Covid-19 in Utrecht, The Netherlands

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.

¡Hola Amigos! Greetings from Baja, California!

¡Buenos días! from Ensenada, Mexico. 

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.

Just a Collage of Some Good Times

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.

Memories in Mexico & Surfing Waves

All in all, would for sure go back some day. With love, from Mexico 🙂

Conor Caldwell

Instagram: @designedbyconor

Hello from Buges, Belgium

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!

 

 

Greetings from Glasgow!

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

Groetjes uit Utrecht!

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.

Utrecht Science Park

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.

Windmill in the outskirts of Utrecht

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.

 

Rainchester

Manchester, The Arndale at 08:23 am. Photo by Pedro L (2020).

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.

Greetings from the Netherlands!

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.

The church in the centre 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.

Berlin place to be

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.

Breda, the capital of North Brabant

I spent 6 months on my favorate city in Netherlands, in Breda. my trip started over a year ago and it ended just before the covid-19 pandemic reached Europe in february. I really fell in love to Breda. The architecture, the landscapes and the people. I Traveled to Breda 2 weks before my school started there and had plenty of time to get to know the place and the people there. And during that period it was +30 degrees everyday which was a bit different from Finland in september.

The city of Breda has about the same amunt of people living there as Tampere, but the area of the city is way smaller and the city is almost 1000 years old already so it has some really beautiful old buildings there. The gate abowe is a picture of the entrance to the prison of the city.

Finding a place to live as a foreign exchange student was really a handfull but after searching for about 6 weeks i managed to move into a small house with a yard (shown above). The downside of the flat was that i needed to share it with the owner who was a local musician in the respectful age of 75. So no parties in the house or any excess noise whatsoever. Thankfully the city centre wasn’t that far away so i could enjoy the student parties and the many pubs of the city.

I studied Biotechnology as a minor in Avans university and it involved a lot of different projects from cultivating Hela Cancer cells to studying beer DNA and isolating specific genes from the Yeast strains involved with beer making to study the effects of fermentation to the fravour of beer. It was a really interesting time in my live.

What’s up Seoul,#RepublicofKorea

I arrived at Incheon Airport on the 29th of February, when the coronavirus was blowing up and spreading uncontrollably in South Korea. Therefore, before coming to Korea, I expected a chaotic scenario at the airport, but everything was organized logically, and seeing everyone wearing masks was a relief. Seyoon is one of my most close friends in Mediapolis. When I just arrived at the airport, Seyoon’s father was there to pick me up and he drove me to my dormitory in Seoul. Thanks to him, I reached my dorm safe and sound.
I struggled a bit on the first day of figuring out how to charge the T-money card known as the public transportation card. Because that card can only recharge by cash, and I didn’t have any cash with me at that time either.

I was lucky that I have my old friend who has been living and studying in Seoul for 3 years. She helped me a lot with getting a new SIM card at a reasonable price, learning basic Korean language, and taking me around Seoul.

After I got the admission from Sungkyungkwan University (SKKU), I was added to a Kakao group with all the upcoming exchange students. Before coming to SKKU, my buddy (tutor) Yewon already contacted me to help me prepare everything documents and essential things for my exchange period. Because of the pandemic, we hadn’t had time to hang out with each other at first. But later, when the situation in Korea was controlled much better, we finally had a chance to meet up and catching up with each other about how everything was going on.

I’m always a big fan of the Korean concept and visual arts, so right after the art gallery and exhibition were allowed to open again, I went to some with my friends and my tutor. They were so well organized and mesmerizing. Sometimes, I didn’t need to go to any exhibition, because they exhibited some artworks everywhere, specifically, in the subway station

    
             (Inside Magritte exhibition)                             (subway exhibition)


                                                      (subway exhibition)

Because of the pandemic, I had online classes for the whole semester. Enrollment in Korea is much more competitive than in Finland. And to be honest, I couldn’t enroll in one course I like because I was late only a few seconds on the first enrollment day. I had to email the professor for letting me enroll in that course if there was any vacant slot for me. Luckily I finally got in. There was another story on my enrollment day. As I was so hustling to enroll in the course, I made a mistake in typing the course code, so BAAM! I enrolled in one course I thought I would never do which requires a lot of coding. I struggled a lot with that course, but thanks to that, now I got a new skill in coding with processing which I think I already forgot 70% of it. The learning system in SKKU is not that different compared to Mediapolis since we all studied online and had daily, weekly tasks after every lecture. In the last 2 weeks, we had some group meeting at SKKU campus with the professor for getting some instruction for the final project.

As normal, the spring semester would end on the 19th of June. However, this year there were a lot of things happened, so my semester ended much later (5th of July). After finishing the semester, I went to Busan which is a beach city in Korea with my friend as a short summer vacation.

Back in March, when I didn’t have many assignments and projects to do, I had a day hanging out around Seoul with my friend in Itaewon and Hongdae, and I also filmed it. You can check the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW9ZYyY98jY

Photos were taken by Hy