Greetings from Krems an der Donau, Austria!

In Lower Austria, in the middle of winery plantations and right by the Danube river, there is this charming city called Krems. Krems is an old and historic town with only 25 000 inhabitants and it is 80 km away from Vienna. It’s a city of many churches and universities!

The Danube river in September

My experience here has been quite nice, even though the school standards surprised me. Studying abroad has taught me to appreciate TAMK even more than before. Here in IMC Krems, you must work a lot to earn your credits. At least in my case, I’ve had to learn lots of things by heart to success in the exams. The grading here is very strict, and you must remember everything in detail. I have to say, that I’m not happy with the level of education here. It is partly because having this much theory is not a suitable way of learning for me – I’m more of a “learning by doing” type of person. On the other hand, I feel like in every course there has been poor instructions to projects or assignments in general. Compared to the level of teaching, the exams had been difficult and all in all, the professors could have been more supportive. Also, one big fault is the lack of school lunch. If you want to come to Krems, I recommend you take fewer courses than I did (26,5 ECTS), so you’ll have more time to travel and enjoy your exchange semester that way!

Seeing other cultures has opened my eyes and broadened my world view. During the exchange semester I have traveled to Germany, Slovakia and Hungary. I have also traveled inside Austria, to Vienna, Wachau Valley, Linz, St. Pölten and Bad Gastein (the Alps). Before I’m heading home, I’m still going to visit Graz and Hallstatt. One of the most enriching things here have been all the new people I have got to know from all over the world. Krems is a small town, so exchange students have become a close group. Throughout the time, everyone has behaved nicely towards each other and invited everyone to the parties. I’ve also got new friends from the locals, since I have studied mostly with them.

Wachau Valley is quite near to Krems. I took this photo during the excursion in September.
The Alps in Bad Gastein

Especially during the first weeks we got to know some history about Krems and its buildings. One of the churches I mentioned is 1000 years old and IMCs’ Piaristengasse campus is a part of the same building! The campus is an old monastery and you can see the history on the ceilings and walls of the campus. The nature in Krems is beautiful as well. Danube river runs right outside of the city center and exotic vineyards locate on the other side.

IMC Krems, Piaristengasse campus

As a summary, I would say that Krems is an extremely beautiful city with warm atmosphere and lots of students. You can easily go and travel around Austria and Europe and if you are interested in wines, this is a perfect place for you! If you enjoy studying theory instead of doing projects or group works, you might also enjoy the school. Even though it has been very hard for me sometimes, this experience has been amazing, and I am truly grateful that I had the chance to come here!

Frankfurt, die Bankenstadt

I started my exchange studies here in Frankfurt in the beginning of September. Now, a bit more than four months later, I can’t imagine how fast time has passed.

This was my third night in Frankfurt. I can’t imagine of a better start to the exchange than a pub crawl in Sachsenhausen.

In September, my only course was a German intensive course, so I had plenty of time to explore the city. All the other courses started in the middle of October (that’s when the “winter” semester starts here).  All in all, the courses have been okay. Some teachers are better than the others, but I think that’s a common thing all around the world. I still have the exam week waiting for me in February, so I can’t compare the level of difficulty to TAMK yet. I hope they are passable.

Frankfurt at night.

During my stay here in Frankfurt, I’ve been able to travel easily. I’ve visited some towns nearby, as well as some further away. Here are some pictures:

In September, we visited a wine field in Rüdesheim, the wine was tasty.

Oktoberfest is a traditional festival in Germany. It is mainly celebrated in München. As one of my friends is doing their exchange there, I paid him a visit.

The Christmas markets in Frankfurt during Christmas time were very pleasant to the eye. Not to mention the skyscrapers giving the view a nice touch.

 

I also play a bit of ice hockey here. It has been nice to have something on the contrast to school. I’ve also made some awesome friends from my team. Without overlooking all the exchange students and other people I’ve met during my stay.

To sum it all up, if you have a chance to go study or work abroad, do it. At least I have enjoyed most of the time being here, and the experience or knowledge that I have gotten is something you can’t learn from books.

Thanks,

Jere

Mis Experiencias en la Ciudad de México

At the beginning of August 2018, I started my exchange studies in huge Mexico City. The five months in the city and in my university, Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, went really fast and I can recommend the place to everyone. Studying in Mexico was different than studying in TAMK and especially the courses taught in English were quite easy for us exchange students. In the courses I chose, I didn’t have to take any exams but mostly do group works. The teachers were very nice and understanding, and missing classes because of traveling was never a problem. In the picture below you can see my university.

My experience in Mexico was so much better than I expected. Adapting to a new, totally different culture was so much fun and eye-opening, also sometimes a little bit frustrating of course. Exploring the spicy food, learning about people who always want to help despite the language barriers, and experiencing traditions, national celebrations (for example, the Independence Day and the Day of the Death) and amazingly beautiful places are some things that I will always remember.

Before arriving, I was worried about many things and probably mostly about the safety and how I’m going to get used to so different culture. Now after 5 months, I’m happy to tell that not even for once I felt dangerous there. During the introduction week, we were told about safety in the city and what places to avoid, and I didn’t have any problems with anything.

In a city like Mexico City, you can’t run out of things to do in your free time. Outside of the school I was mostly exploring the city and visiting its touristic attractions which were all free for students, and during the weekends I made a lot of trips with my friends to the cities close by. Traveling in Mexico was quite cheap and by paying a couple of euros more, you can take “a luxury bus” with Wi-Fi, air condition and a movie selection. In Mexico City, I always took an Uber because it was the safest option and also cheap. There is a good and really cheap subway system as well but during the rush hours it gets really crowded and a bit dangerous.

Liebe Grüße aus Bielefeld

I have been now in Bielefeld, Germany for 4,5 months and the exchange semester is about to come to an end. The time has flown by very fast and the experience has been very rewarding in many ways.

About the city of Bielefeld. 
Bielefeld is a city about the same size as Tampere, but still for Germany it cannot be counted as a big one. It has everything you need (even a tram/metro!) and (center) area is kind of cute, but is definitely not a very interesting city. There is a castle, which I think is the biggest sight in the whole city. Also, Dr. Ötker comes from Bielefeld and the factory is located also here. Luckily, with the semester ticket you will get, you can travel limitless within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia which includes also cities like Düsseldorf and Köln. That’s a lot of land to explore!

View from the Sparrenburg Castle over Bielefeld

Studying in FH Bielefeld
The semester started with an orientation weeks which included practical information about how everything works, at the university and with student dormitories (since most exchange-students lived in one). The main part of the orientation was still the German lessons which took place everyday for 5 hours (that’s first 3 ECTS right there!). For some reason there was a week break between the actual courses started, so I did an extra intensive course about Blockchain during this time of which I earned the most easiest 6 ECTS of my life.

For this reason I needed to take only 4 courses. I took German, Spanish, International Taxation and Consumer marketing. Each of these were 3h a week, some in 2 parts, so hour-wise it wasn’t much of sitting at the university. The lectures of non-language courses do not differ too much from what they are in TAMK. The biggest differences I see in the language courses, I cannot really explain but the style really doesn’t suit for me and I feel I have learned only very little from the classes and do the work at home. Also, the Spanish class in in German, so that makes the whole thing even more confusing.
All in all, the studying has been a bit easier here.

What was a bit unexpected, things aren’t as organized in Germany as in Finland. The information flow is very bad, the local Tabula etc. systems are ancient and a a lot of things are made unnecessarily difficult and formal + a lot of times I got the feeling no one knows anythings. Patience is what you need…

Christmas Market in Bielefeld

Living and free time
Living in Germany is cheaper than in Finland, especially in a city like Bielefeld where the rent prices are also super low! My Erasmus experience differs a lot compared to many other exchange students who came to Bielefeld and a big reason is that I was lucky to get a room from a private shared apartment instead of the student dormitories. I have been living with two German girls together and I couldn’t be happier about that. With them I have experienced and done so much more that I would have without. For example I have gone to the Köln Karnival, had  home made lunch at “Grandma’s” and even found myself from a Finnish SitSit style birthday party which was organized by Germans who had been to exchange in Finland! Also, I have been travelling quite a lot, since the prices are just so low not matter if you fly or take a bus.

Köln Karnival

If something, I would recommend to try to find a flat with the locals (WG-gesucht.de 😉 ). That gives so much more if you actually want to see the culture, make connections and live more cozy life than in dormitories (yes I have seen and heard about these). I can say that I have really been “exposed” to Germans and German culture and at the same time me German has improved massively! Surely there has been some Erasmus events but I didn’t take part in most. From other Erasmus students I have found a few very good friends but the most close friends are my roommates and they are one of the only things I will miss here!

Qilu University of Technology – Finnish in China

Hello from China, Jinan!

It’s Kati again! As I stated above, I was half-a-year student in China, Jinan. Let me tell you some aspects of my daily life!

Studying in an Asian country is -of course- very study oriented, but the courses are not so difficult. The campus is big (1,5 million squares according to Wikipedia) so the distances between school buildings are very long. You easily got 10,000 steps by just going to classes and canteen. There were many school buildings, about 15 when counting 3 canteens, library and doctor’s together, which was a huge surprise compared to tiny little Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Everyone should be addressed with their surname, like Mr. Wang. There was also a brewery, tea house and other warrants of the school which we visited.

Picture: Me(second from the right) and other transfer student in the tea house of Qilu school.

There were many ways to spend your free time and many Chinese chose to study. I found different ways to stabilize my everyday life by going to jog and to a gym, hang around in bars, playing pool and table tennis, hiking a mountain, travelling to different cities, seeing different tourist attractions, and just walking around the schoolyard. Why I mentioned walking around the school? Well, there were many statues, places to relax and they were usually quiet and empty. There were many opportunities nearby the school, you decide where you want to spend your days!

Picture: City of Jinan

There were also different kind of weather, as there only snowed once during my stay, even I was there on the autumn semester! The snowflakes were tiny and melted away in an instant. Also, the lunchtime were about 2 hours as there were 15,000-25,000 people on the same time who went to lunch. Sometimes we went to the nearby restaurant to have lunch as in the canteens there were very noisy and no seats left. One cool aspect of the school was to see different kind of clubs, as in TAMK there is only (maybe) 2 clubs, which are Paperikerho, a “club” for paper engineers and Ääriraja, a theater “club”. During my free time I saw for example the band club, rollerblading club, hiking club and dancing club. I wish there would be as many clubs in Finland too.

 

Until next time!

Kati “Kaz” Nieminen

Grüße aus Österreich

I have lived and studied in Upper Austria now for three and half months and now it’s time to tell you a little bit about my stay here.

Studying

It has been a really interesting for me to experience a bit of Austrian school system. Basically, I had no prejudices or expectations about it before I came here, but now I can say that it has been a positive surprise for me so far. There’s a couple of characteristics that I would like to highlight.

In Austria, people are extremely punctual and they really appreciate and even demand punctuality from everyone. You can be sure that you will be scolded if you arrive late on the lecture. Working and studuying culture is also very formal here. All the professors are well-dressed and students address them with their correct titles, and actually in everyday life also, elder must be addressed with “Frau” (Ms.) or “Herr” (Mr.).

All in all, my studies here have been interesting but challenging as well. Professors speak fluent english and the teching methods are quite similar than in Finland, so studying itself is not that different here than in TAMK.

Free time

Naturally, student exchange is not just studying. Actually I have had plenty of day offs in my schedule, so I have had a lot of time to travel and explore. My favourite way to spend free time here, has for sure been mountain hiking in the Alps. And as Austrians boast the second highest consumption of beer per capita worldwide, I haven’t been able to avoid tasting the local beer specialties.

    

It has been great and memorable time here and I can greatly recommend Austria as a travel destination for everyone.

Cheers,

Olli

Everyday life in Korea!

I came to Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea) about three and a half months ago, and it has been an amazing experience! Korea is so much different than Finland: the food, the people, the amount of people, the city of Seoul, everything is far from what I’m used to at home. The biggest difference is the studies. Koreans really enjoy studying everything by hard, and to spend a lot of time doing so. I’m used to learn how to the solve the problems and close the book, but Koreans keep studying from 9am to 9pm and extend that a little when exams are near.

When I arrived, this was a bit of a shock for me and I didn’t know how to catch with all of the local students and their motivation/memory skills. So, after some time I decided I would not do that and continued to learn the way I’m used to. This gave me way more time to enjoy Seoul and everything else outside of school.

Here are a few photos during my journey in Korea:

The temples. In South Korea, there are hundreds and hundreds of places to visit from the early ages in terms of buildings, sites and museums. This was something I really enjoyed, since it gave really fun way to learn about the Korean culture and history.

The food. In the picture you can see what is called Korean bbq. You order your meat raw and then cook it with your friends in the middle of table. Usually when we went for a bbq with exchange students, there was some beer and soju (Korean alcohol drink made from rice) involved.

The atmosphere. Seoul has a population of 10 million people inside the city borders. If you count the actual metropolitan area, the number becomes 25 million. And it felt like every single one of them took the same subway route, visited the same market and was on the move at the same time as I was. This was an amazing experience since my home town is only some 230000 people.

If you are considering Korea as your destination for exchange period, I can highly recommend! Flights to neighboring countries are cheap and short, the people and food is amazing and it won’t be anything you can experience in the western countries!

Grüß Gott aus Wien!

I’m currently spending my exchange semester in a beautiful and amazing city; Vienna! Vienna is the capital city of Austria and is a perfect place to spend your exchange semester.

 

I study in FHWien der WKW. The school is mainly focused on management and communication and I have found there many interesting courses. This University of Applied Sciences is very similar with TAMK and the teaching methods are quite same; group works, presentations and exams. One thing that is different from TAMK is that my timetable changes almost every week! Some weeks I have only 1 or 2 lessons and some weeks I’m spending almost my whole time in school. All my teacher in here have been really nice and professional and their English skills are really good. All my courses are mainly with other Erasmus students and in English, but you can choose courses in German too.

I usually have school only 1-3 times a week and that is why I have had plenty of time to travel. Vienna has the perfect location to travel cheaply. During my exchange semester I have visited Bratislava, Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Krakow. I have also made trips to Austria’s other beautiful cities such as Graz and Salzburg.

Vienna is full of beautiful architecture and the cultural activities are almost limitless. You can choose from many different kinds of museums, theaters and operas. Me and my friends have explored so many museums and cafes during our exchange. (Hint: on first Sundays of the month there are many museums that have free entrance). In every time of the year In Vienna there is so much to do and see! Autumn is so much warmer in here and the Christmas time in Vienna is amazing. The whole city is full of Christmas markets and the smell of Glühwein fills the air.

 

You can’t have boring moment in a city like this!

All in all, I can highly recommend Vienna as an exchange destination and if you have the chance to go abroad, take it!

My student life at Korea University

When I first got the notice that I will be attending one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea I could barely contain my excitement, yet at the same time feel the weight of this opportunity resting on my shoulders. SKY universities are the schools all Koreans with high academic aspirations strive to get into and where only the select few, the brightest and the most hardworking actually qualify for. They were going to be my peers and the standard all my professors were going to be expecting.

The first two weeks of my autumn semester were spent attending classes which turned out to be completely different from what I had expected, then hastily scouring through the school’s course selection and enrolling to new ones. After a 4G high speed online competition for those few vacant seats in highly sought after courses, signing permission slips and dealing with a constantly changing curriculum I was finally enrolled to courses that were at least going to award me enough credits to not get me kicked out of the school before my semester even begun. To anyone planning a semester in South Korea, during the preliminary enrollment period be sure to read the course descriptions and syllabuses VERY carefully before you enroll and have your plan B, C and D ready.

Regardless of my early hurdles I was able to attend interesting courses and study subjects unavailable to me at Tamk. I had preconceived notions of students having to spend hours every day in the library cramming knowledge in to their over worked brains from an amount of related literature that vastly outweighs any doable level of effort that could be considered humane. Thankfully they turned out to be ill placed, at least on my part. While the materials for my courses still exceeded anything I’ve had to digest at Tamk during exam weeks, I still managed to pull through without a hitch.

Seoul is an unfathomably massive city for a young man who grew up in a city of not even 200 000 people. Thoroughly exploring the city, let alone the country is going to require a stay longer than just 4 months.

I have eaten pretty much everything I came across. I have seen the tourist attractions and accessed secret places only known to locals. I explored the concrete jungle, made my way though forests, hiked up many mountains and laid on beaches all over the country.

  

And yet I still have so much more to do…

Love from Turin

I chose to do my Erasmus exchange in the University of Turin. Turin is an industrial university city in the north of Italy, near to the Alps and the boarder of France. There are roughly 900,000 inhabitants in the city and it`s well-known for their delicious chocolates. Within the university there is multiple campuses and my courses are luckily in just two of them, which makes going between the campuses a little bit easier.

I arrived here on September and now it`s already December and time to leave. The has gone by so fast by getting to know to a new country and most importantly to a new city. I had already visited a lot places in Italy but I have never been in Turin before I moved here to do my Erasmus. The city is full of historical things and me as an historic enthusiast, enjoy the view of the old buildings and museums I see every day, on my way to the university.

 

When someone says Italy, people usually think of a sunny country with people being happy all the time and eating a lot of pizza and pasta. People are eating pizza here for sure but the climate is totally different in Turin than you would think. It has been raining 90% of the time since I arrived here. A couple weeks ago the river was floating so badly that some of the restaurant next to the river had to be shut down due to water damage inside and making sure no one would get hurt. Being a runner myself, it has been real interesting to run in the rain for the last couple months to put it nicely.

In addition, of doing sports like already mentioned, I`ve visited some historical and cultural sights like Villa Della Regina which is a beautiful castle on top of a hill.

Villa Della Regina from the top of the hill

Villa Della Regina`s beautiful inside decor.

The city had some really nice sunsets which I was lucky enough to see from my own window and also got to admire when I took a walk next to the river Po.

Living in Turin was really different than in Finland and especially studying. The school system is not exactly the best one, so bending the rules and being really creative was something I had to learn. When you are used of things working pretty smoothly in a Finnish school, adapting the “rhythm” of an Italian school was not the easiest task first but little by living I got the hang of it.

 

Until next time Torino