The best city of Germany

I spent the last 6 months of my life in Munich. Ive visited many cities in Germany and liked this one the most!

We were not able to find that much courses related to our studies back home. Because of this I mainly studied Business which was nice for a change. It felt like the studies were a lot more difficult than in Finland. Could be that the remote studies and different language had something to do with it. I got 26 Credits with a gpa of 1.2 (finish 4.8). This was mainly because of boredom in the lockdown.

Ilmainen kuvapankkikuva tunnisteilla aikuinen, akateeminen, asu, copy space

 

There werent that many parties because of covid but i still miss the beer in germany. The best one has to be Augustiner Weissbier. I guess germany wasnt the main target for my exchange and because of that i travelled for almost 2 months of the exchange. I visited for example: Spain,2x Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Czech Republic and (Gibraltar).

 

 

Czech, in the blink of an eye

In the blink of an eye, it is now September when the sky turns greyer and the leaves turn more yellow in Finland, and I somehow still haven’t grasped the fact that I first set foot in the Czech Republic 8 months ago. The time I spent in a little Bohemian town called Pisek was just over 3 months. It was short, but it is meaningful.

I arrived at Prague late evening on a chilly January day and made it to Pisek after quite traveling. The next day I was introduced to the studies at The Film Academy of Miroslav Ondricek (FAMO) by the International Coordinator, Daniel. FAMO campus was not huge, but compact and was ideal to any cinephile, and even had some mini-exhibitions of vintage filmmaking gears. I learned a lot during the time there on traditional filmmaking through not only lectures about Film History, Production, or Scriptwriting but also from the hands-on experiences and through profound discussions with the lecturers. There was movie screening weekly on campus, which went through some of the classics of the Hollywood silence’s golden age to German Expressionism. However, one particular project that has been immensely influencing my vision, and lenses, is to produce from scratch and to direct a short film without any dialogues. Working on the project, I had many opportunities to discuss and to be consulted by the experienced and well-known filmmakers, scriptwriter, and producer. Unfortunately, the filming of the project was later canceled due to the coronavirus and the tough restrictions of the Czech authorities, and thus, the learning was switched to online platforms, and exams were introduced as a replacement. I kept on studying remotely with FAMO teachers even after my challenging journey back to Finland and ultimately decided to keep on finishing my uncompleted project here.

Let’s move on with the fun part: the life in Pisek. The city is small but incredibly scenic with old buildings, a stone bridge that crosses the Vltava river. I usually did some running on the riverbank and enjoyed the view.  The city is not at all touristic, so for me, I was living a very original and local lifestyle. I also realized that most inhabitants did not speak English at all, so I tried practicing my limited Czech vocabulary whenever I could, whether it is just an “Ahoy!” or “Děkuju!”. Living in Pisek was way cheaper than in Tampere, so I took the opportunity to go to some local restaurants sometimes. Besides having many good sausages and cheap beer, I also learned that Vietnamese people are considered a minority in the Czech Republic, and that was how I got to eat my home dishes a lot more frequently here. I have also grabbed the chance to visit Prague before social distancing happened, in which I booked a charity tour from a local and learned the 1600 years of Czech history. It was fun while it lasted.

It was an eye-opening learning experience for me, as I learned a different form and a different approach of moving images from what I learned in TAMK. In TAMK, there is a more contemporary aspect in teaching and there is also more freedom in making video arts than in traditional filmmaking. TAMK students are also independent artists of their own, while in FAMO, students are filmmakers that should follow the written rules and processes to enter the film industry. However, my opinions and ideas were both heard and given constructive comments from the lectures in both institutions.

That’s said, I wholeheartedly appreciate the experiences I gained living in Czech and studying at FAMO, given the extraordinary time that we live in. I will definitely come back to the country to immerse in its culture a bit more, and to learn more from this country of rich history in filmmaking. As an update, I have just finished shooting the project I started at FAMO independently, and as well made a short video of my journey back to Finland from Pisek here: https://youtu.be/-OMioBrBzCI

Enjoy!

Minh Pham

Note: The images and video in this post are taken by the author

 

Schöne Grüße aus München

In March 2020 I went to Munich to do my exchange studies and to enjoy my life. Munich was so great! The city has lots of old architecture and more than 20 churches. The price level in Munich is cheaper than in Finland, and at least beer was really cheap and tasty. I’d recommend to just go to a beer garden in Munich and order a Weißbier, after that you can’t drink Finnish beers anymore.

I was there six months and studied in Hochschule München. I didn’t have to spend time there because worldwide known pandemic came, so my courses were held online. I study electrical building services engineering, but I studied mostly business in Munich because I didn’t find any course which would have been related to electric. I chose 10 different courses which was a very bad idea. I had a lot of work and in the end of the semester, the deadlines were almost at the same time. It felt like I didn’t have time to do anything else than school stuff. But I had to get 25 ECTS so I just pushed myself forward and did it. Many of those courses were just 2 ECTS so I recommend choosing courses where you could get more ECTS points.

When borders opened again, I travelled almost 2 months straight around Europe, for example to Austria, Italy and Portugal. The location of Munich is so perfect that you can just rent a car and drive everywhere. I also travelled a lot by bus and plane. Many places were closed in Europe for example bars, clubs and restaurants but I didn’t care because I was abroad and having still good time.

Even though the pandemic was pain in the ass, I enjoyed my time in Munich. I will go back to Munich for sure in the future. I want to go there to see FC Bayern München football match because all the matches were cancelled during corona situation

Big plans to being back home

I had planned my practical training experience for almost a year. I had everything prepared-found an amazing work place in Vienna, Austria, singed the agreement, had a place to live for the summer, made plans where to travel during the weekends and then a world pandemic happened and my plans took another turn. The company stated they would be working remotely and so my practical training there was postponed. I was disappointed that my hard work to organize the internship in the best way possible was ruined.

 

Anyway, I had to act accordingly, so I started looking for a new place. Ironically, I found one 20 minutes away from my home town in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The interview went well and had the opportunity to start immediately. Naturally the first few days were a bit odd, but I still felt like I was at the right place.

My practical training took place in a very hospitable company called Eco Resolve LTD. It is a consultancy company and expert in environmental management with expertise in many spheres including environmental impact assessment, safety work conditions and grassing and planting. The training was in total 2 month during which I had to get used to the atmosphere, to the work habits, had to process a big amount of information and work on tasks assigned to me. One would think that two month is a very short period to get used to a new work environment and I could not agree more but this was a summer experience I will remember for life.

 

 

Every day I was crossing the most beautiful part of Plovdiv, the heart of the city-the Old town. With its paved streets, lovely old houses and street artist preparing for their busy days it made my days start with a big smile and blissful heart.  *

 

 

At work I was reading a lot of documents containing vocabulary I hardly knew but I was absorbing every word and luckily there were my friendly colleagues who were helping me with everything they could. Some days were different to the others. We were not spending all the days in the office buried in documentation but also going on-site to talk with the clients and the views on the way to the sites were stunning. *

In my free time I was traveling with friends to the seaside, hiking in the mountains, attending festivals and other cultural events.

Open sky cinema and a festival in Plovdiv. *

Hiking sites in the Rhodopes.*

I can say I am could not be happier how my “failed” summer developed. The countless new friendships and connections, memorable events and valuable knowledge made this experience one in a lifetime.

*All photos taken by author

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/

Greeting from Munchen

I spent 6 months in Munchen and had a really great time even during the pandemic. I studied at Hoschule Munchen. Its kinda hard to say how the school operates or how is the student life there since there was the pandemic. Nevertheless the school reacted fast and well to the pandemic and the start of the summer semester only got postponed by 4 weeks approx. The lockdown in April-May lasted about 4-5 weeks.

Initially I was going to take courses that were somehow related to my major, but since they did not have much in English but in German I gave up and took any course that sounded interesting. I ended up taking 10 courses for 27 ECTS points, it was a lot of work but I managed. All of the courses were held by Zoom. The teachers spoke good English but sometimes they would throw some German in there to spice things up.

I took some A1 German language classes and learned somewhat okayish German, I intend to continue studying it in TAMK.

Munchen was really fun and amazing city. It has a lot to offer students for ex. Biergartens, clubs, festivals and much more. Sadly because of the pandemic I did not get to experience the city to the fullest.

The city has a lot of great places to watch the sunset.

The architecture in Munchen is also really cool. Just by strolling around the city square or shopping disctrict you can see really old buildings, churches etc.

Even though a lot of students left back to their home countries because of the pandemic I still managed to meet a lot of other exchange students (which was really great). Also the borders around Europe were closed for a few months but immediately they opened we were able to travel. Its crazy how Germany is so center Europe you can just drive 2 hrs to Austria, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. Of course we took advantage of that and traveleng as much as possible inside the country and outside.

I would still stay that Munchens biergartens are the best palce to be. Cheap beer, great atmosphere and mediocre German food (tbh everyone is there for the beer not the food).

 

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).

 

Daily hikes up Steep Hill! Greetings from Lincoln, UK

 

Lincoln Cathedral, United Kingdom

I spent my exchange in Lincoln, a relatively small historic city in the eastern midlands of England.

My studies at The University of Lincoln were mostly theoretical and consisted of a lot of reading and writing academic texts. I study film and screenwriting, which made the theoretical nature of the education a bit frustrating to get used to at first, because back at home, all we do is very much practical. I’m used to learn things by doing things, and I’m not good at writing essays at all, not to mention the inability I have to focus while sitting still for long stretches of time… But I’m very proud of myself for experiencing and learning from these differences!

I will miss this place a lot. Lincoln is an old Roman city full of history, and one of those places where history can literally be touched and felt.

There are ruins scattered throughout the city centre and the Roman city walls built around a steep hill called, well, Steep Hill. If I remember correctly, it features the steepest street in all of United Kingdom with shops on it, and leads to the nearly 1000-year-old Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle sitting on top of the hill.

It only makes sense that I spent most of my free time hiking up Steep Hill, looking at Antique shops, sipping hot chocolate in bookshops, walking in nature, exploring tiny old villages around the neighbouring counties (and I even ventured as far as Wales and Scotland! But I never got the chance to visit Ireland as I had planned to go there in the summer, and well… that didn’t work out as I had planned).

Let’s just say I got very used to having sore feet.

I think back on my time in Lincoln with a sense of bittersweetness. I had a wonderful time there, but I wish I had done much more and travelled much more. I wish there had never come a situation where I had to return home before summer, because I had made so many plans specifically for the summer months. But what did I learn? Never wait until summer to do anything! Maybe that’s why Finns love to do the sauna + lake thing so much in the winter months…? 😀

I will definitely l return to Lincoln as soon as I can afford it and the virus situation has settled down! And this time I’ll visit Ireland as well!

 

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!

Greetings from Bruges

When I first walked in the Bruges city center I was enchanted. The architecture of the city is medieval and the whole city is like it’s from a fairy tale. Cute buildings, canals,  small shops and the atmosphere of the city is magical.

 

I really enjoyed my time in Bruges. I like the Belgian lifestyle and culture. My school, Vives, was nice, and all the teachers spoke very good English. I had an unprecedented motivation to study and I had some nice people around me. Unfortunately, the corona virus situation messed everything up, and I decided to go back home after spending just 2 months in Belgium. My Erasmus experience continued online, so I got all the credits of this spring.

 

 

Even though Belgians are very punctual, hard working and formal, they know how to enjoy their lives. They are very nice and chill. Even when I was in somebody’s way in the supermarket, or if I had blocked the way with my bike, they just smiled at me and minded their own business. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and I really like that attitude.

I really liked studying in Bruges. The teachers spoke very good English and I attended very interesting courses. I learned a lot about Belgium, Belgium’s history and culture, the EU and European- and International laws.

Belgians are very punctual; they don’t accept delays in School, and you have compulsory attendance in class. If you were  more than 15 minutes late, you were not able to take part in class. If you were absent you needed a doctor’s certificate of it. That’s probably even why I was early at School.

I usually spent my free  time with the other exchange students. I lived in b/kot, which is residence own by Vives, so all the other exchange students lived there too. I lived on the same floor with 7 Spanish girls, so there was noise and action all day and all night, and they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to club every night. Regardless, I still loved their company.

 

 

 

 

I went to the gym and jogging weekly. I also did Hot Yoga, when my schedule matched with the yoga studio. We also spent time in the pubs, played pool and tasted Belgian beers. Sometimes I went to the club with my Spanish friends. There is also some good cafées in Bruges, and there is a place that serves the best turmeric latte in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In normal circumstances Belgium is a good country to see western Europe, because everything is so close. Me and my friends went to Amsterdam, before corona hit.