I spent my fall semester 2018 – 2019 attending the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. It is divided into four campuses in different cities around the state of Upper Austria. The engineering programmes are in a small town called Wels. It´s located in the middle of the train route from Vienna to Salzburg. The town is small, but cozy. You will get to know the city center pretty quickly. The Traun river flows right through Wels. Where in the summer it’s nice to take a cooling dip in or if you are daring a refreshing one in the winter.
The campus of Wels is really nice and modern. The campus consists of 8 buildings that are spread around the city center. Most of my classes were held in the main building. I stayed in a dorm during my exchange. It allowed me to meet many people, locals and other international students. Austrian food also came familiar through the warm dining and breakfast opportunity that was included in our accommodation.
I found the lectures and teaching methods to be pretty similar to what I have experienced in TAMK. Of course, there were minor differences. For example, the scheduling system with weekly changing timetables and the occasional workshop-oriented courses. That would last up to 7 hours a day for three days and then the course is completed. The exams here are also a bit different being more condensed and therefore the exam time shorter, usually about 45 minutes to one and a half hours. Another thing is how the semesters are determined. In Austria there is a summer and a winter semester instead of fall and spring semester. The winter semester stars in October and ends in February while the summer semester goes from March to June. This unfortunately caused me some troubles at the end of my exchange because the semester in Austria had not finnished when the spring semester in Finland had already started. The school community is active, they organize events and trips. For example, we got to visit a famous cookie factory. Also, there is a Seidlstandl every other Thursday in the school courtyard. Where you can have a drink and get to know other students.
In my spare time I aimed to travel as much I could and see around Austria and Europe. Take advantage of the great location of Wels. Like I mentioned before Wels is located on the main railway route from Vienna and Salzburg. Therefore, it was super easy to get around using the train. (Tip: buy an ÖBB Vorteilscard Jugend for 20 € and get 50% off all the train tickets for a year) At the beginning of my exchange I got to explore Austria and witness the beautiful mountain landscapes. There are too many opportunities for great hikes and enjoying the nature in Austria. It was also worth visiting the bigger cities of Upper Austria, like Vienna and Salzburg. Wels is also positioned well for traveling around Europe. Always nice to return from the bigger cities to the calm and quiet city of Wels though. Lastly, you can´t fully enjoy Austria’s alps without having a little go at skiing or snowboarding. Two weeks before my exchange came to an end I got to squeeze in a day to go snowboarding to Grünau Kasberg a close by skiing resort.
Although I struggled a little academically in all I really enjoyed my exchange in Austria.
My erasmus-exchange lasts 3 months. I have 1 month left. I have two courses: one course about Professional and behavioural aspects of patient care in radiography and the other beginners’ course of Norwegian. I also do an 8-week practical training in the radiological department.
Even though schoolwork takes a lot of time I still have some free time. My school has a buddy-program which organizes activities. There are both international and Norwegian students joining. I have been going hiking a lot and we’ll have a cabin-trip in the end of March. We radiographer students also organized few trips on our own. I’ll go to Oslo and some of the others go to Tromsø.
I had many kinds of lectures during the first 3 weeks of the exchange. I also did simulations. I think the lessons were more practical than theoretical and it is a big difference to Finland. I heard from the Norwegian students that this isn’t always the case. They probably wanted to create this kind of course for the international students. The exam is a quality improvement project that we will present in the last week of the exchange.
Norwegian classes are with other international students. The classes are a bit too easy for us who have been learning Swedish, but it is always nice to learn a new language. There will be an oral-exam: talk with your partner about a situation in Norwegian. So, no written exams!
My placements are in conventional radiography and in CT, both in private clinic. I noticed many differences to Finland:
Hygiene: They rarely clean up the equipment here at least in conventional in CT they are more hygienic.
Radiation protection: The good image matters more than the radiation dose. Sometimes good and sometimes bad in my opinion.
Clothes: They don’t really tell the patient to take of their clothes. Only if it’s too thick material or has metal in it.
Positioning: They do many of the examinations in different ways but the result is usually similar to Finland.
The weather has been changing a lot. We had some snow in the beginning but now it is either sunny or raining. It hasn’t been raining that much though 🙂
Greetings from Japan’s Aichi prefecture, where I have been doing my exchange studies since september 2018 in the composition department of Aichi University of the Arts, or AUA for short. The spelling of the prefecture’s name, ”Aichi”, contains characters meaning ”love” and ”know”, which is very appropriate since the place is quite lovely!
The studies here have been quite similar to what I’ve been used to in Finland. There are the usual solfege and theory subjects, as well as private composition lessons and concerts for performing the students’ pieces. The focus is mainly on European music, perhaps with a little more stylistic spread than in Finland, but traditional and modern Japanese music has been covered as well during intensive courses.
I made it my goal to travel as much as possible during my free time, both in the areas near the university and a little further as well. Since this was my first trip to Japan, I wanted to experience all the ”basic stuff” during the exchange, such as going to a hot spring bath, seeing the world-famous Miyajima torii gate and trying the weird foods you always see in traveling programs.
The local studying culture in general is not particularly different from that of Finland. However, because of university tuition fees, practically all students have to do part-time work. I’m amazed at their ability to finish schoolwork and produce great pieces despite the time and energy they have to put into their part-time jobs. A lot of times I’ve witnessed the overworked poor things sleeping or dozing off on classes. Regarding student work in general, I had heard rumors of immense amount of schoolwork in Japan, but at least in my own experience I feel the amount of work is approximately the same as in Finland. That may however be more indicative of the huge amount of work required in the music field regardless of country.
For anyone considering doing their exchange period in Japan, I can wholeheartedly recommend AUA. The school is in a naturally beautiful area and you don’t get the culture shock of being thrown into a crowded neighborhood since day one, but at the same time it’s quite near to Japan’s 4th largest city, Nagoya, which in turn has great traffic connections when you’d like to travel a little further away.