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Greetings from The Hague

Last spring/summer I was an exchange student at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. The whole semester was different than anyone could have expected. Mostly because of the coronavirus. The semester started normally, and everything went well at first. However, after about a month, the coronavirus began to spread in Europe and at the same time began to affect the Netherlands. Shortly after this, our school and almost all companies closed their doors. Fortunately, no total lockdown came at any point, so we were allowed to move freely outside. Most of the exchange students went back to their home countries. I decided to stay in The Hague myself and did not return to Finland until the end of the summer.

 

The decision to stay in the Netherlands for the whole time was great. I got to see and experience a lot despite the hard times. Towards the end, the restrictions eased, and we were able to travel a little again. I got to visit Germany, France, and Belgium during my exchange and we also traveled a lot within the Netherlands. Our school stayed online until the end, but it was organized well, and I didn’t have any problems with it.

 

As a whole, my exchange was an awesome experience that I will surely remember for the rest of my life. I gained a lot of new experiences and made new friends, so I can totally recommend exchange studies for everyone and if you are thinking of going to the Netherlands, then I can recommend The Hague. The city has a bit of everything, a big and beautiful beach, as well as lots of shops and canals. It’s also easy to travel around from there, Amsterdam is about 40 minutes and Rotterdam is about 20 minutes away.

Greetings from virtual Hague!

A virtual cooking class with my classmates during “taste week”.

Since Covid-19 got all actual exchanges cancelled, I enrolled on a virtual one with The Hague University of Applied Sciences. It is quite fitting since my actual exchange would have also took part in The Netherlands. So all though I don’t get to physically be there, I get a virtual snippet of the Dutch culture and lots of interaction with the people of Hague.

My study module is called Artful Business Creations, and oh boy, artful it is. For 10 weeks we have two full school days a week with a different theme like “touch” or “taste and smell”. We have all kinds of interesting classes and exercises diving deeper to these topic, exploring the senses, and relating art and business. I wonder what it would be like in person, but through Teams it has also been surprisingly engaging and lots of fun.

Each ABC team also has their own grand project with an actual client. My team consists of myself and three Dutch students; Anastasia, Simone and Thomas, and we have had great times together, and with our client Dr. Martens. So far, I have really enjoyed Dutch people and their humor. It has been a pleasant experience working together and exchanging creative ideas. Compared to Finland I have really enjoyed the cheerful and engaging style of studying, and the dynamic yet relaxed way of working. Of course the artful course style in itself plays a big factor. This module has allowed me to to try lots of new things like meditation, reflective journaling, online dance classes and song writing.

A meeting with my team mid lunch.

The interesting thing about a virtual exchange seems to be that it takes even more creativity and planning, which is actually a good challenge. Everyone is in the comfort of their own home, but the real purpose of ABC is to get out of our comfort zones. Unfortunately one cannot spend their spare time exploring the target country, but on the bright side managing errands, relationships and other studies can be continued normally. If you aren’t able to physically go to student exchange, I definitely recommend considering a virtual one. Maybe one day I too get to go to The lovely Netherlands and see my classmates in face to face…

Zegenwensen!

BR, Jenni

¡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

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 Munich

I spent two semesters abroad in Germany, Munich. I went there in September 2019. The school life in Munich was not that different from what I have used to in Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Some of the courses I had was though by professors who had enormous experience on the topic from corporate world. It was pretty nice to notice that the professors were enthusiastic in teaching and the topics were made to be interesting through a real life stories.

In my spare time I used to go to the gym, nearby my apartment. It was really easy to get the membership at the gym and the atmosphere there was nice. I used to go a lot into the restaurants  and have a some food and beer with friends. I really enjoyed the food culture in Bavaria.  When I had more time I was spending a day visiting the sights. There was so much to see in Munich only, sadly the COVID-19 situation came later and I wasn’t able to visit in every place I wanted to. At least I went skiing on the Alps.

The studying and working culture doesn’t differ that much between Germany and Finland. Only major thing is that the teachers feel to be more respected in Germany than they are in Finland. I think it might be because of the masculinity aspect of the country. In Germany there are more hierarchies than in Finland and people tend to be more masculine, where Finland is feminine country.

München, Olympiastadion, Olympic Park, Stadion

https://pixabay.com/fi/photos/m%C3%BCnchen-olympiastadion-olympic-park-2516492/

Hallo! Greetings from Berlin!

I spent six months in Berlin doing my exchange studies and I had a great time! The university was Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (HTW), and very different from TAMK, in my opinion. There was not many spaces to study with friends and their library is pretty different, it was more like Tamk’s silent room. You can not go inside with your bag, jacket, food/drinks, you have to leave everything in a locker outside, and you cannot make any noise. Also, if you want to rent a book you need to ask the librarian. One nice area with sofas to study and meet your friends is, surprisingly, a bar. Yes, there is a bar in the uni.

Facilities aside, I had some nice courses and good teachers. The duration of classes were three hours and fifteen minutes, those fifteen being a break in the middle and the teaching style was similar to Tamk’s.

I lived in a student residence called Victor Jara together with many Erasmus students, which was awesome! Everyone had its own studio but lived in the same building.  There was a big common area outside, felt like a private park, with some chairs, grill and even a beach volleyball court. And there was also a student bar in the building (that is Berlin, my friends) that opened every Tuesday and Friday and had the cheapest drinks possible.

First picture in the area outside the building and second picture is the bar, Bierkeller, when we celebrated its 65 years.

There is loads of things to do in Berlin on your spare time! It is a huge and multicultural city and you can find anything you want. The history and the culture of the city, and the country, is impressive and you can learn about it just walking through Berlin or going in one of the many museums. Museums of history, art, photography, technology, everything.

Berlin is a beautiful city (a bit dirty though) with a lot to offer. There are many touristic places to visit, food from all over the world to eat, a lot of vegan too, and people from everywhere. The thing I loved most about this city was its freedom. People are free, they dress and walk in the way they want and no one is judging or being judged.

Berliner Dom and Brandenburger Tor.

One thing you must, and probably, know is that Germans love sausage and beer! And unlike Finland, a lot of cheap beer and alcohol.  Berlin is also known from its street art, which you can see everywhere, and for its club night life. It is the techno city, and it is crazy. If you are going there, be free and enjoy!

“I love my life” (all photos were taken by me).

 

Greetings from China

My study exchange in Shanghai was for 4 months. During this time I learned a little bit of Mandarin Chinese, how to move around the city and how to survive in China.

First of all, everything is surprisingly hard when you don’t speak the language. Many Chinese people don’t know even one word of English and are not eager to even try to communicate with Western people. After few weeks of being in Shanghai and getting to know the most important words in Chinese everything got simpler.

During my free time I traveled inside China, studied the language and did some shopping. Shanghai has bigger shopping centers than you can even imagine!

Studying in China differs a lot from studying in Finland. In China teachers are really strict, schooldays are every day +10 hours long and students go to school in the morning about one hour before the first lecture to prepare themselves for the school day.

Shanghai is a city that never sleeps. There is always a traffic jam with hundreds of electric scooters chaotically going from one place to another, restaurants are open till midnight and buses are always crowded with people.

Shanghai is definitely a place everyone should visit even once!

Trying to go Far, ending up Near

I have less than one month left in my exchange studies to Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. What has made this exchange very unique is of course the corona situation which for me meant, that I have been doing my exchange studies online from Finland to Germany. As the summer semester in Germany starts quite late in the spring the corona virus affected to the whole semester from the start. At first, they only postponed the start to April and hoped that things would return to normal, but it wasn’t long that they realized they had to implement the whole semester online.

I was lucky to be able to move to Germany in 8th of March to do my exchange. Unfortunately, I only got to live there for 9 days and decided to come home to follow the ongoing situation.

View of Bielefeld.

Bielefeld is a small city in a scale of German cities but compared to Tampere the population is almost the same. We were about 100 exchange students, but I was the only one from anywhere in the Nordic countries. FH Bielefeld has 3 campuses which include 5 faculties.  They have yearly about 11 000 students studying in those campuses.

 

In my time there I was able to get to know the city a bit and study German for a week. We managed to start our German intensive course but even that was cut short. So, in my spare time I did a lot of walking as the weather was great and warm, but not much more can be done in a week. FH Bielefeld offers a lot of choices to do sports and the semester contribution also includes a semester ticket to the public transport for the whole NRW (North-Rhine Westphalia) which would’ve been great for exploring Germany.

 

School lunch experience

My student housing was amazing. For the price of 320€/month I got a studio apartment which was build in 2019 and had everything you needed. The school offers everyone a spot in student housing, so I didn’t need to stress about my living.

 

FH Bielefeld

All my studies this semester have been implemented online. This situation has been very new to our German professors as well, so the teaching quality has varied a lot between different subjects. Some offer weekly zoom meeting which has been great in my opinion. Some offer lectures that are recorded beforehand and then zoom meetings are just for questions and related info’s. And then there is one who has only given us some pdfs to read and has only contacted us couple times by e-mail. I do prefer the zoom lectures as they keep me motivated and give my weeks a bit of structure. Now they have made the decisions about how to implement exams online as that was a difficult to adapt for Germans as they are very used to the traditional ways of having a paper and pen kind of exams. I will be having exams on most of my courses and they will be subject to 60 minutes written online exam. This will be an interesting experience as even the teachers have never held these kinds of exams, so we have no idea what kind of exams to expect.

Studying to FH Bielefeld, Germany like this has seemed very easy compared to Finland as we have not had any projects, group work or tasks really in any of the courses. I don’t know if that is the norm or is it just because of the online semester. The downside in this is although, that the upcoming exam is going to define the whole grade, which is a bit unnerving. But I hope I will do okay and will accomplish my studies and be credited with a certificate of International Business Manager.

Have a great summer peeps!

Dodgin ‘Rona in Rotterdam

What’s happening, peeps? I hope you’re doing well!

Man oh man if this spring has not been the weirdest, right? 2020 is doing a great job at being a pissy POS that just ruins the fun for everybody. Like seriously, start off with Australia looking like the end of Apocalypse Now, follow up with a global pandemic like it’s nothing, whip up a couple of earthquakes and other natural disasters, and finish it off with a little spice with the whole Kobe incident. Right now the USA is on fire because of the horribly sad and gut-wrenching case of George Floyd, and I’m just here, being 23, and for the first time in my life feeling so overwhelmed by all of this that I feel like like I am, in fact, stuck on a space rock zooming through the universe a million miles an hour without being in any control over of whatever the F will happen next to me, and to all of us.  So here’s to that – ain’t life just the darndest sometimes? But for real, if there is a god I hope they realize to hit the breaks soon enough.

Anyway, we’ve been dodging ‘Rona in Rotterdam for a few months now and I have to say it ain’t half that bad! I’ve had a decent time! I spend most of my days either studying my courses in the international logistics management program I’m involved in, or working out. Seriously, my days are a random combination of trying to be active, studying, eating and being social. But let’s talk about the studies, shall we?

The level of education I get here is intense. Like I have to admit, I was not quite expecting this, even if I had my expectations high. I had heard prior to applying that in the Netherlands you get to actually study and I heard it’s going to be tough and time-consuming. I just thought it can’t be that bad and that it’s probably worth it. And yes it is, both of those things.

The quality of teaching in Hogeschool Rotterdam is crazy good. I feel like I’ve learned the most when I’ve been here. The teachers are very professional and know their fields throughout, and they all seem to have an understanding of pedagogy as well, because their lectures, materials and methods are very effective. Before coming here, I think I wouldn’t have called myself even a SCM familiar, but I have to say that after studying here, the idea of being a specialist in Supply Chain Management seems quite close actually. These people know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to logistics and SCM.

Other than that I mean, I still got a month or so to go and returning to Finland is acute again and uhh…. yeah, I should graduate by the end of the year as well. I got my thesis topic down and I get to start working on that which is nice. So the courses I have here are my final actual studies before graduating and thus closing this chapter of my life. And I am glad that I get to say with pure honesty that I’m happy I chose Rotterdam. I feel confident starting my thesis and taking the next steps on my career. I know I got this in the bag, and I have to say it’s mostly because of my time here. Wish me luck tho!

But that’s about it. I’m sorry don’t have any pictures for you, so here’s one of me and one of my POV while writing this thing:

Be happy!
– Kalle Lahtinen