Greetings from the promised land of beer and humourless people! Except the people actually have a pretty good sense of humour, but at least the beer stereotype is still accurate.
Even though my studies have been mostly online, I’ve met a lot of interesting new people to hang out with. The more friends I’ve gathered, the less I’ve been studying, however. Studying in German and online is also pretty much a living hell for me. I can’t think of a more harder combination off the top off my head.
The German studying is also a bit different than the studies in Finland. Most courses are given as lectures, instead of courses where you do things while also listening to lectures. Everything is way more theory based here. But I think that has something to do with the fact that here are so many engineering students, compared to Finland.
Free time has been very nice though. As mentioned, I’ve got a lot of new friends and we’ve been sitting around parks, going swimming and in general, enjoyed the summer to the fullest. I was lucky that the German summer was not as hot as it is normally though, since I was already dying of heatstroke during some months this year. The nature is also quite beautiful at times, even though you have to go out of your way to find a place not disturbed by people.
My exchange took place here in Malta. I had been here working in this language school called Sprachcaffe Language Plus. I study hospitality management and in this language school I work in the reception of our campus, we also have option to rent rooms from booking sites like AirBnb and booking.com. I mainly check people in and out and help with all the questions they might have.
I love tanning and beaches. Usually in my spare time I visit sights and chill at the beach or pool. I also spend time with my friends, I have met so many people from all around the world and I have learned a lot about their cultures as well as about maltese culture.
Work ethic here in Malta is quite different than what I have used to in Finland. People don’t care about time that much and sometimes places could be closed even if they should be open and people can be late from work and that is totally okey to everyone, this wouldn’t be okey in Finland. Sometimes there only have to be someone, they don’t have to be even working good just to be there to show that someone is available, so mostly the customer service is not the best. Payments are usually lower than in Finland which is shocking to me because the cost of living is high in Malta.
It’s been a good 1,5 years here, I got so comfortable here I almost forgot how to leave. Yamanashi is such a chill city, only 2 hours from Tokyo but totally different world. Few people, surrounded by mountains and a lot of students going to their sports practice was it soccer, swimming or rugby. I would often hear some Japanese martial arts practice noises to my dormitory room.
Due to corona almost everything has been online all the way, but I think that’s been the same everywhere. Actually compared to Finland, Japan’s restrictions weren’t all that strict. Even so I’ve made a lot of friends here, the international environment can make even an unsocial Finn surprisingly social. My days are filled with a bit of studying, hanging out with friends and going to supermarkets.
One of my favorite hobbies here is running by this huge river – the scenery and nature never fail to amaze me! The only tricky thing is the temperature and humidity here, you run out of breath way faster when you’re not used to crazy humidity and 30 degrees. But running at night is an option too!
Because of Covid, I almost passed on the whole Erasmus experience. I’m so glad I took the leap of faith and went anyway! Back in March when I came to Stuttgart, the whole city was closed. I became friends with some people from my apartment building and together we took this time to explore the city and surrounding areas outside. Some weeks later everything started opening and we could finally visit the museums, restaurants and shops with a negative Covid-test result.
I have been one of the fortunate ones who still get to go to campus (or has to go – it depends). Here I study print media technologies in Hochschule der Medien, and could not really do much from home. I have classes about campaign management, bookbinding, preparing files for printing, and different printing methods. These courses have been fun and useful, as they are sort of a natural continuation to my studies at TAMK (Interactive Media). The campus, teachers and classmates are all very nice, but I’m sure open cafeterias and events could have made the school experience even better.
What I could not do at the campus, I made up for outside of it. In addition to hanging out at the dorms, my friends and I have made countless trips inside and outside of the city. Southern Germany has so many beautiful towns, natural parks and mountains! You can see some of them in the picture collage below. These trips are definitely one the most cherished memories I will keep from the Erasmus exchange.
I have learned a lot during my time in Germany – professionally and culturally. The German students in my classes seem to be prepared to compete for jobs. They are generally driven, precice and demanding. They will suggest a group zoom meeting even on a Sunday morning, which is unheard of in Finland. I got used to their habits as we were only two Finns and one Turkish girl among 50 Germans. Sometimes I had to remind my group that I was just being polite, not uninterested, by not pushing my opinions all the time. Despite the cultural differences, everything went well in the end and I enjoyed the classes.
I am in Athens, Greece for my practical training abroad (at a Greek tech company) — I ended up staying a bit longer than planned. The people, the food, the weather, the beaches, and the culture kept me wanting to stay.
Athens is known for the Acropolis, an ancient citadel located in the center of the city! I got lucky and ended up staying with a friend in Plaka which had an amazing view of the Acropolis from his balcony, as well as an active archaeological site!
The first few months Greece was under strict lock-down but we had some interesting neighbors to keep us company!
The biggest difference between work culture in Finland and Greece i’d say are the working hours, at the company I was working at work starts at 10:30-11:00 and then ends around 7:00-8:00, which means we are always eating late!
Working at the company in Greece was quite demanding, but it is not difficult to find some of the most beautiful places in the world with a just a ferry ride away from Athens. The food is excellent, the wine flows, and the water and beaches are amazing! That’s why I decided to stay longer than just the 5 months. I encourage anyone to take an opportunity to come do their internship here!
I am In Ensenada for a Semester. The weather here is amazing and the food even better. The most popular dish you can find around is “tacos de pescado”. It is possible to find plenty of seafood around but always together with tortillas. Also is recommendable to ask if something is spicy, as most of the sauces are quite hot.
Ensenada is quite known because “El Valle de Guadalupe” There are plenty of wineries. It is a nice tourist place but a bit expensive compare with Ensenada center. Craft beer is getting very popular around the area as much as wine. The most famous breweries are from the city and few others from Tijuana.
There are few beaches around the city, and Playa Hermosa is the most popular, which is closed at the moment due to contamination.
During my free time, I go cycling and walking around the city or the beach. I like to visit some local bars like “Baja Alta” or “Wendlandt” where in my opinion, they have the best craft beer.
I am studying business administration student, and I am attending five courses at the Cetys university. The classes are virtual, but in September we will start hybrids classes, face to face and virtual at the same time.
So far I feel we have a massive load of work. The study method is way too different than in Finland. Instead of having few courses for two or three months and after that, having some other courses, we have all of them every week till the end of the semester.
Each course class lasts for two hours with no breaks and they are two times a week. The teachers always give homework, and the homework must be done within a team for the next day.
For every task we have, the teacher makes a new team. At the end of the week, we have five different tasks to do with five different teams, and it is very confusing. Then we don’t know anymore with who we are doing what. The way they organize everything is very messy and confusing. I guess the local people are used to it but it is very stressful situation for an outsider like me. I do miss a lot the Finnish way of organizing the classes and courses.
I had first planned to do my practical training here, in Finland. But the Corona situation complicated everything, especially for a foreign student.
But getting an internship in my hometown (Toulouse) was far from being a bad thing. I could see my family every day, which is most enjoyable since I am leaving in Finland permanently for 7 years now. On top of this working in a research centre that I have been wanted to work at for a long time, made me very motivated.
I was not leaving in the countryside of Toulouse, in a village called Deyme, which is in my opinion much better than the crowded centre of Toulouse. I have spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains nearby and just walking around with my dog. I enjoyed going to neighbours and friends houses for lovely diner and talks.
I was working at the INRAE research centre, in the Laboratory for Plant-Microbe-Environment Interactions.
Working in France and in Finland has been quite the same experience for me so far. Besides the language difference, all places I have been working at had a relaxed atmosphere. Even the coffee consumption is quite even in both countries! The main difference may be the way we interact with our supervisors/boss, the hierarchy in France is usually well marked (behaviour and speech) even if this tends to change little by little or depending on the companies.
All in all, it was a great internship, where I learned a lot, and I spent a wonderful time with my family. I might do it again if I have the opportunity!
I had planned to do my practical training abroad, but the pandemic made me do it at home, in France, which in the end was not that bad. I had the chance to work on a site I had always wanted to visit when I was a kid as it was very close to my village.
So I started working on the nuclear site of Marcoule for Veolia Water. There were in charge of the wastewater, rainwater, drinkable water and distilled water treatment and monitoring for the whole site. The training lasted 2 months and a half and my mission was to summarize all the penalties Veolia could face and all the actions they will have to fulfil if the get the tender. I also got to go on field to do some sampling and learn about the water cycle of the site. (Map of Marcoule, areva)
I was living with my in the city were I grew up as a kid and saw how much it has changed since the last time I had been there. It gave me the opportunity to get in touch with my family as I do not see then that often due to my studies and it was extremely pleasant. I also got to see my colleagues from the daycare center and the kids I had worked with for so many summers. (Lake of Codolet, Codolet.fr)
My work schedule allowed me to have a lot of free time, and even days off due to the annual closing of the sites. Thanks to that, I travelled to the mountains with a friend and got to see stunning landscapes, we had to hike for a whole to get to the top and to see the 7 wonderful lakes, but it was completely worth it. Obviously as there were lakes, I had to take a swim in one of them, after a long walk I recommend to try it, the cold water gave me my energy, my legs and my feet back for the end of the hike.
Results of the hike in the mountains. (Author)
It was a very good experience and I absolutely do not regret doing my Practical Training in my hometown !
After years of planning, I finally embarked on a study exchange to Japan, at Oita University to be specific. The twist is that I didn’t set foot anywhere near Japan and completed the entirety of the exchange remotely, from the safety of my living room in Tampere. This was of course all due to the ongoing pandemic and the fact that no foreigner without residency was/is allowed into the country. As I completely missed out on the aspect of immersing myself in the local culture, this post will solely focus on the academic side of things.
The exchange program at Oita mainly focuses on Japanese language and culture. I personally enrolled on four Japanese language courses and four courses touching upon different aspects of Japanese culture. My days generally started at 7am and ended at 12, that being Finnish time. The scheduling was worked out rather well by Oita University, taking into account the fact that there are people attending the lessons across many different time zones.
Compared to what I’m used to at TAMK, the lessons at Oita had less interaction between students. That could of course simply boil down to the fact that the lessons were implemented remotely. Overall, the interactions with other students were relatively limited. I didn’t have any contact with others outside of classes and related coursework. I didn’t really mind this as I’m more of a lone wolf anyway, but I still suppose it would’ve been nice to connect with someone on a deeper level. That being said, the lessons were very efficient. I can’t really elaborate on this. I guess I could say that the structure and the flow of lessons was very efficient.
Overall, the most valuable thing I got out of this program was the Japanese language studies. The quality of the Japanese lessons was top notch with great teachers and the lessons went a long way in improving my Japanese. While I feel like I mostly missed out on the cultural and social aspects of an exchange, I can still say I’m happy I took the chance to do this exchange remotely. While far from ideal, it was still the best thing I could’ve done under these circumstances.