Madrid

My exchange at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid started on the 28th of January 2020. This was a little after the start of the Coronavirus situation in China. Back then I didn’t really think much of the virus and really looked forward to my exchange. I finished my internship on the 24th and was already in Madrid on the 26th, ready and eager to start school and meet new people.

On my first week, I noticed there weren’t many exchange students in my courses, they were mainly Spanish and degree students. I, however, did meet another exchange student who helped me a lot. I managed to change some courses which I really wasn’t interested in. On the second week and with my new courses, I started to meet a lot of new people from all around the world. Classes were fun but quite hard, the teachers expect a lot from the students and ask a lot of questions during classes. A lot of mathematics is used here in every subject.

Not everything was about school and classes though. We started hanging out a lot in a group of exchange students. We went out to parties and did sports together and went hiking. I became close friends with a bunch of new people. We even got the chance to go watch football at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which was a great experience.

A little over a month and a half after my exchange started, the situation with the Coronavirus was starting to get really bad in Europe. For a week I really thought about it but finally decided it was time to come back to Finland and study online from here. I am still currently enrolled in UAM and hopefully manage to get some credits from there since I am looking forward to graduating in the summer here. It is a pity this had to happen now but that’s what happens sometimes. I enjoyed my month and a half in Madrid and for sure will go back there one day and will definitely meet up with the friends I made there.

Egészségére és köszönöm Magyarország!

I did my exchange in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. As many others, I had also visited and enjoyed this amazing city previously as a tourist. Living there was even better than I expected, so I chose to prolong my stay as much as possible after the semester had come to an end.

My school was Budapest Business School (BGE) and I did my Business Administration studies in the Faculty of Commerce, Hospitality and Tourism. The buildings were located right next to the renowned Parliament Building. Many of the available courses were quite unique and I learned a lot about the tourism industry especially. The courses had always a mixture of local Hungarian students mixed with fellow exchange students which worked great in my opinion. This way it was easy to get to know some of the local people too. Studying wasn’t very taxing which was great. Most of the courses consisted of lectures, seminars, presentations and a written or spoken test in the end of the course. I enjoyed all of my courses and I found the teaching generally to be on a good level.

Budapest is one of the most compact and lively cities in the whole of Europe and one can never run out of things to do and experience no matter what you are into. I spent my free time exploring and experiencing the city as much as I could. I especially enjoyed the many museums, cool bars, restaurants, sights, cafes and so many other activities (like sporting events, escape rooms, thermal baths) that the city offers. The people are going out all days of the week. The prices are also very affordable compared to Finland and I found myself eating out 80% of my almost 6 month stay there. The local cuisine is also very good for the type of people like me – who love big portions of paprika, meat, potatoes and the like.

Countryside by the Danube River

One of the best things about studying in Budapest is the excellent cheap travel options due to the location. I went to Serbia, Poland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia – in addition I visited numerous Hungarian cities and towns. Hungary has so much history and sights spread throughout the country that are worth visiting. Even in a seemingly most quiet and unknown village there are often times statues, museums and historical significance. I really enjoyed how you could just grab a train ticket for 1-3 euros and do day trips very efficiently.

 

The exchange all in all went perfectly, apart from the first house. I made the mistake of taking the cheapest accommodation I could find, turns out sometimes you get what you pay for, but this time it was inhabitable. Finding a place to stay can be difficult in the city, there aren’t student dormitories either. After the first month I managed to move to another place which was brilliant, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been so lucky had I not got the place through a friend that was moving out at the time.

Warmly recommend Budapest and BGE as a school for anyone looking to study abroad!

-Niko

 

 

Sunny and hot Australia

Beautiful Australia was my exchange destination. More specifically I stayed in a city call Sydney, which is the capital of the region New South-Wales, located in the east of Australia. The city has old city center and a lot of history behind it. Museums, churches, stores, monuments, market every saturday & sunday as well as many great personal restaurants. Lovely city overall and easy to get around with a bus or a train to everywhere. Although car is essential as they drive everywhere in Australia and even in Sydney, in fact there are only a few bikes in the Sydney overall.

 

In addition to beautiful view of Australia, Sydney is a great place if you want to see many places during exchange. With extensive railway network and short distances within the city, almost every single tourist attraction is not a far distance away. For example, the Blue Mountains, Bondi Beach and Sydney Eye Tower are close by. Weekend trips are also possible to other sights as well. For example, Brisbane and Manly are possible to visit as weekend trips. These are what I did mostly during my freetime on weekends. When I stayed in Sydney, I visited many restaurants, walked around different beautiful parks with my friends and took part in student activities and parties as well.

 

 

I chose Sydney because I wanted to know different paramedicine systems and protocols outside Finland as a part of my studies. My teacher suggested that this kind of exchange is only possible in Sydney so that is the reason why I chose Sydney. I chose four different courses in Sydney, which were held at Western Sydney University Campbelltown. I enjoyed my courses, the new persepective on paramedicine as well as all the driven teachers in the school, both the lectures and other students as well. It’s a real community they have been able to build and the atmosphere at Campbelltown during the studies is very encouraging.

Studying at a Australian University has been really easy. The study methohs are very close to the ones in TAMK, where most of the studies are simulations and team based and the approach is very hands on. I like this since I have never been the kind of person who learns only by reading. I enjoy learning new things and then getting to apply that to practice straight away during simulations. Also the simulations, both in Finland and Australia are done with teachers who are still in the workfield as real-life paramedics. This is a great way to build your relationships with workfield for future and to hear about the latest protocols used in the workfield as well.

 

Experience Madrid’s full potential

I am going to share my Madrid experience with a few tips and tricks on how to experience Madrid’s full potential as an exchange student!

Apartment hunting is the very first thing exchange student needs to tackle when moving and there are many options depending on what kind of traveller you are and what are your criteria for housing. Spanish skills are going to take you a long way in this process and if your language skills are not the best, you might consider using housing middleman such as Spot-a-home. I booked my apartment through their services and everything went smoothly! If you prefer practice your Spanish skills idealista is full of rentals in shared and studio apartments! Either way, you must act fast. Good apartments are gone before you know it.


My apartment was on this very cozy street right in the city center. Perfect!

Now that the housing is all settled it is time to get to know the city more. Best possible way to meet new people, get information and help is Citylife Madrid. They organize a lot of events that include culture, food events and parties all for free or included on their Citylife Madrid pass. Events alone are worth joining because they are a great way to get to know the city and people. First week there I also got a lot of useful info by stopping by their office and they helped me to book an appointment where I got my metro pass.

When introduced to the city a little bit, it is time to get familiar with the city on your own terms. What I enjoyed the most was a day of shopping in endless supply of second hand and vintage stores and long lunch in some outside seated cafe. To find out unique spots and activities that interest you follow Naked Madrid for detailed tips about all that Madrid has to offer!

With a combination of just finding places, people and things to do on my own and good recommendations I got to experience Madrid’s full potential in a short period of time. Hopefully my short tips help you to experience Madrid as a tourist or as an exchange student.

Student life in Stoke on Trent

I studied in Stoke on Trent in England for the autumn semester 2019. I did my studies in Staffordshire University. The university was really big and it was only 15 minute walk form my home so it was really nice. The studies were really different than the ones I was used to in Finland. We had some kind of preparation work for every lecture, for example reading some articles or watching a documentary. Some of them were a bit difficult but made the studying interesting. The lectures were shorter than in Finland and we had no exams, only essays and reports to write. The lectures were really interesting and you could focus on the topics that you were interested.

I have spent my spare time travelling. I have been in London, Manchester, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland as well. It has been super interesting to explore the country! I have also met many other students, local English students but international exchange students as well.  Stoke on Trent is famous for the potteries so I have also visited a pottery museum in the city. Sometimes it feels like I have no free time, the studies and essay writings take a lot of my time! I also had my family and my friend visiting me during the exchange which was really nice. Three months is a short time to explore the whole country so I wish to come back in the UK again very soon and visit more places!

 

Vibrant, beautiful Ghent

My exchange destination is not so known place called Ghent. This city of Belgium is the second largest in Flanders community and ranking third in the whole Belgium after Brussels and Antwerp. I studied international business management during the autumn semester in this beautiful city full of history, stories, colorful streets, and delicacies.

Bikes are a huge thing in Ghent. They are everywhere. I have around three kilometers to the campus, so I rented one as well. Locals said that when you have a bike, you are “the king of the streets”. And that was surely it. There are specifically marked bike streets meaning that cars are not allowed to pass. Having a bike makes moving easy – you can pass the traffic jams, you do not have to wait buses or trams and you save money. It is also environmentally better option than a car. The central area is a low emission zone and restricted to cars – mainly taxes are driving there. Therefore, most of the students and inhabitants have their own or rented bikes. I really like the biking culture and got keen on my bike. Now that I had to return it, I felt kind of that something important is missing.

Ghent is truly a student city in Belgium. There are student activities almost every week and a bar street located near the campus. I spent my spare time as a typical exchange student – travelling, hanging out with other students, roaming around and of course by exploring the food and drink culture. The location is great. You can book a trip to Amsterdam, Paris or some other city just the night before at affordable prices.

When it comes to the studying itself and group works which we have a lot, Belgian students are not that motivated or hard working. The lack of motivation might be explained partly by the fact that they do not have to take entrance examination so everyone can attend school. Power distance and school environment are quite different than in Finland; disputes are not that welcomed, and breaks are shorter. Also, the eating habits are different as students are having chocolate bars, candies or waffles for lunch. The canteen is serving lunch only for couple hours with poor selection and the other campus only have a machine that offers sweets and some sandwiches. So, for me it was quite a surprise and made me to appreciate more the canteen in TAMK. I went home to eat during the gaps which was not a bad thing at all as I got fresh air and exercise.

     

Mooie Nederlands

Beautiful (but rainy) Netherlands, as the caption states, was my exchange destination. More specifically I stayed in a city called Zwolle, which is the capital of the region Overijssel, located in the middle of the Netherlands. The city has old city center and a lot of history behind it. Museums, churches, stores, monuments, market every friday & saturday as well as many great restaurants. Lovely city overall and easy to get around with a bike to everywhere. Bike is essential as they cycle everywhere in the Netherlands, in fact there are more bikes than people in the country overall.

     

In addition to cycling, Netherlands is a great place if you want to see many places during exchange. With extensive railway network and short distances within the country, almost every single city is a daytrip distance away. Also Belgium, Germany and France are close by, so weekend trips are also possible to other countries. This is what I did mostly during my freetime on the weekends. When I stayed in Zwolle, I visited many restaurants, played games with my friends and took part in student activities and parties.

I chose Zwolle because I wanted to apply sustainability as a part of my studies. The module I chose in the Netherlands was Global Project & Change Management. I enjoyed my courses, the new perspective on business as well as all the driven people in the programme, both the lecturers and the students. It’s a real community they have been able to build and the atmosphere in the studies is very encouraging.

Studying at a Dutch University has been really easy. The study methods are very close to the ones in TAMK, where most of the studies are project and team based and the approach is very hands on. I like this since I have never been the kind of person who learns by reading. I enjoy learning new things and then getting to apply that to practice straight away.  Also the projects, both in the Netherlands and Finland are done with real-life companies, or as I did, the Municipality of Zwolle. This is a great way to build your international network for future.

Student life in Belgium

I have been studying in Belgium, Ghent about 4 months now, so I feel pretty familiar with all the different practicalities. I’m studying international business management in Artevelde University College and I’m living in a Upkot dormitory organized by my school. The distance between my dorm and school is about 3km so I go to school by bike. Ghent is a big bike city so it made sense to rent one.

The school system in Artevelde differs quite a lot compared to TAMK. The education is much more theoretical and focusing less on practicalities. During the lessons students are expected to make notes and raise their hand if they have something to say. Teachers don’t really like to be questioned or “challenged”. Studying from the book or from the lesson slides is the best way to succeed in exams. Also, most local students are aged between 19-20 since they start higher education immediately without gap years. This was quite a surprise to me. Even though the education is more theoretical we have had team works as well. Also here in Artevelde, we have had a lot of small tests before the final course exam.

I have traveled a lot during my spare time. Belgium is a relatively small country, so it is really easy and (usually) cheap to travel to other countries. Trains and buses are the most common modes of transportation. If i don’t have time to travel, I usually hang out with other exchange students. Ghent is a big student city, so there are a lot of students. Also, local Erasmus student organization has organized many different activities. My daily routines include going to the gym, studying and meeting friends. There are also days that I just have to focus on school works.

It only takes around 3 hours and 12-14e by bus to travel from Ghent to Paris!

Greetings from Prague!

I have been studying in Prague for four months now and I have really enjoyed it. I study civil engineering and architecture here at Czech Technical University. This fall has been somehow hard what it comes to studies but still I have had a lot of time to explore Prague and some other places in Czech Republic. 

 

On my spare time I have been getting to know the city and spend time with other exchange students. I have made some trips with my Finnish roommate on weekends for example to Bohemian Switzerland National Park and to Kutna Hora to see the Sedlec Ossuary. The best way to spend a day off in Prague is just to hop on a tram and wonder around the city. There is much more to see than you can read from a guide book. 

Studying at CTU has not differed much from studying at TAMK. In the beginning the hardest challenge was certainly to study in English but I got used to it in a month or two. The quality of the courses and knowledge of professors are very high-quality. 

 

Na zdravi!

Hi/Dobry den!

Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic

My studies have started well. I have lectures only from Monday to Thursday and the courses I have picked are from civil engineering and architecture course catalogue. These courses are in English and customized for exchange students so my class mates are from all around the world.

I love to spent my spare time in Prague by walking around the city because here is definitely a lot to see! In addition I love shopping and have a cup of coffee in some cute little coffeehouse or drink a pint of beer like locals do.

Studies differs a bit compared it with studying in Finland. For example here in Czech Technical University we have more assignments and not that much exams. The quality level of teaching is pretty high in CTU which was nice to notice because I have used to it in Finland.

See you soon!

#czechrepublic