Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Greetings from Glasgow!

I spent 4 months in the ever rainy Glasgow and I got to say I really enjoyed my time! This luckily happened before all this covid stuff so we had the chance to attend lots of events and trips with my flatmates who were from all around the Europe.

The studies were really great in my opinion, the teaching was high-quality and the course content was spot on. I managed to learn a lot of new and important stuff that could help me in future projects besides gaining a lot of new material for my portfolio. Most of the classes were practical which I really liked, though it was always backed up with some proper theory to get going.

We had a lot of freedom when to do our course tasks which meant there was quite good amount of spare time to spend, which I did by spending time with my flatmates. The school (Glasgow Caledonian University that is) held great amount of events we took part of and we also did some trips to smaller islands and whisky distilleries by ourselves. Our exchange held great amount of time sitting in Glasgow’s pubs having some pints of Scotland’s finest beer Tennent’s and watching some Celtic FC’s football (which they are crazy about).

The study culture was quite the same as in Finland from my experience, though it did contain more self-study as the teacher would usually just link the material and everybody would go through it on their own phase and ask for help if needed. The people studying was bit younger than we usually have in Finland which was probably the biggest difference. The amount of studying/working for the courses was roughly the same as we’ve had in Finland

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.

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!

 

My studies at Stoke-On-Trent, UK

Living and studying in Stoke-On-Trent, England for almost 7 months has been one of the best experiences in my life, regardless of the ongoing pandemic. I started my exchange program in January 2020 and returned to Finland halfway through July. Stoke-On-Trent (often just Stoke) is located in Northern Staffordshire which in my opinion is the perfect location for an exchange student in England; it’s not far from London or Manchester and travelling is fairly easy and cheap, especially with the railcard. Stoke has lot to offer such as lovely parks, shopping centre, museums, pubs and restaurants and everything is fairly close. You can easily walk everywhere.

I did my exchange studies in the Staffordshire University. The courses I studied were really interesting and I learned so many new things! In total I did three modules during my studies which meant having lectures 3 days a week leaving me with a lot of spare time for travelling and other activities. I did lots of travelling between Stoke-On-Trent and London. The professors in my chosen modules were so nice and helpful and I could not have asked a better study experience. Studying in a University in England differs a lot from studying in a University in Finland (or at least in TAMK) since the focus was on theoretical learning all the time. We did hardly any practical studies which was a little bit disappointing. Our focus was on theory and assignments and we had to write one essay for each module at the end of the semester. Your final mark depended on how well you did on your essay. For each lecture we had to do some preparatory work; this could be for example reading an article, doing some research or watch a documentary. We would have a discussions, or some sort of group work activity on each lecture based on the given assignment. Most of the study hours in England are meant for studying by yourself and sometimes it did feel like I had no spare time because of the studies taking so much time of my day.

Staffordshire University offered a lot of spare time activities such as social clubs and a gym. The campus area was surrounded with bars, coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. I spent good amount of my time during my studies in the library doing research and assignments with my classmates before the lockdown. I am so happy I did not have to cut my exchange studies short because of the lockdown and was able to stay in England. Distance learning on it’s own was an experience as well!

I can’t wait to visit Stoke-On-Trent again one day and look back to all the memories I made during my exchange studies!

Unforgettable Scotland

I began the first half of my 3rd study year in Scotland, at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Getting settled there was easy as I was able to receive a room in Caledonian Court, right across the street from the university itself. The location was great, right next to GCU and the city center which meant I was walking distance from everything I needed. I had a little over one week to get my bearings before the modules (courses) began, during which we had the Welcome Week and many fun activities.

The biggest surprise for me, nature wise, was the lack of parks and green areas near the city. To get to a park you had to walk for at least half an hour, and they were very well maintained compared to the raggedy forests I’m accustomed to in Finland. I’m used to having a forest only a few minutes’ walk away from home in Finland. It took some time to get used to the lack of forests or parks nearby, as I like to go for walks in the forest to de-stress and spend time.

About my studies in GCU

Compared with Finland the study culture is very different in Scotland. In TAMK I am used to mainly group work but in Scotland the emphasis was on independent work, meaning a lot of studying at home and doing all assignments individually. The focus was on theoretical learning without much practical application of knowledge.

In TAMK I am used to having smaller assignments due every now and then, but at GCU the way the assignments were spread out through the semester was very different; there were typically only one or two really big assignments for each module, and many were due at the end of the semester. Two of my modules had exams in January but I was (luckily) able to do both of them in Finland.

In total I did three modules during my stay in Glasgow, each worth 10 ECTS. I had lessons 3 days a week which left me with a lot of spare time to cook, go to the gym (located on the university campus), visit museums and landmarks in Glasgow and go on trips to see the country.

Spare time

Scotland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. The mountains were enormous, and in the autumn they were covered in dead ferns that coloured the mountain sides in a deep hazel. The most beautiful place I visited was Isle of Skye where small white houses dotted the countryside. It was probably the windiest place I have ever been to! Overall, the weather wasn’t as poor as I thought it would be, so I wasn’t as bothered by it when it was windy or rainy.

I spent a lot of my spare time with my 7 flatmates who were all exchange students like myself. We went on many day trips together; some were guided tours and others we organised ourselves. Those trips were what made my exchange in Scotland truly memorable. Some trips we organised with my flatmates were visiting Pollock Country Park to see the highland cows, visiting Edinburgh (only an hour bus ride away from Glasgow) and going to the Enchanted Forest. We also climbed Goat Fell Mountain which was one of the best days of my life!

I loved my exchange in Scotland, the friends I made, the unforgettable memories and I can’t wait to go back to there!

My studies at Reading, UK, place when you’ll never know when it’s going to rain

When I was choosing my location for abroad studies, my main goals were to learn to speak English better and more confidently, the place needs to be easily accessible to home and there would be no need for learning a new language. With all these three combined, I decided to send an application to the University of Reading. 

I didn’t know anything of this town before I searched the places, and the first impression of googling it out was “kinda like Joensuu but easier to access.” I got accepted, rented a room of these traditional, semi-attached houses and moved in a little after new year.

I chose to study some typography courses, virtual reality and modern Britain, and the studies itself were much different than in my home university at TAMK. 

I was used to learning by doing the thing, but Reading uni turned out to be very academic and their studies included a lot of reading (hehe), making notes and researching by yourself. Most of the study hours are self-studying, and it could be hard for a person like me who likes to know exactly what to do next and what you need to read to learn the right stuff. Most of the grades are given based on the tests. Difference could also be that my home studies are interactive media, and we do most of the stuff digitally. 

The University has a lot of student free time activities and social clubs, and you will find whatever suits you the best. I was just enjoying my time alone, and spent most of my time at home. Campus is its own little town: there are bars, a grocery store, a library, coffee houses, restaurants… If you live at the university halls, you don’t need to walk farther than the campus area to get along. 

Little bit about the place: Reading is a town, where people move when they get tired of London and they want to settle down. It’s really easy to travel to London for work, but it’s cheaper to live in Reading. London is only 40 minutes of train travel away, and the train takes you straight to Paddington station.

 

It’s also really easy to move around in town itself. Public transportation is easy to use and not too expensive, and buses are easily figured out. 

It was “middle winter” when I got there, but basically the whole 3 months were like a long spring to me. Grass was green, weather changed really quickly from sunny to pouring rain and nature was alive. It was so refreshing how green there was! And now I understand why Brits like to talk about weather. 

Brits itself are kinda like Finns: Helpful but a little bit reserved. Don’t try to smalltalk with the store clerk. And the same time, it also took me a while to learn to answer the “How are you”-question with just “Fine, you?”

Unfortunately, this spring the COVID-19 situation ended my (and many others) abroad studies earlier than expected, but I’m happy to be home safe and sound. University were really great at informing students about the situation. 

After all, I’m really happy of my time there, and I’ll look forward to visit the town again later in life. 

Student life in Stoke on Trent

I studied in Stoke on Trent in England for the autumn semester 2019. I did my studies in Staffordshire University. The university was really big and it was only 15 minute walk form my home so it was really nice. The studies were really different than the ones I was used to in Finland. We had some kind of preparation work for every lecture, for example reading some articles or watching a documentary. Some of them were a bit difficult but made the studying interesting. The lectures were shorter than in Finland and we had no exams, only essays and reports to write. The lectures were really interesting and you could focus on the topics that you were interested.

I have spent my spare time travelling. I have been in London, Manchester, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland as well. It has been super interesting to explore the country! I have also met many other students, local English students but international exchange students as well.  Stoke on Trent is famous for the potteries so I have also visited a pottery museum in the city. Sometimes it feels like I have no free time, the studies and essay writings take a lot of my time! I also had my family and my friend visiting me during the exchange which was really nice. Three months is a short time to explore the whole country so I wish to come back in the UK again very soon and visit more places!

 

Greetings from Pompey!

Greetings from Portsmouth!

I did my exchange in Portsmouth, England, which is located on the south coast of England, and as you can see from the picture it wasn’t all cloudy and rainy all the time. At the moment I’am already back in not so sunny Tampere, but my exchange went well. The studies were nice and interesting and Portsmouth really is a student town as the population there is around 200 000 with about 20 000 of them students. I had two supply chain courses and one finance and accounting course. The courses where structured nicely as all of the lesson involved a theoretical part which was then followed by a practical part. It made the learning easier. The only minus was that the courses I had chosen happened to have all of their assignments in January, so I had a pretty busy couple of weeks.

I did, of course, still have a good amount of spare time. Portsmouth is a very small town, so there isn’t much to see there after the first few weeks. Luckily, there is a lot to see around the UK and for example London is only about an hour away by train. By the way, if you want get cheap train tickets in the UK, you should book them well in advance. I also visited London for a couple of days and I have to say, It never lets you down! I also went to Southampton, which is also about an hour away and has way better shopping opportunities than Portsmouth. I also took a bus to Manchester, which was a bit of a mistake, but as the train tickets get massive expensive when you travel a longer distance, I had no choice. And now I have experienced the standstill traffic on M6. It was a nice 9-hour trip on the buses. A place you must visit when in Portsmouth, is the Isle of Wight. It is an hour ferry ride away from Portsmouth and the landscape there is just breathtaking. We also went to Pompey FC’s football match, which was quite something. And yes, Portsmouth is called Pompey for some reason.

The studies were quite different from Finland or at least from Tamk. Because it is an actual university, the focus was on the academic side all the time. I have now become a master at referencing as that seemed to be the main focus.  In your essays you can’t even say that the earth is round without having an appropriate reference for it. The rules were also stricter and attendance was always compulsory and it was monitored with your student card that you had to scan always before a lecture. If you were sick, you had to get a note from a doctor, otherwise it was a forbidden absence. Reports and essays also have s strict word limit and if you go above that just by 1 word, you get 10% taken off from your mark. How crazy is that! But all in all, the exchange was a nice experience and it also made me appreciate Finland more. The student accommodation there was absolutely awful with mold, small rooms and sky-high rents so it is really nice to have Toas and cheap and comfortable apartments. School is also nicer in Finland as you don’t have to worry about all these different kind of penalties if you go above a word limit or return the assignment a minute late.

 

Br,

Katri

Greetings from Stoke-On-Trent

I have been studying in Stoke-On-Trent for almost three months now.  Stoke-On-Trent is a city in Northern Staffordshire that has a population of a bit over 250 000 citizens and is best known from its pottery industry. Even though by its population Stoke-On-Trent is slightly bigger than Tampere, in my opinion, it feels a bit smaller. However, it has a lot of nice things to offer: it has, for example, many beautiful parks, a shopping center, museums, a movie theater, many pubs and restaurants, a shopping village and even a monkey forest.

         

         

In my opinion, the best part of the city has been the university where I study, Staffordshire University. The courses I have studied have been very interesting and the professors have been really nice, helpful and good at what they do. The contents and implementations of the courses have been well structured: they have involved both theory and practice, and instead of just listening to lecturers the lessons have involved a lot of discussions and group work. There are a few differences between studying in Staffordshire University and studying in TAMK. For example, in Staffordshire University there are preparatory tasks for each lecture, whereas in TAMK, at least in the courses I have attended, there aren’t. In here, I also have more independent studying and less contact hours. I have lectures only on Tuesdays to Thursdays and only two to four hours per day. Another example of the differences between my host and home universities, is that in the courses I have studied here, the final marks are based on essays or portfolios, whereas in most of the courses I have in TAMK the grade is based on an exam done in the end of each course. In here, we have to write usually one 3000-word essay per course and you can plan and write it whenever you want to, as long as it’s done by the deadline in the end of the semester. For my personally, regarding my learning and development during a course, this way is more suitable. In all, I have been very satisfied with my host university and I have learned a lot during the semester!

My free time I have spent, for instance, hanging out with my new friends, exploring the British culture (including celebrating the local holidays, such as Guy Fawkes Day and Halloween) and enjoying our university’s weekly student happenings.  I have also spent a lot of time travelling. Right in the beginning of my exchange period, before arriving Stoke-On-Trent, I spent a few days in London with my friend, which was a great way to start the student exchange.  In September we also traveled to Dublin and Belfast, in October to Manchester and in November to Scotland. Next week, I will travel to London one more time, and the week after that my destination will be Finland!

Best Regards, Katariina

Not that rainy after all, The Univeristy of Salford, UK

Hello from Salford, United Kingdom!

I am happy that I came to Salford to do my exchange studies. Salford is a part of Greater Manchester, so it doesn’t have a center of its own (well it does, but it there’s only supermarkets) so as you wish to shop, go to bars and pubs etc. you go to Manchester city center.

I have lived in a student housing called Bramall Court, it is in a good location between the center and uni, I walk to both of them in 15 minutes. The public transportation is expensive in here so I would suggest you to move close to the uni so you can walk there.  Student apartments are popular here, and there are a lot of them. Bramall Court has been ok to live in, but I would get more with the same money if I still lived in Tampere. So, living here is pretty expensive. Also, if you move to a student accommodation, you have to buy __everything__ yourself. Pans, pots, glasses, cutlery, sheets, pillows etc, nothing is here waiting for you. So if you wish to save some money, bring something already with you and use the second hand shops that the university provides. They sell kitchen supplies there with a good prices. Btw, you also have to pay the rent for the whole 5 months in advance, so be ready for that.

Lectures start pretty late here. Mine started 23.9 if I remember correctly, but I moved here on the 6th of September already. That was a wise thing to do. Semesters start first with early arrivals week (mostly exchange students come then) then welcome week takes place and only after those two weeks, lectures start. During the first 2 weeks, there is a lot of free events on campus where you can make friends, and that  is also what I did.  There is a lot of exchange students and also international students here in Salford, so I am sure that everyone will find friends here.

You will select 3 modules (=courses) that you study while being here. I study service sector marketing, managing international events and business ethics and sustainability. I have school only 3 times per week, 4 hours a day. So there is a lot of free time to do you assignments and travel. I think the courses are very good here and teachers are polite, well educated and want you to learn, so they are here for you.

The weather is also better than what I expected, it does rain a lot but not that much. If you come here with an attitude that it will rain all the time, you will be surprised that it does not and then don’t even mind the rain when it does. The winter here is nice because there’s more sunlight than in Finland and it’s not as cold. Now in November its usually from 4-8 degrees.

All in all, I think Salford is a place to be and if you want to do your exchange in the UK, I think you should come here. Manchester is a good location, big but not too big of a city, close to Liverpool and in the center of the UK so it’s easy to travel to Scotland, Ireland and other places. Btw, trains  are suuuuper expensive here, so be ready to sit in a bus when traveling.