Tag Archives: Germany

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.

Augsburg Confidential

Greetings from Augsburg, the garden city of Bavaria. Before we start, I have to inform you that I am officially doing my studies in Munich (approx. 80 km from Augsburg), but as luck will have it, I had to accept my principal accommodations from Augsburg, as to not get bankrupted by the insane living costs of Munich!

Anyways, I think fate dealt me an excellent hand, as I surely have had a quite a different ride from other exchange students that are living in Munich proper. At the moment I am situated between hundreds of rows of Corn stalks, few hay bushes, three pig farms and two horse stables. Oh and thousands of overtly friendly country people!

Between all those things I have to try to survive with my basic german speaking skills as 90% of people here do not willingly parlay in english. The good part is that it works great with my goal of getting out of my comfort zone, which I am! Constantly!

The long distance to my actual university city of Munich makes commuting a chore, but it also makes going to Munich an event! So every time I have to drag my self to class it feels important and that in turn makes me take classes a little bit more seriously.  And that seriousness is a good thing as these double professors and herr doctor-doctor teachers really have a lot stuff to give to us students.

To balance out all this extreme focusing and seriousness during the classes, I attend all sorts of gatherings with like minded people. Be it beer festivals or rock concerts, you can probably spot me in there somewhere!

With Head-Banging greetings

Sami Juntunen

Hallo from Frankfurt am Main.

My exchange semester in Germany was one of the best experiences in my life. Frankfurt is a nice city with dynamic day and night life, with beautiful historic buildings and modern skyscrapers in the center.

Usual sunset in Frankfurt

The Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, where I was studying during this time, had a bit different system in comparison with TAMK. The enrollment system was quite challenging, as you had  to register for the course, for the first exam, for the second one, for the small other exam before the final one, so it was quite coplicated for me to find these things out. And studies in general were a bit more diff icult than in Finland, had to study a lot to pass some exams. 

But apart from studying I enjoyed every minute I was there. I’ve met so many amazing people from different countries, we were spending all the time together: traveling, partyying, studying, complaining about the exams, hoping to just pass them, rejoicing that we have passed, chilling by the river, singing, dancing , living the life! It was extermely difficult for me to say bye to some of them, because I know, that I most likely will not meet them again.

Rheinfall in Switzerland

During my xchange I was traveling a lot, I had a goal to visit at least 5 different counties, and I did it, it is not expensive to travel from Germany, especially from Frankfurt, there is one of the largest airports in Europe . I have visited France, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxenburg and Netherlands.

Heidelberg.

I also visited a lot of cities in Germay, my favorite one is Berlin, I fall in love with this city! It’s one of the most beautiful plases I’ve ever seen. I will defenitely go there again, because I did not have time to see everything.

Berliner Dom.

My best friends stayed there for another semester and I’m going to visit them soon so I’ll see all of my favorite places in Frankfurt again!

 

 

Hallo aus Dortmund!

The Semester here in Dortmund has been awesome, very challenging but also rewarding.

On my spare time I’ve been travelling, tasting awesome German products including wine that is so cheap and so so good. I’ve been to Luxembourg a few times, in Holland and also traveled a lot inside of Germany. One of the highlights here were when we went to see ice hockey world championship game in Cologne. Finland vs USA and Finland won!!

My absolute favorite place has been the beautiful Berlin. There is so much to see and so much to do.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle berlin
Berlin skyline

I also loved the beautiful Mosel valey. Mosel is a famous vineyard area in Germany, where the grow the King grape, Riesling.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle trabe trarbach
Traben-Trarbach, in Mosel Valey

Studying in Dortmund has been a bit harder than in Finland. The subjects are taught very differently, more university alike than in Finland. There are very few things that we learn through practice but more through lectures and team assignments. Also people are very grade oriented so to say. Also the lecturers prepare you much more for the coming exams than in Finland.

All in all everything is going well here in Dortmund. The weather has been awesome at least comparing to Finland (for what I’ve heard).

Living in Germany

Summer semester 2016/2017 in Dortmund Germany was unforgettable. I met a lot new people, traveled, my car broke down, bought a new one, learned a lot about other cultures and countered all kind of different situations.

Ruhr Museum in Essen, Zollverein

I think one of the most positive thing was the climate in middle-Europe. We went to Dortmund 03.03. and at the end of March we bought a grill and had a barbecue at our balcony with friends. It was like +25, not too bad after the Finnish climate.

End of March in Dortmund

I studied at FH Dortmund in International business. I think studying in Germany was bit harder than in Finland. My courses were in English so can only imagine how would it be if they would have been in German. I think most of the local students are quite study oriented and quite keen to success in their studies.

Spare time in Germany was filled with traveling, sports, parties sometimes, friends and perhaps some studying sometimes also :).

Local Discgolf park in Dortmund

Working culture in Germany is more hierarchical than in Finland. They are quite serious about their own achievements as a person/employee and want to be recognized for those. Sometimes it also felt that because of the volume of people is so big in Germany (at least if compared to Finland) they can be a bit rude for example in customer service situations. I didn’t really enjoy that discovery.

Classic car Remise Düsseldorf

All in all Germany was an amazing experience and totally worth it!

 

Grüße aus Deutschland!

We (Ina and Maria) are doing this postcard together, because we are working in the same place and living together in a same city.

We came to Germany to do our practical training in a private international kindergarten. We are staying in Düsseldorf and the kindergarten is located in Meerbusch, about 9km from our apartment. Luckily the public transport here is very good ant it takes us only approximately half an hour to get there.

The kindergarten has about 65 children, 6 employees and of course the head of the daycare center. There are three different groups; the nursery group (4 month-3 years), the kindergarten group(2-3years) and the preschool group(4-6years). We are working daily, excluding the weekends, from 9am to 4pm, but we work in different groups every week. The staff and the children took us in very well and we could see how ecxited they were that we came there.  The days go past so quickly and there is so much to do. But of course in a good way. We have been here now for four weeks and only three weeks are left. The biggest barrier that we had to overcome was that we had no common language with most of the children. They speak either German, Japanese or Chinese and just a few children understands/speaks a little bit of English. The same thing is with the staff, only 3 of the 6 employees speaks English. So body language is an important tool for us. Fortunately working with children is quite easy like that. We have also learned some basic daycare phrases in German, so communication is getting easier day by day.

Düsseldorf is a big town and there lives 604 527 people. Here is a lot to see and to do for us in the free time. When the weather is good, we have been exploring the city. For example here is a huge park called Nordpark where we usually go for walks and see the beautiful gardens in there. And it is only a a few kilometers from our apartment.  We also like going to the city center, where there is a lot of shopping opportunities and good restaurants. There is also the old town, where we like to go to just hang out and see other people. This time a year here is also a lot of tourists, so expecially when the weather is good, the city center and the old town are packed with people.

The working culture in the kindergarten we work in is quite similar than in Finland. The daily routines and schedule also goes almost the same comparing to Finland.  A couple big differences we have noticed is that only the youngest children takes  a nap during the day. And because the days can be long for the children (even 7.30am to 7pm) the children that does not sleep, might even snooze while playing etc. Also the food culture is a lot different than in Finland. It is normal food in here but the way wee see it, it`s not as versatile and healthy than what we are used to eat in finnish daycares.

  

We are looking forward the rest of the weeks in here and are excited to learn even more from the Germanys culture and early childhood education.

Tschüss,

Ina Schmidt and Maria Salonen

Viele Grüße aus Deutschland!

I did my exchange period in Dortmund, Germany. Dortmund is located in the west part of Germany, in a state (=Bundesstaat) Northrhine-Wesphalia. Dortmund is middle-sized city in Germany with its almost 600 000 citizens.

There is not much to see in Dortmund. Dortmund is famous for its football team, Borussia Dortmund (BVB). During BVB’s matches the football stadion Westfalenstadion ( or as the new name, Signal Iduna Park) is always full with more than 81 000 football fans. I had the chance to go to one match and it was totally worth the money!

Luckily it was free to us to travel in regional trains to other cities in the same state – Cologne (Köln), Düsseldorf, Bonn, Aachen and to many others. Cologne was my favorite of these and had a lot of history and of course the Cologne Cathedral. We also went to see a world championships of ice hockey which was organized by Paris and Cologne this year.

The school days were shorter than in TAMK but more demanding and theorical. The bureaucracy was something unbelievable, everyone should experince the paper war with German authorities.

The student life in Dortmund was very good with cheap student bar near the dormitories and the ESN Dortmund arranged lot of freetime activities. The German food culture (sausages, Schnitzel) also became very familiar. It was easy to travel to Netherlands from Dortmund and you can also take the train to Paris in 4,5 hours 🙂

Wonderful time in Munich!

Studies have been going great here and I just finished my bachelor thesis. The courses have been very international and I have had the opportunity to work with people (students and teachers) from all over the world in projects. The lecturing style is pretty similar then in TAMK and in Finland generally, but the “block courses” (sort of intensive weeks where we different projects) have been interesting and a nice addition to the normal studying.

People in Bavaria are accurate what it comes to work or studies, but in their free time they are really laid back and chill. Only thing that is really annoying and where Germany should learn from Finland is how to manage bureaucracy and paperwork. Almost nothing can be done here through the internet, so almost everything must be done face-to-face and this means everything takes more time.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit the Oktoberfest, since I arrived in Munich just couple days after the fest had ended. Luckily, I had the change to correct this shortcoming by going to the Frühlingsfest. It is like Oktoberfest, but smaller and with less tourists. Like “a little sister” of the Oktoberfest. The experience was amazing! If there are not any “Folksfests” like Oktoberfest or Frühlingsfest going on in Munich, one can get the perfect Bavarian experience by visiting the beerhalls. They serve good beer and food and an atmosphere that can’t be duplicated.

 

All and all the past 10 months have been great. In addition to exploring Munich and its neighboring regions, I have travel in Hungary, Austria and Czech. Meeting new people, going to new places and experiencing now things. I highly recommend that everybody should do an exchange abroad! Just a couple more week here in sunny Munich and then I will be back in Finland!

 

Grüße aus Reutlingen!

I arrived in Reutlingen in the beginning of March, roughly a week before the beginning of the summer semester. The first weekend and the following week I spent settling in and getting to know the city, taking an intensive German course and meeting and hanging out with all my fellow international students. When the actual studies began, I found myself having a lot of free time since my courses had very little contact hours compared to my studies back at home. This gave me more time to explore Reutlingen, my home for the following six months and of course the surrounding areas, especially Stuttgart and Tübingen.

Reutlingen is a city in Baden-Württemberg located about 35 km south from Stuttgart. With a population of roughly 114 000 citizens it is the ninth-largest city in Baden-Württemberg and is nicknamed “The Gate to the Swabian Alb” as its area is largely located in the Swabian Alb. The Hochschule Reutlingen is a university of applied sciences that was founded originally in 1855 as a College of Weaving and Textiles as an initiative of local textile industry. Reutlingen University offered me good opportunities and facilities to study textile technology and also a bit of Fashion management.

Back in TAMK I study bioproduct and process engineering, so studying textile technology here was  already very different because of the different subject. The school has large workshops and laboratories for spinning, weaving, weft and warp knitting and textile finishing where me and my group mates got to see and learn hands on the process of producing textiles all the way from the fibre to the finished garment. I had less contact hours during the week and more working on my own writing papers and reports than what we have back in Finland. Even though I had two group projects here, I would still say the style of teaching is less based on learning and working together in a group like it is in Finland. In addition to the textile courses, I also took one course in International management which was very interesting. I also had a German language course. It was great to notice myself getting more and more comfortable using my German language skills in everyday interactions with Germans. Also having a German tandem partner who I taught Finnish and she taught German to me is a great opportunity to learn more of the language.

One of the interesting opportunities I had in my studies was the possibility to go on a excursion to Hannover Messe, one of the world’s largest industrial trade fairs. It is held every year in the Hanover Fairground in Hanover, Lower Saxony. We left early in the morning for our eight-hour bus ride to the fair, spent eight hours exploring the fair and then drove eight ours back to Reutlingen. The trip was tiring but the breakfast Brezels we were served by the university gave us a good start for the day and some energy to head off and explore the huge fairground. The fair covers all areas of industrial technology from research and development, industrial automation, IT, industrial supply, production technologies to energy and mobility technologies.

I had some time for travel during the holidays. A road trip to see Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava and learn about their history was a great experience. Vienna with its beautiful buildings, Budapest with its laid-back atmosphere and the cute old town area of Bratislava. Seeing the beautiful Hungarian Parliament Building during a boat cruise on the Danube river was an amazing experience. On our day trip to Switzerland we saw the Rhine Falls, and the cities of Luzern and Zurich. Swimming in the Lake Zurich on a hot day was refreshing and I finally got an opportunity to get rid of my winter furs.

Day trips in the surroundings of Reutlingen and Tübingen were easy to do with our bus card called Naldo which let us travel by bus and train in a large area around Reutlingen. I visited the Lichtenstein Castle and the Hohenzollern Castle with my international friends just to name a few places. It was interesting to learn about the local history in the castles. We also the visited the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart and the Mercedes-Benz Museum both with interesting exhibitions. Also the Stuttgart Frühlingsfest was an great experience with all the rides, beer tents and overall festive atmosphere. Spending May Day there was definitely worth it. I still have a few weeks of my exchange period in Reutlingen left before going back home, so I’m planning to explore and see more of Germany!

 

Liebe Grüsse aus Leipzig!

I still remember the feeling when I,  after a long day of travelling saw through the train’s window the silhouette of Panorama tower. I was tired and exhausted as the trip turned out to be longer because of delayed flights and so on, so I was really relieved to finally be at my destination! 🙂  After I stepped out of the train and walked to my hotel for the first night, Leipzig felt immediately very sympathetic and cheerful town. I also marked that it was very clean everywhere. And because I had spend the previous week by my parents in Lapland, the weather felt warm and already full of spring as well. 🙂 I was really excited and looking forward to everything that was going to follow.

I arrived to Leipzig around a week before the summer semester was about to begin, so the first week went through with moving and getting to know the city better. I had been going to a pentacostal church there in Finland before, so I decided to look for one in Leipzig as well, and I found a really nice free church called TOS-Leipzig. Since the first week that church has  been  a great part of my stay here in Leipzig, and I am sure the connection with me and the people will continue after I I move back to Finland. 🙂 During the first week I also got to know the other person who started his exchange studies at the same time with me. And yeah, it is true that there were only two of us starting it on summer semester, as most had already started in last autumn. I also started trying to use as much German as I could with people, which turned out to be a little bit of a challenge as people then answered to me in fast German, and many times I couldn’t get a word they were saying! 😀 But little by little, that is how you learn a new language. 😉

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As I study music and specially performing arts, my studies are maybe a little different as for the most other subjects. They consist mainly of personal practicing, private instrument lessons and chamber music and orchestra projects. This semester there have been two different orchestra projects, and I got to take part in both of them! 🙂 First one was a normal concert program with a symphony from Anton Bruckner and two concertos for solo instruments. The other one was an Opera from Mozart, that went on for about a month altogether. I got to say that I have absolutely enjoyed playing in our school’s orchestra! We have a wonderful conductor, called Mathias Foremny, and he is so passionate about music and orchestral playing, that he lights up the whole orchestra and inspires us players to give all we have got for the music. In the very first concert I remember having goose pumps after the peaceful second movement of Bruckner’s symphony. Another great experience was a so called Chamber music evening, where the players from our stringed instrument department and some pianists had an evening together and just played and sight read some famous chamber music-repertory while having snacks and a bit of red wine. Just nice time together with the people and good music! 🙂

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One of my goals for the exchange here in Germany was to learn the language more. I have studied it in the comprehensive school, so I had a little bit of ground onto which I could start building. As I went to the International high school, where we had to use English as a language of our study, I knew the different phases of the development in the beginning. First it is absolutely horrible as you don’t understand a lot of what people say to you and you do not know how to say what you want to say. That is a vital phase though, cause you just need to step out of the comfort zone of swiching to English and come in touch with the practice of using a new language. After a while you start to learn new vocabulary and your ear gets used to recognizing words of the new language. Then your understanding gets better, and you can also start using some phrases and words that you have heard often without thinking. I also recognize from my language development, that many times there are short seasons when I learn to use some word or phrase, and I find myself using it almost everywhere. 🙂 And then it changes to another one.  If I observe the development of my German, I would say I am at this phase, as I can use my German in daily life, but it still takes me time to first understand what the other person has said, then think how I want to respond, and then figure out the way how to say it. Complicated sentences in spoken language are still hard for me to produce. From this point it is good to develop it further, my goal would be that some day I’d be able to speak German so that  I can express feelings and respond without having to think of it. 🙂 So, concerning the Language I would like to encourage everyone who lives abroad to study, observe and use the language of the country. According to my experience it is almost always so that people like it when you try to communicate with their language, even when it is not perfect. And people will always find a way to understand each other, which is actually the main purpose of communicating. So don’t be afraid, just use it! 🙂 Und es macht einfach viel Spass auch!

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