Konnichiwa from Tokyo

Hello everyone,

I am doing my practical training in Tokyo. My work place is small cafe and shop. The unique thing about this shop is that it’s a Finland themed. The owner of this cafe loves Finland alot and was an exchange student in Finland in 1989. She speaks finnish a little bit and speak english well. This is a lot easier for me because I don’t speak japanese fluently. I know some japanese and I understant a little bit of japanese. Sometimes I am little embarrassed that I speak japanese so little, but that has not been a problem so far. Sometimes I do customer service at the cafe. It is little diffucult but I am usually told what to say and how to act. I am lucky that I found a place where it is not that big problem. Of course I should have studied japanese a little more, but so far it has not caused any problems. My main job is probably cooking and helping in the cafe. Another big thing I do at the shop is helping packing product to department stores and customers. Sometimes even making or altering products. Like making paper fans (uchiwa) or fabric frames. I also keep one cooking lesson per week with the help of my boss Michiko-san.

My daily life in tokyo maily revolvels around work. I eat breakfast before work and after work I eat dinner. In the evening I am too tired to do anything so my sightseeing and shopping is left for free days. On my free days I rest or I have something planned for those days. With the help of my boss Michiko-san I have been to some great palces and have had company to those places. Few times I have been to sightseeing with Michiko-san and few other people through work. I have also visited few places with a girl from the finnish language lesson that is kept at Michiko-san shop. I have not been to many places alone because it is a little scary to go alone. Because Michiko-san had a meeting in Nasu in the beginnig I also got to go there.

Working here has been a good experience. Mainly because the service culture is different. Everything is so different that I can not possible tell everything. I think the biggest difference is the way we think about customers. I have heard that in Japan the customers is like a god. I have seen this to be almost right. Another way I think I find a difference is the way japanese people treat customers. This is the thing a want to learn but I have only been able to grasp a little bit it. I have had few conversations with Michiko-san about these things. For her these things come naturally and I have hard time with them. In reality she sometimes has hard time with customers and customers service. Because she has to be kind to customers and help but not only that sometimes she has to act and this is hard for her. One example comes to mind right away. This old lady that lives near comes to the shop every week and she is a kind lady, but when she comes to the shop, she drinks beer and want us to have a conversation with her even though we have other things to do. We have to be nice to her and serve her because she is a customer. She is probably the hardest customer we have. In Japan I think this is the biggest thing. Serving a customer and having a conversation with them even though it might take time of other things.

I have tried my best to discribe my experience but there is just too much that I can not  possible write everything. I tried to write the most important and memorable thing. I hope you got so kind of grasp of what kind of experience I have had.

Porto – I am back!

This is my second time in the most beautiful city in Portugal, Porto. I was doing a study exchange last year for one semester and I felt like coming back – so here I am! I am studying and doing my internship and thesis here. This time it is different – I am doing my internship and not just studying.

The internship company is different compared to the average company in Finland. I am working as a lean engineer in a quite small manufacturing company. In Finland there isn’t many small manufacturing companies anymore because it is too expensive, the automation is on and the bigger companies have taken over. It is really interesting to see how it is done here and how a small company can still run independently.
The working culture is different, people are working really hard in Portugal and the manual working phases are still there, and by that I mean a lot of paper, for example. Working days are longer and vacations are shorter.

I haven’t had too much spare time since I am studying, doing my internship and also working from here for a Finnish company too. The spare time I have, I love to spend in the garden enjoying the sun and going to the beach, having long walks in the city and meeting friends. It is an amazing country and I am really grateful being able to be here and I have learned a lot.

Goede middag uit Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is a city of canals, french fries and friendly people. It is the capital of the Netherlands and has a population over 800 000 people. Amsterdam’s demographic is different compared to the rest of the Netherlands because it has a population almost 50% Dutch and 50% foreigners. That’s why it’s common to use English in everyday actions and most of the people speak English fluently.

 

I have done my exchange period in this lovely city, in school named Hogeschool van Amsterdam. It translates to Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. My courses mostly consisted of finance and economics, which was first a bit difficult due to lack of finance courses in TAMK. Lecturers were great and professional, but they also expected lots of general knowledge about finance even at first. The lectures were interactive and lecturers made sure everybody was paying attention to the subject.

  

Compared to Finland, there were fewer lectures and most of the studying took place at home. Also, the courses took the whole semester and exams were all in June. The Dutch grading system is completely different than in Finland. They have a scale from 1 to 10, where 1-5,5 indicates fail, 6 satisfactory, 7 more than satisfactory, 8 good, 9 very good and 10 outstanding. Grades 9 and 10 are given very rarely. In my opinion, the level of education is higher than in Finland and it’s also more challenging, but still manageable.

  

Amsterdam is filled with adorable restaurants, bars, and parks, where you can eat and drink affordably. Of course, you can always bike to these places. As a beer person, I visited some of the Dutch breweries. My favorite place was this place called Brouwerij’t IJ, which was a brewery inside the windmill. For the food, I would always go to this neighborhood called De Pijp, where most of the people are Dutch – not tourists. For the culture, I visited Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank house. Even though these places are really crowded with tourists, they are excellent places to get more knowledge about the Dutch history and see beautiful paintings. There was a common room in our accommodation, where you could play cards, party or just hang with the other exchange students. This was great because I didn’t live in the central.

Overall I can recommend Amsterdam to everyone for studying, working or just visiting. I had myself an amazing time in this city and I hope we’ll see again!

I wish I could just stay here

This is my first time in Slovenia and before I came I knew only few people who was been in Slovenia and in Piran where I was heading at. I came to do my traineeship in Slovenia’s coast in the small city called Piran. I came here end of April and I started working in May and I will go back to Finland 17th of July. Everybody is saying that Piran is like a little Venice but for me it is only this place where I go to work. Still I haven’t never been working in so beautiful place than Piran. There is so much sun and the sea is near so basically all that I needed after long winter in Finland. Before I came here I thought that I could have time to go around and see all Slovenia because it is so small country and it has this beautiful nature. I was wrong because I work every time in the evening and I am only free once in a week. Work is sometimes rough because there is only me and four people working and the bar is open every day from 8-22 and there is three on the mornings and then evenings I am working with Milan. In our bar we have so much decoration so when we start closing the bar it takes one hour to close the garden. First, I was only working outside taking orders etc. but now I usually work inside the bar and in the kitchen and only sometimes in the terrace. In here people work so much more than in Finland.

 

On my free time I still have visited Trieste it is only like half an hour drive from Piran. Also, I went to Croatia to this small city Umag but without my renter Tamara I wouldn’t visited these places. Tamara is the one who took me everywhere and told me to see Koper and Izola. Koper is the nearest place where I can go shopping so I have been there five times. Usually on my free time before I go to work I go to beach in Portoroz and for lunch in Lucija. I live in Lucija and it is 5 kilometres away from Piran so I usually spend my free time in Lucija or Portoroz. After work I go with Milan for a beer in Piran or Bernardin which is between Piran and Portoroz. On my free days I see Tamara or on weekends before I go to work and usually we go for a coffee somewhere in Lucija. When my sister was here we went to Ljubljana for a one day and it was so beautiful city.

 

This place really stole my heart. This is my home now so it is going to be hard to leave. Before I came here I couldn’t even think that I could find from here my second family or boyfriend but I did. Back in Finland I was only thinking how hard it is to leave all my friends and come here and how happy I will be when I come back to Finland. It didn’t even come to my mind that maybe I never want to go back to Finland and it is going to be harder to leave this place than Finland. I am still here but I have already booked my flights back in here in August. I am also planning to come here to study maybe in next spring.

Beer gardens, castles and fast cars

Hallo Finnland!  Greetings from lively Munich!

Today my last whole month in Germany started and soon I am heading home. My time here have been a wonderful experience. Since Germany is located in central Europe, it has given me a opportunity to travel many countires I otherwise would have never visited.

 

After many bureaucratic actions, I started studying in Hochschule Munchen which is one of the biggest Universities in Munchen. Going to school here doesn’t differ so much from going to school in Finland, altough here in Bavaria there is always some kind of holiday. One of my teacher even said, he doesn’t see a point having a summer semester because it’s always a holiday.

From Neuschwanstein

Lack of free time opinions isn’t really a problem here, not when you live in one of the liveliest tourist attractions in Munich: Olympiazentrum.

Olympiazentrum is a former home of Summer Olympics 1972 contestants and right next to BMW Plant and museum and Olympia park where the stadiums, tower and all the awesomeness lay.  There are also University’s sports hall near, swimming halls, jogging tracks and bike routes.

The magnificent Olympia park pictured from Olympic Tower

If sports or parks don’t turn you on? No worries, there’s always countles number of museum (Deutsches Museum is my favourite), see sights like old residents of King s, churches, drinking beer in public and maybe eating a few würsts and of course: shopping.

Frühlingsfest (Spring fest)

I’ve been walking around park, visited maaany castle and parks, enjoyed my time in festivals, traveled all around and discovered things I never knew excisted. I will miss Munich, but will still be glad to go back home <3.

Greedings from Breda!

I’m spending my last few weeks here in Breda Netherlands and writing down my experiences about studying in Avans University of Applied Sciences. I’m following Forensic Chemistry minor. In the minor there are preselected courses that are worth of 30 ECTS. The courses have been very interesting and all the teachers and local students speak very good English so it is easy to follow the lectures. Most of the studies have been project work (18 ECTS) which means that there has been more independent work.

Compared to Finland, here are less lectures and more independent work. I prefer less lectures, because the I can plan my studies and free time better. I think that the courses here are more challenging than in Finland. Also, I think that more work is required here for the credits than in Finland. There are more things that you should remember by heart whereas in Finland understanding the phenomenon is more important than the details. The teachers have higher expectations for students and it is more difficult to get good grades than it is in Finland.

Breda centrum

Introduction day with all the exchange students

I enjoyed my stay in Netherlands very much. Breda is quite small city and it is very peaceful to live here. We have a nice international community in here since most of the exchange students live in the same apartment buildings. It is easy just to knock on someone’s door and hang out. A bike is essential to have in Netherlands, because it is the easiest way to get around places. The buses are quite expensive here so another reason to buy a second-hand bike and sell it when you leave. In my spare time I have been travelling in Netherlands and other countries as well and hanging out with my friends. It has been very easy to travel inside Netherlands, because the train system is good and the prices aren’t that bad. There are also discount train tickets for sale regularly. I have also been doing a quite a lot of sports. There are really good opportunities to do sports for students in Breda. There is gym, group lessons and discount for example the local bouldering centre.

Breda city park Valkenberg

Valkenberg chickens

 

Groeten uit Groningen

Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people, many of them students, in the North of The Netherlands. I did my exchange studies in Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Design department of Minerva Art Academy, studying illustration and animation. The Academy has great workshops for analogue techniques, and is located in its own facilities, away from the main campus (Zernike), just like Mediapolis in TAMK.

Martinitoren dominates the cityscape as the highest-rising building

The courses and assignments are more focused on artistic thinking and storytelling compared to TAMK’s problem-based or more technique-focused approach. In Minerva there aren’t so much courses as such with for example software teaching, at least for the second year class where exchange students are integrated. At first the system was very confusing and it was hard to figure out where one should be and when. Their digi schedule doesn’t really work, and most of the communication in Illustration major happens on Facebook. This doesn’t appeal to me greatly, but fortunately the local students, as the Dutch in general (although it is a stereotype) are very friendly and helpful and helped us exchange students greatly in getting into the system. The teachers were also very understanding with students coming from different backgrounds and disciplines.

A strong similarity to my studies in TAMK is balancing the workload between different courses and assignments to make the most out of them. It seems like one could pass the courses with little effort, while with some ambition there is a lot to gain. An example of my work in Minerva is Mr. Moose, an animated series (link below).

Minerva Art Academy has two separate buildings, this one, formerly a museum, looks nicer in pictures

In my spare time I have mostly been working on personal projects, seen some bands, and eaten fries (picture for evidence).

Friet, a mandatory photo

привет – hello!

Studying in Saint Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design (quite a mouhtfull) was not what I expected. I feel that the school was not completely ready for me to do my studies there. Two of my eight teachers don’t speak english, (google translate has been helpful). But everyone has been so polite and lovely and the famous Russian hospitality has really been showing!

We had one mandatory course in Russian history, which lead us to tours in museums, memorials and churches. Here are some of the beautiful places we visited:

The Church on Spilled BloodAnd on the inside
The Winter Palace

There are surprisingly many Public holidays in Russia; during my stay there has already been women’s day, men’s day, two victory days.. and the list goes on. The public holidays differ from Finland, most of them are non-working days, and if the holiday happens to be on a weekend, then there will be a day off on Monday or Friday.  Or if the holiday is on Thursday, you might a free day on Friday as well..? I think it’s best to just check from teachers if you should go to school or not, because this was very confusing to me.

The Victory Day Parade on Nevsky (didn’t see much)

On our free time, me and the other (two) exchangers like to roam around the city. We have already found ourselves in the Summer garden, different gallerias, some amazing restaurants and of course some bars as well. The culture and art is much more visible in Saint Petersburg than in Tampere, also much more accessible; students get to visit most museums for free of at leas on a discount. Also there are museums and gallerias etc around every corner.

The Summer GardenBotanical GardenSaint Petersburg Mosque
Acvarium

The school life itself was not so different from Finnish school, lectures in classrooms and some excursions to different companies. But I did notice some differences; when giving a presentation you should wear more formal clothing (for girls dress or white shirt and dark pants),  also it is common to bring some sweets to the people listening to your presentation, or at least to those grading it. The same applies to the course teachers, it is common to bring something to the teacher after the course, not as a bribe or anything, but just to show your gratitude.

Saludos desde Valencia!

I’ studying technical architecture in the Polytechnic University of Valencia for the Spring Semester of 2018.

I have four courses in total; two are taught in Spanish, one in English and the fourth is a Spanish language course. I was in the building engineering faculty, but I also took one project course from the architecture faculty. In the beginning I was a little bit nervous taking the two courses in Spanish, as it was a little bit difficult for me to follow the lessons, but as time went by I gradually started understanding the teachers more and more and by now I have very little problems understanding the lessons. Studying in Spanish has definately helped me with my Spanish comprehension!

  Sunny day at the Palau de Musica in Valencia

I wanted to come to Spain to improve my Spanish skills; I have studied Spanish on and off for about 5 years now and my goal was to become fluent in Spanish. I haven’t become fluent – I think half a year is not enough to become fluent, for that, I think one year study exchange would have done the trick!

 

Valencia is the home of Paella, a must try!

Studying in UPV has been a good experience overall. In the beginning I was surprised at how some things are organised (for example there are printing shops, where you give an employee your usb stick and they print it for you, instead of you being able to print things yourself – when we had to hand in a final project I had to wait two hours in line so that they could print four A1s!) but in order not to stress yourself you just have to accept how things are done differently in different countries. Also, a lot of the teachers wanted us to draw things by hand and also show the methodology we used in taking measurements, particularly in the restoration course.

 

The Horchata drink is also from Valencia. Chug it down with some churros, a Spanish classic!

During my free time I spend it mostly with my friends, at the beach, in cafes in the centre or doing Erasmus activities; there are a lot of Erasmus organisations that organize activities such as trips to different cities (I’ve been to Toledo and Xativa – amazing little towns!) and different events, like hiking or colour festivals.

Holirun Valencia   
Hiking near Valencia

I also organised my own trips to Barcelona in February, and to Andalucia and the Basque country during Easter break (one of the perks of studying in Spain is that you have a nearly two week Easter holiday!)

Patios of Cordoba…
The Great Mosque of Cordoba is a must do and absolutely stunning!

But most definately the best part of my exchange studies was meeting lovely people and making so many new friends, who I will hopefully remain friends with forever!

 

Picnicing at the City of Arts and Sciences

So if you are a technical architecture student, would I recommend UPV for you? Yes! You should definately go, but be prepared to learn a little bit of Spanish beforehand and be open minded! There are courses in English, but you would definately get more out of the experience if you also took the Spanish ones. However, even if you do not speak Spanish, you will still be alright and you will have an amazing time!

Besos y que pases bien!

City of Arts and Sciences