Tag Archives: Spain

Spring in Madrid

I did my exchange studies in the capital city of Spain aka Madrid! I have to say that I fell in love with the city, culture and the people there. My favourite thing was definitely getting to speak Spanish and enjoying the nice weather and sun.

The university I attended was Universidad Fransisco de Vitoria, a private university located a little bit outside of Madrid’s center. I really liked the university and the campus. There was a lot of activities offered (trips, buddy program, choir, sports, acting workshop etc.) and the campus area was nice.  Also, the location was not a problem since there was a shuttle bus from and to the city center that took only 15 minutes. I think that studying was fairly similar to what I was used to at TAMK. The class sizes were small and the amount of group works and homework was the same in my opinion.

Madrid has a lot of activities and events all the time, so there was no way to get bored! Even just strolling around in the different neighborhoods was so nice. I usually did that or something fun with my friends or went to the gym or dance classes.

     

I also had time to travel and see new places in Spain! Madrid is very well connected everywhere, so it was easy to just choose a place and go. There are a lot of smaller historical places 0,5 – 2 hours away like Toledo and El Escorial which I really recommend. But also more exotic places like Morocco are closer than you would think!

I would definitely recommend doing an exchange no matter what the place. From my experience Madrid is a perfect place if you want to learn Spanish, have a lot of activities to do and enjoy people around you!

Madrid

My exchange at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid started on the 28th of January 2020. This was a little after the start of the Coronavirus situation in China. Back then I didn’t really think much of the virus and really looked forward to my exchange. I finished my internship on the 24th and was already in Madrid on the 26th, ready and eager to start school and meet new people.

On my first week, I noticed there weren’t many exchange students in my courses, they were mainly Spanish and degree students. I, however, did meet another exchange student who helped me a lot. I managed to change some courses which I really wasn’t interested in. On the second week and with my new courses, I started to meet a lot of new people from all around the world. Classes were fun but quite hard, the teachers expect a lot from the students and ask a lot of questions during classes. A lot of mathematics is used here in every subject.

Not everything was about school and classes though. We started hanging out a lot in a group of exchange students. We went out to parties and did sports together and went hiking. I became close friends with a bunch of new people. We even got the chance to go watch football at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which was a great experience.

A little over a month and a half after my exchange started, the situation with the Coronavirus was starting to get really bad in Europe. For a week I really thought about it but finally decided it was time to come back to Finland and study online from here. I am still currently enrolled in UAM and hopefully manage to get some credits from there since I am looking forward to graduating in the summer here. It is a pity this had to happen now but that’s what happens sometimes. I enjoyed my month and a half in Madrid and for sure will go back there one day and will definitely meet up with the friends I made there.

Experience Madrid’s full potential

I am going to share my Madrid experience with a few tips and tricks on how to experience Madrid’s full potential as an exchange student!

Apartment hunting is the very first thing exchange student needs to tackle when moving and there are many options depending on what kind of traveller you are and what are your criteria for housing. Spanish skills are going to take you a long way in this process and if your language skills are not the best, you might consider using housing middleman such as Spot-a-home. I booked my apartment through their services and everything went smoothly! If you prefer practice your Spanish skills idealista is full of rentals in shared and studio apartments! Either way, you must act fast. Good apartments are gone before you know it.


My apartment was on this very cozy street right in the city center. Perfect!

Now that the housing is all settled it is time to get to know the city more. Best possible way to meet new people, get information and help is Citylife Madrid. They organize a lot of events that include culture, food events and parties all for free or included on their Citylife Madrid pass. Events alone are worth joining because they are a great way to get to know the city and people. First week there I also got a lot of useful info by stopping by their office and they helped me to book an appointment where I got my metro pass.

When introduced to the city a little bit, it is time to get familiar with the city on your own terms. What I enjoyed the most was a day of shopping in endless supply of second hand and vintage stores and long lunch in some outside seated cafe. To find out unique spots and activities that interest you follow Naked Madrid for detailed tips about all that Madrid has to offer!

With a combination of just finding places, people and things to do on my own and good recommendations I got to experience Madrid’s full potential in a short period of time. Hopefully my short tips help you to experience Madrid as a tourist or as an exchange student.

Saludos desde España

I started my third year of studies by doing my exchange in Madrid. I started the semester in the beginning of September and now four months later it is my time to return to Finland. My stay in Madrid has been mostly studying, doing sports and meeting new people. I had six courses in total and some of the courses were a bit challenging, so I was studying a lot. In TAMK I am used to have quite a lot of tasks in groups but during my exchange we barely had assignments in groups. It was a nice chance, but also it was more work for each student. Most of the courses had mid-term exams, so during one course we could have three mid-term exams and then at the end of the course a final exam.

Rey Juan Carlos University

Studying in Finland or in Spain is not that different but I noticed some differences too. For example, an exchange student without a knowledge of Spanish might have some problems living in Spain. Most people I met working in the customer service in Madrid did not speak English. Some of the teachers and the staff of the university did not speak English, exception of course the teachers that teaches the courses in English. In Finland I think the knowledge of English is better, if you go to the supermarket and speak English to the staff, they will understand you and probably will be able to answer you in English. And in TAMK nearly all of the staff has a good level of English.

My schedule included lectures from Monday till Friday, mostly from eight to 12 or 14. My apartment was not really close to the university, so I needed to get there by bus and a metro. The easiest way going around the city is going by metro and the public transportation in Madrid is good and also cheap. On my free time I was either going around the city, going to the gym, but mostly studying. I saw many nice places in Madrid, tried nice restaurants, went to watch football in the stadium and went around the beautiful streets and parks. Something I founded really nice in Spain was the weather. The first couple months it was over 20 degrees, nearly 30 and the last months it was from 5 to 15 degrees. The nice thing was that it didn’t rain much, and it was not as dark as in Finland, actually it was sunny almost every day.

All in all, my stay in Madrid went well and I can finish my exchange with some new experiences and good memories.

Saludos,

Jonna

 

Internship in Fuengirola

I have been doing my internship in Fuengirola, Spain for almost 5 months now. Fuengirola is a small tourist town not far away from Malaga (about 35km). It is located on the south coast and belongs to the region of Andalucia. It’s a very popular tourist attraction especially among Finnish and British people.

My workplace is a Finnish company named Barona, so most of my time I spend surrounded by Finnish people. The local working culture seems extremely relaxed. Most of the cafeterias are open from 10am to 1pm after which they have ‘Siesta’ for about 2-3 hours and then they open up again around 4-5pm.

I spend most of my free time with my co-workers or at the gym. I have made some great friends here with whom I have been visiting some of the most beautiful places in Spain.  There are still many places that I haven’t visited and would like to see, but fortunately I have another 5 months in Madrid starting January, so I will have time for that later.

 

Ronda
Sierra Nevada
Alhambra Castle, Granada
Mijas Pueblo

 

Sincerely,

Donat Viktorov

 

All the pictures above are owned by me.

Practicing in Torremolinos

Greetings from Spain. I have been here now over two months and I have only couple of weeks left. It’s crazy, time flies. When I arrived, I stayed two nights in a local hostel. The hostel wasn’t great experience. Somebody example stole my hygienic materials. Soon as I started my practice and luckily got my own apartment. I booked it online from Finnish owner. So communicating is easy when I can do it in my home language. The apartment is small but quite cheap and near a hospital, where I do my practice.

PaellaCaminito Del Rey oli upea

The hospital is same than where Tomas doing his practice. So I try to avoid telling all the same things. I have similarly been two weeks in a one place. I have done only morning shifts because I like to do them more. I have been in emergency, intensive care unit, operation theatre and surgical ward. The hospital is private so there is both of tourists and local people who has a insurance. So many of nurses speak a good English or at least little. Here is many differences compared to Finnish working culture. Workers have to buy and wash their own working clothes by themselves. So I have to do like that too. I don’t like this, I have example seen when somebody already has clothes on train. Some nurse said that a public one things are different because it’s not a business. Here in many unit still write things down but it’s chancing and in emergency works already by electric. I think that here is less workers in one unit and example in operation theatre isn’t at all anesthesia nurse like we have. Only a doctor who doesn’t always be on the spot. One time one patient almost woke up in middle of the operation. I know it sounds crazy.

Even the working here is little bit different than in Finland I have learned much about things like cannulation and taking a blood test and electrocardiogram. I have also seen many interesting treatment especially in operation theatre. There was a lot of plastic surgery, too. I didn’t like the idea of it even it was interesting otherwise. On summary I respect even more a Finnish healthcare than before. Our quality and standards of care are really high.
Kirurgisen osaston lääkkeitä. Kanslia on avoin ja periaatteessa kenellä vaan on mahdollisuus päästä käsiksi lääkkeisiin.

In my free time I spend time with my new friends and explore in a new places. I have example visited in Marbella, El Chorro, Gibraltar and Portugal. And next week I have purpose to go Africa with ferry. Besides, I spend a lot of time a local crossfit gym. There is so nicely people and training here is so much cheaper than Finland. I have also got visitors from Finland. My friends were here in September and my mom is here right now. The weather is here truly perfect. Even I miss many things in Finland, the weather isn’t include. I hope that I can bring the sunny with me when I come back to Finland.
Katukuva Fuengirolasta
-Jessi

Warm and beautiful Fuengirola

I moved to Fuengirola one week before the practice started. I wanted to get familiar with my new hometown. Now I have been here two months and I have one month left.

 

This far I have studied English in Aurinkorannikon seurakunta and gone to walk on my free time every evening. I have also planned some trips to other cities with my husband and daughter whose have visited in Spain. We have visit in Malaga, in Marbella and in Benalmadena.

My basic work day usually consists daycare for children. My working days are from Monday to Friday, when children daycare is open.  I have every weekend free and of course every evening, so I have quite much spare time. And because I’m in Spain I go very often to the beach and relax there.  Like I mentioned earlier I have been walking a lot, according my iphone watch I have walked about 600 kilometers so far.

I have enjoyed my time here. This life is so much different than in Finland. In summer time here is always warm and sunny and rarely rain. Here is very good food, friendly people and always something to do. Here is a beautiful landscape, nice sights and a wonderful sea.

Here is everything very cheap.  One-way bus trip was only 1,15€ in city. Food costs almost half than it does in Finland. Near by my apartment are lots of different restaurants. My favorite Spanish dish is tapas.

 

I hope that my last month will be as wonderful than first part of my trip. There are so much to see and experience.

 

Greetings from Costa del Sol.

 

I had been here over a month, before I figured out that most of the people, I have met has been Finnish. I was surprised about that fact. Fuengirola is far away and totally in the other side of Europe than Finland, even so its very easy to live here with almost only using Finnish. Here you can visit a Finnish doctor, food market, hair dresser, masseur, bar, dentist and of course Finnish church. It is possible to live here in a Finnish bubble with sun shining on it. And amazingly many, who has moved here, choose this kind of life. I met a couple that has lived here 25 years and don’t speak or even want to learn Spanish language. Local people think Finns as a bit mentally cold because they don’t take contact. And its difficult to take contact if don’t have a common language. However, Finns are accepted here because of the money they bring along. Of course, here is also Finns that are interested to integrate into Spanish culture and learn language. I was surprised because I know what is demanded about foreigners who wants to move Finland. There is a saying “maassa maan tavalla”, which means that you must assume the local habits and learn Finnish language if you want to live there. I don’t want to accuse anyone, but I honestly think that it would be more fun and multifaceted live if taken some of the local culture as a part of your own life.

Along with integration I have worked with loneliness and homelessness within my placement. Both issues appear my daily work here. Here are about thirty Finnish with no permanent place to live. They sleep outside, beg money and spend time in parks. We have met them, talk with them and helped them if possible. Often, they are pleased when you give them a moment and listen their story. Most of the people just walk past them with turning their look away.

Loneliness is seen within old people who has become a widow recently. They wheel sadness, tiredness and need someone to be with. There is a high risk that they are not able to get out from their apartment if not necessary. Our small cafeteria in the centre is great place for them to meet other people or even find a new friend. And we try to visit those who can’t reach the café right now.

My eating habits has become totally different here. During Spanish workdays its normal to grab a sandwich etc. after midday and another snack after work. Bigger meal is used to eat after sunset. In Finland I used to eat much more. Warm lunch at school or work and another one at home. Sometimes third meal at evening if needed. I would estimate that I eat less than half here compared to Finland. It must be the body heating due to cold that spends energy up north. Big change for body but it seems to be happy with it.

For me spare time is easy to spend here. From our apartment its only 200 meters to the seashore of Mediterranean and almost all services are as far. I enjoy meeting new people here. They are social and very friendly. Back in Finland I used to watch ice hockey and soccer when possible, but surprisingly here I can do that much more because of the Finnish restaurants and sport channels. I really didn’t expect that. And can you mention a better place to watch live football than Spain? And of course, at the end I must mention the sun. Its always present here, and biggest reason for Finnish people to move here. Maybe for me also.

Hot Torremolinos- Málaga

I arrived to Málaga for a couple of days before the practical training. I was located for those days at a hotel near the city of Málaga. The first thing to notice when I arrived, was the hot and humid climate.  I had to change my long trousers for shorts.

I visited the Old Town which was flocked with tourist. Moving in the tiny streets of the Old Town was slow. But the architecture of the buildings, along with their history dating back to the middle age made it worthy. The food is good and affordable. There are many bars and restaurants which are usually full. The locals also go out for a drink or two.

Figure 1 Photo from Málaga shopping street

There are many small shops around the centre of Torremolinos and you can find almost anything you want, also there are countless amounts of Chinese shops which sells from daily groceries to decorative objects. There shops are usually packed and full of items, with very narrow aisle.

I moved to Torremolinos the day before the practice started. I rented an apartment via online, from the centre of Torremolinos. The apartment was nice and cozy, unfortunately the very first night I heard a banging next door, and later an alarm set off. So, I had to call the police because of an attempted burglary, later I got informed that the house which was embargoed was already empty and probably the previous owners were trying to occupy the house.

Starting the practice

I went to a meeting with the head nurse from the Clinic I was going to do the practices. The head nurse told me that I should buy a nursing uniform. This was different than in Finland where students also use clothing given by the employee, because of sanitary rules. There was an epidemic outbreak weeks before I arrived and there were still cases of Listeria coming out in Andalucía and I was worried I had to wash my own clothing.

One-way bus trip was 1,55€, I went a week paying the single ticket. Then I bought a monthly ticket for the bus. The bus stopped every 20 minutes and took about 10 minutes to get nearby the clinic.  I had always my own lunch or dinner, and there was a store nearby open, if groceries were needed.

Figure 2 The uniform was inexpensive, bought it in a nearby Chinese shop.

I started my week with evening shifts, the first shift was nice, and I could see how the nurses interact with the patients and what kind of patients there is to take care of.  The interaction with the patients is warm and natural, although there are sometimes language barriers between the nurses and patients, but the patients get their treatment.  I paid attention to broad beds and small narrow passages, turning the beds in those passages needed skill. Also, the rooms were spacious and although there were usually two beds, only one bed was in use.  This was surely for the privacy of the patients.

The medication is given by room number, not by name. That can create confusion if there are two patients in the same room, but I suppose there is a good practice for that.   I used to have hand disinfectant in every room in my workplace, but I only have seen bottles of alcohol to be putted on gauzes., also the gauntlets must be taken from the office. For position changes there are no sliding linen, so we grabbed the patients, which is the way I learnt not to do it.

The nurses have given me the chance of putting IV cannulation, preparing medication and checking them. Two of four cannulations went well, although I couldn’t avoid blood spilling to the floor and patients’ bed. I learned much about IV cannulation with the nurse Bea.

I was supposed to do geriatric practice, but there is no geriatric ward on the hospital, the head nurse told me I was going to rotate the whole hospital from the inpatient ward, to surgery and urgencies. The inpatient ward was mainly patients going to a programmed operation, so it was mainly a surgery ward, the surgeries varied from beauty surgeries to cardiovascular surgeries. The age of the patients also varied from infants to elderly.  There were some patients who were brought by urgencies unit to take more evaluation on their condition.

The work on the ward was sometimes hectic, and to add some thrill, the doctors wrote all the procedures and care instruction with the medication by hand. We had a couple of moments where we couldn’t understand what the doctor had wrote. The nurses also wrote by hand all the medication that was given that day, there were no computers.  The third day I was giving independently IV medication to the patients.  The blood pressure was taken manually, because the electric one was broken, also the manual blood pressure was fixed but it didn’t fill well.  They told me that the situation in private hospitals like I was doing my practice was worse than in public hospital where for example alcohol hand gel was part of good aseptic procedures, but in the inpatients ward where I was there was no alcohol gel.

 

Paperwork

I received a month before the arrival the information for my practices. The University demands you to enroll yourself on the courses, and instructions were given. The first process was called the pre-enrollment where you selected the courses you do in the university, they sent ID and password for an incoming students’ website.

I went to the campus three times to take care of the enrollment, the third time I booked an appointment with the tutor to get the papers signed and enrollment happen. The area of the campus is around three metro stops, with wide desert areas

In the Clinic I wasn’t given a shift timetable but was instructed to come one week evening shifts and another week mornings.


Free time

The free time I spend outdoors walking with the locals and going to bars and meeting new people. The weather is hot and you can easily go on t-shirts in the night.

Figure 3 Me at the local gay club, Parthenon.

 

Hola from Madrid!

Hola!

Time has gone flying here in Madrid. I came here with two of my finnish friends also from TAMK and I’ve got so many new ones in here. The studying here is somewhat similar as in Finland. However, here it is not mandatory to attend classes. One of our teachers even said that he doesn’t want to wake up as early as we have classes, so we may as well skip it.

Even though the classes aren’t mandatory, it doesn’t mean that here wouldn’t be any work to be done. I mean, almost in all of our classes we have group works. Usually I do enjoy group works, since I get along with different people very well. However in Spain, the Spanish and Finnish way of doing school works are really different. Also, the language is a problem. There are not many Spanish people in our school that would speak English all that well. So you kind of have to learn to understand Spanglish.

We do have similar school tasks as in Finland. For example in addition to group works we also have to write essays in almost every class. Although I have to say that in here it doesn’t really matter what you write in your essay as long as it has lots of pictures.

Spanish people have siesta. That means that between 12 and 16 there is no hope for finding anything to do. Most of the stores are closed and most of the people are at home. It the evening however the city comes to light and everyone comes to hang out together. Despite the siesta In Madrid here is also really nice things to do and see. Like tasting all sorts of different tapas and experiencing the culture. Like visiting the royal palace for example.

Although I’ve had a nice time here, I sometimes miss the fact how everything works in Finland. Everything and everyone is on time. You don’t have to prepare for everything being late all the time. Also here is no concept of personal space and sometimes that can be a little bit overwhelming.

However I am enjoying my time in Madrid and adapting to the culture here.