of myself that I had the courage to come here.

I work in a Finnish company and all my co-workers are Finnish as well so I haven’t really learn anything about German working culture. So I can’t really compare those. I am working as a management assistant and this job has been very nice, fun and challenging but also quite hard and stressful sometimes. In our office there is three interns, all from Finland, and we have become friends. This training period would have been quite bad without them!

^ me and my dear co-workers

On my spare time (during the week) I usually cook, watch Netflix, read or just chill. After work I’m so tired that I really don’t want to do anything special. On Saturdays we (me and my co-workers) are having an adventure day. We have travelled to different cities like Köln, Dortmund, Venlo and Roermond (in Holland), Mönchengladbach and so on. We have visited in a zoo, museums and spent hours in Primark. I have also been in football games! Saturday is the best day of the week. On Sundays I also just chill because everything (shops and supermarkets) are closed. On Sundays we have visited museums and went to restaurants.

^1) FC Köln vs Bayer Leverkusen, amazing atmosphere! 2) Ready for the game in Düsseldorf.

^1) Duisburg Zoo 2) views from Düsseldorf tv-tower

Like I said I can’t really compare Finnish and German working life but I have note some differences in everyday life:

  1. Everyone uses cash!! This was quite hard to understand first because I’m so used to pay with card. It was surprising that even in big cities like Düsseldorf some restaurants took only cash.
  2. Alcohol is super cheap and it’s okay to have a bear at 10 am. When I went to a restaurant/bar on Saturday to have a nonalcoholic drink the waiter looked me like “why don’t you drink alcohol?” 😀
  3. Almost in every house there is a bathtub instead of regular shower. At least all the houses that I have been.
  4. I still don’t understand how I should recycle. You should put everything recyclable in one bin and all rest in another except paper/cardboard. But when I take a look in yellow and in grey dumpster they look exactly the same.
  5. Normal pillow size is about 80×80 cm which is enormous!! I can’t sleep with those.
  6. In supermarket you have to be very fast in checkout because the checkout line (kassahihna) is so short. If you are too slow you get angry looks. It is easiest to put everything back in the shopping cart, go to those side tables (which are meant to packing) and pack your things.
  7. There is no pick and mix candy.
  8. All the movies and tv-series are dubbed which is annoying sometimes. Like I could have watch Simpsons but I didn’t understand what they were saying in German. We went to movies once (also dubbed) and it was nice feeling when you understand what was happening!

+1. Many times locals have asked us what language we are talking. People are very interested to know why we are in Germany and everybody seem to like Finland.

^The most beautiful place EVER! Köln Dom.

All in all I haven’t really noticed many differences. But maybe I’m so “used to” live here already that I don’t noticed those. And I’m always with Finnish people so I haven’t really noticed any local habits. My roommate is German (she is amazing too) but I haven’t noticed any big cultural differences at home either. I have to say that the public transport works very well!

^Food is life, best burgers in Düsseldorf (@bob and mary)

All in all this trip has been amazing and I will never forget this spring. Still I’m more than ready to go home. I haven’t see my family in five months and I can’t wait to spend a summer in Finland!

Paris When It Sizzles

It has now been four and half months since I arrived in Paris for the first time ever. Since then, I have nearly finished my studies, travelled around France, eaten a lot of baguette and of course made new friends.

During these four months I have studied management in ESCE International Business School. I am one of the whopping seven Finnish exchange students in our school. In total there’s almost 100 of exchange students and we come from all over the world. I have had eight courses, varying from two to eight credits. My courses mix bachelor- and master-level studies. 

My schedule hasn’t been tight, but the work load has sometimes been a lot. Despite of that, I have been thrilled to participate in courses that my home university doesn’t offer. Just like in TAMK, most of the studies included a group work project and that enabled me to get to know people from other cultures.

Throughout this semester, my weekends have been somewhat scheduled. Surprise surprise, friends and family wanted to visit Paris (and me) often and I have acted as their tourist guide. In Paris it’s also super easy to hop in a bus to Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Monaco… You name it. Opens a whole new world of travelling for a Finn.

Here are some things that were new and/or surprising to me:

  • People always jaywalk. If they don’t, they are tourists.
  • Don’t you dare to buy bread from your closest supermarket. It’s boulangerie or nothing. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
  • Lunch takes 1-2 hours and contains two courses. It is not just about refuelling for the end of the day. It is about enjoying the food and the company.
  • Big percentage of the restaurants close their doors between lunch and dinner, 14-19 o’clock. The restaurants that have their kitchens open and working, are marked with the text ‘service continu’.
  • French people actually know english and aren’t afraid to use it. And also, I haven’t crossed my path with a Frenchman or -woman that would have been notably rude.
  • C’est la grève! As in, these guys like to make political standouts – such as a strike of public transports, that lasts for months.
  • Having an oven is a luxury. Same goes for elevators and central heating.
  • French people are most likely lately and not a single bit sorry about it.

This has been my first time ever in France, but much to my own delight, I adapted to the culture fairly quick. Maybe it’s the C’est la vie -attitude that got to me. Not worrying and stressing about things that I can’t change.

As a destination for exchange studies, I would recommend Paris for a nature that is easy-going and organized. For instance, you may receive information fairly late, but be sure it will arrive. Having a laid-back attitude helped me enjoy my time in France more.

Bisous,

Heidi

  ¨

Greetings from Macclesfield!

Just unbelievable how fast time has passed, I’m almost (When finally posted already finished)  finishing my final placement here and only a week and I will fly back to home. And guess what? All of the “During exchange” -tasks still not done. Oops!

Like a typical for me before take-off I was hoping much: A lot of new friends, parties, travelling, my prince of charming (Maybe successful placements as well)… Just a wonderful life without any problems. Basically I was hoping all of my dreams come true at once. Although I was expecting a lot of problems, home sickness and break downs. I was sure that I had done a big mistake when I decided to do that exchange. I thought that there is no way to manage with my English skills and all of that experience will just end up to totally disaster. How you can probably guess neither of those scenarios didn’t happened. Instead of those I have been living a normal everyday life here. I have done my placements in hospital and community, went to the gym (and lost a bit weight, Yippee!) and stuff like that. But you know what? I  have enjoyed it, I really have. And of course I had have a bit time to just enjoy the country as well.

Wonderful how country changes the person. (I just walked with all of those bags 1,5 kilometers.)

 

My two first placements were in the hospital. (Orthopedic ward and Gastroenterology ward.) At the beginning just understanding what’s going on in the busy ward insisted my full concentration and on the side of that I had to do couple of mandatory training as well. So my first week contained 51 hours dealing with my rubbish English in totally new environment.  You can just imagine how exhausted I was when I finally got home after 13 hours day. However I settled very well right from the beginning and I knew that the decision of coming here was correct. Before I came here I was little worried if I can’t learn anything because of the language barrier. But how wrong I was, I learnt so much!  Nursing skills like IV’s, injections, understanding of isolation, drugs, early warning scores… Facing the patients and family felt hard sometimes but most of them were really kind and understanding. And however when there was a language barrier, specially at the beginning, between us I had to concentrate my nonverbal communication even more. I tried to show with my body language and facial expressions that I really am  interested in to be in there and learn things. I also learned that it’s more important how I say things than what I actually say. And I think this is something what I could’t have learnt in Finland using my own language.

Currently I’m doing my final placement in community (last couple days also), with District Nurses. So now I’m facing people in their own houses and I still can’t use my own language. Wow, what a combination. Now I have to respect their home as well, not only the person. So difficult but at the same time so teaching. With District nurses there has been a little different things what I have done and seen than in hospital. A lot of different kind of wounds, injections, drains, diabetics. And just patients supporting through the hard times or situations in their life. So yes, community is totally different than hospital so it’s really nice to see it as well. And to be honest it’s nice to see sun light during the working day instead of being inside from 7am to 8pm.

Differences between nursing in UK and Finland:
1. Training: When you are a qualified nurse in Finland you can do almost everything. In UK you have to have extra-training for doing bloods, cannulation, catheters, pressure bandages… And probably many other things what I can’t remember even.
2. Breaks: During 13 hours shift they have totally 1 hour break and it’s unpaid.
3. Hurry: Totally different here than what I have used to in Finland. Some days nurses didn’t even sit down or eat. They just drank strong juice to keep their blood sugar up and mind focused.
So I have to say that in my opinion we are quite lucky in Finland.

 

Although both of us, me and my room mate Emmi, have done full hours, 39-40 hours/week, with our placements we had done a lot of travelling and experiences as well. We have seen a lot of beautiful places and interesting things.

SNOWING!!! Felt like a home in Stoke-on-Trent in March.

“When your friend is a super-fan and you are not even sure who you are going to see” But thank you Fall Out Boy I still enjoyed! @Manchester

@Liverpool and Beatles Story

 

Almost as dirty water as in Aurajoki @Chester! Sometimes expectations and reality doesn’t face each other… And I’m talking about the picture, Chester was amazing!

 

4D-movie (or 3D? Whatever!) in Sea Life @Birmingham

Getting those fishes to the same picture with us wasn’t so easy thing to do…

@Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle

Playing in Camera Obscura @Edinburgh

Still alive after Underground City Of The Dead Tour @Edinburgh!!!

May Day Carnival @Knutsford
There I was brave enough to face one of my biggest fears and I went to the swing carousel which went high! Wow, It was amazing feeling after that!

 

Although those cities has been amazing and I have enjoyed about visiting there I’m so happy that we have been living in here, our own love Macclesfield. Just a right size town where I can walk around wearing pink raincoat and wellies.

 

Originally I applied for an exchange on my own and I didn’t have a friend to come with me. But thank you Tamk so much that you didn’t send me here alone, I am really grateful for that! Exchange is an experience what you can’t explain or tell to anyone so it’s amazing that I could share it with someone. Although we didn’t know each other before exchange process now we necessarily do. We have lived together almost 3 months, shared a kitchen and bathroom, done travelling together, sort out problems together, got drunk together, laughed together (Not cried together because Emmi doesn’t cry) and done an amazing experience together. Of course Emmi has been really annoying sometimes and I could have send her back home with next flight but I’m still sure that I have done it better – Annoying I mean. And after all I’m quite sparkling and hot-tempered person so it has been nice that someone had reassure me a little when I have needed it.

For example sorting out this heating problem at the beginning of our exchange was a bit easier (and funnier) together.

 

While doing my placements I met a lot of wonderful people who made me feel welcome. My mentors in Gastroenterology ward and Community were brilliant! They got to know me and let me do and see a lot of different things. I always felt that I can question them as a mentor and say if I’m not confident of doing something or if I need more supervision. In Orthopedic ward I didn’t have a mentor so it was a little different there but anyway I always got someone to look after me.

And when talking about great mentors I want to introduce you my mentor in Community, Fiona who wants to be famous in Finland.

 

I just can’t to resist the temptation of sharing couple of highlights of our restaurant foods. Sorry, if you weren’t hungry yet, soon you probably are.

 

Although experience has been amazing and I’m super happy that I was brave enough to came here. I’m really excited of going home as well. I can’t wait to see all of those important people who I haven’t seen for a while. Speaking Finnish in grocery, doing Finnish things with my Finnish friends… Oh, I really miss those things. And those working internet and telephone connections what we have in Finland!! I can’t even count how many times I have thought to throw my laptop or phone through the window because of the poor connection. But not long to go anymore so see you soon Finland! (But before that see you London!!! Uuu, Excited!) 

 

Love, Laura xxx

 

Ps. I spend something like 15 hours by doing that one blog post but I did it alone, nobody correct it for me. That’s something what I wouldn’t do before the exchange so I’m more than brave about that blog post.

Hola y buenas tardes mi amigos!

I have been in Spain Fuengirola now almost three months and my practical training is coming to its end. This has been amazing road and I will remember this forever for sure. Like I mentioned, I’m doing a practical training, in a Finnish homeschool here, and in Finland I study Bachelor of Social Services.

 

My job here is very different for what I have used to since I have never worked with kids this age. The children are between preschool and ninth grade, so the radius is also big. My job description includes for example guidance, teaching, motivating and actual “parenting” if you know what I mean. It’s kind of funny because I have such a big influence on these kids and I’m also growing a lot at the same time… The best thing in this job are definitely the children, challenging roles and of course the beach where we eat our lunches 😉                    (picture from our break –>)

 

 

Time has flown but luckily I have had some time to get to know my current residence. In Fuengirola there is a lot of Finnis people and other foreigners so it’s a bit hard to find locals.
(<– There was lot of locals 😉 Malaga CF vs. Barcelona. Spain is a football country so it was kinda obvious I go and see at least one game!)
You really have to know where locals spend their time. So first I had to explore the nightlife of course, and I did manage to find good places where also local people liked to hang out. They love dancing as do I, so it was natural for me to go in these kinds of places. Second thing I have spent a lot of time is watching ice-hockey, since SM-league and MM-games both were going on whilst I was here. Along with dancing and ice-hockey, I just hang out and do nothing special. Sure I have made some trips to another cities and so on but those does not fill my normal days.

 

(this pic is from Mijas near to Fuengirola)

I don’t know how to compare Spain and Finland as working places because I’m in Finnish school and the schools main teacher is Finnish as are the children. Of course it is different to be in small, under 30 student school than to be in school where one class can include that 30 students… Here we can provide more individual teaching and help, and if (when) there are students with special needs, we notice them more easily and can pay more attention to them.

I have loved it here and i firmly recommend Spain as a practical training country. I personally think that people learn best from another cultures and from another people so if you don’t want to go to Spain, go somewhere. Muchas gracias y hasta luego!

(King Julians say hello from Bioparc Fuengirola)

Turning Maltese

HELLOOOO!

Welcome to my Maltese adventure! It’s been an amazing ride, and definitely one of my life’s best decisions and craziest experiences. Totally recommending this programme for anyone who’s interested! Let’s get cracking!

So…. I’s my first time abroad… alone… EVER. I have only visited Sweden and Estonia when travelling outside Finland, so this has totally been an jump into the unknown. My choice to go on an exchange to Malta was a mixture of curiosity towards the southern European culture and learning practices, the need for a total change of scenery and people, and also a small wish, that I could experience some warm sunshine after a grimy winter in Finland. I’m happy to admit, that I got exactly what I wished for, and a whole lot more!

The day I landed to Malta, the weather was amazing, +20 degrees in January during the day. I was so excited and happy I couldn’t believe it. For the first time I saw the big cactus trees and southern plants in nature, and saw the Mediterranian sea. I got to experience the open and helpful nature of the Maltese people pretty soon, when getting into the bus for the first time, three people started advicing us without even asking. Also one day I had my hands full and was struggling with my glove; so a stranger looked at me and put on my glove for me without asking or saying a word. It was funny and totally unexpected, thank you, strange Maltese dude!

The temperature at night surprised me completely, because one it got dark, the temperature dropped to about 9 degrees. In an extremely humid climate that feels so so so cold. Also, the houses don’t have any heating, because they are built for the hot summer, so at night I had to sleep with 2 blankets to keep myself warm. February is considered winter in Malta, and I can see why. But it got better quite quickly.

My placements for physiotherapy practise have been

  1. Musculoskeletal outpatients unit – St Luke’s Hospital
  2. Children Development Assesment Centre (CDAU), St Luke’s Hospital
  3. Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Center (SAMOC), Mater Dei

In musculoskeletal ward I got to assess, treat and observe patients who had various musculoskeletal issues. I had a lot of shoulder and knee patients, and I also got to see some ankle, back, neck and general mobility cases. For one day I visited the hydrotherapy pool.  I had an amazing supervisor and got so much experience by going out of my confort zone and dealing with the patients first with my supervisor, and then on my own. I was happy to get self-confidence and reassurance.

In the children’s ward the patients were mostly cases with cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome or some other syndrome, spina bifida, or children with general developmental delay. We visited the Helen Keller special school for severely disabled children/adolecents in Qrendi also every week to assess and do therapy with the students. The childer were all very adorable, and the physiotherapy with them is done always through play and games. We had nice therapy rooms full of toys and equipment, and I believe the children really liked the fun excersises we came up with.

In SAMOC we had 2 general cancer wards, haematology ward, palleative care unit, children’s ward and the outpatients ward, that we worked in. I got to experience the ward physiotherapy, and also treat patients in the outpatients unit with lymphaodema. We did complete draining therapy manually and using a PCT machine, that passively inflates a external sleeve, to get the lympf liquid moving. I got to perform manual lymph drainage on a few patients of “my own”, do measurements of the upper limb and try some assessments as well. For a few times I had a survivors gym group to instruct, that was a lot of fun and I connected with the people well! For a good-bye and thank you, some of my patients gave me gifts, which really moved me and made me extremely grateful. After work I went to the beach every day to swim and sunbathe… Can’t get better than that!!!

The work hours for me were from 8 am till 2 pm, so only 6 hours. Maltese have short work days, and because the physiotherapy is free, sometimes patients don’t bother to come, and you end up with a lot of free time on your hands. So the system is a bit different compared to Finland’s. As what comes to the physiotherapy, I think it is mostly the same in Finland as well. The Maltese university students have a 4 year degree in physiotherapy to get the bachelors degree, whereas in Finland we only have 3,5 years. The Maltese have a very good education system in physiotherapy in my opinion, they have a lot of testing, practice and training. When they graduate, the physios working for the government will do a 5 year long rotation, where they work for 6 months in a certain department, and then switch. This way every physio gets experience in all major areas of physiotherapy, f.ex. children, neurology, musculoskeletal, geriatry, and so on. I think this system would benefit many in Finland as well.

In my spare time I liked to adventure around the island; Malta is a very very small country, but there are many amazing places to see. We got to go on hikes on Sundays with a fun tour guide for only 3,5€, that covered the busrides there and back, and hiking was a fun way to spend the day, see rare sights and make new friends! I also participated to many of the offical ESN – groups fun activities, including scavenger hunting in the capitol Valletta, speed dating in the University, and a full weekend tirp with a big Erasmus group to the Malta’s sister island, Gozo. I made a big bunch of friends from all over the world!! And there was always someone to text and go out with!

I also got to participate in the University of Malta’s Student’s Fest, which is a annual, big musical made by the university students. This year we depicted the Little Mermaid, with a little twist. There was a couple of hundred people participating, and I got the opportunity to perform in the main chorus. We practiced a lot, and it all was worth it in the end, because the finished product was amazing! We had 4 shows in total, and there I got to get to know many Maltese students and see part of their University experience!

The night life in Malta is crazy and so fun. Paceville is the most popular place to go have a good time; it’s a small area full of bars and nightclubs, and it doesn’t cost anything to go in to the bars.  And the drinks are so cheap!! You can get a beer for 1 € and cocktails for 3,90€, and usually there are people handing out free drink tickets outside the bars. There are always people having a good time there, and you always bump into some people you know! And there are always some student parties around, you wont be bored, I swear!

Though there are some problems and things to grow accustomed to for example not being able to drink tap water, everything being late from buses to meetings, almost dying every day due to the crazy driving manners of the people, and LACK OF OAT BREAD AND GOOD VARIETY OF PICK AND MIX CANDY, Malta is a great place to do your exchange in. The people, the extremely active ESN-group, very professional physio supervisors and great, historical places to visit, made the experience one that I will always cherish. I truly loved the experience, 3 months was way too little for me!!

Grazzi ħafna!

Nina

Vienna – Life Around Palaces

Liebe Grüsse aus Wien!

Vienna is a beautiful city full of history and nice sceneries, and the exchange has been a great experience. The city is divided into 22 districts, which all have their own distinct air. My Praktikums (= internships) have taken place in Wilhelminenspital, a big, old hospital in the 16th district. The atmosphere at work has been great, all the physiotherapists are friendly and I have been able to take part in many different things: Laufband-training with neurological patients, Heilgymnastik for traumatology patients recovering from surgeries or accidents, pool therapy groups, mobilizing patients at hospital wards etc. In the beginning my German was quite rusty, but everyone has been very understanding and helpful with the language.

I have met people from many places, Vienna is quite multicultural. My first flatmates were from Ukraine and Hongkong, and there are have been people from USA, Latin America and all over Europe both at work and elsewhere. Cafés are an essential part of Viennese culture, people sit in them for hours working, socializing or just relaxing with the daily newspaper. There are all types of cafés, and the prices are quite affordable for a Finn. A must to try is a coffee speciality called Mélange, which basically is coffee with milk and sugar prepared in the Viennese way. The cake variety is endless, Sacher Tarte naturally being the most famous, but there are so many other great options that it is always hard to choose.

Austrian culture does not differ too much from our own Finnish one. The city is tidy and feels fairly safe. The public transport system works amazingly well: metros, trams and buses run often and usually on time. However, Austria is a very traditional, conservative country. People quite generally fast before Easter, and shops close usually by 6 pm. After Saturday 6 pm the grocery stores open the next time on Monday morning (a bit problematic  for a foreigner arriving in the city on Saturday evening). In addition to doing the internship I had a chance to spend a week at the FH Campus observing the local physiotherapy teaching. Practical classes and lectures were very similar to the ones at our campus at home, only the topics differed slightly, so I learned some new techniques.

All in all, I can sincerelly recommend choosing Vienna as an exchange destination! 🙂

Schloss Schönbrunn

Ragazze mie, questo è Italia!

The Spring in Udine

If I should describe the scenery of Italy with different sounds, the soundtrack would consist of chiming of church bells, birdsong, honking of cars and some Italians speaking loudly to one another. Mix this with the scent of flowers and maybe some freshly baked pizza, interaction with friendly locals plus unbelievable views, and here you go, you’re in the heart of Italy!

Beauty of Verona

We spent our three-month exchange in Northern Italy, in a small city called Udine with my classmate Noora working in the field of physiotherapy. During the exchange we did three traineeships in different departments of the rehabilitation hospital Gervasutta. First practice was in children’s policlinic, the second one was with adults in a department called Biomeccanica, where the patients had had partial spinal cord injuries. The third one was general rehabilitation department where there was patients with brain injuries.

In all the departments we got to practice physiotherapy independently, but there was also some bystanding when we observed physiotherapists to do the work. We didn’t know almost any Italian so there was some difficulties with teachers and patients who didn’t speak English. In those situations either the Italian students translated us the important things or if that wasn’t possible, we managed to translate some things by ourselves and to speak simple words and sentences to patients and teachers. Oh boy you learn a lot of Italian in three months if you must! The teachers and Italian students were really friendly and despite the language barrier you could understand and get to know each other well and have fun.

One of the palestras in the hospital of Gervasutta

The courses of physiotherapy are also held in the hospital of Gervasutta and the teachers of physiotherapy are besides teaching working in the different departments of the hospital. All the students do practical training in the morning and in the afternoon they have lectures. The schoolday can last from 8am to 6pm (there is two-hour break at noon) and there is many tests during the year so it’s a lot of work. The students seem to appreciate the education very much and they’re very motivated and hard-working. It shows in the results: The level of skill and knowledge is high. I guess is partly because in Italy you must pay for the higher education. The Gervasutta is one of the best physiotherapy schools in Northern Italy.

The rush hour in Venice

Compared to Finnish hospitals, the working culture is a bit different in Italy, at least here in Udine. There is a lot less coffee breaks (depending for the department, of course) but more communality. People greet everyone, also the strangers, and everyone are working together and helping each other if needed. People do something all the time and often many things are done at the same time. Also in some departments there is this huge working area, “palestra”, where many patients are treated at the same time, so it’s a lot of hustling and bustling and noises. In the hospital where we were, there was also a lot of paper work: in Finland about all the information of patients is on computer, here all the documents were paper versions. And that is a lot of paper and files!

Naples, what a view!

Although there are less coffee breaks and lots of things been done, there is sometimes a lot of waiting too and you’ll get used to not to know what happens next, especially if you’re not that good in Italian. All the equipment might not work as you would expect them to do and things might not always happen in the minute you have agreed. But as one of our tutors once said “Ragazze mie, questo è Italia!” (free translation: “Oh my dear girls, this is Italia!”), it’s a part of Italian culture.

The best pizza I’ve ever had!

In my spare time, I have been doing lots of traveling, taking part of events and parties with other Erasmus students and enjoying the atmosphere, food, drinks (very affordable wine and Aperol Spritz) and the culture of Italy. For example in the Easter we went to Naples for a few days and it was such an experience! The city of Naples was unbelievable: So much crazy traffic, cars honking and scooters speeding pass you in the narrow streets, so much trash and splittered glass everywhere and a bit obscure people in the dark alleys! But on the other hand so helpful and kind locals and very beautiful views of the sea and the volcano Vesuvio. And the pizza was so delicious! I ate the best pizza margherita after visiting the archeological site of Pompeii, in a nice pizzeria in the beautiful center of the village of Pompeii. Also I miss the small pizzettas you can buy for 1€ from the street booths – yum! When in Naples you could really understand the differences of northern and southern Italy. After that trip I was kind of relieved to not to get hit by a car get to do the internship in the Northern part of Italy in a safe and peaceful Udine.

One of the piazzas in Udine (It’s Aperol time!)

As I write this I have only three weeks left of my internship. The time has flown so fast! During these months I have learned much about myself and the Italian culture. I have seen unbelievable places and met so many new, friendly people. Udine is a great base to explore the Northern Italy (and also Slovenia and Croatia). I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Italy! At times there has been difficulties but as one famous American artist sings: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you have the chance to spent your exchange here in Italy, don’t hesitate! Go for it, it’ll be worth it.

Magical mountain scenery in the Fusine lakes

Saluti a tutti!

Greetings from Udine, a small city in northern Italy. Udine is a not so typical Italian city because this Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region has a lot of influences for example from Slovenia and Austria. This university city is beautiful and quiet with great possibilities to travel. It takes just a couple of hours to reach the mountains or the seaside and there are some nice small towns and bigger cities near. In fact, I have spent my weekends travelling around. For example, I have visited Trieste and Grado, which have pretty sea views.

Duomo di Milano
Pompeii

Of course, I’ve also travelled to Venice which was my absolute favourite place here in Italy. Also, Milano with its stylish atmosphere and stunning sightseeing locations was great. I have seen small Italian towns and Kanin mountains. During the Easter holiday me and my classmate travelled to Napoli to see the difference between North- and South-Italy. The difference was huge. Napoli was everything you would think of when speaking of stereotypical Italians. Their way to talk and the usage of hand gestures while communicating is a very distinctive feature. They also drive scooters a lot. But it was great to see Pompeii and Vesuvio!

Venezia
Laghi di Fusine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vesuvio
Grado

 

 

 

 

I’m doing my physiotherapy internship here with my classmate from Finland so I’m working every day at the local hospital. Hospital “Gervasutta” is specialised in rehabilitation so I have learned a lot. My friend and I have been working at three different areas of the hospital. The first practical training was with children so it was my favourite. The second training was with patients who had spinal cord injuries and with amputation patients. Now we are working at a department where people with different types of brain injuries are treated. I have seen so much during my stay here and neurological physiotherapy has become familiar. Some of the teachers/physiotherapists speak English. With the patients I must speak Italian language. When I came here I didn’t know the language but the practical training has taught me so many words and phrases. Also, working here has tested my manual and visual skills constantly. The biggest difference between Finnish and Italian way of doing physiotherapy in a hospital is that here you must wait everything because things happen so slowly. They also do loads of paperwork here which amazes me. It seems like they don’t use so much softwares to keep record of patients and treatments. Also, students must give every assignment in paper. Physiotherapy education also takes place in Gervasutta. The students have practical training at the units every morning and afternoon they have classes. I think that practical training at the hospital is a great way to improve students’ skills. For me as an exchange student it has also been a wonderful opportunity to get to know local students because I’m not at the University of Udine at all.

 

 

 

 

During my free time I like to get familiar with the city of Udine and do some sports. I have also taken part in nice events arranged by the ESN of Udine (Erasmus student network). I have spent my time with other Erasmus students and of course tasted a variety of Italian food and drinks. For example, here in Udine they serve a typical dish called frico. And tiramisù is from this region! And what would my time in Italy be without tasting plenty of pizzas, gelatos and wines.

      

Oh, how time has flown. It’s hard to believe that I have already lived here for over two months. Now I will enjoy my last month in Italy. Luckily, the weather is finally great (around +26 degrees) and the nature has blossomed. It’s like the best of Finnish summer here even though it’s only spring and some people are still using their winter jackets. See you soon Finland! Ciao!

Piazza Libertà

 

 

From Dobrich with love

Hello,

Time has passed very quickly. It is easy to see now when my exchange is coming to an end. I came to Dobrich, Bulgaria in the end of january and before may turns to june i’ll be back in Tampere, Finland. I studied for Business Administration in Varna University of Management and campus is located in Dobrich that is about 60km from Varna.

Studying style in VUM is close to one that we have in TAMK. All courses begin with few lectures and after that we started to do group projects independently. Some courses had a group assignment and a test but in most cases the group assignment was a priority and gave highest points of mark. My courses included studies of entrepreneurship and project management, organizational behaviour and marketing communications. Organizational behaviour gave me the most of them.

I made a couple of short trips away from Bulgaria during this semester but most of my time i spent in Dobrich and in Varna so i’ll tell you of these places and spice the story with couple pictures from beautiful countryside of Dolina and seaside of Baltsik.

When i came here it was the end of january and everything was a bit weird. Neighbourhood buildings were ready to be demolished and temperature was about +16 celsius. Environment was so different what i have used to. Fortunately it all changed quickly. Not that those buildings would had been repaired but temperature dropped to minus degrees so i did not bring my winter jacket for nothing. During winter Bulgaria is surprisingly snowy, during the worst parts it was snowing for three days and all our classes were cancelled for those days, what a pity.

After the snowy and wet part of year which lasted for one and a half month it turned out to be much better. For last two months it has been more than 20 degrees and mostly sunny every day with one exeption as today 8th of may it has been raining all the time. That is more than a great thing for a Finn who can’t even imagine a one week of such a pleasant temperatures.

 

 

 

 

When you decide to come to Bulgaria remember that there differences in communication, especially time is here relatively different. In Finland timetables are accurate till the end of time but in here timetables are to give guidance and assumptions. Fortunately nothing serious happened but couple of times i had to change my plans because as a tourist i lacked of a better information to local habits.

Bulgaria is cheap as a country so you don’t need lot of savings to have some good time here. Another thing from Bulgaria on top of my mind is that this place is a land of endless fields which continues to horizon. It is crazy how vast these fields are in countryside. Perfect place to travel around with awesome company.

It is easy to recommend you to visit Varna. I am sure you will have good time there as it is beautiful and close to the size of Tampere. When i missed Finland i did a trip to Varna to relieve stress. My campus was in Dobrich which is quite a quiet place to spent for a long time. There are not much of different activities so mostly i let out the steam by exercising. How ever from Varna you can find places to relax like a huge park, lots of shopping possibilities, tens of museums and historical places like Roman baths and this awesome swimming pool is right next to sea. You can swim in the sea too.

Another awesome place to visit is portrait beautiful small town called Baltsik. Pictures above are from Baltsik and there is an awesome botanical garden and great view to sea. There is also less impressive palace which is in the picture. It is more like a tourist trap but like said the botanical garden is very beautiful as is the town itself. As a bonus there was an extremely friendly street dog which companied me and my girlfriend for a long time as we walked around the town.

Talking of abandoned cats and dogs…there is plenty in Bulgaria. You can find them wandering in every town. Funny though that all of them are relaxed, minding their own business and people treat them well, many are even giving them foor more or less regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this period of about 4 months i have been living in dead town in an apartment of less than 50m2 with five people. I share a 10m2 room with another person and sometimes construction guys cut off running water from the whole town for a day. However i couldn’t be luckier as i got this awesome young French gentleman – Jeremy – to keep me company for these months. It was not always easy to stay away from Finland because girlfriend and all other friends are there but i am very happy that i made great friends here too. It made this experience unique and memorable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merci and tsao tsao!

 

 

 

 

Spring in Valencia

I am spending my exchange year in Valencia and studying music in the Conservatorio superior de música “Joaquín Rodrigo”. The curriculum here is very different from what we have back home in Finland, so I have taken the opportunity to try out all kinds of new subjects. As a singer I have been especially exited about the number of lessons we get working with a pianist every week. In addition to this, the school offers subjects like stage acting, body movement, singers’ anatomy lessons, chamber music and language studies. So, a whole package of skills essential for professional singers! My biggest challenge has been the language. All the lessons are held in Spanish, and even though my Spanish skills are improving, they don’t quite cover the professional anatomy vocabulary at this point. 😉

Now that the rainy winter months are over, the best way to spent time in Valencia is outside. Right next to my home, continuing through the whole city is the Turia-park. In the past, it used to be a river, but after causing huge floods in town it was dried from water. Today it has been transformed into a beautiful, I believe at least 9km long park-area, for all Valencians to enjoy. It is a place where people go jogging or cycling, families go for a picnic and kids have play-dates in the children’s parks. The cafes, football fields and roller-skating rinks ensure that people of all ages can find things to enjoy. So, when the sun is shining outside – and it mostly is – I love to go to Turia, do some sports, have a coffee or just sit on the grass and watch the people and life around me. 🙂