Life in Brno

So far so good.

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.

Greetings from Belgium!

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.

  • Tomi Seppälä

Halløj from Denmark!

It’s the end of my exchange period in Denmark, so, it’s high time to sum up what happened during these two months!
Well, I had my practical training in the town of Holbæk, which is an hour from Copenhagen by train and is just a peaceful and idyllic place. The training was a part of Biomedical Laboratory Science Degree Programme and was more profound and specialized, than a general training we had during our 3rd year of study. The clinical laboratory of the Holbæk Hospital includes several basic specialty areas, such as biochemistry, haematology as well as liquid chromatography (UPLC) and mass spectrometry (MS) systems, ect. My target specialty area was mainly clinical chemistry, but overall, I’ve been through all the areas of the lab. Also, taking blood samples was a part of every workday as a morning round, for instance.

The staff, by the way, was sooo friendly and helpful, I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. The laboratory has the agreements, according to which they constantly accept students for training and studying. It is also student-friendly for the exchange internship, as most of the staff and patients can easily communicate in English. They also have some nice traditions, such as serving fresh-baked bread on Mondays and Fridays, as well as bringing some pastry for everybody even for no particular reason 🙂

 

Equivalent to a Finnish Degree Programme in Biomedical Laboratory Science, the study program of “bioanalytiker” (dan.) in Denmark focuses more on practical skills as well as on studying theory along with practice, in comparison to Finland (my opinion!). There’s also a supervising teacher in the laboratory, who is responsible for the students’ issues and some extra education of the staff. I find it very important, that there’s a teacher right in the lab, because it definitely helps students a lot during their practical training. My supervising teacher was Lis – wonderful person! She was very helpful during the training and she also suggested a topic for the research, which I performed as a required assignment. As a result, I’ve written an article for the professional journal on this topic (the issue will be published in December).

Ok, here starts the most interesting part – I’d like to tell you about my impressions of Denmark!
The very first weekend I spent in Roskilde (30 min by train), namely in Viking Ship Museum with other exchange students from all over the central region of Denmark. In short – we were rowing just like true vikings!
Some other weekend I was visiting Copenhagen with one of my colleagues. The capital is just great and the brightest impression was the Tivoli Gardens. This is the second-oldest amusement park in the world, opened in 1843 (the oldest one is also in Denmark).

These days it was decorated in a Halloween-style and that was just amazing and really impressive.

All in all, I’m glad that I had such oppirtunity to travel and gain new experiences. It was a valuable practical and living international experience, which is quite useful to have in our globalizing world.

– Alina I.

你好,来自上海! Hello from Shanghai!

Two months have flown by so quickly and my exchange is nearing its end in the grand metropolitan city of Shanghai. In Shanghai there are roughly around 24 million people, which shows in everyday life. There is not a moment where you are alone and the lines in TAMKs cafeteria look very short after living in Shanghai. I had never been in China before coming here and boy oh boy has it been an experience.

I am studying in Shanghai University or SHU or ShangDa as the locals like to call it. Shanghai University is the most popular university among young people in Shanghai because of the good teaching and high-quality research. I have five courses, Chinese language, introduction to the Chinese economy and society, social changes is contemporary China, Chinese culture and foreign trade of China. University life to local students is hard, but not for us foreigners. Mostly our courses have only very long lectures (around 3 and half hours), group presentation and final essay, only in Chinese language we have an actual final exam. When compared to TAMK, the lectures are pretty similar. Communication within school is done mostly in WeChat since the school’s tabula-like environment is only in Chinese, which is a bit of a bummer. All in all, the school is pretty nice, except for the classrooms. They have benches attached to tables and are not built for anyone taller than 165cm.

To me, China and Shanghai have shown its beauty in a very spectacular way, the old and the new. I have admired the city’s old architecture in Yu garden while distancing myself from the never sleeping megacity. I also have admired the futuristic area of Pudong, named to be the “Wall street of Asia”, during nighttime and been to the worlds’ second tallest building. I have enjoyed my coffee in the biggest Starbucks in the world and also sipped my tea in the oldest teahouse in Shanghai.  During my spare time I like to visit different districts of Shanghai and get to know the local life. Unlike many think, Shanghai and China is very western and not that cheap, except for food. Food is cheap, it’s delicious and there’s a lot of it. You can find any type of cuisine from around the world in Shanghai, because of its history of being a port city. Sadly, the true Shanghainese food is a bit too sweet for my taste and I have to admit that I still prefer Cantonese cuisine over Shanghainese.

In general, if you are up for an experience and willing to step far away from your comfort zone, I can recommend Shanghai and China. Just last week we experienced one of the biggest “unrestricted internet” blockades on the year, which was hilarious and annoying at the same time. Luckily, it only lasted a week and now everyone is back at finding good academic sources from google for their final essays. It has been nice to experience a completely different culture and get to understand China, but I am still more than fond of Finnish culture. I appreciate the quietness I have not experienced here in the past two months and the Finnish cuisine of not adding sugar and fat to every dish imaginable.

  • Emmi Haapasalo

안녕하세요! Greetings from Seoul!

I am now halfway of my exchange, so I thought to give you my thoughts and experiences so far. I am studying in Seoul in Sungkyunkwan University, which is the oldest university in Korea, founded in 1398. Here I am doing mostly studies related to Korean culture, such as Korean language, political and economic development and contemporary society of Korea. As I am very interested in the local culture, I have enjoyed my studies here a lot, and I have done pretty well so far. Studying in a very prestigious university is different than studying in TAMK which is a university of applied sciences. Lectures are longer, and a lot of studying is required on our own time. And of course we have had exams. I was a little afraid on how my midterms would go, as I have not done essay exams in a long time and also a lot more is required. Week before exam week all the Korean students spent all their time in the library or cafes getting ready for the exams, and me and my friends decided to do the same.

On my free time I often go visit stores in Myeongdong, a shopping district that is only few metro stops away from my dorm. Another place I often go to is Hongdae. They also have restaurants and cafes me and my friends like to visit pretty often. One of the most exciting things for me here is the food. I love going out eat and drink with friends, Korean BBQ is one of the best things I know and I can’t understand why we still don’t have KBBQ restaurants in Finland. We also visit many historical places on weekends, there are many very beautiful palaces in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung palace

I really have enjoyed my time, and even after spending two months here already, there is still so much to do each day. Seoul is my favorite city in the world.

Olá do Porto!

Porto is a “capital of northern Portugal”, sized about the same as Helsinki metropolitan area, it is not too large nor small! I arrived a while ago for my International Business exchange and oh boy things are different in here! I’ve always been keen to know foreign cultures, and this time I wanted really to know southern Europe, hence the location: Portugal.

Let’s start with the Uni. All institution have their flaws, and before leaving TAMK I thought that things in Finland were far away from perfect, now I think that TAMK is a perfect school! 😀 Communication with the school has been more than troubling, the first day of school they cut credits from courses and shortened the exchange time! What a pleasant surprise. The facilities are, well, let’s just say that from the last century without renovation so you get the idea. But as in yin-yang, there is always something positive in bad, and it is not all bad! The teaching is good, in my Business English course and the Marketing Communication especially have been pleasant surprises all-in-all, and the tests have been way easier than in Finland so far, can’t complain about that!

Finding an apartment hasn’t been a problem for any friends that I have made, just prepare to pay around the same as in Finland and you are good to go! This brings the blog nicely to the prices, it is cheap here. With the grant provided, you will survive just fine. I had my expectations a bit higher just in case but the reality is that everything is cheaper. I cannot recommend enough to come to Portugal if you wish to travel during the exchange, Marocco, Malta and Madeira are all just 20 euros away, and by plane! I have already been to Spain and have trips booked to Malta and Madeira for the near future, and that is something!

To make it short, it is nice to experience a new culture in day-to-day life but I can now say that the culture in Finland is unbeatable. Here people are always late and almost nothing works at a general level, thank goodness people are super friendly! After the exchange, and already, I appreciate Finland more than ever!

Now I am just going to sit back, relax and try my best to adapt to the culture for rest of the time in here!

Atte Hurme

Greetings from Cardiff!

Over a month have passed already and the time has gone so quickly! Cardiff is very nice city and the weather has been good. Not that rainy as I thought!

                              

My firs placement is medical placement in University hospital of Wales. Ward A7 is specialized in acute general medicine and Gastroenterology. There are also four infectious disease cubicles for patients who needs isolation. Ward is 33 bedded and it is separated in two parts (south side and north side). I have been working in both sides depended who was my mentor in that day.

Biggest difference to Finland is probably what student nurses can do. Students in here can’t practice clinical skills as much as in Finland. For example students can’t cannulate, do i.v. medications, catheterize or take blood samples. After all I have learned a lot.

Shifts are long (12,5h) and approximately there are three shifts per week. I like the long shifts, because then I have lots of time to travel and go sightseeing!

                              

Staff in ward have been very nice and they made me feel as part of the team from the beginning. I have really enjoyed my time in here so far!

Welcome to Portsmouth

Portsmouth is a lively seaside city with beautiful views and surprisingly good weather. I came here for my exchange studies in International Business and have already spent about two months getting used to the way things work around here.


I’ve always been interested in the UK and its culture. It has certainly been interesting to see how different everything is compared to the rest of Europe!

The studies are quite easy compared to Finland and it’s quite amusing to hear the locals talk about “a full day of school” when it has only been 4 hours. I must say that while things are certainly not perfect in Finland, and in TAMK especially, there are a lot of things I wish they had here. Everything is so old-fashioned and it sometimes feels like they don’t even want to bring their systems to the 21st century. Trying to find information online is hopeless as it either doesn’t exist or can’t be trusted. I’ve also had a lot of trouble getting any papers or documents from the uni – they didn’t even send me my acceptance letter and I had to call them several times to get that sorted out. The same theme has definitely continued with everything else after that.
Still, I enjoy the lectures.  The teachers come from all around the world and it’s interesting to hear examples from different cultures!

Finding accommodation proved to be a challenge. Due to the uni’s mistake with my acceptance letter, I couldn’t apply for the school halls in time. Not that that would have mattered much, as they prioritise degree-students over exchange students. The private sector was difficult as well, since most landlords refuse to make contracts for less than 9-10 months. Finally, I found a house that was specifically meant for exchange students and still had a room available.
While most things are cheaper here than they are in Finland, housing is very expensive and the houses are usually in bad condition. I share a house with 3 other exchange students and I  pay more for my room than I did for my studio apartment in Tampere. The house is also in bad condition: there’s mold and moisture everywhere and the rooms and cabinets start to smell if you keep the doors closed.

 

I found a nice group of friends during the orientation week and we’ve been doing all sorts of things together. The first big event I went to was Portsmouth Pride, which was a very nice experience!

It’s a little hard to define the working culture here because, like in Finland, the study environment is very international. However, I can say that the school assignments here are clearly only meant for school and are not done the way they would be done in work life. This is not the best approach as it doesn’t exactly teach you what you need to know later on. What I have liked is the more independent style of studying. Constant group work is really not meant for me and I find it extremely stressful in TAMK, this is why I’ve enjoyed the independent essays and lectures.

As a conclusion, it’s nice to be able to experience all this but I think I can safely say that the culture is not for me. I will miss some things when I go back to Finland, but I have definitely started to appreciate Finland more!

– Krista Tolonen

Life in Fulda

My practical training in Fulda has taken two places, one in Germany Red Cross ambulance and other in the Hospital cancer ward. First 3 weeks i was in the ambulance. Because of language barrier I couldn’t always understand everything but that was an opportunity for me to improve my skills to read the situation otherwise, which i couldn’t really concentrate at training in Finland. Their system isn’t like in Finland, biggest difference is probably that they have to transport every patient who wants to go to the hospital. Other differences are that they don’t actually go to school for study, they study by doing practical training and more often than in Finland, the doctor shows up to the scene and does something that paramedics in Finland would do. And of course doctor arrives often with helicopter. 

One time I was able to go fly with the pilot when there was not room for me in the ambulance.

Training in the hospital has been harder. I have been more contact with the patients and even though they know that I can’t understand everything, they frustrate and give up what they are trying to say. Cancer ward is only ward in that hospital where nurses are allowed to give medicines and liquefy through the veins. Still nurses are not allowed to give blood products. Aseptics are really strict because most of the patients have low immune system. I haven’t been same kind of department in Finland so it’s hard to compare it. But besides nurses here is also working kind of doctors assistants who takes blood samples, cannulates patients and helps doctors while operations. They don’t participate taking care of patients otherwise but still works at the ward for whole shift. I have seen bone marrow aspiration many times and central venous port implant operation once. I did some training with the book and they allowed me to insert needles in the ports.

On my free time I have made awesome friends from the same building as I live. I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, and it was way beyond my expectation. There was so much more to see than just beer, even though I have never drank that much beer… Visited Berlin twice, would love to go there again and again (picture from festival of lights). Frankfurt, Kassel just day trips. This time that I have here, really isn’t enough to see these beautiful places and discover everything.

        

Time flies when you have fun, but part of me already misses Finland.

-Emilia

Life in Nice

Bonjour!

I have been living in Nice for one month now and I really enjoy life here. It’s still really warm, even  +30 degrees. The sun shines every day and the city is very beautiful. French people are kind and I have settled here well. I study  in IPAG Business School and there are many exchange students here. I have school almost every weekday, Mondays are always free. The classes are quite different compared to TAMK. We have lectures and tutorials. During the tutorials the group is smaller and students make group work, projects and the teaching is more individual than during the lectures. The teachers speak English very well and they are passionate about their subjects. We are going to have midterm exams before the holiday in October and then final exam before Christmas. The classes are mixed with exchange students and French students, which is nice.

During my free-time I go to the gym almost every day, hang out at the beach or go to cafes with my friends. On the weekends we sometimes go to restaurants to eat and spend time. I have also visited other cities near Nice, such as Cannes, Monaco and Antibes. It’s very easy to go from town to town with train or car. I have also went to many other beaches in the area.

I like the French way of living. The sunshine, warm weather and all the great food are making this exchange period amazing and I’ll definitely enjoy my stay in here!