It was the beginning of June 2020 when I returned back to Cyprus and was very lucky because at the last minute I found a practical training place that could offer me some experience and get more familiar with my field of study. I started working for a nonprofit organization as a content writer making research and publishing articles on different topics that are related to sustainability on the organization’s website. I was disappointed that I had to work only online but that was my only option due to Coronavirus. I wrote several articles at the beginning and after some time, my supervisor asked me if I could help the organization to become more popular and try to spread our ideology of sustainability and using sustainable products. From that point, I found out my love for business and marketing that are extremely important in modern life, and since then they have been my main interests in addition to my studies.
Despite the fact that my practical training was not as I expected, life, in general, was really nice. Warm temperatures allowed me to do so many outdoor activities. Rackets on the beach was every day in our schedule with my friends, chilling in the lovely beaches of Ayia Napa and at night for a beer at some really nice bars in Protaras. Snorkeling and exploring the wildness of the Mediterranean sea was an unforgettable experience and also day trips to mountains and to the small waterfalls that are only one and half hour from the coast are extremely nice. Because I come from Cyprus and have lived there for several years, I was familiar with the Country and culture, nonetheless, every time I go I get myself doing different activities and never getting bored. It’s a great destination for exchange students that love sun, beaches, adventures and definitely I recommend it!
Moved to Scotland in Summer 2019 and have been finishing my studies at TAMK from here. Did my practical training for a video game company located in Edinburgh during the covid lock-down from the beginning of April to the end of July 2020. At my time in Haiku Interactive Ltd. I composed and produced music and created sound design for a video game called Dwerg Saga. There is not too much to tell of that time. Obviously, I worked from home via internet and saw no one else face to face but my family members. Had daily Zoom meetings with my boss though. Groceries were delivered to our door weekly. Spent most of my free time with my family in our back garden.
At the beginning of August things eased up a bit and we took a holiday at Highlands. Saw Loch Ness but not the monster though. According to news there has been more Nessie sightings this year than usual. I guess these times brings out the freaks from some of us who are not used to have this much time in their hands and nothing to do…
Restrictions has hit harder again in UK in October. Especially in Scotland’s Central Belt, reaching from Edinburgh in the east coast to Glasgow in the west coast of Scotland. For example, the pubs are not allowed to serve alcohol after six o’clock, no more than six persons can gather from maximum of two households, and you are not allowed to visit anyone at their home. At least for now day-care and schools are open, but the autumn holiday was extended in Scotland to two weeks to kill off maximum amount of sleeping covid cases.
It would be nice to see a band live once more or maybe even travel to Finland to meet friends and family. So, skip the student parties and tell your friends to skip them too. Stay safe and stay smart everybody!
I had a chance to spend four months in Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands. The Netherlands presented itself as a land of great cheese and bicycles. During my spare time, I rented a bicycle and went to explore everyday life in Utrecht.
When COVID-19 took over Europe, Netherlands closed its schools quite quickly. After schools were closed and everything went online, I started to spend a lot of time with the exchange students who I shared an apartment. We made dinners together, watch movies, talk about a lot of stuff, so I had opportunities to learn how to make Greek or Czech food.
As you can see from my photo collages below, I had an amazing time in Ensenada, Baja California; Situated about 2 hours south from San Diego. Over the course of Five Months, I had done so much things I’ve always wanted to do; I learned independence and made alot of new friends from around the world. I attended various wine festivals where they make most of Mexico’s wine for the whole country in Vineyards up in the mountains where it’s a warmer climate. I surfed all the time as well as got my first tattoo which didn’t cost too much at all. The food on it’s own though — Wow! It was so amazing and also spicy if you like it that way 😉 But overall, honestly helped me develop myself as Finland is quite a peaceful and chill place .. here you can jump out your comfort zone and go explore.
I studied in a private university where I only had a few classes a week, relatively from 16:00 – 20:00 and always had three day weekends for exploring. The teachers were really chill if you explained beforehand your plans but there was alot of presentations but we all managed to get really good grades from those. We travelled alot as a group and visited various landmarks within Baja California with a few good friends from the universities, had dinners with their families and of course had a lot of parties too. It was roughly around 25’C- 35’C depending on the hour of day but you always wore shorts and light clothes regardless. Would definitely recommend going there because you can easily hop across the border to Los Angeles and San Diego for shopping and exploring there as well.
All in all, would for sure go back some day. With love, from Mexico 🙂
I got to spend my exchange in Bruges Belgium. And I was in luck to have that time before the pandemic. I actually didn’t have any other beside Belgium, because the teachers visited in our school and told about Vives university and I liked it. I applied and it was actually pretty easy to get in there. I was the only Finnish person in there.
I was in study exchange so most of my weekdays went at school, studying. I study hospitality and management but there it was mainly business and we also had some basic knownledge about Belgium itself.
Spare time went by with exploring Bruges, tasting beers and eating. A lot of fries with good sauces, clams, different waffles and of course beer. My favorites!
And longer weekends and holidays by visiting other cities. Bruges was so beautiful city!
I spent 4 months in the ever rainy Glasgow and I got to say I really enjoyed my time! This luckily happened before all this covid stuff so we had the chance to attend lots of events and trips with my flatmates who were from all around the Europe.
The studies were really great in my opinion, the teaching was high-quality and the course content was spot on. I managed to learn a lot of new and important stuff that could help me in future projects besides gaining a lot of new material for my portfolio. Most of the classes were practical which I really liked, though it was always backed up with some proper theory to get going.
We had a lot of freedom when to do our course tasks which meant there was quite good amount of spare time to spend, which I did by spending time with my flatmates. The school (Glasgow Caledonian University that is) held great amount of events we took part of and we also did some trips to smaller islands and whisky distilleries by ourselves. Our exchange held great amount of time sitting in Glasgow’s pubs having some pints of Scotland’s finest beer Tennent’s and watching some Celtic FC’s football (which they are crazy about).
The study culture was quite the same as in Finland from my experience, though it did contain more self-study as the teacher would usually just link the material and everybody would go through it on their own phase and ask for help if needed. The people studying was bit younger than we usually have in Finland which was probably the biggest difference. The amount of studying/working for the courses was roughly the same as we’ve had in Finland
Living and studying in the Netherlands was quite the experience for me. It wasn’t the “best time of my life” as most people say after their exchange but I did live a lot, make great memories and stories and I would do it again any day. Here’s a few tips you might find useful if you consider Utrecht as your exchange destination.
Studying in Utrecht can be different to Finland depending on the university you study at. I studied Music Marketing & Management at the HU University of Applied Sciences and I had school 2-3 times per week for a few hours and the whole study program was incredibly easy. For anyone wanting to study music business, the program in HU is a fair choice but I reckon there are better schools and programs out there. I was personally disappointed in the program. If you want to make the most of your exchange and don’t want to focus too much on school, HU is the place. It’s stupid how well you can do with minimum effort. For the folks who actually want to study and learn, Utrecht University is your jam.
Netherlands is a great destination country if you want to travel around Europe, as many countries are just a train ride or a short flight away. Trains are relatively expensive but you can find cheap flight tickets if you take advantage of different student deals that are available. I focused mainly on enjoying the student life in Utrecht and exploring the different cities within the country but did visit a few countries during the Autumn.
One major thing to take into consideration is accommodation. To put it simply: housing in Utrecht is terrible. If you want student housing, you need to book and pay for it the minute it is possible, even if you don’t know if you got accepted into the school. The rooms will go very quickly and if you’re not able to get one, the school can’t do anything for you. I didn’t get student housing and ended up living 6 months in the upstairs of a very sketchy driving school, which later on turned out to be illegal. So don’t be like me, be early! The rents in Utrecht are high and most flats have mildew but that’s just the way it is here. Ain’t no changing that.
Living in Manchester, especially during winter, is a very interesting experience. It gets pretty similar to wintertime in Finland, just change the snow for rain. The sun rises around 8-9 am and it sets close to 3-4 pm. Streets are wet and you ought to carry an umbrella at all times because you never know when or where the rain is going to catch you, yes not even the weather forecast helps. But don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my time in there. Manchester is a very vibrant and intercultural city, there is always something different happening which means there is always something to do.
For example for Halloween, streets and stores would be decorated giving the city a really festive environment. Diverse types of happenings related to the festivity and even huge sales at stores are part of the celebration. It is fun to see how everybody gets in the mood and prepares themselves for such event.
Manchester city centre decorated for Halloween, Photo by Pedro L (2019).
Studying in Manchester has also been a nice experience, though it differs from what I am used to in Finland. The teaching methods consist mostly of lectures and assignment as opposed to the Finnish methods that are more related to discussions and group work. There is also a marked vertical hierarchy between teachers and students which does not occur in Finland, where there is a horizontal treat in the class. However, all of this made this experience unique a very enriching, understanding and living another different culture have made me a more flexible and versatile person and I believe this will also help me in the work-life.
I did spend my exchange in Breda, which is a small city in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant. I studied at Avans University of Applied Sciences and joined the minor in Environmental Geography. The first period of my studies was quite intense, but then I got used to it.
In my free time, I travelled a lot around the Netherlands and travelled to Germany. During my stay, I also made friends and spend time with them, we went together to events and explored the city of Breda.
Life in the Netherlands is quite like life in Finland, the prices of groceries and housing are almost the same. One big difference is the bicycle traffic and the number of bikes – it is crazy! But it is the easiest and fastest way to travel around the city.
I spend my summer 2019 in Berlin Germany. My practical training was in youth social work at UFA Fabrik e.V. which is part of worldwide Settlement neighbourhood houses. During four month living in Berlin with local roommate and only speaking German was a great trip.
Free time was mostly hanging around in parks, fleamarkets, seeing great gigs, going theatre and art exhibitions. Also lots of pubs and club life includes naturally when you live in Berlin.
Working life was more communal in Germany than in Finland. At least in the social field. We spend lots of time together also in our free time some afterwork beers and culture happenings.