Greetings from Austria!

Greetings from Wiener Neustadt! I have now spent almost 4 months in Austria and the time has flown by. It is quite sad to think that this experience will soon be over.

I study business administration at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt. I have now finished most of my courses, but during the exchange I normally had classes two or three days per week. Sometimes there were classes from 9 in the morning up until 8 in the evening but having some days entirely off during the week was quite nice. We had a lot of work to do also outside the classes so between travelling and sitting in classes you had always something to do. I have noticed that here the teachers focus more on the fact that they want us to learn more specific details about to subject where as in Finland I think the teachers want us to be able to apply the learned knowledge to different situations.

I live just a 5-minute walk away from the university in a student dormitory. Since all of the exchangers live in the same floor, all 25 of us live right next to each other. This has been really fun since you always have someone to hang out with and it has been easy to get to know everyone. My roommate is from Uruguay and it has been an interesting experience to live with someone who is from a totally different culture.

     

 

During my free time I have travelled a lot with the other exchangers. We have gone to Italy, Slovenia and Czech Republic. We have also done trips inside Austria. Going to Slovenia and making trips to see the Austrian nature with its beautiful mountains have been my favorites.

 

When I am not travelling I usually just have a normal daily routine with some studying, going to the gym and hanging out with the other exchangers. Our dormitory is in the middle of an industrial area and for example on Sundays there are no busses to the city center, so we try to come up with something to do at the dorms. Maybe watch a movie or play cards together. The best thing during the exchange has definitely been all the people I’ve met. They have made this experience unforgettable.

– Alisa

Herkese merhaba!

Greetings from Turkey.

I am happy to say that coming to Ankara was one of the best choices of my life. There is so much to learn in this culture and so many new perspectives to gain, mostly because Turkey differs from Finland quite a lot. One of the biggest differences I noticed is religion, also being the most prominent as there are many mosques and calls to prayers five times a day. These are probably the first things a newcomer will notice here. Also, my exchange takes place during Ramadan, which I am as well excited to experience, although from a perspective of an outsider.  I have been able to visit some of the best attractions in Ankara during my time here, and also places in other parts of Turkey.

 

Inside Kocatepe Camii, the largest mosque in Ankara

Photos from the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – the founder of Turkey

Bilkent University is said to be one of the best universities in Turkey. When we have mostly large, project-oriented courses in Finland, the ones in Bilkent are more theoretical and scattered in many smaller entities. Students here need 52 courses in able to graduate, which seems too much for someone who is used to two 10 credit courses per semester. Although, instructors are knowledgeable and know how to teach, which provides good chances for learning.

One of the more practical courses I am taking is International cuisines, in which we prepare foods from different countries and serve them to the customers. As a part of the course we had also an opportunity to take part in Bilkent Mayfest and sell our products there. That was in fact challenging but fun addition to the course! The final exam will be like ‘mystery box’ from MasterChef, everyone getting different ingredients to prepare dishes from.

-Laura

 

 

Bisous from Paris!

I have now been studying here in Paris for a few months now and I love it. Paris seems to be a place that needs a bit more time to be fully understood and appeciated. A small holiday here just isn’t enought. I am so happy that I got the chance to experience this beautiful city with time and that I could really dive in to the culture. I have enjoyed seeing beautiful architecture, going a round small galleries, all the little book shops as well as eating amazing food.

I have been studying marketing as well as luxury retail and have been pleased with my studies. I enjoy the topics and have made alot of new friends. These courses will help me in the future with my up-coming jobs, for sure. During my spare time I enjoy drinks and good food with my friends, take a lot of pictures and just relax.

Studying here is pretty different when you compare it to studying in Tampere. Tampere is so much more relaxed as a city and you can’t really feel that people are in a hurry or that they are stressed. Paris is very hectic and it seems that the studying culture is too. It is much more fast paced here in France.

I hope it is sunny in Finland!

Best regards from Paris,

 

Milja

Tallinn is a city with an allure of its own

I saw the title written in some tourist guide book, and I have to say that I agree. In Tallinn like in the rest of the Estonia, the past centuries are layered in architecture and culture. Kristian said in his blog text that he liked to visit the old town in his spare time, and so do I. The old town of Tallinn is a beautiful example of a medieval city with lot to discover. Every time I visit, there is something new to find. There are more interesting museums, lovely cafeteria and good restaurants than there is time to visit.

On the other hand, Estonia is also land of controversies. The country’s past decades can be seen in the architecture outside the old town. There are side by side very old buildings, soviet era apartment blocks and modern buildings. I would say an incomplete is more interesting than perfect.

I study business in adult education and I am doing my international internship in Tallinn, Estonia, where I work in a bank. If I would have to compare Finnish and Estonian work culture, I would say the both cultures are very similar. The moral and work ethics are based on the same principles. We both are taking the work seriously, but Estonians from my perspective seem to be more considerate towards others. Here, colleagues are very helpful towards each other. They remember everyone’s birthday and like to commemorate them with flowers, and the one who is celebrating brings sweets for everyone. Estonians by the way love flowers. You can see them everywhere and there is always someone carrying flowers in the city center.

This week has been very active, because I got visitors from Finland. We went to see the Katariina I ballet by Toomas Eduri in the Rahvusoopper Estonia, which was elegant experience. Another day we visited the Kadriorg park, where trees, bushes and flowers were blossoming. One of my favorite things here is going to the great outdoors, which is easy and fast even with public transportation system. Especially now during the spring, the nature is very beautiful. After the Kadriorg visit, we went to the Nomme Adventure Park that is located in a beautiful green oasis in Tallinn. They tell on their brochure that adventure trails are suitable for everyone, but I think it is not true. From my own experience, I can say that they need new trails for chickens.

Tomorrow we are going to have dinner in the Old town into a restaurant called Leib resto. Their philosophy is to make Estonian food out of local ingredients and everything they have on their list is locally produced. I really look forward to visit there, because I have eaten local food only in our workplace’s canteen.

All memories have been written to my mind forever.

 

Greetings from Akureyri!

I have been studied here this spring and I am totally in love with this place. Akureyri is so called  “capital of north”. Even thought it is a very small town, approximately 18000 habitants, they have their own university.

I am a Hospitality Management student, but I wanted to go to Akureyri even thought they don’t have any courses for my studies. I took some business courses which I found very interesting. I also took courses that are made for exchange students for example Icelandic language and Icelandic Nature.

In Tamk I used to do almost everything in groups, but because now I studied in the university, teaching was totally different. Courses consist mostly lectures and there were only a few group works.

I spend my spare time mostly with my flatmates and other exchange students. Because Akureyri is so small, basically all the foreigners know each others. I have met so many amazing people here and it is gonna be hard to say goodbye. With other exchange students we have done some roadtrips together around Iceland and I have seen many beautiful places.

Before I went to Iceland, I thought that people are similar with Finnish people. Culture is quite similar, but there are also differencies. Finnish people are way more punctual than Icelandic. One of my teacher gave a very logical explanation for that; the weather. The weather can variete during the day a lot and that is why Icelandic people are not good at planning in advance, because it depends so much of the weather can you go somewhere or not.

-Maria

Greetings from Palestine

The outskirts of Betlehem, where I lived.

My day starts with a good 2km climb. I can see my breath evaporating in the cold morning air, as I go up the hill to Betlehem´s central bus station, passing the famous Church of the Nativity. On the way, I might grab a cup of Arabic coffee from one of the vendors.

From the station I take a sherut (a shared taxi), to Abu Dis with other students. The trip takes about thirty minutes, if everything is going well in the checkpoint. The checkpoint is called the Container checkpoint, because originally it used to be only one container. These days it is surrounded by barbed wire, armed soldiers and a seven-meter tall “safety wall”. The wall separates my school, the Al-Quds University,  from Al-Quds, known better by it´s western name, Jerusalem. People living right on the other side of the wall take longer to get to school than me.

The school is huge and mostly Arabic speaking, but my campus is very different from the rest. It is full of all sorts of liberal and artistic courses and activities and almost everyone speaks excellent English. This is partly because many of the students went to high school in the U.S. I am welcomed by my peers with almost overwhelming hospitality and friendliness that I never quite got accustomed to but could still appreciate.

Though the equipment might be lacking, the teachers are top-notch and the classes are both interesting and surprisingly practical. The local students don´t have to specialize in a certain area, which means many of them are beginners when it came to media studies. This meant that some of the courses need to be kept somewhat basic, but I still enjoy the experience.

After school I eat some falafel in one of the many restaurants in the campus area and take the sherut back to where I live. In the evenings I have a chance to experience the local culture. I might have a terrific meal with the men of the village, or we might go to the mountains to visit the bedouins. There´s so much to do and everywhere I feel like I´m been taken care of.  Perhaps ironically, I have never felt as safe as I feel in Palestine.

Yeah, life is good here, at least for me. Coming to Palestine was one of the best decisions of my life.

 

 

Greetings from Lincoln🇬🇧

I spent last fall in England as an exchange student at the University of Lincoln. I’d never heard about the city before being accepted to study there so I didn’t really have any expectations before arriving. Everyone was just telling me to watch out for rain while in England but to be honest, it didn’t rain almost at all.. Didn’t get to use my raincoat even once. What a bummer (not).

Lincoln is a super cozy city with such an interesting history behind it. I would recommend to explore the city and after that travel around England as much as possible on your days off. Lincoln is located in mid England so you can easily travel to most big cities from there; the fastest train to London takes 2 h and you can even get to Scotland by train. On my stay in England I visited York, London, Dublin, Oxford…  many different cities, some of them even a couple of times.

The University of Lincoln is a great school! The university grounds are huge and all the buildings have a modern look to them. You can find many kinds of bars, cafés and restaurants as well as a library. The university has over a hundred clubs and sport teams that you can join and everyone is so welcoming towards international students. Also the students union and exchange students department try their best to organize different kinds of events for all the international students, especially in the beginning of the semester. Teaching was good and the courses were interesting, even if I had far fewer lessons compared to our school and some teaching methods differed quite a lot from what I’m used to. I attended four courses on my one semester exchange; two of them were basic essay writing courses regarding games cultures and heroes and villains in film, one was a 3D course and the last one a digital media course where we had four different workshops.

What I loved the most about my exchange was to be able to travel all around the country and both learn and experience as much of the British culture and history as possible. The only downside I had was problems with accommodation (I was going to get a room from the campus dorms but the school told me that that wasn’t possible anymore and I had to search for another place on my own in a little time window, didn’t go that well..) but otherwise I’m happy with my stay. Get to know the locals as well as your international student buddies, attend activities together or even host your own! One event I’ll always remember fondly was when all the international students made traditional food from their home countries and we tasted them together as a group. I really miss my time in Lincoln and I’m really glad for all the great people I met and the memories we made together. ❤️

Saudações de Coimbra!

I study to be a nurse and I decided to come Portugal to do my practical trainings.

Six years ago I was studying to be a sport massager at Spain, Fuengirola and from there I made few weeks training period at south of Portugal, Algarve aria. So I had small touch of Portuguese culture before I came here, but I was curious to know and see more about it.

Coimbra is located between Porto and Lisbon, middle of Portugal. It is historical city and have been capital city of Portugal 1200-1500 century. Here is beautiful architecture, beautiful coffee places, cakes, beautiful clothes and people as well. Also here is good food and one of the most oldest University in Europe and University library.

Portuguese people are much more calm than Spanish and that passion and craziness I have missed  here a bit. Some people they say that Portuguese people are more like Finns than Spanish and that is quite true. They are calm but they like to drink a lot and then to be really crazy.

I feel the culture here is quite conservative, patriotic and family oriented. People are mostly nice and helpful but sometimes they act arrogantly.  I have been thinking that one reason for it is bad economic conditions were very poor in some places. The scarcity of resources was also noticeable in the hospital where I worked.

I do here two internships at two different hospitals. First one I already finished in Pediatric hospital. There I learned lot of information of different problems what children had and had chance to practice to make medicines and administrate them to patience’s. Mostly I liked my internship but had challenges too, like didn’t get so well along with my main tutor. That experience was tuff for me and specially because I didn’t know how I should act in strange culture as a student when my tutor hurt me by words. After my internship finished I had long discussion with my teacher and I learned a lot of this difficult situation mostly about myself, how to act in future if I will face similar kind of situation.

On my free time I have  travelled with my new Brazilian friend to Algarve, where I was six years ago. My dream was to see the sea and rocks and we manage to get there. Also I visited Porto with my friends, who have van. Those times I enjoyed a lot and I would like to travel more in future. But it is a contradiction because in other way I´m so chicken to travel alone. So I need to face my fears to get what I want.

Here is some pictures:

kveðjur frá Íslandi

I have been Iceland now two months, but it feels like I just came here. Time seems to fly when you are having fun, right? I have learned a lot during these two months and made new friends.  I hope I could stay here longer because there are still so many things to see and do.

Reykjavik

I have worked in laboratory in molecular biology project. The project has been very interesting, and I have got to work independently. There are eight members in our group, some of the members are working and some are doing their bachelor or PhD. We all are working on our own projects, but all these projects form part of the whole project. The aim of these project is to see how a specific protein affects to human cells. I have learned more different analysis and cell culturing. At least now I know how I should not to treat my cells. Once a week we have a seminar where PhD. or master students represent their work. It is always interesting to hear new researches and novel treatments or drugs against deceases.

I haven`t work in research group in Finland so it is quite difficult to compare working culture and because Iceland is also Nordic country there are few differences. However, I was a little surprised the clean room working. It was much more stringent when we practiced at school. There isn`t room to change laboratory coat before going to clean room and it isn´t obligatory to use indoor shoes in there. But I don`t know are these differences only because I have worked with cell cultures at school not in real research group. I have also notice that there isn`t proper coffee break but everyone just drinks their coffee while working. Otherwise working culture is similar.

Vestrahorn Mountain

There are few people in Iceland and Reykjavik is a small city compare to other cities in Europa that`s why I think the best part of Iceland is nature. I have done a couple road trip during my exchange and it has been nice to see how landscapes change when the weather gets warmer. I have been in Golden circle to see Geysirs and swimming in the Blue lagoon. I have also visited in south, east and west part of Iceland. I guess my favourite place was Vestrahorn Mountain. It is a big mountain near to the black beach. Because the sand of the beach is wet you can see reflection of mountain from the sand. Other nice place was Kirkjufell mountain or as Game of Thrones fans know it as Arrowhead mountain beyond the wall. If you come to Iceland I recommend to rent a car (or if you are in good condition a bike) and travel around Iceland.

Kirkjufell mountain or Arrowhead mountain from Game of Thrones

Hello from Namibia!

Life in Namibia has been good. People here don’t worry too much about things that are not in their hands – the common way is to just relax and see what tomorrow brings. This has been a slight culture shock but after eight weeks in the capital of Namibia, Windhoek, I’m starting to get used to it. Wondering how big the culture shock will be when I get back to Finland…

I’ve been doing my practical training as a student of bachelor of social services through Flyinternship organization. My main project has been working with Windhoek Football Club and combining life skills with soccer with kids mostly under fifteen. Besides working there I’ve spent some days at a center for people with special needs. All of this has been really eye opening, life changing and simply just amazing.

Spare time here has been wonderful. Getting to know the Namibian culture especially. People here also now how to party so few of my sundays have been quite lazy when recovering from a big big party. I have had no problems at all with the local people although we were warned about certain things – none of them haven’t yet happened to us.

The way work here is is completely different from the way of Finland. I mean completely. During the day here it’s normal to go for a beer for example. Meaning of time is also totally different. When a Namibian says that the work starts at eight it usually means that they will show up at nine. Salaries here are also really low and the unequality has a huge role to play.

Summa summarum: I love this country and will come back later. That’s for sure.