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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My studies in Southampton have been constructed by different units from different courses. I am studying Music Production in TAMK, but wanted to add a little bit of visual media studies while I was over at Solent University. In the end my studies in Solent included Studio recording and mixing, music video production and practicing a live set with a university band. It turned out to be a nice and balanced combo of units. A big percentage of the studies was working with groups, but we also had some little individual assignments to go with it.
Southampton is not exactly the place one would like to go visit on the holidays. Though it is a coastal town it does´t really have the coastal feeling that most would maybe hope for. Most of the shoreline is covered with ports with big ships importing and exporting goods, and the beach is no where to be seen because there isn´t one. Though it´s not the most idyllic coastal city, it has a certain rough romantic touch to it. If it so happens that you´ll get bored with Southampton, there´s a lot of great places to visit by just spending a little of your time on a public transportation system. Bournemouth and Brighton for example; do have the idyllic beaches and would be the kind of place to visit for a summer holiday.
There is a good music scene in Southampton, with cool venues and open mics all day. I have got to know some of the locals involved in music, and through them I have found myself in some house parties/music events that I would have otherwise missed completely. There is a lot of activities to choose from, if you want to activate yourself and get involved in stuff. There is even surfing and scuba diving if you want to go all in. I myself settled to start a little climbing hobby which included a weekly climb at The Boulder Shack , social nights of drinking and chatter, and an occasional trip to a climbing destination. All in all my stay in the UK has been a blast and there will be a lot of friendly faces missed, though I think I will not be settling down in Southampton for longer. Been there, done that, got the hat.
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: