“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world” – David Sedaris
One thing was sure to expect; better weather. And yes definitely it was better than in Finland!
Moving abroad and starting over in a new country is one of the most terrifying and gorgeous exhilarating adventures ever. (Even though it was already my third time doing that. Still every time it surprises me again)
When I heard about the opportunity to do an exchange abroad, I didn’t think twice. Mayor problem for me was; Which country will I apply to?!
I started my exchange period in august in my host university “Rey Juan Carlos” which was located in Vicalvaro. University was okay, literally okay, but that’s mostly all how I can describe it. I was studying in the university of Social Sciences and law (grado en turismo).
Luckily I got a change to mix subjects so I picked those subjects which were interesting. Mostly from tourism sector and rest of the subjects from marketing. I was slightly disappointed about the education system in Spain, even thought I knew it’s not as good as it in Finland. International students were mixed with the normal class, on the other hand it was nice to get to know with local students but on the another hand teachers changed the speaking language all the time to Spain, so it was quite hard to follow the lessons.
I lived in a neighborhood where I literally were “the only white girl in the town.” I lived in a flat with my Spanish roommate and It was great. I had a chance to increase my cross culture awareness really in an “inside” perspective.
I had a bit of a culture shock during my time in Spain, mostly it was because of the late dinner times, ( WHO EATS DINNER LATER THAN 10pm?) If I wanted to have a dinner at 5 or 6 0’clock there was only a few places open. People weren’t able to communicate in English. So it was necessary to start practicing my Spanish. During my time in Spain I travelled a lot and went to see all those heritage villages near by. with a student card you can travel as much as you want inside of the region, FOR FREE ! In a city like Madrid, I bet there will be always something to do to spend you spare time.
Here are some tips for you, if you’re thinking about going for Erasmus in Madrid:
Before your take-off, start learning Spanish! You definitely will need that!
Don’t rent a flat, even if it’s a bit difficult, there’s no doubt you won’t find one. It’s better to see first and then make a contract!
Take your winter jacket and woolen socks with you, at winter time heating systems in houses are not as good than in Finland.
BEWARE with your bags and phones, Sol is a heaven for the thieves at Christmas time when its crowded.
…. last but not least, make your intercultural competences tasks on time….
My journey in Madrid has gone to its end. It was an amazing experience to study in a city that is so lively and friendly. Gaining new friends and having new experiences made sure that the time in Madrid was totally worth it.
My studies consisted of human resource management, marketing management, national and international environment of firm and two tourism courses. The teachers were usually nice. One teacher must be the most interested person that I have ever met – and not in a good way. He was loco. One day he was being funny and making jokes with us and on the other day he was saying how much he hates us and can’t wait our classes are over. On the other hand university was easier than TAMK so luckily for me I passed the courses quite easily.
Most of my spare time I spent with my new friends, traveling around Spain and in Europe. There is not that many weekends that I spent in Madrid and when the school was over we went to road trip to the north for 11 days which was one of the best experiences. Other places where I visited was Malta, Morocco (Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat), Switzerland (Zurich, Luzern), France (Riviera cities), Portugal ( Lisbon, Porto) and Ibiza.
I came to Barcelona in the beginning of April when I got my internship here in a large international translation company. I’ll be staying here until the end of September so I’m a bit over half way through my stay in this gorgeous city.
As I mentioned I’m working in a translation company and I’m an intern in project management in one of the multicultural marketing teams. My daily tasks are mainly to help the team with different clients we have, so my days are filled with emails to find linguists for the needed jobs and paying them for their work and to check that the final translations are perfect for the clients. So far, I have enjoyed my internship and I have learned a lot.
The only thing I still find myself struggling with is the working hours. I work from 10 to 19 and as a Finn I would prefer to go in earlier to get out earlier too. Often, I end up feeling that I just spent the whole day at work and there’s really no time to do anything else, but I still need to try to get used to the Spanish way of living. Besides this I don’t really see many differences working in Finland and in Spain.
During my free time, which I mainly have on the weekends and bank holidays I tend to spend time with friends, going to the beach or just wandering around the city. Barcelona is a wonderful city because it has everything; the beach, the big city vibe and a lot to see and do! I have also done weekend trips to Montpellier in France and another one to Andorra. With the time I have left here, I hope to explore a bit more of Spain too.
I have been doing my practical training here in Marbella, Spain. And I just love it! Of course sometimes I have been frustrated and missing home but most of the times I have enjoyed my time here. The weather has been perfect and food is delicious so I would say: all good in Marbella.
Churros with chocolate
First I was in healthcare center and then I went to the hospital. In both places working habits has been quite different than in Finland. I think the biggest different is that everyone is in the same room. I mean everyone. There is a big room, like a small hall where is 8-12 tables were physiotherapist can do the treatment to the client. There is no curtains or walls so everyone can here everything. I think that is weird because in Finland it is very strict that you can not speak someones things to another. But no in Spain. For example if there was a baby everyone tried to entertain the baby. I think there is good and bad things that everyone is in the same room: clients made friends during their treatment period, but sometimes it is so noisy in the room that you can’t even here your own thoughts!
The healthcare center and my colleague.
When I am not in work I try to explore the area as much as I can. I have visited cities nearby such as in Estepona, Fuengirola and also Sevilla. I have also done some hiking because Marbella is surrounded big mountains and you can walk up to the highest point named La concha. It means a shell and it is 1200m high! The view is absolutely amazing and when there is no clouds you can see Africa. Amazing right?
Hello my beautiful friends from all over the world!
I’m Erika, a 21-year-old student nurse from Tampere. Currently I’m living in Madrid and fulfilling my dreams. As a future nurse I’m doing my practical training here in Spain. The training is held in the city of Madrid and of course – only in Spanish. These past weeks have been very intense. Before departure my Spanish level was B2 so I expect a huge change both in my nursing skills and in my Spanish.
My first placement took place in a health center in the neighborhood of Vallecas. My first day in health fulfilled every expectation I had – and much more. At 6 am I woke up and took the metro to Buenos Aires. I found the health centre easily with the help of Google Maps. But the problem is that I’m a typical Finn, so arrived 20 minutes early so I had to wait for the nurses at least 30 minutes.
Those 30 minutes felt like a lifetime because I was so nervous. At the same time, I felt excited to start my Erasmus but mostly I was terrified of meeting everyone. My worst fear was that my own tutor nurse, Diego, wouldn’t like me or we wouldn’t get along. So I waited, and soon I saw someone walking towards me. The first person who I met at the door was Manuela. She introduced me to Alejandra – one of the nurses in the health centre. Both of the girls were really nice. I got my ”bata” and I was shocked to get a” doctor’s jacket”. I was so amazed that I, a nursing student, could wear something as cool as that. In Finland they would never allow it: Those jackets are only for doctors. I think it’s nice that here everyone wears the same type of uniform. I’m so sick of the Finnish way of classifying everything and everyone to certain groups.
So the first thing Alejandra told me was to follow her to ”sacar sangre” which means taking blood samples. I had just changed my clothes and hadn’t even met my tutor nurse yet, and I was already asked to do something. I loved it! No one treated me like a foreign student, I was part of the team now. So I followed her and she showed me how to take blood samples from the veins of the arm. I felt terrified at first, because actually nurses in Finland don’t really do that: blood samples are taken by the laborants. We had practiced venepunctures at uni but I didn’t remember anything of it but I was ready to learn! Alejandra showed me the technique one by one and before I even realized I had taken the samples.
In the end of the practical training I was already taking blood samples independently. So much fun, right?
During the first week I realized the nurses in Spain and Finland in health centres do completely different things: In Spain the work consists of dealing with chronic patients, preventive work and helping either elderly or young people – at least in the health centre of Alcala de Guadaira. In Finland most of the time I evaluated the need of the treatment (for example if the patient had sudden chest paint) and dealt people with flu, pain or other symptoms they didn’t have before. MostIy the workday in my home country consisted of giving people influenza shots and taking Streptococcus smears.
One of the biggest surprises for me was to notice that no one in the health centre used an automatic machine to measure blood pressure. I’m happy that I actually practiced manual blood pressure measuring (more than most of my classmates) because I thought I’d never use this skill anywhere outside school property. In Finland it’s very rare to see someone using the old fashioned way. But anyway I was able to do it without any problems when I practiced a few times first. It was actually more fun to measure the blood pressure manually than with a machine.
Another silly difference I noticed in the daily life were the different measurements. During Diego’s consultation I tested the patient’s blood sugar many times but at first I couldn’t understand the results at all because in Spain the health care professional use. In Finland the ideal glucose levels are 4 to 7 mmol/L and after meal under 9 mmol/, if the patient has diabetes but here in Spain normally the goal is to keep the sugar under 150 mg/ml after a meal. Before meals the result of glucose test should be 70-145
The highlight of my practical training was without a doubt the paediatric nursing part. Me and Diego were working together with the specialized children’s doctor for couple of sessions. The kids came to the health centre for their monthly check up and I was able to vaccinate, measure and weight them – even the small babies. I mainly focused on small children from 28 days to 3 years old. I check the kid’s sight and reflexes like for example the Moro reflex and the walking reflex. Also it was very important to evaluate the movement and flexibility of the baby but also how tense the baby was. I love working with babies and I’d like study the profession of midwife one day.
I have lived in Madrid before, so my exchange is not the most typical one. I haven’t been doing many touristic thing anymore because I know the city and the culture pretty well already. My favorite things to do in Madrid are to have tinto de verano in Chueca, enjoy the amazing tortilla de patatas in lovely Malasaña and finish the day going out to Kapital. Also Madrid is a heaven on earth for shopaholics like me. There are stores EVERYWHERE. I mean, I bet there are at least 30 Zaras in the city center… Really bad situation for my budget.
When I was living in Madrid the first time I didn’t have enough money to travel. Last summer I worked my ass off to be able to enjoy this Erasmus to the fullest… So this time I’ve been focusing on traveling on my spare time. I have been to traveling around Morocco, since I found extremely cheap flight to fly there. They cost 19 euros in total! Can you believe that? I had the chance to go to Sahara desert and ride a camel, stroll around the Medina in Marrakesh and be amazed by the amazing blue village of Chefchaouen. This trip felt surreal…
After Morocco I went to celebrate Las Fallas to Valencia. ALUSINANTE!
I also traveled to Palma de Mallorca with a friend. We did a stand up paddle surfing course to the caves of Mallorca. It was absolutely breathtaking.
Of course I had to go to Andalusia while I’m here in Spain. I spent my Semana Santa watching Easter parades that lasted for hours and hours. I was traveling solo and spend my nights in different hostel. I met so many amazing people from all over the world both in Sevilla and in Cordoba. Finally me and a Canadian girl decided to continue our trip together. I might need to go and visit her in Canada next.. I wouldn’t travel to the South again during Easter because there were so many people, that at one point I couldn’t even enter to my hostel. But it was definitely worth the trouble.
Finally I did two separate trips to Portugal. First to Lisbon and later to Aveiro and Porto. If you haven’t been to Portugal yet, you should go there ASAP! Portugal is easy to reach from Spain. I can highly recommend the carpooling system called blabla.car which I took to go to Porto by myself. It’s safe and cheap. I don’t want to write more about my trips because I’m not talented enough to describe all the amazing experiences I gained during these visits. I can only encourage you to travel now, while you still have the time. Be brave and don’t be afraid to do things by yourself. LET’S GET LOST! NOW!
A week ago I came back to Finland from my amazing trip to Madrid. The past few months have been great. I have met lots of fun and interesting people and I really enjoyed Madrid and its beautiful neighborhoods. Most of the time in Madrid I hung out with my room mates because I was very lucky to have a really fun group of people living in my flat. We explored Madrid together and went hiking and did kinds of stuff.
One of the best travels was our road trip in December with three of my friends. We rented a car from Madrid and drove to Granada-Malaga-Gibraltar-Seville and back to Madrid.
A day trip to Cercedillas was a fun trip with my two dutch an one American friend. We hiked for 6 hours.
Studying in Madrid at Rey Juan Carlos University was more work than I expected. We did lots of group works and presentations and sometimes it felt that they took too much time. On the other hand I worked in groups with local people from Madrid and other Erasmus students so It was also fun to experience working in such international groups. All my classes were taught in English and I was pleasantly surprised how good English the teachers spoke. The university was 30 minutes metro ride away outside of the center of Madrid in a neighborhood called Vicálvaro. The campus was nice and small had two restaurants where we usually worked after the classes.
I think the main difference in studying there was the courses. At Madrid the courses were more practical and more focused in one subject like marketing or microeconomics. In TAMK our courses feel more like there are lots of subjects in one course and its harder to keep track what the studies are actually about. So I kind of preferred the way in Madrid because it felt that I learned a lot more.
I have been on my exchange in Madrid since the late August. Madrid is definitely a busy, lively city where the tapas culture is shining and people like going out. No matter what is the weather or day of the week, the main street Gran Vía is always packed and shops and pubs open until late.
My studies here have been both business and tourism courses. The tourism courses were completely independent studying and doing research, and we didn’t have any lessons. The business courses were more traditional, theoretical learning and going to classes.
Studying in Madrid compared to my home university TAMK is different. First of all, no teacher has an attendance list and they say it is up to us if we want to attend the lessons or not. It has no effect on the final grade, the only thing that matters is to study the theory and pass the exam. Teaching was very theoretical and mainly the teacher was talking and students listening. We rarely had any discussions in the class.
Anyway, there still was something that reminded me of TAMK very much, group works. For example on Commercial Management course we had to create our own product and make a sales plan for it. The other students had to vote for the best presentation but still one month later we don’t know who won. But it’s usual here that things happen on a great delay.
Especially in September and October, when school was not busy at all, I had a lot of time to travel around Spain. One of the best memories is when we hired a car with some other exchange students and drove down to Costa del Sol which is a 150 km long coast in the south of Spain. We visited several beautiful beaches and amazing cities on the way. I have also visited a couple of other countries as well, like the Netherlands and Switzerland. It is so nice that many of my friends are on their exchange as well and it’s easy to go to visit them!
The north is reasonably characterized as the most beautiful area of Spain. Going upwards from Madrid, whether in train or bus, the flat and dry scenery slowly turns into green and flourishing mountain view, taking your breath away. Not surprisingly, on the northern area you can find numerous natural and national parks full of amazing hiking routes with gorgeous views. Not to mention the gorgeous coastline, for nature lover this is a paradise. I am lucky to have been able to see the beauty of the world in many forms, but it keeps surprising me all the time with its variety.
First days in the beginning of September were warm, and overall the autumn has been nicely warm and sunny – nice change for the darkening and rainy Finland! But time is definitely flying, and now in November the climate has already been reminding that we are in the northern part of the country, mornings are chillier and mountains have got their beautiful snow layer on their tops. Anyhow, during daytime it gets warmer, and darkness is not going to reach the Finland level!
Enough of the nature, even I could show millions of pictures of it. Studying is the reason I am here experiencing all of this. The study routine here is something I have had to work on to get used to. To get the required points, I only need to complete three courses here. It sounds like nothing, but definitely it is not all about lying down and relaxing here. Courses hold a lot of information inside, and if you want to avoid ending up in front of a massive pile of work during your Christmas holidays it is better to keep reviewing the topics gone through on lectures at least every now and then! The content in one course can be significant and there is a lot to digest. However, I have not noticed any significant differences between the teaching styles here and in Finland. There are as many styles as there are teachers, and there are as many different kind of course contents as there are different institutions.
Anyway, due to the minimized amount of courses, a big part of the day is left for individual work and studying to work on the content – or some other activities. The nature around offers a chance for peaceful walks, each of them differentiating from each other. And if the surroundings of my own town are not enough anymore, the good transportation connections give the possibility to explore a bit more far too. In addition to independently organized trips, exchange organisations, such as AEGEE and ESN organize different kind of trips around and leave you out of planning and additional costs. Several kind of weekly and more specialized events, such as tapas nights or national holidays, offer also activities for the ones seeking something to do besides studying.
Uniting with your friends and getting into the culture is something I have enjoyed the most. By these experiences my way of viewing the world is a bit wider again, and if something, at least the language skills are improving day by day since English is something you hear only in the school!
Many experiences behind, hopefully a lot more to come!
I have spent now almost two months studying in Spain Barcelona. I have truly enjoyed my time here and this city, and now I can share a little something about this place with you!
Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and Catalan people are really proud of their heritage and they see themselves as Catalans, not Spanish. Catalans have their own language, traditions and culture. This is truly an important thing to know when living or traveling here. Catalan people usually speak also Spanish fluently but Catalan is their first choice of language, and locals really appreciate if you know even few words of it. So, here in Barcelona you get to know both Spanish and Catalan culture! On top of this, Barcelona is really international city with people all over the world living here. This helps if you are not that keen on learning Spanish. In most places you can survive with English too. I have been traveling also outside of Barcelona and there most people don’t speak English at all.
I feel like Barcelona is a perfect place to stay for Erasmus, because it is a city that truly has everything. It has lot of different areas and neighborhoods with different atmospheres, it has a sandy beach and ocean and mountains, it is not too expensive and of course the weather is perfect for escaping the Finnish winter! You can still spend the days outside wearing only a T shirt. I have spent my free time here hiking on mountains, checking different beaches, eating traditional Spanish tapas and exploring the big city with all it’s different opportunities.
My school Euncet is located 22 km outside of Barcelona in a city called Terrassa. I have to take the train to school three times a week, but the connections are really good and it only takes 40 minutes. Our school is a small private business school and I study marketing, digital laws and human resources management. The school here is really “school like” and teachers are strict about attendance and homework etc. Coming from Finland and especially from Proakatemia, it almost feels like going back to high school. Anyway the courses are interesting and I managed to get all my courses in English (not a sure thing in Spain..) so I am overall really happy with my studies here.
I am doing my exchange in Oviedo, which is a historical city in Northern Spain. So far I have really liked it here. The old part of town (next to which I live) is very beautiful and full of life. Especially since I arrived here just before San Mateo, the biggest party week of the year that has originally been established for the Saint of the city.
Oviedo is about the same size as Tampere, but because most of the people here live in the center area, it seems bigger. The town is surrounded by small mountains and I went hiking there last week. The view from the top was awesome and it was good exercise to climb up there as well.
I have made lots of friends during my first two weeks here. I mainly spent my time with local people, but also with other exchange students from the erasmus network. I also managed to find a room in a shared flat with locals and they are really nice guys and we get along very well.
My campus is located a couple of kilometers from my flat and it is a nice place where we also have good facilities for doing sports. The courses that I am taking are very similar to the ones we have at TAMK, so they include lots of groupwork and other practical ways of studying. Registering to the school was a bit hard because even though I knew some Spanish when I came here, it was hard to get all the official things sorted out because in here people (except some youngsters and couple of the professors) do not normally speak English at all, and because of that I have already learnt a lot of Spanish since I have to use it daily.
After a great start I am really looking forward for the rest of my stay in Spain.