Tag Archives: Netherlands

Hello from the Netherlands!

Hoi! Hoe gaat het met jullie ?

I have almost finished my study term in the Netherlands and would like to share that experience with you.

As a study place I have chosen Utrecht University of Applied Science… or maybe this University has chosen me? I don’t know but it was love at the first sight. My study program, university facilities and organisation moments were provided on a very high level. I enjoyed my time being there, even though the studies were sometimes tough!

I have completed a program, created specifically for doing business in emerging markets. During courses we have analysed perspectives and challenges in emerging markets occurring to large multinational corporations and small start up companies. The program was developed by lectures from different backgrounds and this made it so unique and worthwhile. It is suitable for truly international students, who are highly interested in exploring the world.

For example, during entrepreneurship course in teams of five people we had to come up with a business idea, which can change life of local people in a better way. The main condition it should be a country with social or economic difficulties. It was not easy at all. We had to create a website with all financial data, marketing, strategy, supply chain management etc. and present it to real investors, who work for StudentInc ( a start up laboratory). We were assessed as real businessmen and our grade showed the readiness to invest in our idea real money. To be honest, we succeeded and apparently our idea might work, thus we are in touch with my team in case we really start executing our plan!


In my spare time I have travelled through the Netherlands, enjoyed cheeses and had a very very good coffee. I have been to music festivals, museums and art galleries. My friends and family came to visit me from all over the world and I had a lot of fun! To be honest, I have been international student since 2014, so chilling and partying with exchange students was completely  not new thing for me. Anyway, whatever you party or not, there will be always something to do or people, who share your interests.

IMG_0762This is Nijntje. It’s well known among dutch kids.

IMG_0653 2My sister and I travelling to Hague

IMG_0163 2This is a castle in 15km from Utrecht.

Utrecht is a small version of Amsterdam with less traffic and tourists on its streets, that is why I strongly recommend going there. It’s about 25 min by train to Amsterdam, but you might spend weeks to explore every corner of this marvellous city before going to the capital or sin city haha.

IMG_0294Holland at the beginning of NOVEMBER!!!!

Comparing the studies process, everything was structured and clear. However, there was always something to do, I had quite a lot of homework every day. During exam weeks I had a couple of sleepless nights, but I could have avoid it by organising my time in line with responsibilities and needs. In Finland I was way more relaxed with studies and homework, sometimes very irresponsible too. But both this education systems have its advantages and disadvantages.


Dutch people are VERY direct, they do not waste time during work or meetings and… they do not have lunch. I mean, they eat of course, but it is always broodjes (sandwiches). I missed TAMK lunches a lot.

IMG_0694 Dutch know about good herring! Its LEKKER!

This is what I had in my mind, thanks everyone to make my exchange happen.

Greetings from the Netherlands

Christmas is almost here, which means that it’s also almost time to go back home.

When I started my exchange year in Leeuwarden, I was scared, excited, nervous, happy and  I didn’t know what to expect. Now that the time here is almost over, I find myself feeling the same feelings all over again. It’s weird coming back to Finland and leaving all this behind. This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in good and bad, and I’ll miss living here like crazy.

thumb_img_6868_1024(c) Reetta Aho

As a media student, I ended up in the Stenden University of Applied Sciences to study Media & Entertainment management. I was fairly excited about this also, since my own program focuses mostly on just film and television production. In Stenden, they use PBL and CBL. PBL is Problem Based Learning and CBL is Case Based Learning. I had never used these kind of learning methods in Finland, so it was interesting. pbl

The picture above basically explains how PBL works.  In CBL the only difference is that we work on specific company/organization and try to find solutions for their problems. It was more theory than I was used to, since in my own school we study mostly by doing projects and don’t focus on the theory as much. It was a good experience, but I’m also happy to go back to my own studies. Luckily Stenden is filled with exchange students, so the teachers and other students have patience with me and they take their time with helping and explaining stuff to me.

The groups in school are also much smaller than in Finland, in one PBL/CBL group there can be a maximum of 13 students.

The school has been hard, it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of my free time here, but still I’ve had the chance to travel around this beautiful country. Of course it’s also the fact that you can travel through the Netherlands in about a day.


(c) Reetta Aho

The only way I know how to put my exchange experience in words is: once in a lifetime experience. And for someone, who is considering doing their exchange year in the Netherlands, I can just say that it would be a great choice.


(c) Reetta Aho

Greetings from The Hague!

I study game development and simulation at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. I live next to the main campus in The Hague but my classes are in Delft so I have to travel every day by train the campus. My first few weeks have been hectic since I still haven’t quite adapted to studying after summer vacation and the pace we have to study has been almost overwhelmingly fast. We have practical workshops and theory lectures for about 4 weeks in which we study the basics of 3D modelling, game programming, physics, math etc. After that we don’t have any classes to attend to and we are supposed to make a game for the HTC Vive virtual glasses in groups of five students.

This type of studying is something I’ve never had in Finland and it has its positive and negative sides. It gives us freedom to work how and when we want but it’s all up to the team to get things done before the deadline. Since I personally haven’t had any game development classes and I don’t have any previous 3D modelling or Unity game engine experience I have to study extra hard to be worthwhile in the team. Luckily, other students have been extremely kind and helpful if I need help with my assignments or with anything else.

One huge difference is that school cafeteria only serves sandwiches, snacks, warm pastries etc. It’s not very cheap so some/most of students bring their own lunch. I find it hard to adapt because I’m used to having a full meal at school in Finland. Fortunately, our school days are pretty short so breakfast is enough to survive through the day.

View from my roof terrace

I haven’t had much spare time during these few weeks but when I do I have been trying out new culinary experiences and beers. So far I have been pleasantly surprised. The rest of my spare time goes to buying necessities to my apartment and figuring out everyday things like how can I wash my clothes and stuff. After few weeks I’m sure I have more time to do something more fun.

Finally had the chance to taste KFC

That’s pretty much everything I can say at the moment. All in all, my stay has been enjoyable so far and I’ve learned a lot. I’m curious what the future holds.

Exchange in Zwolle, the Netherlands


Zwolle from above
Zwolle from above

A little bit more than half of a year has already passed since I’ve came back from my study exchange in Zwolle, but memories are still alive. Even though, frankly speaking, I did not like Windesheim University of Applied Sciences for certain reasons I’ve described in the exchange report, Zwolle itself still made a better impression on me.
The ones who are crazy about big and noisy European capitals would not probably like Zwolle that much, because the town is rather calm and small, to be more precise – just 200 thousands people living there and its small start-shaped city center can be crossed on foot just in 25 minutes. But because I happen to be creeped out by huge, stuffy, crowded, dirty and smoggy megapolises, Zwolle was just of a perfect size for me. Even though Zwolle is quite little, it is still that type of town where everything one might need can be found. It is a very cozy place: nice small streets, little cafes, every now and then street merchants and street entertainers, a couple of middle-aged churches – in a word, everything in the best traditions of little neat towns of Europe. But also Zwolle is “very Dutch”. When you come there you can’t really confuse what country you are in: canals, omnipresent bicycles, traditional Dutch fast food, and coffeeshops 😀 are surrounding you from the first moment you reach the place.
Legendary Dutch canals
City centre view
The location of the town is also convenient, it is just 100km away from Amsterdam, around 40km to the border of Germany, and also rather close to a few other well-known Dutch cities.

The tallest building in the city centre, Pepperbus
The tallest building in the city centre, Pepperbus

Do I miss it? Hard to say; even though I would not probably agree to spend another 5 months there, it would still be nice to visit it again and have some reminiscence moments at some point.

Hallo from Rotterdam

First of all I am safe and everything is pretty much fine except some disgusting problems with our apartment.20160822_203418

These first days here in Rotterdam have been extremely busy but now I have finally time to sit down and tell some experience from my first week of my exchange.

The reason why I moved to Rotterdam is that I came to study a logistics and economics to Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. My exchange studies last approximately 5 months, after which I have intended to complete a three month internship in Rotterdam as well.

I arrived Rotterdam on Sunday morning at 10:30 (here a local time is one hour behind of Finland). Our plane landed to Amsterdam at 9:35 from where me and a couple of my classmates from Tampere University of Applied Science continued our trip by train to Rotterdam. All in all, the trip went well even I had my huge ice hockey bag with me, which usually always cause some problems, but not this time..

In Rotterdam I live in one of the student dormitory, Erasmus International House, and I am sharing my  flat with Aleksandr who is also from Tampere but here he studies in the different program. When we finally arrived our dorm, there was waiting a very friendly guy who told us the rules of Erasmus International House and took us to our rooms. First sight was not pleasant. I opened my room door and it looked like someone has got shot in my room. The floors are extremely dirty and the walls have full of smudges plus everything is broken. Literally speaking; this is not bad this is horrible. We have already sent a complaint about the condition of the flat and the complaint is under the process by SSH (the organization which provided this “lovely” apartment to us.

Winger crossed that we can get a new apartment!!!

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However, Rotterdam is a very cool city with its lively cultural life and riverside setting but especially the architecture of Rotterdam is outstanding. During these few days we have explored the city and  I can surely say that this is one of the coolest cities where I have ever been. If I need to describe Rotterdam by using two words, the words would be a modern and fresh.

In addition to studying , I also play ice hockey here in the Netherlands. The team where I play is called Zoetermeer Panters, which is playing in BeNe league. This is the highest league in the Netherlands and Belgium.

More about my upcoming season in my next post!





“bump” on the road.


Projects, Projects, Projects…

For the past three weeks, I have been sitting behind my computer and writing assignments, projects reports and bunch of other tasks. The amount of work you have to do during 4 courses feels unbelievable. It would be fine, if we didn’t do a lot of extra and unnecessary work. I have realised here how big difference there is between finnish way of doing things and the dutch way of doing things. The bureaucracy here is hardcore. During the first week of school, 3 lessons were cancelled and we got no message about it, neither was the timetable updated.

In Rotterdam there is no such thing as direct approach to a problem and there is also no direct answer to a question. Everything must be described theoretically and as complicated as it is possible. When you start a project you need to do bunch of stuff and documents with the group before you actually get to a problem – and that is frustrating, because you waste a lot of time and energy on those things that are either common sense in Finland or just self-evident. Because of this, you lose the efficiency and the work you do could be done much faster with less effort and a same result in the end.

Absolutely no flexibility. This is another thing I have noticed and discussed with those rare friends I got here (due to the fact that local people are extremely distant, arrogant, boring and just sad), that teachers here do not understand that a student could sometimes think for himself with his own little head. Some of the students are already doing their 4th year of studies and yet still before every single task they are explained how they should do an assignment of max. 500 words, using the assignment criteria chart. There’s are also no middle ground with most of the teachers – its my way or no way. That is a sad fact, because a huge potential is being killed by following the 1.2.3. steps with no permission of using own thinking or evaluating a problem.

The “applied sciences” part is forgotten totally here. Books are priority #1 and theoretical approach is the only way. We have to read 80-120 pages before every single class and the actual class is then lectured in the way where a teacher asks questions and we have to sit and answer, 60% of the class never read anything so you can imagine how much sense this makes. There are no personal experience examples, there are no examples from real life/world, there are no stories, no newspaper or a book written by a famous person used to elaborate anything. It is boring, it is lacking of quality and it is way behind the 2016 education system, which is funny because we are talking about Netherlands here and not Africa.

The educational system that our school is using is also a huge mess. Everybody knows that its from the era of Dinosauruses, but nobody does anything since there are a cooperation between the software provider and the money was paid and now there is no other options but to use this buggy and broken system. Intranet is like 999 times better and more sufficient – I can’t even use the local system in english. Email is used to send the assignments to teachers and visa versa, which is a joke to be honest and not a professional way of doing things.

Half of the materials provided are in dutch, so imagine the easiness of starting the projects.

90% of the people I met here are distant, fake, arrogant, boring, full of themselves and I have no idea who told dutch people that they are direct and straight forward in their actions, because they can’t even handle the directness. A total respect and love back to Finland, because compared to what I have seen for the past 5 weeks now, Finland is awesome.

I can not recommend the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences to any finnish student, because it sure feels like a huge step back and the quality difference is amazing between TAMK and RUAS.

The first day in Rotterdam and especially in my room was not a very pleasant experience. Even the hard rain which was pouring on the city did not depress us, but arriving at the Erasmus International House and seeing my room did the job. The room was in such a bad condition that still up to this moment I do not understand how can an organization rent such a room after seeing that it is clearly not in a shape for renting or do not stand up to a basic standard and what I have paid for. My flat mate is having the same problem and currently we are trying to do everything to get out of here, because paying a rent for this sh**hole is something we are not going to do.

The fact that it was Sunday did not help our case, since it’s a day off for the offices and their staff. We had a discussion about the flat with a helpful guy who is taking care of the office inside the Erasmus House, but he can’t make any decisions and still needs to connect those who can. This will obviously take some time and every extra minute spent in this apartment is a minute too much. This morning I woke up with a smell of a public toilet and in a couple of days that smell will stay in my clothes and belongings no matter where I go. Not a pleasant experience so far.

There is a difference between bad quality and a disgusting sight – hopefully SSH will fix this during the next 1-2 days, because this is not what I paid for and will not continue to pay.

Thank you for this awesome start Erasmus International Housing and SSH!





20160821_190718 20160821_190646

 Other than that, things are fine. Rotterdam is a cool city.

Greetings from Holland


Here I am enjoying my time in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Time has gone so fast and I absolutely love my time here! Even there is many good things here, definately the best thing is the people.

IMG_8976My studies are going well, doing lots of group work here, just like in TAMK too. In my class there is nine other exchange students around the world.

We’ve been doing lots of courses of amrketing and journalism, so it is very different from what I have learned. But it’s been fun!

Here’s a picture of us suring the coffee break.



Definately the best thing happened here are my flatmates, two irish girls. They really are like family for me and couldn’t be happpier that I found them. Life in leeuarden is really good!

In the picture we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!


Greetings from the land of the children with clogs

I have spent now 1,5 months in Groningen, Netherlands and I can say that I am starting to get used to this city. Things and people are not so different comparing to Finland so the culture shock hasn´t been too big. I have been quite busy with my studies. A couple of days ago we had a third year student exhibition in our university. I made a new videowork for the exhibition. There is some stills from the video at the end of this message. I had to also make my webpage for this exhibition, which was very good thing to get over with. I have also thought a lot of my artist statement and I think I have made some progress with that subject.

I have used most of my freetime in exploring the  city. Thing that got much easier after I got myself a bike couple of weeks ago. I have also seen some good exhibitions and gigs and meet some interesting people.

songs_still_4 Songs_still songs_still_2

Floating in Friesland.

In middle of August 2015 I arrived to the country of windmills, bikes and the home of Heineken. During the very first train ride from Amsterdam Schiphol to Leeuwarden I saw more sheep and cows than possible to imagine, as well as bikes and bikeways. Now afterwards thinking of the whole exchange period, it went by extremely fast and was definitely an experience worth having.

Leeuwarden skyline.
Leeuwarden skyline.

In TAMK I study film and television and in the Netherlands I went to an internationally orientated school called Stenden University of Applied Sciences, taking courses from business school, and media and entertainment management. About Stenden I have very mixed feelings. I learned so much about branding, marketing and management, and developed my own professional identity. In the same time, however, I never got quite used to their educational system, which was highly focused on group discussions and group assignments. During my stay there I learned that sometimes instead of studying and knowledge you have, it is more important to be social and talkative, and choose your group assignment members carefully. Nevertheless, going on exchange and selecting Stenden and these particular courses has been one of the best decisions I have ever made career wise.

An ICT company KESH, for which we designed a marketing communications plan.
An ICT company KESH, for which we designed a marketing communications plan.

What comes to Leeuwarden and the Netherlands, I immediately fell in love with them. Settling down in the Netherlands was not hard. Quite opposite, it was actually very easy. Everything was organized rather well, even though there were some difficulties, such as being unable to pay with any of my bankcards (even MasterCard) in stores. Therefore, opening a local bank account was more or less a necessity in the beginning.

The city center in August.
The city center in August.
Leeuwarden in August.
Canals in August.
Canals in Leeuwarden.
Beautiful canals.
Getting to know Leeuwarden in a boat tour.
Getting to know the city in a boat tour.
Canals in Leeuwarden.
View in the canals.
De Oldehove.
De Oldehove.
Autumn in Leeuwarden.
Autumn in Leeuwarden.
Canal in January.
In January.

Comparing the Netherlands and Finland, they are actually very much the same. They are both very egalitarian in nature, strive for consensus in decision-making and do not show off too much to mention some similar characteristics. On the other hand, some things are very different in Netherlands. Most notably people, oh my gosh, they were so tall compared to everybody I know back in Finland. Even the exchange coordinator in Stenden was nearly two meters tall. Obviously, as time went by I got to know many Dutch who were not that tall. Even though most of them were.

Oldehove during Leip! Festival.
Oldehove during Leip! Festival.
Halloween Night.
Halloween Night.
Gym building with Stenden and NHL in the background.
Gym building with Stenden and NHL in the background.
Student dorms next to Stenden.
Student dorms next to Stenden.
My room in a shared flat.
My room in a shared flat.
The view from my room.
The view from my room.

About Heineken… I knew it was Dutch, but I had no clue how big it was over there! Heineken Experience in Amsterdam was definitely worth visiting and it blew my mind. I have never been into beer, but I have to admit Heineken got into me eventually. Of course, amongst students it was considered rather ‘posh beer’, since it costs almost one euro a bottle…

Heineken Experience.
Heineken Experience.
The best sushi in the world.
The best sushi in the world.

The best part of the whole experience was, however, travelling and all the people I met. I could not be more happy and grateful for making friends with such amazing people from all over the world, as well as meeting and catching up with dear, old friends who I had not seen in years. I travelled inside the Netherlands, enjoying Amsterdam and Maastricht the most. In addition I got to spend an amazing weekend full of sports in Hamburg, Germany with athletics junior athletes of Tampereen Pyrintö that I used to coach; I travelled to Glasgow in Scotland to visit my friends and (ex) fellow students from University of Glasgow; and we took part in an exchange student trip taking a night bus to Prague in Czech Republic and drank cheap beer till the dawn.

In Amsterdam with exchange students.
In Amsterdam with exchange students.
Found another Finnish.
Found another Finn.
Sports weekend in Hamburg.
Sports weekend in Hamburg.
Prague trip.
Prague trip.

What more can I say? Take a leap of faith and go on foreign exchange!

It won’t let you down!