Monthly Archives: November 2014

Meeting Point – Barcelona!

Meeting Point – Barcelona!

Parc de la Ciutadella

Once you see this amazing city – you are lost forever. It welcomes you with a unique  atmosphere, charms you by cultural diversity and  magnetizes you by its magical glow. You want to come back over and over. After my first visit I decided to find an internship to live here for some time and truly deep into the vibrant life of Barcelona. Needn’t to say that this summer was a perfect mix of  new experiences, work, friends, ice-cream and sun.

     TibidaboThe BeachPlaca Catalunia

Even though not everything was as smooth as I planned and after the first month I had to move to a new apartment and change my internship but I had no time to worry. Barcelona is a city of young, active and energetic people. Thousands of students come here for exchange semester or for their practical training and I was really lucky to find good friends among them.

Primavera Sound

I was working in an international company within a young friendly environment. I find this experience extremely valuable, I was assigned with all kinds of different tasks in totally different areas of company’s daily routine. I was doing online marketing, translations, quality monitoring and (my favourite) customer service. This really made me realize that I prefer to deal with people more than with papers and computers.

Placa Real

Barcelona is a very trendy destination for tourists. I think now it is hardly possible to find a person who hasn’t been here. And as a pleasant bonus I got to meet a looot of my friends who came here for vacations from Russia, Finland, Switzerland, France and the list of countries goes on. That made me love this city even more as I could share my excitement about it with great people!

                viewpointFiesta de GraciaMontjuic

Greetings from Pucela!

IMG_3356IMG_3463IMG_3482Greetings from Pucela!


I have been here in Valladolid (called also as Pucela) two months now. Time has gone fast. I am doing my practical training in the University of Valladolid as a reseacher. I have a project where I grow algae called Spirulina maxima in a bioreator and when I finally have enough biomass, I will transform it to biofuel (bioethanol) via hydrolysis and fermentation processes. The project is interesting and I have learned a lot about working in the laboratory.

My professor and laboratory technician who is guiding me are both speking English very well, so at work I use English. At home I am able to speak Finnish because I have my son and husband here with me. With my friends I always speak English. I find learning Spanish a bit tricky at the moment, because I am surviving without speaking it. I am participating in a language course organized by Erasmus. Local students teach us to speak Spanish and we teach them English, French, German or whatever languages someone wants to learn. I hope I am able to force myself to speak more Spanish!

There are a lot of nice Villages near Valladolid so we have done quite nice little trips around here on weekends with my family. The summer was super long, it was only last week when the autumn arrived. I have enjoyed the warm weather and sun so much! Let’s see how the winter is going to be like. I am also glad that the Univesity offers good possibilties to continue my hobbies here, I can go to Pilates lessons as I did in Finland.

My favourite thing about Spain is food and wine! We have a habbit with my friends on every thursday evening that we go to have some tapas and drinks. There are so many things to try and so many restaurants to visit. Only one dish is on our black list and it is panceta, you don’t wan’t to know more, just keep the word in mind, otherwise everything is good! 😀

Best regards,

Kirsi-Maarit Hiekka

Amsterdam calling!

Hi everyone, this is Amsterdam calling!

This place feels like home. It has felt for the whole right from the beginning. Time is just flying by but I’m enjoying every moment.


Studying is going great. We just had the first exam week this week. We only had one very big exam, which we had to study for. Beside that we had some projects of course. We have eight exchange students and 21 Dutch students in our class. Such nice people! And it is a good way to get to know local people. On Monday we will start Unit 2. I can’t believe it’s the halfway already.


I’m living in a student apartment and I’ve made such good friends here. There is always someone to talk to, go to the gym with, do homework with etc. And if I want to be alone, I just come into my room. It’s a very nice way of living.
Everything has been very well-organized for exchange students in here. But I heard it is like that everywhere in Holland. Beside that Dutch people speak fluent English so it is super easy to get help if needed!


We have every Monday and Wednesday off from school, which is great so that we have time to do everything else too. Since I’m an exchange student, I want to go and see as much as possible. I have explored Amsterdam quite well but there’s still a lot to see. I also visited Rotterdam and some other smaller cities in the Netherlands. I also visited Disneyland Paris and next weekend I’m heading to Berlin with a friend. This is a very good chance to experience as much as possible!


I love the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam. It is a very open-minded city and it has been very easy to fit in. Luckily I still have a couple of months left to enjoy my time here.

Adventure in center of Europe


I have spent now two great months in Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic. I like this city! It’s beautiful, easygoing and cheap. There is a big group Erasmus students, so I never feel that I’m lonely and there are also almost 20 us, who are from Finland.

Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge
Old Town Square
Old Town Square

Czech Technical University is very big school and there is many courses in English, so we had many different courses to choose. Classrooms and teaching equipment are not as good and new as in Finland, but it’s not problem. When school started I got small culture shock when I saw my timetable because I’m not get used to be at school so late but here example my Wednesday is 16.00-20.00 at school. At least we got Friday off!

My everyday life is not only a school here, we have good and active ISC (international student club) here which organize everything for every week, like trip, movie nights, presentation parties and sports. I taking part every Sunday to floorball what they are organizing. We have good games but it is not so popular here for student who are from somewhere else than Finland or Sweden.

Slavia Praha - Sparta Praha, O2 Arena
Slavia Praha – Sparta Praha, O2 Arena

I have taken part of couple ISC trips (Karlovy Vary and Oktoberfest) but those are a little bit annoying trips because there is so much waiting time in trip. Usually people from southern Europe are late and we just have to wait them and I have noticed that it’s normal here in Czech Republic that if time limit is 9.30 it’s normal to wait  to 10.00 before we do anything, it’s not normal for Finnish people. After that experience we have done few trips by ourselves. Example two weeks ago we took a bus to Berlin, and last weekend we rented a car and we drove to Krakow and Auschwitz.

Olympiastadion, Berlin
Olympiastadion, Berlin
Auschwitz, Poland

Overall, my time have been fantastic and this is great opportunity to see the world. It was one of the best decisions I have made.


Mambo, Mwanza!

I was in Mwanza, Tanzania for six months and what an amazing six months it was!

I worked in the Tampere-Mwanza project where I helped primary and secondary schools  build and maintain compost pits to make fertilizers to fertilize the crops and trees in the school grounds. As well as giving me more knowledge about composting, the internship allowed me to get familiar with the working and living environment in Tanzania (I’m Tanzanian but grew up in Finland, so I jumped at the opportunity to be in the country for more than a holiday!), as well as meet great new people and make lifelong friends.

Tanzania is a pretty comfortable country to visit in Africa; it’s safe, it’s affordable and most people speak English. It’s also a great place to visit if you like warm weather, good food, nature and beaches!

With students from Mabatini school after making the compost
With students from Mabatini school after making the compost
Teachers of Buhongwa secondary school taking mental notes as we make the compost
Teachers of Buhongwa secondary school taking mental notes as we make the compost
Mwanza is located on the south banks of Lake Victoria, the world's largest tropical lake
Mwanza is located on the south banks of Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake
Spending time with friends by the lake
Spending time with friends by the lake
One of my favourite dishes in Mwanza - paneer sizzler
One of my favourite dishes in Mwanza – paneer sizzler
These monkeys were always dropping by where I lived :)
These monkeys were always dropping by where I lived 🙂
Visiting Azra beach in Dar es Salaam during Easter
Visiting Azra beach in Dar es Salaam during Easter
Walking on the beaches of Zanzibar...
Walking on the beaches of Zanzibar…


The experience opened my eyes to all the business opportunities in waste management in Tanzania, and I look forward for more work experience as an environmental engineer there in the future!

Hola, Barcelona!

I did my practical training in warm and sunny Barcelona and it was an unforgettable experience. I spend the whole summer here working in the company that rents apartments for tourists.


Barcelona never sleeps. There are dozens of things to do and it is extremely crowded with tourists. It is one of the most popular destinations in the world and I really appreciate that I could stay here.

The company I worked with is very friendly international- we had interns from different countries which created a very nice intercultural atmosphere.

To say that I really enjoyed working and living here is to say nothing. I encourage everyone to come here and experience this amazing weather and culture!dCeJjIYYkSc ItIo9qVv_IA WCrETfinwzk

London State of Mind

I spent my summer in lovely posh Kensington in London, lived right by the beautiful Kensington gardens and Hyde Park.  The weather was beautiful  throughout the summer and I spent a lot of time just chilling out in the park reading or having a picnic.  I love just laying on a soft grass and listening to music and reading, enjoying the warmth. 

I worked in the Royal Garden Hotel  as a waitress for three months, and this is what my uniform looked like:

I enjoyed my time in London, but unfortunately I didn’t take that many photos as I have been there many times before. I was more excited about visiting other parts of England. However, I did go to see Big Ben, well, the Elizabeth tower, and it was as magnificent as ever:

My favourite part of the training period was when I went to a safari park up north with my boyfriend’s family, saw loads of different animals very up close and had a great time. It is very hard to only pick a picture or two, but here is two that I feel describe my time the most: 

My giraffelfie and:

This picture of the hippos I feel describes of me and my state of mind, I am a very lazy person 🙂

Now I have returned back to Finland and I don’t really know how to adjust to the life in here, after spending a year and a half altogether in England having the time of my life. Drinking bucketfuls of earl grey a day and eating baked beans on toast, that’s how I try to make my life here more like my life in England 🙂


Smoggy greetings from the capital of China.

On a very clear day I've seen mountains in the distance.

Hi, how are you? I’m fine, though stuck inside with hazardous smog levels again. I’m doing my training exchange in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. This is my second venture to China. I studied in Shanghai University some years ago and fell in love with the Orient. The one word that can be used to described China is DIFFERENT. Here are some views of the country and everyday wonders of the city, but first let me introduce my workplace.

BeiZ is a mobile game company with studios in both China and Finland. We make educational kids’ games starring our fun and charming character Lola Panda, who teaches 3 to 8 year olds everything from maths to languages. Our vision is to become the market leader in our field. Our latest release Lola’s Pinyin Party, though only available in China, has kept its place at number one of the most downloaded iPad kids’ apps for weeks now!

On the roof of the best marketplace in town, overseeing the Temple of Heaven. Beijing is a wonderful city. Shopping is a sport. You have to bargain hard, but the final prices are ridiculously low. Good for a student!

Here's our office turtle.
Our office pet.

I feel right at home in East Asia and I didn’t feel as scared as I did moving abroad for the first time, but naturally the thick language barrier and overwhelming differences in our cultures do pose some practical difficulties. Luckily the Chinese are extremely friendly and helpful, and my colleagues have taken care of everything. My apartment is practically next door to the office so life is as easy as it can be (after some initial complications of course).

I enjoy working here very much. I take the difficulties I encounter as challenges and learning opportunities, both the professional and the cultural ones. Not always (read: not at all) understanding what is going on is probably the hardest part. On the other hand a game studio is a game studio: a relaxed work environment and not too different from home. But my workload is heavier than expected and I don’t have a lot of time or energy to play tourist or continue my language studies.

Eating is a very social thing here in China. So far I’ve tried frog, squid, some other tentacled animals, loads of new fruits and local dishes. This part of town is bustling with Korean expats and there is enough delicious Korean food available even for my endless appetite. None of the waitresses or shop keepers speak English here, but closer to the center of Beijing you can survive with no knowledge of Chinese language at all. 

Here are some pictures of our first weekend trip together with my colleagues. They took me to the Great Wall, and it was a real adventure! I haven’t been able to travel much during my stay, but everything I’ve seen has been magnificent. Everything is different, wonderful, or at least worth a chuckle if you pay attention and look around you. Appreciating the small things is my theme of this trip.

To demonstrate the day-to-day obstacles I have, let me tell you about my visit to the super market today. I was going to buy shampoo, and I found an aisle that said shampoo, but there was not one single bottle that had a word of any language I could read on it. If I ask the shopping assistants, they will probably not understand me, or go on and on in Chinese, even if I say I don’t understand them (in Chinese). I’ve grown used to it and find it kind of amusing. Even the smallest tasks end up becoming adventures!

I’ll be happy to tell more stories and answer any questions if you are planning to go to China for your exchange!