Tag Archives: United Kingdom

University of Salford, TV studies

My time studying Television and Radio at University of Salford was beyond amazing. I must say, if you want to work in TV or Radio,  Salford is the place to go. Media department of this university is located at MediaCityUk, which is basically a home for ITV and BBC. Lots of shows are being recorded/filmed in MediaCity and students have an opportunity to do freelance work in a real production. 

 

 My choices of modules were: TV Drama, TV studio and TV Documentaries. During my TV Drama module, I had a chance to Write and fully produce one short film and Direct a short film of my other classmate. I had to study a lot during this course in order to produce something good. Most of my spare time I was spending in the library reading books on scriptwriting, directing and producing. I really had to come out of my comfort zone during this course, especially when I was taking a role of Producer. Finding professional actors, finding replacements for the actors that dropped out last minute, recruiting people for filming crew, booking locations and equipment, settling down conflicts, and tons of paper work – all mixed with a stress of an upcoming deadline. Hands down, I’ve learned a lot. 

Another module of mine was TV Studio. That course was really well made. Every week, we had a chance to learn a new job in the multi camera studio or in a gallery.

There was a decent amount of both theory and practice, but for those who wanted to deepen their knowledge there were additional workshops held 2 times a week. The technicians that were giving us those workshops were always extremely happy to help.

 

 

 

During this module we were developing 2 TV shows: For the first show I was doing all the visuals and animations and for the second show I took a role of a show Director. I was really glad that everybody accepted me on equal terms and I was given such a big role, even though I was an exchange student.

 

 

 

My absolute favourite module was TV Docs. It was a module that made me apply for an exchange extension.

 

 

During this course, we had to make 2 documentaries: one – observational documentary and another one – a documentary with a narration. Basically, the course structure was similar to TV Drama, except for the fact that we were mostly concentrating on working with real people with real issues and stories to tell. I found this fascinating. 

 

All these modules required a lot of work, I barely had any spare time. This taught me time management really well. After TAMK, Salford felt way more strict with all those rules and incredible amount of tasks. I enjoy this kind of crazy working routine, and my area of studies was really social oriented, considering I had to work with people all the time. There was a lot of team work, so I’ve managed to find really great friends that were constantly dragging me out to party. 

 

I’ve done most of my travels around the UK in the beginning of exchange, during the Easter break and after the exchange. I would totally recommend to buy train card, because it saved me plenty of money.  Well, I think that’s it! Enjoy your time in UK!!!

 

 

Lincoln, Lincolnshire

My studies in England differed a lot from my experiences in Finland. Being a foreigner in both countries, it is not a difficult task to draw comparisons and point out differences between those two countries educational values and strategies. While studying in Media and Arts in Tampere Mediapolis I experienced a heavy focus on individual ideas and personal development. My primary study path here is Fine Art, which explains the heavy focus on creative work. At University of Lincoln I was a guest at the Lincoln School of Film and Media for about 5 month. It took me some time to figure out the teaching system which divides classes into lectures, seminars and workshops. All teacher where incredibly helpful and very funny. The teaching was packed with information and I feel like I could take a lot of valuable lessons back into my main studies at Tamk. As usual, it was easier to make contact to exchange students than to the native ones. This might have been connected to the fact, that I shared only a few classes with the same groups of students.
In my spare time I spend a lot of time exploring the surrounding cities together with other exchange students as well as Lincoln itself. UoL offers a range of coach trips for very little money, which comes in very handy as train tickets tend to be fairly expensive. My personal highlight was the Lincoln Cathedral, which is almost 1000 years old and hold an endless amount of historical and personal stories as well as a great variety of artistic expression.


I understood fairly soon that drinking culture in the UK is about as big as in Finland. As I am personally not a big drinker or dancer I have only gone out a couple times to the usual student parties and managed to stay away from some of the more famous party locations of Lincoln. That being said, the town offers a good amount of loud and colourful bars around campus. So who is into that will definitely find satisfaction.

Comparing TAMK and UoL next to each other seems like an impossible task to me on some matters. Both schools have an incredibly different approach to learning in general. UoL offers a lot more academic knowledge than TAMK but also requires its students to put those lessons down into texts and diaries. Every student who wants to visit UoL should be prepared to write complex essays and spend some time in the library. The lectures at UoL are very impersonal compared to TAMKs (mainly because there are hundreds of students attending sometimes) but also incredibly packed with fascinating knowledge. I enjoyed my stay in Lincoln very much, but I deliberately decided not to extend my studies. I can recommend anyone to take the opportunity to study at Lincoln in any case, not only because you can get high-class education fore free (full-time students pay up to £9000 per year), but also because English heritage is incredibly well documented and proudly layed out for foreigners to explore.

Greetings from Hatfield

I started my internship 14th of May in Mercure Hatfield Oak hotel in Hatfield, UK. I work in Food&Beverage Team, so basically I work as a waitress in the hotel’s restaurant and bar. Very often we also have some occasions which are in the hotel like weddings or anniversaries.

Mercure Hatfield Oak Hotel

Sometimes the work is very hard and stressful. English is not my native language, so at the beginning I was very tired after work, because there were so many new things to learn, new people and most of all that I have to speak English all the time.

Most of my workmates are also young people and students, so I have lot’s of common with them and we have a great atmosphere. I am not the only foreigner working here, we have people for example from France, India, Pakistan, Romania and Brazil, so we all have problems with English sometimes.

In the morning shift I serve breakfast for customers. We have a breakfast buffet, so what I have to do, is keep an eye on everything. There need to be enough food and coffee all the time and the tables need to be clean. After breakfast, staff is allowed to eat what is left for breakfast. After my first week here, I haven´t eaten any bacon…

After breakfast we clean the restaurant and set it up ready for dinner or if there is some lunch meeting, then we set up ready for lunch.

In the evening shift my main job is usually serve to tables in the restaurant for customers. Sometimes when it is busy, I might also work in the bar. Restaurant opens 6:30pm but the kitchen is open for hole day until 9:15pm. After that we need to clean the restaurant, set up the tables for breakfast and polish the cutlery.

 

Hatfield locates 32 kilometres north from London, in Hertfordshire. There are approximately 40000 habitans. I live in Staff house with four other students, whom all are doing their internship in Mercure Hatfield.

Hatfield House
Staff house

When I am off to work I like to walk in town and very often I go also for running. I have been in London few times during my placement here, because it is so easy to go there by train. I also spend my time with my housemates, most of all with my roommate Deby, who is from Brazil. Sometimes we cook together or go out to eat or just spend time outside the house, because we have a lovely backyard. Sometimes I also go to pub with my workmates from the hotel.

Harry Potter studios in Leavesden
Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station
My roommate Deby and me

Life in England is a quite different than in Finland. Traffic was my first problem here, when I came. When I arrived to Hatfield, I took a taxi to take me to hotel, where I was supposed to meet my supervisor. When the taxi came, I accidentally open the drivers door thinking that it is the passenger seat. The taxi driver gave me a very weird look, and I apologized and told that we have a different side of traffic in Finland. But after that I did that same mistake many times. Maybe after a month I finally learn how the traffic works.

Even thought people are more open-minded here and they have the small talk but in traffic they are not very polite. If you are about to cross the road and there is the pedestrian crossing  cars won’t stop. Actually, it feels that they even make more speed when they see pedestrian waiting.

Alcohol law is also very different here than in Finland. Just before I came here, I studied alcohol law in Finland. When working, chefs are allowed to drink. They can ask you or even for the supervisor to bring a beer for them. If the evening shift last until midnight, our supervisor might offer us drinks in the hotel’s bar and then he will drop us all to our houses.

You can buy strong spirits in supermarkets and there are no time limits when you can buy alcohol. I found out that, when I went out first time with my workmates. The pub closed 12pm and after that we went to the petrol station to buy some more drinks. When you buy alcohol shop assistant should ask your ID if you look like under 25 years but very often they don’t do that. Alcohol is also a bit cheaper here than in Finland.

In Finland, I separate all my wastes. Cartoon, paper, plastic, bio waste, glass, metal.. In the hotel they don’t separate that much and I think that also in general they put all the wastes to the same bin. After a month of my staying here they finally bring another bin for food waste to our kitchen in the hotel.

In London, all the tourist places are very clean, but in Hatfield there are lot’s of waste in streets. Lot more than in Finland. In my opinion because we recycle all the bottles we have less waste in nature but in here they don’t have that same system which cause a lot’s of waste.

I have enjoyed my time here and I have met so many amazing people so it’s gonna be hard to say goodbye to all of them in two weeks. But I am also ready to go back home to see my family and friends and most of all that I can eat Finnish foods.

Love, Maria

Greetings from the Silktown, Macclesfield!

Before we departured, we were told that Macclesfield is in rural area. As a small-town countryside girl, I was expecting fields and cows everywhere. When we had arrived, and did our first walk from our accommodation to town centre, we were a bit shocked by all the traffic. We were scared to go across the road, since people drive very fast in here and very rarely give space to pedestrians. Soon we learned that Macclesfield is a quite small town, but not as small as we imagined.

We started our placements on the very first week. On the first day we had an induction, where we met our University teacher and our contact person in the hospital. Our first glance of British people, and I got a positive feeling that my time here would be amazing. And so it was.

I can’t even describe how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to come to Macclesfield. I have met and worked with so many amazing people. One day, in my first placement with the Community Nursing, we had done all our home visits and we had some spare time. The nurse I was working with decided to show me Prestbury, which is near Macclesfield, and some of the houses in that area cost £4,000,000! I even got to see Wayne Rooney’s house, which was amazing! She also told me that in Prestbury, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge (they call it the “golden triangle”) all together sells more champagne in a year than in London.

Some of our patients in Community had amazing views from their homes.

I started my placements in Community, and my other placements were in the hospital, orthopaedic ward and gastroenterology ward. I can’t really compare all these three placements, and choose which one was the best. That’s because every single one of them were different in their own way, and they had their own best sides. For example, in community, the team I was working with was so amazing and accepting. I really felt like I was part of their team. It was busier in the orthopaedic ward, but I enjoyed it when my mentor asked me some questions which really made me think and concentrate. I learned so much from her and I’m so grateful she was my mentor. In gastroenterology ward, I think I got a change to do more things myself.

The staff has been great in every placement I’ve been, and I’m more than happy that everyone accepted me and was very welcoming. Compared to Finland, I think student’s role is quite different in England. There isn’t that much that you can do while you do your training. Or even after you’ve qualified. When you’re qualified, you must take extra courses to be able to cannulate, catheterise or even do pressure bandaging.

The Beatles Story in Liverpool.

During these three months we’ve had the chance to travel. Which was one of the things I was really looking forward to. We have been to Stoke-On-Trent, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Knutsford and London. I have seen so many beautiful places and felt like the happiest person in the earth, especially when I got to see my all-time favourite band in March. I cried the tears of pure happiness that night.

Fall Out Boy in Manchester, 29th of March.
The beautiful city of Chester
Camera Obscura, the world of illusions in Edinburgh.

These past three months have not been that easy, especially when most of the time has been spent in training. But still, this has been the time of my life. I will always cherish the memories I made here. And I am sure, I will come back to visit Macclesfield. I think I can say, that this town will always have a special space in my heart. Love,

Emmi-Kaisa x

The land of Brexit

England is the love of my life. I have had a long history with this country for years now especially after my father moved to London. This exchange has only strengthened my love for this country and for the people living in it. And the best part of this is that I got to do all of it with my best friend.

I went to Leeds to study web design. I know we have it at TAMK as well but I wanted to see how it would be taught elsewhere and since I had not taken any of the TAMK courses on the topic yet it was a new learning experience. I also did a visual design course since it seemed interesting and they didn’t have any other web design courses that I could have done with my skills.

It was difficult to set everything up to get to the country and start the studies but once we were past that my time in Leeds turned out to be one of the very best. I got to meet so many amazing people, most of them exchange students as well, and some locals. It paid off to be single on exchange, I am just saying, since that way I met way more locals than through the university. But some very good friends were made even from the very beginning and I hope I can continue to keep in touch with them.

We chose not to stay in the student accommodation but got an apartment just for the two of us. It probably made a difference in the exchange experience but to be honest I was not that excited about sharing a bathroom with five other people. The location was good and the place served us well throughout our studies. It was even big enough to host visitors, and we both had our sisters visit us. The only bad thing was the whole floor mats that made me sick and stuffy for a long time.

The teaching was quite different compared to my home university. The teachers in England required a lot more from us and it was much more student oriented. I only had three courses and for each of them two contact lessons in a week that lasted for about an hour to two hours. So, I was at the university for an hour on Mondays from four till five for example. Talk about freedom. The assignments were interesting and we got professional teaching and tutoring. This way I got to enjoy the endless possibilities on my free time and travel a lot more.

The university had made a deal with a localish travel company. For a fee they would take us around England to see some of the most well-known sights such as the Stonehenge, Bath, Whitby, York, the Lake District and we even travelled to Edinburgh. I loved how easy the travelling was made for us who wanted to experience it. One of the best things during my exchange and even though I have been to England multiple times before I got to see many new places. On my free time I travelled to Manchester, London and the nearby cities of Leeds as well as within Leeds as much as I could.

I noticed that we Finnish people are not that different from English people. The sense humour is very similar and we both come from cold, windy and depressing countries and adjust accordingly. Also, the citizens of both countries, England and Finland, like to drink. The pub culture is different but the idea is the same. We love our alcohol. I cannot even count the hours I spend in a pub just doing homework at 12 am because that was the normal thing to do. I could never do that in Finland.

Some differences between England and Finland that I can think of:

  • Alcohol is cheap in England. Like actually cheap. And well cheap for a Finnish person at least. No wonder people spend their free time in pubs.
  • Pub food is amazing. You really don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to have good food. You can as well find a decent burger and a drink for a total price of one pound if you know where to go.
  • Only white bread in England. Almost. Like why?
  • Because English people must pay tuition the quality of teaching is quite high. That’s how they get people to choose their universities.
  • The public transport is a joke in England. Like overall, not just in Leeds. Compared to Finland, Tampere, where I usually live and where it works fine, this was a nightmare. But then again, no way I would have gotten a bike and rode it in the traffic.
  • The streets are narrow in England.
  • The whole floor mats are disgusting. So hard to clean and just make you stuffy. One of the worst things about living in England.
  • People are friendlier, in a way at least, in England. So weird getting called “love” by strangers.
  • Oh, and don’t forget your manners or you will hear about it in England. Always say thank to everything, literally to everything, and don’t forget to add please if you’re asking for something.
  • Having tattoos and piercings is quite common in England. So, I fit in quite well. Almost everyone had at least one of either. And it was so cheap to get one done as well. Well at least cheaper than it would in Finland.

I loved almost every second of staying in Leeds. Good food, nice people, great teachers and most importantly amazing friends. I will leave my heart in England.

Living in the UK

I have spent my spring as an exchange student in Univeristy of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. I participated in three courses and those we had to choose from five possible course options. I was not that pleased in the end of the course options since if I were to have gone to Portsmouth in the fall period, I would have had over 20 course options. I found that the courses I chose had similarities to the courses I have had at TAMK even though the courses description didn’t sound similar to TAMK’s courses. Despite the similarities I can say that I learned new information that I can use in working life in the future. The biggest learning points has been adapting into diverse groups and studying how other students from all over the world study and what kind is their education culture.

During the exchange I had school weekly from Monday to Wednesday – so I had a lot of time to travel around the UK and Europe. The courses that I participated into had quite a lot of reports etc. to write so I couldn’t travel every single weekend – but almost every second weekend I spent in Brighton, London or somewhere in Europe. The train ride from Portsmouth to London took less than 2 hours so as London being my favorite city in the world – I travelled there quite often. Brighton is only 1 hour way from Portsmouth and I really loved that city too. We had a 1 month easter break in April where I interrailed for 2 and a half weeks. The interrail trip started from London, then a bullet train to Paris, then a flight to Nice (French railway system was on a strike), then a 40 min train to Monte Carlo, then an overnight train to Rome (and of course I also visited the Vatican City), then a train to Venice, then Bern in Switzerland and then a 12 hour train to the last destination in Amsterdam from where I flew to Finland for the last part of my easter break before returning to Portsmouth. The ultimate best part of the interrail trip was that when I went to the Vatican City and the Pope was there to greet people and I saw him from just a few meters distance.

As for the differences in the ways of teaching and studying at TAMK versus University of Portsmouth i didn’t find that many. The Portsmouth courses were a bit more theoretical but on the other hand I feel like that the course tasks and exams at TAMK have been more difficult than the ones I had at University of Portsmouth. Also the fact that they had over a month of easter break in the middle of the semester was quite strange to me.

  • Reetta Pienimäki

Greetings from Macclesfield!

Just unbelievable how fast time has passed, I’m almost (When finally posted already finished)  finishing my final placement here and only a week and I will fly back to home. And guess what? All of the “During exchange” -tasks still not done. Oops!

Like a typical for me before take-off I was hoping much: A lot of new friends, parties, travelling, my prince of charming (Maybe successful placements as well)… Just a wonderful life without any problems. Basically I was hoping all of my dreams come true at once. Although I was expecting a lot of problems, home sickness and break downs. I was sure that I had done a big mistake when I decided to do that exchange. I thought that there is no way to manage with my English skills and all of that experience will just end up to totally disaster. How you can probably guess neither of those scenarios didn’t happened. Instead of those I have been living a normal everyday life here. I have done my placements in hospital and community, went to the gym (and lost a bit weight, Yippee!) and stuff like that. But you know what? I  have enjoyed it, I really have. And of course I had have a bit time to just enjoy the country as well.

Wonderful how country changes the person. (I just walked with all of those bags 1,5 kilometers.)

 

My two first placements were in the hospital. (Orthopedic ward and Gastroenterology ward.) At the beginning just understanding what’s going on in the busy ward insisted my full concentration and on the side of that I had to do couple of mandatory training as well. So my first week contained 51 hours dealing with my rubbish English in totally new environment.  You can just imagine how exhausted I was when I finally got home after 13 hours day. However I settled very well right from the beginning and I knew that the decision of coming here was correct. Before I came here I was little worried if I can’t learn anything because of the language barrier. But how wrong I was, I learnt so much!  Nursing skills like IV’s, injections, understanding of isolation, drugs, early warning scores… Facing the patients and family felt hard sometimes but most of them were really kind and understanding. And however when there was a language barrier, specially at the beginning, between us I had to concentrate my nonverbal communication even more. I tried to show with my body language and facial expressions that I really am  interested in to be in there and learn things. I also learned that it’s more important how I say things than what I actually say. And I think this is something what I could’t have learnt in Finland using my own language.

Currently I’m doing my final placement in community (last couple days also), with District Nurses. So now I’m facing people in their own houses and I still can’t use my own language. Wow, what a combination. Now I have to respect their home as well, not only the person. So difficult but at the same time so teaching. With District nurses there has been a little different things what I have done and seen than in hospital. A lot of different kind of wounds, injections, drains, diabetics. And just patients supporting through the hard times or situations in their life. So yes, community is totally different than hospital so it’s really nice to see it as well. And to be honest it’s nice to see sun light during the working day instead of being inside from 7am to 8pm.

Differences between nursing in UK and Finland:
1. Training: When you are a qualified nurse in Finland you can do almost everything. In UK you have to have extra-training for doing bloods, cannulation, catheters, pressure bandages… And probably many other things what I can’t remember even.
2. Breaks: During 13 hours shift they have totally 1 hour break and it’s unpaid.
3. Hurry: Totally different here than what I have used to in Finland. Some days nurses didn’t even sit down or eat. They just drank strong juice to keep their blood sugar up and mind focused.
So I have to say that in my opinion we are quite lucky in Finland.

 

Although both of us, me and my room mate Emmi, have done full hours, 39-40 hours/week, with our placements we had done a lot of travelling and experiences as well. We have seen a lot of beautiful places and interesting things.

SNOWING!!! Felt like a home in Stoke-on-Trent in March.

“When your friend is a super-fan and you are not even sure who you are going to see” But thank you Fall Out Boy I still enjoyed! @Manchester

@Liverpool and Beatles Story

 

Almost as dirty water as in Aurajoki @Chester! Sometimes expectations and reality doesn’t face each other… And I’m talking about the picture, Chester was amazing!

 

4D-movie (or 3D? Whatever!) in Sea Life @Birmingham

Getting those fishes to the same picture with us wasn’t so easy thing to do…

@Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle

Playing in Camera Obscura @Edinburgh

Still alive after Underground City Of The Dead Tour @Edinburgh!!!

May Day Carnival @Knutsford
There I was brave enough to face one of my biggest fears and I went to the swing carousel which went high! Wow, It was amazing feeling after that!

 

Although those cities has been amazing and I have enjoyed about visiting there I’m so happy that we have been living in here, our own love Macclesfield. Just a right size town where I can walk around wearing pink raincoat and wellies.

 

Originally I applied for an exchange on my own and I didn’t have a friend to come with me. But thank you Tamk so much that you didn’t send me here alone, I am really grateful for that! Exchange is an experience what you can’t explain or tell to anyone so it’s amazing that I could share it with someone. Although we didn’t know each other before exchange process now we necessarily do. We have lived together almost 3 months, shared a kitchen and bathroom, done travelling together, sort out problems together, got drunk together, laughed together (Not cried together because Emmi doesn’t cry) and done an amazing experience together. Of course Emmi has been really annoying sometimes and I could have send her back home with next flight but I’m still sure that I have done it better – Annoying I mean. And after all I’m quite sparkling and hot-tempered person so it has been nice that someone had reassure me a little when I have needed it.

For example sorting out this heating problem at the beginning of our exchange was a bit easier (and funnier) together.

 

While doing my placements I met a lot of wonderful people who made me feel welcome. My mentors in Gastroenterology ward and Community were brilliant! They got to know me and let me do and see a lot of different things. I always felt that I can question them as a mentor and say if I’m not confident of doing something or if I need more supervision. In Orthopedic ward I didn’t have a mentor so it was a little different there but anyway I always got someone to look after me.

And when talking about great mentors I want to introduce you my mentor in Community, Fiona who wants to be famous in Finland.

 

I just can’t to resist the temptation of sharing couple of highlights of our restaurant foods. Sorry, if you weren’t hungry yet, soon you probably are.

 

Although experience has been amazing and I’m super happy that I was brave enough to came here. I’m really excited of going home as well. I can’t wait to see all of those important people who I haven’t seen for a while. Speaking Finnish in grocery, doing Finnish things with my Finnish friends… Oh, I really miss those things. And those working internet and telephone connections what we have in Finland!! I can’t even count how many times I have thought to throw my laptop or phone through the window because of the poor connection. But not long to go anymore so see you soon Finland! (But before that see you London!!! Uuu, Excited!) 

 

Love, Laura xxx

 

Ps. I spend something like 15 hours by doing that one blog post but I did it alone, nobody correct it for me. That’s something what I wouldn’t do before the exchange so I’m more than brave about that blog post.

Greetings from Wolverhampton

Greetings from the United Kingdom.

I’m now having my last month in the UK, just need to finish my assignments and exams and then my Erasmus exchange comes to its end.

I’m studying at the University of Wolverhampton, and here I’m taking a Construction Management course. First weeks I had problems with understanding the teachers, because the local accent is quite difficult to understand. With time understanding them became easier and I started to remember words related to construction industry so I didn’t need to translate everything I read or heard. I was the only exchange student on my modules and the teachers took it into account, for example they were often asking if I was able to understand them because of the accent.
At my exchange university there are not many lectures and tutorials for a module. There are four hours of classroom teaching per a module in a week, but students are expected to study a lot on their free time. Often after the lectures I go to the university library to work on my assignments.
What I like about the teaching style in here is that the teachers tell about their own experiences at lectures, which keeps them interesting. They also often bring up current topics from the construction news.

    

I have lectures only on three days a week, so I have quite a lot spare time here. Usually during the weekdays I spent my free time at the gym and with my friends. There are not that much to do in Wolverhampton, so we usually just hang together with our Erasmus group.

When weekend comes I usually do something more ” special ”, for example travelling. Only twenty minutes by train and we are in Birmingham, which has many thing to do. I’ve travelled a lot on my own, but also the university arranges trips for students to different cities in the UK. I think the trips arranged by the university have been great, we take a bus together but we can spent the time on the cities as we want. Because of these trips I’ve seen many amazing places where I wouldn’t have thought about going by myself.

Studying culture in here is quite different compared to Finland, studying here is much more relaxed. For example a student being half an hour late from lecture is normal here, and the teachers usually don’t mind.
In here they don’t have mandatory attendance, and there are usually a lot fewer students at the lectures at the end of the semester than at the beginning.

I’m really glad that I decide to have an exchange year, because this has been one of the best experiences of my life.

You alright, mate?

Hiya!

I spent three months in the surprisingly warm and sunny Portsmouth in the south coast of England. Who knew there are palm trees in the English seaside? Portsmouth is a coastal city, slightly smaller than Tampere, and the main part of the city is actually located on an island, although I only realised this about halfway through my stay there. People always say that the English weather is horrible but I was actually surprised by how warm it was. Even though Portsmouth is on the south coast, I didn’t expect to have 14 degree temperatures in November. Maybe the weather is horrible in everyone else’s mind, but for a Finn it actually feels very nice?

I study International Business and I specialise in marketing. Unfortunately, there weren’t many marketing courses, or units, as the English call them, on offer at Portsmouth. Since most of the units last a full year there were only a few options for those spending only half a year. Most of the units offered to exchange students are actually shortened versions of the whole year units, so almost all of the other students are exchange students as well, which was nice in a way, because at the beginning of the year everyone was in the same situation. Still, it would have been nice to get to know some of the local students as well. Despite that, I enjoyed most of my studies, and found them in someway relevant or interesting. I also enjoyed working with the other exchange students, and since everyone was foreign, the classes were quite diverse.

In England, or at least in Portsmouth, there are only a few classes every week. I had 5 units, and most of them only had two hours of class every week. One hour lecture for everyone in the unit, and then one hour seminar in smaller groups. I found this to be a quite good way of learning, although it meant that my timetable was quite scattered. Attendance was mandatory for all classes, although no one checked for attendance in the lectures. In the seminars, however, if you miss 3 consecutive lessons, you’d essentially fail the class.

In my free time, I’d hang out in the city. There are three main “city” areas to Portsmouth. There’s Commercial Street, which is right by the University and is the actual city centre, with all the shops and things like that. Then there’s Gunwharf Quays, which is a more fancy, touristy, high end shopping and restaurant area, right by the sea and the harbor. The third one, which I liked best, is Southsea, which is where all the good bars and restaurants are. It’s on the southern side of the city, although almost everything in is within walking distance. Southsea is, in my opinion, the most beautiful area of Portsmouth, and it is the area of Portsmouth that looks the most like a stereotypical English coast city.

Southsea might be my favorite area in the city, but what I really loved doing in Portsmouth, was walking on the seaside. Being a Finn, I’m used to there being water around me all the time, and I’m not going to lie, the sea was a big reason for me when choosing Portsmouth as my exchange destination.

Since Portsmouth isn’t a very big city, I also visited the bigger cities around it, like Brighton, Southampton, and Bornmouth, as well as the absolutely beautiful Isle of Wight. Portsmouth is also only a 90 minute train drive away from London, when the trains are running that is, so I visited London quite a few times. On the last week of my stay, my boyfriend and I flew to Scotland, which was absolutely amazing and quite possibly my favorite part of my stay. We rented a car and drove around the Scottish highlands for a day, and I’m not lying when I say I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. Coming back to Portsmouth was almost a disappointment, since it was so close to Christmas and there was no snow in England, unlike in Scotland.

Compared to Finland, studying in England was quite different. There were fewer classes every week, but that meant you were expected to do more reading at home. Based on some of the teachers’ comments, I was slightly intimidated of the workload, but after receiving my grades, I can happily say that I managed just as well as at TAMK, with pretty much the same amount of work.

The grading of the units was based on an essay, a presentation, or an exam. The exchange students, however, didn’t have any exams, since those take place in January, and the autumn semester ended on the 15th of December. Most of my units were graded based on an essay, which I had never written in TAMK, only reports, so I found this quite challenging, and had to spend a lot of time in the library. This was another difference to TAMK. Students actually hang out in the library a lot, and the library is open 24/7. I liked it though. When doing groupworks, or writing essays, the library was a good place to gather in, since most of the exchange students lived in student housing, so there wasn’t enough room in anyone’s apartment to hang out it. All in all, student life is much more inclusive compared to Finland. There are different clubs for students, for different sports, different ethnicities, different diets, different political orientations etc. There’s even a Quidditch club, which is quite possibly the awesomest and most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. Every week is a student night in the city, with different events in different venues. Basically, if you’re a student, your whole life revolves around the university.

Portsmouth to me was quite an ideal destination. I love the city, I had great flatmates and I met amazing people from all around the world. I love the seaside, and the short distance to London. I don’t just miss the people I met there, I also miss the city itself and I’m very happy I chose to go there. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, like a home away from home, and I’m definitely going back there.

Leeds, UK

I can’t say I had heard of Leeds before my studies there. Kind of weird, since it is the third biggest city in England, with a whopping 2,4 million residents in its metropolitan area. The truth is that I never even applied there; I got to find out during my application process that in order for me to study in the UK, I need to take a spot in Leeds. And so I did.

Leeds city centre

What I really applaud Leeds for, is that as a small town girl who thinks even Tampere is big, Leeds never felt overwhelming. The city centre is big compared to Tampere, for sure, but it’s also oddly compact. If you leave the central area you will quickly find yourself in the suburbs and more sparsely populated areas. Our campus was not in the centre either, but in an area called Headingley, which I really liked despite having to travel a bit more to get there.

Kirkstall Abbey, monastery ruins and park in Leeds

I felt like the studies in Leeds more or less matched with what they are in Finland. I had three modules (that’s what the Brits call their courses), and I think it was just the right amount for an exchange student, since you really don’t want to spend your whole time just studying. Even though my schedule felt quite empty, the modules did require a lot of time and effort, so it was a good balance. I really enjoyed the lectures and the assignments we got, so could have not been better in my opinion.

Headingley campus library

I think the biggest difference to Finland is just the sheer size of the campuses. They are absolutely massive! Headingley campus alone had over ten buildings you might have your lecture in, there’s a huge library that’s literally open 24/7 (I mean how cool is that?), the campus cafeteria had three restaurants to choose from, and each campus has its own bar. Yeah, a real bar you can get a drink at. Oh, and campus shops. Reasonably priced campus shops. Definitely miss that.

On my free time I did quite a bit of travelling around UK with my flatmate and classmate Tiia. We visited York, Whitby, Alnwick, Durham, Edinburh (twice!), Bath, Stonehenge, Lake District and London. I also visited Glasgow and Manchester. Dublin is definitely something I would have liked to see as well, but we only had so much time and resources. I have so many memories from this entire journey, so many pictures, so many people I met, I wouldn’t change it for the world.