Tag Archives: Germany

The city of sunshine

Freiburg is told to be the sunniest city in Germany and that seems to be true- concerning the people and the weather!

Over all Freiburg is a very cozy and beautiful university city! It has a lot of old buildings and it is surrounded by Schwarzwald forrest (The Dark forrest) and vineyards.

 

 


Freiburg is located at the border triangle of Germany, France, and Switzerland. So I have a good opportunity to visit easily also other countries nearby.

The first few months were really intense, funny but also quite tiring. Though I knew already a little German it took (and takes) anyway much energy to translate the language in mind all the time. Also everything in the university was new and they demand much more from students than in Finland. I have had also many chances to perform in many student concerts and also in churches.

Since Freiburg is a university city it has a lot of student campuses and I live in one of them. It is a very good alternative because there is to get to know people easily and fast. I live with 8 persons in so called WG. We hang around al lot together and spend evening cooking, chatting  and usually drinking tee or vine 🙂

Of course a very special thing  in central Europe during Christmas is Chirstmas markets in every town or city-  in Germany it´s called Weihnachtsmarkt. People come there to to meet friends, drink Glühwein and just enjoy all the beautiful decorations and lights!

Now we will start waiting for the spring to come and the first green grass to grow!

Mannheim #läuft

Liebe Grüße aus Mannheim – warm greetings from Mannheim,

one of the cities in the Rhein-Neckar-Metropole-region in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. My time so far here in Mannheim has been an unforgettable time and I am looking forward to my remaining time here until July. I speak German as my mother tongue which means, that I can’t have the view of a “foreigner” but on the other hand I have been able to see a lot deeper into the everyday life and society here.

Alfred-Delp-House, my home in Mannheim.

 

Mannheim was almost completely destroyed in the second World War and after that they decided to build the city center into squares which gives Mannheim it’s own flair – no street names (only letters and numbers, mine for example D6, 12), geometrical routes from one place to another and a demanding organization of the traffic. Mannheim is also a multicultural city where especially the Arabic culture meets the German. I have the opportunity to go to a Turkish bakery, super market or café – that is amazing and gives Mannheim also a special flair.

There ist a University, a Music University, 2 Universities of Applied Sciences and some smaller Institutes here in Mannheim and because Mannheim isn’t a huge city itself you can feel the number of students in the street view.

Me enjoying the sun and 26 degrees between rehearsals.

I study at the Musikhochschule Mannheim – the Music University – which has about 500 students from all over the world. As in most Music Universities in Germany over 60 percent of the students are not from Germany. In Mannheim there are especially many students from Asia, mostly from Taiwan and South-Korea. Since the beginning of my studies last September I have had the chance to study in a very special intercultural environment – sometimes it’s me, who doesn’t understand a word of the conversations when for example my Taiwanese friends have a intense dialogue in Chinese.  Also the working moral of the Asian people is something all Europeans look up to. On the other hand I’m also aware of how privileged I am – as an Finnish-German European citizen I don’t have to worry about visa, student grants, language prejudices or collisions of two very different cultures. One of my prejudices has also turned out to be wrong: Though the music students from Asia are a class for themselves when it comes to music organizing or being well-organized in other fields of life is not their strength, I think this is a funny fact 🙂

In general I can’t compare the university here with the tiny music department of Tamk. For the first time in my life I only have all kind of music students from different programmes (performing, pedagogical, solo, music education, composing, conducting, media) around me and there is a special spirit at the university.

My set-up at the symphony orchestra.
Lanterns in front of the Concert Hall of Baden-Baden.

My studies here consist of percussion classes with two professors, music theory subjects, music pedagogy seminars, orchestra and choir project, chamber music, percussion ensemble and Alexander technique and of course all the practical projects end with one or more concerts. Last week the choir of the University sung together with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra and last December we sung Händels’s Messias-oratorium.

During my semesters here I have tried to take as much classes and seminars as possible. Here comes also the first difference to my studies in Finland: financial ressources and the ability to form your studies by yourself. As a student you can choose from a large spectrum of seminars and the groups in music theory subjects are very small (sometimes just 2 students). At Tamk I don’t really have the chance to choose freely from different seminars. I have noticed that I like more the system here in Mannheim than in Finland.

The academic standards for home essays are high – Germany is one of the leading countries in Music Research and Music Sciences. Learning the way of the academic writing is one of the things I wouldn’t learn in Finland. Also the students are high educated – the have to have finished high school with matriculation examination.

At Tamk I am used to the evaluation of the seminars and self-evaluation and the dialogue between the students and the professors. The university here has a old-fashioned hierarchy and the students can’t really cititicise anything. Recently the student body has gotten more active and pointed out some really serious things which the university has done against the rights of the students. In this Germany could learn a lot from Finland.

Because Germany is also a home to me I don’t feel the urge to travel around Europe like most exchange students – I focus on the everyday life and sometimes I visit my relatives here in Germany. I live in the squares and right next to the Unisport – in my spare time I do a lot of sports with friends. I was lucky to get a room in a student home of the Catholic Church (it means this student home is modern, we can do lots of activities and the students have to pass an interview in order to get a place). This week we had already 27 degrees and today we opened the barbecue season! 🙂 I also work as a musician in the Holy Mass of the Catholic Student Community which is a great opportunity for me to get work experience.

Inspiring marimba music at the Mass.
Wine region from Mannheim to the west and south

In January I travelled to the French Alps with friends and in the Easter break to Rome – two unforgettable and influencing trips.

Breathtaking view over the French Alps.
Rome – city full of culture and beautiful architecture

As a conclusion I would say that I would like to continue my studies here right away but of course I will first come back and graduate from Tamk – after that I can imagine that my life will continue here in Mannheim.

Neckarwiesen – meeting your friends for barbecue by the river is a popular activity!

Frühlingsgrüße aus Monnem’ 🙂

#läuft – a popular German word which means that everything is in a good balance and you enjoy life everything you do!

 

Foodstyling in Hamburg!

Back in my home country and my favourite city, Hamburg.

Here I’m doing an internship at 747 Studios, a company with almost 60 employees which specializes in food and non-food photography, CGI and VR.

(entrance hall at 747 Studios)

(I’m obligated to maintain secrecy, so this post might not be that rich in details)

I’m working in the food styling department which means I have to help preparing the food or products we shoot and arrange and drape them in an interesting and good looking way in front of the camera. We work for national and international customers and cover almost their whole range of products (food, non-food, clothes, technology, decoration, accessories etc.).

Two times so far I could do my own photos, so I could choose the topic, the mood and train my foodstyling skills. A photographer and stylist helped me implement my ideas well. The first time I bought a complete salmon and processed it over a series of photos. The second time I chose drinks/cocktails as a topic. These photos I can now use in my portfolio.

(own photos, topic 1: salmon)

During my spare time (which is not much) I sometimes explore Hamburg and test new restaurants, visit shops or go to the cinema or concerts. A lot of my free time is spent on traveling by train since I live at my parents for the time of the internship (3 h train drive each day altogether)…but at least I save money for rent. If I lived in Hamburg, closer to the workplace, I would definitely save time and money on trains.

I have never worked before in Finland, but I definitely can say that I needed some time to get used to the more fast paced, more professional and less laid back daily working routine at 747 Studios, compared to my studies. I still need to improve my cooking and foodstyling skills and probably will pursue a culinary education after finishing my studies.

www.747studios.de/en

Greetings from Munich

I have been living in Munich almost six months now and it has been the best time of my life so far. My semester started in early October, but I arrived in Munich in September to get to know other exchange students and the city by its self before starting studying. I chose to study engineering subjects and that turned out to be a little challenging road. We had quite a lot of work to earn our credits, but in the end, everything went well.

During my exchange period, we had a lot of free time to hang out with friends and to travel all over Europe. We made multiple road trips to different countries like Croatia and Italy, but my absolute favorite was our ski trip to Sölden with other exchange students. We also made several day trips to different ski stations in Alps during the exchange.

Day trip in Axamer Lizum, Austria

What comes to spare time in Munich the highlight was definitely the Oktoberfest. But besides that, Munich offers a lot of other things to do. Most common way to spend time here is to gather a bunch of friends and go to grab a few beers in beer hall or beer garden. And of course, when you are in Munich you have to experience at least one Bayern München football match even if you don´t care that much about football. Just the atmosphere in the fully packed Allianz arena with 75,000 people is something to see.

Bayern München vs RB Leipzig
Marienplatz

Studying in Germany has been a little bit different compared to studying in Finland. The main difference is that usually, it´s not mandatory to attend lectures. And the lectures go so that the professor talks the whole three hours and students take notes, or not however you like. It turned out to be a really boring way to teach. But one benefit was that they didn´t give any homework so you can enjoy your free time without thinking school. Of course, all the courses and the professors are different, because MUAS offers a large variety of different kind of courses where to choose.

Overall, I´m really happy that I decided to spend my exchange period in this amazing city!

Life in the city of beer

Now that my exchange is about to end here in Munich, I could tell you something about my experience here. My semester in Munich University of Applied Sciences started in early September with two weeks of intensive German language course which was a fun start for the semester. After that we had a gap of two weeks before the actual semester started. This offered a great chance to enjoy the Oktoberfest – which was awesome by the way – and to travel as well.

Oktoberfest.

During the first weeks we had to choose our courses which was a bit of a mess in the beginning. We had to apply to the courses and it wasn’t always sure that you would get to the course. Well, if you chose engineering subjects it was sure, but other than engineering not. There were not that many people taking engineering classes. In the classes I had there were approximately 5-10 students attending the course. Even if planning the courses was hard there was a good side in it too. I managed to have Fridays off, which was awesome!

What comes to Munich, it is a beautiful city and I find the atmosphere really similar to Helsinki but the beer is better. Adapting here was easy. On the spare time I met friends and we did different kind of activities such as drinking beer in a beer hall or beer garden. One thing which was a surprise for me was that you can surf in Munich as you can see in the picture down below. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to surf even though I tried it on my trip to Portugal.

You actually can surf in Munich.
Sölden ski trip.

Munich’s central location in the Europe is a good benefit. Traveling from here to all over the Europe is really easy. Easiest and fairly cheap ways to travel were by a bus or a train. But the best way was to rent a car with a bunch of friends and go wherever we wanted. And you know what you can do once you get to the Autobahn. For example, we did couple of road trips to the surrounding countries and a ski trip to the Austrian Alps.

Road tripping and completely lost somewhere in Croatia.

 

 

 

Studying in Germany seemed different than in Finland. At least studying engineering subjects. The teacher usually just kept a lecture and the students took notes, that’s it. Sometimes it was quite boring and hard to focus. On the other hand, there was no mandatory attendance neither homework which was a good excuse to travel more.

From Munich With Love

I spent five months in Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany, studying in the winter semester 2017/2018. The semester started on the beginning of September with a two-week voluntary German intensive course.

Marienplaz

Munich is Bavarias biggest city and locates in the southern Germany near the Alps so it offers a beatiful landscape for exhange studies. The highlights of my time in Munich were definitely the Oktoberfest and our ski trip to Austrian Alps.

Munich University of Applied Sciences “MUAS” offers a great variety of courses in many different departments. My courses were from tourism and general studies departments. I choose ten courses in total including the German intensive course before the actual courses. My general studies were business English courses which were quite useful and at the end of the semester I had an opportunity to do UNIcert -certificate in English.

Oktoberfest

In MUAS there is two types of courses: regular once every week classes and so called block courses which can take place for one weekend or two days or for more ETCS’s a week. This makes the course planning and scheduling quite challenging because usually the teachers don’t approve if you miss classes. But I fortunately managed to take all of the courses I needed.

Germany and Munich offers a lot of freetime activities inside the city but also in the near by areas. One of my favourite place in Munich is the English Garden where you can also surf in artificial waves! In the summertime there’s many beergartens everywhere. Before our brake in December we rented a van and drove to the Alps to ski with other exhange students!

English Garden

Compared to Finland, studying in MUAS is a bit more intensive since most of the teachers and professors are very strict with attendance. Ofcourse every course is different and it’s understandable that you cant miss a day from a two-day course. I experienced that I had enough freetime during my studies even some courses were more demanding.  Most of my courses were very dynamic and the teaching style was conversational which was nice.

Austrian Alps

Greetings from my second home

Hello Finland,

I know your summer is not very hot and sunny this year, so let me give you some of the heat from South West Germany. With around 30°C for 3 weeks I don’t need to be stingy.

My internship is going great! I did not expect that it will become that interesting. Have you heard about Umicore? That’s the place to do your internship. Seriously, my working mates are so super friendly and support me with all their possibilities so I can get the most out of my it. The last 3 weeks I spent in Umicore´s laboratory in the area of sample preparation. Umicore is producing catalysts for cars and working in the sample preparation means to prepare catalysts for cars in a way that further quality tests can be done to them. Next week I will move on to a different area. There I will have a look into such a quality test. I am already looking forward.
My workmates are pretty interested about you, my dear friend Finland. I tell them a lot about your awesome student culture and the beauty of your nature. I even recommended them to spend holidays in a finish Mökki. When I showed pictures about my friends swimming in a lake at midnight in a bright sunset  I did not mention that it is much colder than it seems. Sneaky me 😉

After I am done with my work I am usually hanging out with my friends. We often go swimming in the river Rhein, but that’s nothing compared with your plenty of lakes. But I am not complaining, therefor I can enjoy reasonable priced food and drinks in restaurants. Oh and guess what? Finally I can eat my daily portion of ice cream without getting poor! In deed a portion of ice cream does often not cost more than 1€. Unbelievable! How can your ice cream be so expensive?

Well I have to leave, it is time for BBQ with my family. What a wonderful luxury to have them close by me. But dear Finland do not worry, I will come back to you, soon.

 

My goodbye gift to working mates

Discovering Germany apart from its famous beverages.

I guess that many stereotypes had stuck to Germany. Chosing it as a destination country I wanted to prove that cliches cannot express the full depth of culture and mentality.

My studies took place in Hannover University of Applied Science. Originally, my major is Energy and Environmentall Engineering, but there was no courses available in English from the same sphere. Thus, in these circumstances I slightly moved to Mechanical Engineering Faculty, which was pretty funny. Anyway the experience was worthy since I studied something completely new and participated in interesting projects.

The education approach is dissimilar to Finnish. In Hannover the teachers were more strict and the lectures were very formal (professor was explaining material without much communication with the audience).

Conserning my free time, I believe I would need hundreds of papers to express everything. It was a lot about communication and making new acqauantances, taking part in festivals and traditional holidays. But the best part was travelling inside and outside Germany, the connection is cheap and very convenient.

I explorated many interested places, tried tasty dishes and actually tried many beers!

Pictures are taken by me 🙂

From heat to snowfall and back

I stay three months in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. My host university HFU offers education mainly for business and engineering students. I’m doing my internship in local laboratories, first four weeks at a clinical laboratory and then eight weeks at a research laboratory at the university. It has been very interesting to see how is the laboratory work in Germany like and also to compare it to the Finnish system. Laboratory field is very international and many principles are similar in both countries. Even so I have found some differences: the information systems and sample handing are organized differently, for example.

The weather in the Black Forest has been very changeable and it has also affected our plans for the weekends. However, I have done many unforgettable trips in the southern Germany and near its borders in Austria, Switzerland and France. Some of the trips were organized by the university but I have also planned some of them together with the other international students. It’s easy to travel by train in Germany and the group tickets are also very cheap. One of the best Saturdays we spent in Konstanz, on the shores of the lake Bodensee. It was a perfect, sunny summer day. We hired pedal boats and enjoyed the heat.

It has been a bit surprising to notice that many Germans don’t speak English. Fortunately I’ve studied some German but for a few years I haven’t had to use the language so I have forgotten almost everything. But even the basic knowledge has been very useful for me and I have been able to refresh my language skills during my stay. It has been great to notice that I can live in another country and communicate in foreign languages without any bigger problems. This experience has made me more self-confident. But of course the best thing is an opportunity to get new, international friends and learn about their cultures.

Continue reading From heat to snowfall and back

Bielefeld

Hello, I am Johannes and I am currently studying in Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences. Bielefeld, where is that? Well I did not know either and I had never heard about it before. Bielefeld is little bit smaller town located in upper part of North Rhine-Westphalia, but it is easier to say that it is just smaller city between Dortmund and Hannover.

Only about 300 000 people live in Bielefeld but city center feels a lot bigger. Some parts of the old town are worth a visit and famous Sparrenburg castle is located near city center. Otherwise it is not that amazing city, at least that is my opinion. I think there is some lot more interesting cities near Bielefeld which makes it good base camp for travelling in Germany.

Studying in Germany is different compared to Finland, semester starts on March and ends in the end of July. Our courses started middle of April but ended already in beginning of June, some courses even started as late as in May but still ended in June. It was really confusing how little time we had to spend in school because in most of the courses we also had only one lecture each week.

So, I had a lot of spare time on my hands which I spend travelling with other exchange students. Our school gave us so called “semester ticket” which is related to our student cards. This semester ticket allows you to travel for free in the whole area of North Rhine-Westphalia using regional trains and busses. Before arriving I did not know that we would get this kind of tickets and it was very pleasant surprise, North Rhine-Westphalia has total area of 34 000km2 so there is a lot to travel. It includes big cities like Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Münster, but smaller cities are also wonderful places to visit.

Another way to spent spare time are multiple sport classes which are offered students for free. There are classes from dancing and acting to all the way to swimming and weight lifting, my choice for semester was dancing.

Johannes Äärelä, Johannes Aarela

Overall my experience in Bielefeld was really good and I can recommend it for other students also.