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.
The past year has been quite balanced with its ups and downs. Stressful self studying and exams counterweighted by days playing boardgames and drinking various beverages in good company.
Compared to Finland, the studying hasn’t been that much different. There’s more to do, but there’s also more time to do it. However in exams it’s different. There’s more to do and less time to do it.
There is beautiful green nature between the school and my apartment, but I rarely walk to school. I’m lazy like that. And I had to pay a small fortune for the unlimited access to public transport so not using the service would be a waste.
Sometimes the surface of the local man-made lake, Maschsee, is soothing to look at. When it’s not populated by tons of boats. There’s also a path along the edges of the lake, which makes for a perfect place to get your morning jog in and enjoy the view. Not that I have.
I saw this while wandering about near the main railway station in Hannover and it struck me as something different from normal art-pieces. As it’s upside down, stuck on the bottom of a bridge. Apparently it’s a sculpture from 1991 called “Hang Over Hannover” by artist Andreas Freiherr von Weizsäcker. The cars are obviously not real, but are realistically sized. (Details from Waymarking.com)
Here’s a slightly amusing reliever to end this post. It took me a few moments to process this wasn’t written in english.
I am doing my practical training in Fuldas Hospital. I was 4 weeks in Oncology ward, 4 weeks surgery ward, 2 weeks at day surgery ward and 2 weeks at family school (playing pretty much with newborn babies). I do not have the language skills to talk with the patients or the people at work so I am trying to learn as much as i can everyday. I am able to draw blood and measure vital sings. Learning numbers has been the first thing i learned and they have come handy in many occasions! Here in the hospital in some wards we get typical breakfast everyday. It includes bread, cheese, deli meats and more bread. Delicious !
On my spare time i hangout with other exchange student whom I’ve met from my student housing. Threw them i have also met more and more people. German and non german. We also rented a car one time and drove to Cologne and Dusseldorf. It was nice going fast on the motorway and seeing beautiful views on the way. Are student housing is placed in a beautiful old town scenery. Some days it was just nice to wander around and chill at the nearby parks al day in the sun.
I do not have a lot experience in working at hospitals in Finland. None actually but what i noticed is that everything seems pretty similar to Finland. One thing was strange and it was that doctors only drew blood. I do know how to do it also so i did it overtime i was able and they were very impressed. Germans seems to be also very formal with workplace dressing. In hospital its a little Hard to see this because everyone had their hospital uniform but in every meeting etc. I saw this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have been in Essen now almost five months. Four days left and I’ll be back home, finally. I have done my practical training here in Essen and it has been amazing. I have learnt a lot about working life for an example about team work. I have also learnt so much about myself and I’m very proud of myself that I had the courage to come here.
I work in a Finnish company and all my co-workers are Finnish as well so I haven’t really learn anything about German working culture. So I can’t really compare those. I am working as a management assistant and this job has been very nice, fun and challenging but also quite hard and stressful sometimes. In our office there is three interns, all from Finland, and we have become friends. This training period would have been quite bad without them!
^ me and my dear co-workers
On my spare time (during the week) I usually cook, watch Netflix, read or just chill. After work I’m so tired that I really don’t want to do anything special. On Saturdays we (me and my co-workers) are having an adventure day. We have travelled to different cities like Köln, Dortmund, Venlo and Roermond (in Holland), Mönchengladbach and so on. We have visited in a zoo, museums and spent hours in Primark. I have also been in football games! Saturday is the best day of the week. On Sundays I also just chill because everything (shops and supermarkets) are closed. On Sundays we have visited museums and went to restaurants.
^1) FC Köln vs Bayer Leverkusen, amazing atmosphere! 2) Ready for the game in Düsseldorf.
^1) Duisburg Zoo 2) views from Düsseldorf tv-tower
Like I said I can’t really compare Finnish and German working life but I have note some differences in everyday life:
Everyone uses cash!! This was quite hard to understand first because I’m so used to pay with card. It was surprising that even in big cities like Düsseldorf some restaurants took only cash.
Alcohol is super cheap and it’s okay to have a bear at 10 am. When I went to a restaurant/bar on Saturday to have a nonalcoholic drink the waiter looked me like “why don’t you drink alcohol?” 😀
Almost in every house there is a bathtub instead of regular shower. At least all the houses that I have been.
I still don’t understand how I should recycle. You should put everything recyclable in one bin and all rest in another except paper/cardboard. But when I take a look in yellow and in grey dumpster they look exactly the same.
Normal pillow size is about 80×80 cm which is enormous!! I can’t sleep with those.
In supermarket you have to be very fast in checkout because the checkout line (kassahihna) is so short. If you are too slow you get angry looks. It is easiest to put everything back in the shopping cart, go to those side tables (which are meant to packing) and pack your things.
There is no pick and mix candy.
All the movies and tv-series are dubbed which is annoying sometimes. Like I could have watch Simpsons but I didn’t understand what they were saying in German. We went to movies once (also dubbed) and it was nice feeling when you understand what was happening!
+1. Many times locals have asked us what language we are talking. People are very interested to know why we are in Germany and everybody seem to like Finland.
^The most beautiful place EVER! Köln Dom.
All in all I haven’t really noticed many differences. But maybe I’m so “used to” live here already that I don’t noticed those. And I’m always with Finnish people so I haven’t really noticed any local habits. My roommate is German (she is amazing too) but I haven’t noticed any big cultural differences at home either. I have to say that the public transport works very well!
^Food is life, best burgers in Düsseldorf (@bob and mary)
All in all this trip has been amazing and I will never forget this spring. Still I’m more than ready to go home. I haven’t see my family in five months and I can’t wait to spend a summer in Finland!
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!