A full year exchange in Southampton Solent University, UK, has been an amazing journey. I major game art in TAMK and I was looking for some more in-depth teaching in that area, so I found out Solent offers great courses taught by game art professionals, I truly recommend it!
As I took courses from both first year and second year to get as much practical experience as possible I had to work harder than I had used to in TAMK. I got lots of honest feedback and support from classmates who all were friendly and great to hang around, so even as practically the only exchange student in the class I didn’t feel out of place and it was great to work in such an inspiring environment. I gained new skills and leveled up in so many areas!
Marathon watching in the town center.
The town was invaded by 100 art zebras last summer!
Southampton itself is not much larger than Tampere, so I felt pretty comfortable living there. Most of my weekends I would work on school projects, but there was plenty of time to do fun stuff as well. We explored the town with my exchange friends and classmates after school and weekends; it has no beach but an active harbour, two large shopping centres, many pretty parks, Sprinkles (the best waffle & ice cream place!), and all kinds of events during weekends, like marathons, concerts, art exhibitions, street music and so on. If you wish to go shopping, go before midday, because places get pretty crowded after school/work, as if the whole town is out there! They also have four movie theaters there like Odeon IMAX or the school’s own Sonar theater which has an amazing quality of sound.
Southampton in full bloom in May.
I also visited London once or twice a month as my close relative lives in Northern London. For that reason I had already familiarised myself with the metropolis, and I find coaches, trains and the underground easy to use. There I attended a Halloween party held by their neighbours, visited the Winter Wonderland, National History museum and Science museum (with a robot exhibition), and attended London Comic Con and EGX Rezzed (game convention). Good times! This exchange adventure has given me courage, wisdom and power more than I could have imagined!
I was doing my exchange in Southampton Solent University, United Kingdom, the last semester (2016-2017). I took courses from both game art and graphic design, but mainly focusing in graphic design. The studies were a lot different when compared to the ones I had done in TAMK; I felt that the level of teaching was excellent in Solent University, both in game art and graphic design units. The tasks were more challenging yet I felt that I learned so much more although I was there only for a year. There were a lot of feedback sessions in small groups, which helped everyone to progress in the right direction with their tasks.
During my exchange most of my time was taken by school because of the amount of tasks and how much research you had to do for them, but on weekends I usually had a day or two to hang out with my new friends. I was also able to do couple trips while staying in the UK, for example in Oxford, Warwick Castle, Brighton and of course many many times in London. It only takes one and a half hour by train to London, and if you booked your tickets in advance you could get them pretty cheap!
There were peacocks in the Warwick castle, just wandering around among the visitors.
Brighton had beautiful beaches and of course Mr. Whippies!
Southampton was a nice place to study and it reminded me a lot of Tampere, where I’m currently studying in Finland. There were a lot of coffee shops and restaurants where to hang out with your friends, and my university had clubs for almost every hobby there is. The city wasn’t too big or small, and it had lots of beautiful parks which I wish we had here in Finland!
It’s been soon three months since I arrived back from my exchange semester in the city of Leeds, UK. I can say that it was one of the best experiences in my life. During that time I travelled more than ever before, met a bunch of fantastic people, and gathered tons of new impressions. I’ve been also struck by wanderlust, and since the end of exchange period I’ve already visited four different countries!
Regarding my studies… I can’t say that I learned a lot (at least in my main field of interest). I study film making and specialize on sound design, but unfortunately didn’t really gain any new knowledge in that area in Leeds Beckett University. But I did return with my own film, which I didn’t expect. Never could have I realized an experimental short film as a part of my studies back in Tampere. I had a wonderful tutor who was excited about the idea and helped me to find my style.
All exchange students were so keen on making new friends at the beginning of the exchange period that there was never lack of activity during spare time. Leeds is a very cool city for students. It has it all: pubs, clubs, music venues, festivals, cinemas… You name it. But I wanted to see more – through a travel company aimed for students, and also by our own, we maid numerous weekend trips to different places in England, from Brighton to Edinburgh.
I don’t know when will I be back in UK again (hopefully while it’s still a part of EU…), but I do know I already miss living in Leeds.
I came to London for two reasons, I wanted to work in a cocktail bar in the city which has the best bars in the world and secondly I wanted to visit those bars and see why they are the best.
Nine to five
I started work at the end of May in Bethnal Green, area in East London. The bar is called London Cocktail Club and it has eight venues all over the city. The venue I work in is the only one above ground and it has a terrace, which means I don’t have to rot the whole summer in a cellar bar without seeing the sun. We were also the only bar without air con, which meant lot of sweating during busy days. Luckily the those times are over, because now we have a cool breeze coming from the brand new air con -machine.
For the customers the bar is kind kind of a party place, like the company’s motto says: “… a bartenders paradise! A bar that parties like the best of them, and mixes the worlds greatest drinks to perfection. A place where you can dance on the tables whilst singing to AC/DC, sipping on the perfect dry Martini!” And it gets crazy during the weekends, customers are literally dancing on tables and everyone is having fun, including the staff.
But as we work there, we can’t just party all the time, we also work and train ourselves to be better. Lots of prepping and cleaning to do also, I’ve had to juice lemons, limes, grapefruits, make sugar syrup, pre-batch liquors, wash glasses by hand (we don’t have a dish washer) and break down stations after closing time. So basically just normal bar work, what I’ve used to do. But I have also learned a lot new things and skills during my time here.
For example I’ve had to learn a completely new way of pouring, free pouring, which means you can’t use a jigger and you have to count the amounts in your head while you make the drinks. That took a lot of practice and I still have to practice it daily, but I’ve become quite good at it now. I also had to memorize the whole menu and specs for the cocktails, which includes about 70 different drinks. That took me couple of weeks before I passed the spec test and pour test, so I could start bartending.
We also do training with the whole company on Thursdays, the subjects vary from different spirits to opening your own bar, so they have been very interesting and educational.
At the beginning, when I had more spare time, I spent a lot of time seeing things and going to places. Because I live kind of in the middle of the city, it’s not too far to walk anywhere, so I like to do it a lot, which is weird according to my work mates, even though the buses and tube are very easy to use as well.
I’ve visited many museums, like Tate modern and British museum, which is five minute walk away from my flat. My goal is to see everything in the British Museum before I leave, don’t know if I have time to finish that though. Another hobby of mine has been walking around looking for street art, especially Banksy’s.
Otherwise I have been kind of a bad tourist, because I have been here for almost three months and I still haven’t gone to see the Big Ben, and it took me almost two months before I even saw Thames.
My touristic sight seeing has been more of going to the bars which I’ve read a lot online and heard so much about, like Dandelyan, the top-3 bar in the world, The Gibson, bar that serves the weirdest looking cocktails what I’ve seen, and my personal favourite: Happiness Forgets, a small cellar bar with very good atmosphere and minimalistic cocktails.
I’ve also spent time with my work mates, we’ve been out couple of times together, seen movies and just hanged around, we even went to a festival in Victoria Park with everyone in the company.
On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot of my spare time at home watching Netflix and doing chores like laundry and washing dishes, because nowdays I work much more than in the beginning so it’s nice to relax and do nothing during the days off.
Differences to Finland
I see a lot of same in the working culture over here that we have in Finland. The British people like punctuality and precision like we do in Finland. The wages are about the same in both countries.
The biggest differences what I see is the customer service, because it is more personal in here, it is the most important thing what you have to do, little bit of small talk, making guests feel comfortable etc. Here it’s been taken to an another level compared to Finland. And that is one of the thing what I came here to learn. Partly customer service is on that level here is probably because of the general culture, like the small talk, and partly because some of the restaurants and bars have a service charge added to the bill, which goes directly to the staff, and if you don’t serve guests well, they don’t want to pay it. But still there is the certain something that makes you feel comfortable when you walk in to a venue with good service.
Here the alcohol industry is very close to you when you work here, there’s lot of different events, competitions, exhibitions and lot of leg work by brand ambassadors coming to showcase their products to you. And that brings you closer to professionals and industry leaders, and gives you more possibilities to advance in your career.
But all in all bar industry is pretty much the same everywhere and there is similar working cultures around the world and at the same time two bars on the same street might have totally different ways of working and doing things compared to each other.
Greetings from Manchester, England! Yes thats right. A British man from Finland has come home on exchange.
I write this post after the awful events which occurred a few days ago in Manchester, therefore I am feeling very patriotic right now. Mancunians are flooding the streets getting a bee tattoo to show solidarity and to show that we have all come together. The bee is a worker bee and is a symbol of the city’s hard-working past, during the Industrial Revolution. It’s times like these I am so glad that I came back to this wonderful city and I am very proud to call myself a Mancunian still, after losing it somewhat whilst being away in Finland.
Moving to a more positive note, my time here has been wonderful. My exchange has probably been quite different to most considering this is my hometown. I think it is fair to say I did miss out on a lot of the experiences others will have. My flight into Manchester was my standard yearly flight coming home for Christmas. Except this time I wasn’t coming back..for awhile. I didn’t actually tell my friends back here in England I was coming back for Christmas, but after New Year. This lead to a delightful surprise visit from me during the traditional Christmas Eve drinks.
After some stressful organising I managed to get my modules in check. Things took a long while before getting everything sorted (others had the same problem) which is something I warn others about before applying here, although it was worth it, I swear. The University is Salford, I probably should mention that.. After confirming my modules, I was ecstatic to announce that my entire studies would be based at Media City UK. Home of the huge and most popular TV stations BBC and ITV. The modules I picked were scriptwriting, editing and TV drama. TV drama was the main module which I wanted to pick so I was delighted that it was still available.
Finding things to do was much easier than what others may experience here. I have a big group of friends here already, however I did my best to mingle with the other exchange students. My home was about an hour and a half away from the University on the bus, an hour away from student accommodation’s. It was hard to keep in touch with everyone whilst I was there so my biggest advice would be to live as close as possible to the campus and its people. This way there would be no way in missing out on activities and things like that (I don’t mean drinking I promise.) One thing I did not miss about being in Finland were shop prices! It was nice to be back in a country where I could pick up a broccoli for 45p! I also enjoyed being able to chat to shop workers etc more easily rather than in Finland because of no language barriers. I don’t speak Finnish so I don’t fully know whether conversations are had like this, but I certainly enjoyed asking the shop worker whether hes “alright?!” and whether he watched “the game” last night.
Being in Manchester I went to watch Manchester City play several times, went to wrestling shows and took part in any social activities I could do. I got to say goodbye to a hero and meet two new heroes. Not all heroes wear capes..they wear moustaches.
Being at this university has been an amazing experience. It is certainly something I will be referring to for a long time in my life. The classes have not been anything special, but I have enjoyed them all the same. The workload has certainly been different compared to TAMK. Classes have been much shorter. 3 hours Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. However they expect you to do a lot of work outside of these times. 90% of my work has been projects on my own, which is something I am not used to recently in TAMK. My original understanding was that TV drama would be a module where you create a number of different pieces in a big team together. It was actually a module designed for me to be the producer of a film and produce a 5 minute short film. The workload was then increased when I was informed I would be directing another piece also. Getting a crew together with a cameraman, actors, director and sound is probably one of the most stressful things I’ll ever do in my school life.
It was difficult getting involved in the majority of the classes as I was the only exchange person in them. I did enjoy however pretending to be the greatest Mancunian of all time.. it didn’t last long. Scriptwriting however was a completely different ball game. Every class we read out loud each others scripts in a big semi circle. Being British helped me out a lot here considering English is my mother tongue, however I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for a foreign exchange person. This was by far my favourite module as I thought the teaching was fantastic and it was so refreshing to see someone care so much about your work.
My conclusion about the country? Come to England before it’s too late, stop the Brexit!
My conclusion about the city? Manchester, I love you.
My studies at Salford University have been going well so far and there is still almost a month left of my stay, 2 weeks of school and 2 weeks of free time. I’ve been enjoying it a lot!
The structure of my studies at Salford University differ quite a lot from what I’ve been used to in TAMK. I have lectures on Monday and Tuesday and seminars on Thursday and Friday. On every day I have school it doesn’t last more than a couple of hours. I managed to pick the Performance module so I have piano lessons and improvisation group lessons as well.
The content of the courses is definitely more creativity based than in TAMK. This is an inspiring approach and I enjoy it but on the other hand it means that the studies are less practical and the things taught might not be transferable to professional environment. Comparing the two schools I would say that TAMK gives you more actual knowledge while Salford is more inspiring and encourages the students to find their own way of doing their stuff.
As mentioned, the days at University aren’t long at all. This leads to tremendous amount of free time. My room isn’t the most spacious one and in the house there is only a small living room for 5 people so I might get insane if I hang out in there all the time. Luckily, the University is right next to my place. The library is one of my most visited places: there I can relax and read in a silent environment. The school has practice rooms for instrumentalist so I’ve been rehearsing for my piano assignments there. I’ve made friend with the other Erasmus students and we see each other one in a while. But I have turned down their invitations to join them for night clubbing. I just feel too old for it.
Here are some pictures that I took while exploring the UK:
It’s been while that last writing in here. The time was gone really quickly!
So couple weeks ago i ended my first placement at what was my medical/surgical placement. Mostly i was working the ward C6 what is internal disease ward but couple my mentor also arrange to me observation to endoscopy unit, epilepsy unit and day with specialist nurse who arrange discharged to other hospital, care home or home. Actually i met one Finnish Neuropsychologist who working in epilepsy unit!
Last week i stared my community nursing placement and was in rheumatology unit. The unit has a pair of doctors, five nurses and a secretary. Patients with different rheumatic diseases are in the unit and every day. On a basic day, the unit was administered rheumatoid patients in drug therapy, life style (eating, exercise, etc.) and given the medications the patient needed. Generally, the medicines are administered intravenously, so I was usually only tracking the treatments. Here, a nurse student can not get cannulated or do IV treatments until after graduation and have been at work for a while and received extra training. Also i was observation Doctors clinic what they do in there.
This week i was working with Glamorgan Community Resource Service Team (VCRS) who keep base in the Barry Hospital. Team idea is produce services that can help people avoid hospital admissions or get them back into the community after a hospital stay.
Team is new and teams include to nurses, the team includes physiotherapists, nutritionists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech therapists and care staff. The team was founded in 2014 and is second in the Wales. Mostly i was worked with nurses but i also I acquainted with the work of occupational therapists and nutritionists. Normally, there were about 2-3 meetings per day in which the team mapped the client’s needs so that the client could live as long as possible at home. That was very interesting week because in Finland we don’t have teams like that and i got change observation life in community.
During these weeks I have also gained insight into how the nurse’s work and education differ from the nurse in Finland. For example, nursing training lasts for three years, when they qualification to the “staff nurse” then usually worked for at least two years in the ward, after which it is possible to specialize in a particular area (eg internal diseases, mental health, etc). Another thing that is different is the pay. The nurse’s salary rises every year for seven years when they are senior nurses.
One part of how I’m familiar with local culture and life is rugby. Wales is a proud rugby country. I found myself here a team named Llanishen Rugby football club. Llanishen is the district of Cardiff. In fact, the team wanted to make me a story on their website because I was the first Finnish player in their team. (link: http://llanishen.rfc.wales/web/newsitem.aspx?n=dc32fb76-9515-4a4b-b2e3-6fd497640a3f) The season ends next week here. Except to me, because the Finnish rugby season begins very shortly. I was able to play three games during the spring and I’m very grateful for that. Anyone who has ever said that sport is a common language is absolutely right on this issue!
Next week i start my last part of Community nursing placement in district nursing. It’s really great to see what it is like here because I’ve worked in Finland myself district nurse.
It’s starting to feel odd that I lived in Leeds for five months but it all seems already so distant. Maybe it’s the Spring Sun and the green fields receiving some saturation causing these Leeds flashbacks as the weather is now almost identical to how it was most of the time in Leeds.
Speaking of Beeston, the place was an experience. The area has its dark past of crime and violence. For example, Beeston was the home of the men behind London bombings back in 2005. In October I couldn’t walk home as I was stopped a flock of policemen who closed a large part of the street for a murder investigation. Luckily it was a matter of family drama rather than random gang violence, but it was still shivering.
The area is totally non-gentrified: there’s litter on the streets (often paved with dog poo) and once there was a dead cat on the street for a day.
The area was indeed on the rougher side, but hey, low rents and fast bus connections to the city centre!
I studied documentary filmmaking in Leeds Beckett University. We made and actual short documentary film during the first semester! For the first months we had courses where we learnt to use school equipment and how to record audio, light a scene and so on.
Studying in Leeds caused some serious cognitive dissonance. They had much more hands-on studies than what I have in TAMK, but it was still really vague. Learning was completely dependent on my own projects quality. Luckily, I had really motivated team to work on the short documentary which turned out to be good.
As an ale enthusiast I felt like I was in heaven. The country is full of breweries from smaller to larger ones and the pints are always overflowing whether one paid 2 or 6 pounds. The British kitchen isn’t necessarily the most culinaristic one, but it had its moments – especially when served with fine local ale!
So it turns out, that three months in exchange can go by really fast. I am writing from England, Derby, where I h ave been an exchange student for this spring term of 2017.
Derby is a rather small city in the heart of England. There’s not too much to see within the city, which is also a good thing since 1) it is a really, really British city with a real British accent and habits 2) it’s a good city to live in, when you are living first time abroad, visiting the country and want to get the full experience what a life in UK is like 3) it’s easy to get anywhere within UK. The public transport in this country lacks behind and is really slow (I wouldn’t never have guessed, but these days I consider travelling within Finland is fast!), so the central location of Derby has come in handy.
The University of Derby is also quite British. There’s plenty of foreigners as well, so it’s easy to get along and mix to other students without gaining too much attention. Regardless, many students or people in here have said that I’m the first Finn that they’ve ever met! Ohh the wonder. In here, students usually have three modules per term. Since I’m studying BBA, I don’t have any exams but instead I have essays and reports to do (1-2 per module) and an average length for a report is 2000-3000 words. Sounds easy? That’s what I thought, but it turns out that to say everything you want to, is rather hard with such a limited word count. Depending on the subject the instructions of the theories vary, but we have case studies as well as the old-school essays to do. In one module we do a presentation for every other lecture by researching and finding references only within one hour time.
I have tried to adapt the daily life of a British young adult, but since there’s not too much school (on Mon 1pm-8pm and Thur 9am-1pm), I have no idea what do the students do in here in their spare time, especially if they don’t work along their studies! As a result, me and my peers have taken travelling as one of our hobbies. So, so far I’ve traveled to Paris, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Cambridge during my stay. This week’s for Berlin and next is to visit London for the third time during this spring, I’m excited and thrilled! I’ve also started to study Dutch with the help of my Erasmus-friends, just for the fun of it.
Anyways. All’s been good and lovely. The weather have felt like a Finnish spring for the past months and it haven’t rained as much as I thought. Foggy it is, but we can manage to live with that. 🙂
Hello everybody from Glasgow, Scotland! I came to Glasgow, which is the largest city in Scotland at the beginning of 2017 to study the EPS program. That is the European Project Semester. It is mostly working with the real company and doing the project in a team and before it a bit of preparations to it with the help of learning some courses.
But what is about my life here, I can say that there are a lot of events happening at the moment. And I am not talking about the small parties between the students itself. So, you would not be bored at all. During the free time, I am usually going to the gym and it became something really important for me. I am training a lot and I have started long time ago, so I just continued it here. There are a lot of options to go to the main gym in Uni itself or go to one of those, which you can find in the city centre. The prices for gym facilities are cheap and of course, there are student discounts.
Moreover, we have been going to Edinburgh to participate the event, which is called the St Patrick’s Day. The picture is below.
Meanwhile, I was in the football team. We were participating in some competition, where we could win some good prizes. The picture is below.
All, in all, the time in Glasgow is good! The only disadvantage is the weather, which does not suite to everybody. It is always rain with the wind there. Sometimes, there could be some sunny days, but it might happen so rarely. That is why, if you are such a person, who wants some sun during the day, maybe it would be not the best choice for you. However, if you can deal with that problem, Scotland will surprise you a lot.