I have now spent 6 months in the beautiful city of Hamburg in the north of Germany. And i would not give any single one of them away. My studies are going amazingly even though first half of them were completely in German (which I wasn’t prepared for). but luckily professors and other students are able and willing to cooperate with me! Most fun so far in a class I’ve had with Fahrzeug design course where we got to design our own car. There are some pictures below!
My free time i have been spending with friends and sports. There is so much to do in Hamburg that even if you tried you could not get everything done in a year! I also joined a local ice hockey club which has now taken a lot of my time. We are playing on the third highest level in Germany and the atmosphere is unbelievable in the games!
The working culture here in Germany is a bit more demanding than the one I’m used to in Finland. So it took a bit time to get used to it, but now I’m fully integrated and enjoying myself!
Almost time to say Tschüss to Hochschule München! It is beginning of the exam period and since I only got one exam, I am almost done here! It was truly a good experience! After some problems with finding suitable courses, waiting whether I got enrolled or not and and if I get enough ECTS for the stay.
I ended up feeling good with the courses I selected, the teachers were great and really made things interesting! I was really happy about that, since my first goal for the exchange was to come and study and learn new things! There were no studies in English from my faculty, social science, but I found good ones from business, design and common studies that I think really gave me new skills and mindset for the future!
I expected university to be more modern and on point in a German efficient way, and it really was not. Systems were really old school and could be so much faster, easier and efficient with newer tools and apps. So, I found myself to be very spoiled with Finnish new technology and Tuudo app. Nothing like that in here 😀 but in the end, like things usually do, everything worked out!
I was living during my exchange in Innsbruck, so I had quite a commute to university 2,5 h one way, but it was fine, since I was able to make nice timetable and didn’t need to attend classes many days a week. And actually it is not mandatory to attend classes in here, so actually you saw most of the other students only just before the exam period when they started to show up, until that, classes were quite empty 😛
I enjoyed my time in the alps, its nature and the mountains. So, it was worth it to stay there instead of the city. During the days in Münich I took most of the culture and art the city offers, and all the multiple nice restaurants and coffee places it has!
During my exchange I also fi Finished my Master thesis, so it was actually really good not to have too full calendar, but it also meant that I did not have too much free time. When in the weekends many exchange students travelled around Europe, I just stayed home and relaxed and enjoyed all the goodness my surroundings had to offer, like going biking, hiking or snowboarding!
During my exchange I studied business administration in Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt in Germany. The school is technical university of applied sciences, but they also have a Business School within. Courses for international students were diverse and major of them were about international business or technology based. I found it harder to study in Germany than in Finland. Of course, one reason for that was that the teaching was not in my mother language, but also courses seemed more difficult. I was really surprised how much I had to study to cope with my courses. The studying culture in Germany is differing from Finland and often the main point is to memorize everything from the course material. The quality of teaching was good on my opinion. The school’s library was open everyday till 12 pm and in the exam period 24/7. It was nice place to gather with friends and study together. I never thought that I would spend the whole night in the library before exam especially during my exchange but now that I have done it, I can’t recommend it to anyone.
Despite the hard studying life, we surely had lot of fun things to do in Ingolstadt. Naturally as we were in Germany, drinking beer was one of the top activities in our spare time. Beer culture is very strong in Germany and especially in Bavaria where Ingolstadt is located. They say in Bavaria that beer is rather food than a drink. Our school organized a lot of different events for international students as well as all students. For example, we had beer bong tournaments every now and then. Ingolstadt is quite small city and with the bad weather it was sometimes quite boring. On sunny days we spend time outside playing games, riding bikes or in the lake.
Germany’s location is brilliant for the person who wants to travel. You can take a cheap Flixbus to many destinations or rent a car and drive buy yourself. Also Ryanair has very good flight offers and you can buy tickets with only 20 euros. I traveled as much as I could during my exchange and in 4,5 months I visited 11 countries.
Greetings from my homeland! I started my practical training in a medical technology company in my German hometown Tuttlingen. Tuttlingen is located on the Danube river, close to Switzerland and France and if the air is clear we can see the tops of the Alps. With more than 400 medical technology companies in the Tuttlingen area, the city is also called the “World Centre of Medical Technology”.
I found a trainee position in the Marketing Communications department of Aesculap AG, the oldest and biggest MedTech company at this location. My main tasks are designing marketing materials such as brochures and flyers, publishing news articles and the monthly newsletter and assisting at events and in workshops. What I enjoy most about my practical training are the creative tasks, the international environment and the familiar atmosphere in the office.
Right from day one I felt very welcome, however I felt obvious differences between the Finnish and the German working culture. Particularly noticeable is the profound hierarchy in German companies and the use of the formal “You”. Colleagues who know each other or work a lot together address each other by their first names, but higher-level colleagues are usually addressed by Mr./Mrs. and their surnames.
Working life as well as everyday life of Germans is characterized by Ordnung and punctuality. The working day in the Communications department starts at 7:30 in the morning, but when I arrive at 7:25 in the office, most of my colleagues are already sitting on their desks. We have a lot of paperwork, everything needs to be documented and it takes months to complete a project. For example, before a new brochure can be printed it gets reviewed multiple times by tenths of people. These people can be product managers, compliance officers, the legal department, the financial department and external inspection bodies who have to comment the document until it gets finally released.
After work or at the weekends I am usually meeting old friends or visiting relatives who are spread all over Germany. Below you see pictures from the Oktoberfest in München:
I have been in Trier for the past three months and I am happy that I got to experience this part of Germany better. The area has plenty of vineyards, and Trier is located right next to Mosel river, so the nature is very beautiful here too. Being here in central Europe, many other nice countries are so close that it is easy to travel around so I made a few trips to Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels and Bruges.
On my free time here depending on the weather I might have a coffee, go eating out or have drinks by the river with friends. Our weekly get-togethers are usually on Thursdays and Saturdays when we party together or just have a good time chilling at nice places around the city.
What comes to studying, it has been quite relaxed here as I only had three courses: Intercultural Management, International Economics and German language as well as a seminar of Asian economy and Asian companies. Studying at Hochschule Trier for Erasmus students is very laidback as the teachers want us to enjoy our time during our exchange. Observing the local students and their studying, I would say that German people start to prepare for exams a bit earlier than students in Finland and here people are always on time to lectures. In general, there aren’t too many differences to studying in Finland though.
Now that my exchange is getting closer to its end, I feel like I should have gone for an exchange for a whole year, since the time spent living abroad is so special and different than living in my “comfort zone” in Finland. During my exchange I feel like I’ve become more independent and self-confident, and the best part is to realize that you are capable of living alone in a foreign country and in a city where you at first knew absolutely no one. Living abroad has also taught me a lot of new things about myself and I’ve also started to figure out better what I want to do with my professional career. It is true that sometimes you have to distance yourself from your daily life back home, in order to see your life clearer, how and with whom you are actually spending most of your time there. This helps you to see if that is truly what you should be doing.
All in all, I am very grateful of this experience and journey I’ve had here and also very proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone. I encourage everyone to go for an exchange when they have the chance, it will open your eyes in so many ways, to many new things. Life is good 🙂
I chose Germany as my exchange destination since I have studied the language for a couple of years and because I have been snowboarding over there at the alps.
My school was located about five kilometers away from where I lived. I traveled to school every time by bicycle. The school itself was nice and they had very good food but the prices were very expensive..
Since I only had school 3 days a week I had lots of spare time. Most of the spare time I spent with a close Belgian friend. We went to the gym together, watched movies and went to parties, it was awesome!
We also went to Oktoberfest a couple of time and had really good times!
Also spent one entire week in the Alps in Austria, the weather could not have been better!
DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO SCHOOLS IN FINLAND
In Munich the school was very punctual, all the lessons and lectures started exactly on time. School food was much more expensive and the only way of paying for stuff in school was by first uploading money (cash) to your student card.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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!
I have been in Munich for nearly two months, the time has passed really fast. At first it took time to learn everyday things and learn to know a new hometown. On Weekdays I am studying and also try to do sports. On weekends I also try to keep some free and do nice things. My friends from Finland have visited here.
I’m studying here on a master degree program business. My campus is only 4 km from my home, so I will go to campus by bike or bus. I have chosen some interesting courses and I am trying very hard to learn the German language. Studying here is a bit different than in Finland. Seminar papers are wider and usually they are done in groups of 3-4 people. In Lectures are also done in a various of assignments in addition to the theory.
At the beginning of October I was running the Munich marathon which was a very fun event, then there was still +23 degrees warm and the sun was shining. A couple of times I have went to hike to the Alps . It’s easy to take a train and go anywhere. Also railway tickets are very cheap here.
The Munich city is really beautiful, where are lots of old buildings and culture. The public transport is easy to use and here is very safe.German is almost similar to Finland. A few things surprised me, cash was used here more than in Finland, it is only way to pay in many restaurants and kiosks, local food and organic products is used more than Finland and selections are really good. Stores are not open on Sundays, except very rarely in special cases (for example, Christmas or even Mother’s Day).
Last weekend here opened the first Christmas Market. The center of the Christmas market here is the historic Marienplatz square. Sale of the stalls spread over several streets around the old town. Many tourists will come here to look at the Christmas market.
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.