Summer School 2016 (22 of 170)Hegi Rezhda from Greece, Seung Yub Shin from South Korea and Julia Seitz from Germany at Viikinsaari island.

For several years, Tampere University of Applied Sciences has organized a summer course for Basics of Finnish. This course has been very popular among exchange and international students. This year, the course was held for the first time by lecturer Ella Hakala from TAMK’s language services.

Getting to know Finland during the first week

Summer School 2016 (10 of 170)Viikinsaari island trip included a nature path tour with Michel Faas

Basics of Finnish started with an easy atmosphere, as most of the students had just arrived to Finland in the first week of August. Short introductions and basic details about the course were presented before the hard dive into Finnish language started. The course aimed to familiarize students with Finnish culture and give them the basic knowledge of an European language level of A1 in Finnish.

Viikinsaari was the location for the first cultural activity of the course. It is an idyllic nature sight to see in Tampere. The ferry goes very often to the Viikinsaari island during the summer time and the lake Pyhäjärvi is nice to see during the half an hour trip. Once everyone arrived to Viikinsaari, the tour guide, Michel Faas started by explaining what the place was and how Finnish culture felt to a foreigner living in Finland for many years. Michel is originally from the Netherlands and has been working during TAMK’s summer courses very often.

Summer School 2016 (28 of 170)Anett Galántai, Sushma Birdarkote Keshavamurthy, Emma Thirkell, Helena Gregerová, international coordinator Camilla Kalevo, Kehdriah Pearse, Regina Schröter, Hegi Rezhda, Julia Seitz, Razieh Zare, Charikleia Sakellari, Sebastian Roßkopf, Seung Yub Shin and International Services Trainee, Aleksi Jolkkonen with Dino, the dog.

Viikinsaari was one of the many activities offered during the first week of the course. Second great adventure was the kickbiking tour around Kauppi with Michel Faas and a bowling evening on Friday.

Summer School 2016 (41 of 170)The kickbikes went quite fast on downhill! Helena Gregérova is having a go with it!

The kickbiking gave an even better view to the Finnish nature and culture, as there was a traditional cooking with fire and the much loved sauna. The tour ended at  Kaupinojan Sauna, where students had their first experience in a public lake and after, in a sauna. There are actually quite many of these around Finland and Tampere. Rauhaniemen Kansankylpylä is another other option near Kaupinojan Sauna.The tour around Viikinsaari provided the course students with a great idea on how Finns see their nature. Foraging, wondering and being active in the nature is very close to the Finnish way of life. There are great forests everywhere to be explored and visited by anyone traveling around Finland.

Summer School 2016 (47 of 170)There are many sticks in the Finnish forests to be found for cooking purposes

The first week ended quite quick as the program was intense and tight. Daily lectures taught Finnish language and the evening activities gave a glace into the Finnish culture and way of life. Most students had arranged travelling plans for the weekend, and Helsinki was one of the cities they visited. The capital of Finland holds many interesting sights to see. For example, Suomenlinna, which is one of the largest sea fortresses in the world and is also an UNESCO heritage sight.

Second week adventures

Summer School 2016 (123 of 170)It is said that the city of Tampere is the best city in Finland

With the weekend wondering over, it was time to get back to business at TAMK. The Basics of Finnish lecture started every day at 9:15. 15 minutes over is a traditional starting time for Tampere University of Applied Sciences’s lectures. It is often called “akateeminen vartti” or academic quarter in English.

Monday evening was full with adventure, as there was a city challenge with the Action Track application. It is a smartphone app that allows creation of location based tasks for groups or individuals. TAMK has been testing it for multiple purposes, like orientation and self-serviced campus tours. Floworks is in charge of the projects related to Action Track. The track itself had fun tasks related to Tampere, such as going to take a sky-high selfie in the Torni hotel and interviewing a Pokémon player in Finnish, at the Pikkukakkonen playground. The challenge ended with girls’s team winning by arriving earlier at the finish line. However, as it is customary in Finland, everyone received an ice cream in the end.

Summer School 2016 (72 of 170)Even if baking is considered to be very precise and a delicate art of cooking, there can be fun moments too!

Finnish culture isn’t usually known for its food, but there are still some traditional home-cooked dishes. Tuesday’s program was about cooking in Finnish style. Baked goodies, soups and a wide variety of stews are usually cooked at home. The ingredients used are sometimes gathered from the forest or grown in its own garden. Mushrooms and berries, for example are some of the traditional cooking ingredients that Finns forage during summer time.

Summer School 2016 (78 of 170)Dishwashing has never been so fun for Eun Jung Kang and Seung Yub Shin from South Korea.

Cooking is always fun in a group where everyone gets to do something and experience new things together. For the evening’s menu there was: salmon soup, mushroom pie, musta makkara, cinnamon buns, Karelian pasties and egg butter, smoked salmon on rye bread buttons, Finnish squeaky cheese and cloudberry jam. Everyone took a dish to prepare that they wanted to learn. The Karelia pastry team had a very tough job, because Karelia pastries are very traditional and must be made strictly according to the recipe. In spite of the challenge, the pastries came out great!

Summer School 2016 (84 of 170)Karelia pastries looked great and tasted even better!

Wednesday was gone and Thursday arrived with no lectures. There was an “all hands on deck” TAMK day at the campus, so all lectures were cancelled for this purpose. For students, this was a great thing as there was time to go to the Särkänniemi amusement park!

Summer School 2016 (134 of 170)TAMK Ambassador and Tutor, Sami Kaita with students, Julia Seitz, Kendriah Pearse, Emma Thirkell, Anett Galántai, Regina Schröter and Helena Gregérova.

The park is located on a small cape along the Näsijärvi lake. The whole amusement park and city of Tampere can be seen from the top of Näsinneula tower which stands 168 meters tall. It is one of the most recognizable buildings in Tampere and is often seen in every picture representing the city.

Summer School 2016 (151 of 170)The carousel was one of the scariest attractions, but still enjoyable!

The tower is just one of many attractions in Särkänniemi. There are many rides from which to get your dose of adrenaline and a terrifying time. The Tornado rollercoaster is everyone’s favourite classic ride, that has given many fast paced and spinning rides for many years. This year, there was also a new ride called X, which went round and round while spinning. The ride was actually so long, that you got over the initial adrenaline burst and started to get really scared for your life. There were many rides to be tried even if there were a couple of rain showers from time to time. Finnish weather can be quite unpredictable.

Summer School 2016 (159 of 170)After receiving the certificate from Ella Hakala, Seung Yub Shin got some Finnish sweet licorice from Kirsi Jokipakka

These two weeks were some of the most amazing opportunities to experience Finnish culture and traditions in such a short period of time. It was also a “strict” requirement ended in a Finnish way, with coffee and cake. Students from all around the world received their course certificates and warm congratulations from Kirsi Jokipakka, Head of International Services and from Ella Hakala, the new Lecturer for the Basics of Finnish course.


Text & photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

Floworks Project Update (8 of 28)Joyful tasks and fun atmosphere are very beneficial for work and productivity. There seemed to be no lack of this in this project team. 

During the summer, there have been three student projects under works from Floworks. Orientation Goes Online, Building Connection with International Degree Programme Applicants and Video Production Team for Mindtrek 2016. At the end of the summer, nearly two months later, these projects are almost finished on the 28th of July.

How was summer?

Shy smiles came to faces with the words “Pretty good!”, “It’s good!” to answer the question. With two intensive months behind their backs, the students were quite happy about the projects and working with Floworks. They had done many things and felt accomplishment over these.

Best parts about the projects?

Floworks Project Update (6 of 28)A display of a popular Portuguese  TV show that only one understood, but others thought as funny. 

After looking at each other for a while, “teamwork” and “connecting with people in the teams” were the best parts that came up. Everyone got to know each other very well and now considered them as friends. New connections and friends are always welcome.

The most challenging part?

Floworks Project Update (22 of 28)Floworks coach and lecturer, Timo Nevalainen in the middle of the summer projects. 

Many challenges were felt during the summer, but time constraints and the fulfillment of clients’ needs were probably the hardest parts. Some of the students had to learn a new thing or two with a different software and workflow management, but everyone learned about the interaction with clients. This is sometimes extremely hard, as even the client might not know what they want.

How are the projects progressing?

Floworks Project Update (16 of 28)Floworks has this “Back to Basics” paper form progress and feedback wall to visualize and fathom the project’s progress. 

There has been quite a challenge with the progress, as new ideas come and go with realization of the actual possibilities. Regardless of this, the projects are doing great! Orientation Goes Online  is nearly finished with some retouching and video editing still in progress and all of the material produced is going to be available for the 2017 orientation. There are going to be very useful video clips for different topics such as: printing, library, registration in Finland and many similar topics.

Somewhat a similar topic, Building Connection with International Degree Programme Applicants is reorganizing the information sites for international exchange and degree students to give a better understanding to the applicants. There has been a challenge of overlap with the orientation project, as the teams were solving similar problems. They had a great idea of bringing past experiences in a more approachable way to the applicants. Direct questions regarding the most asked questions by the applicants were interviewed from current students. This project is also going to be finished soon.

The last project, Video Production Team for Mindtrek 201s, was probably the most challenging, as it concerned video promotion for the seminar. There have been many ideas and possibilities that were pondered and measured, until the team had got the right and funny idea for a viral video. The production of the video will be quite fast when they get the green light from the client.

What did the students learn?

Floworks Project Update (18 of 28)Did you know that TAMK has a photo bank for students and staff that can be accessed at ?

Students represented many fields: Energy and Environmental Engineering, Arts and Media, Music and ICT Engineering. All of them learned new skills like client handling, marketing, promotion and project management. Also, depending on the project: video production, filming, web design, html, CSS and team feedback were some other skills they learned during the summer. Hopefully, these new skills will be of great use for the students afterwards!

We will be hearing more about the results once the projects are finished!


Text & photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

Floworks living lab is a 21st century development hub at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, which contributes to education by making internal operations function better. Sometimes described as co-creation of the education or students bringing innovation to education, Floworks works closely with students and engages them in a variety of learning projects.

It started in 2010 with a realization that there was a specific need of development opportunities to pursue. Resources were available for staff, however, there wasn’t enough time to dedicate to every single one of them. Since these projects seemed to be great learning experiences and students possessed the required skills and could get credits for them, why not combine the two elements and turn it into an excellent learning opportunity? As an answer to that question, Floworks was developed.

A small team of people, consisting of a Development Manager, Ilkka Haukijärvi and three Coaches, Jussi Hannunen, Timo Nevalainen and Kseniya Tarasova are actively engaged in working with students. From 1st of August, a new team member, Clémentine Arpiainen, will start working in Floworks as an Analyst. She will be closely involved within the living lab, including such areas as coaching, research, and development of the operations in general.

Projects vary from Engineering and ICT to Healthcare and Coaches are open to all degree programme students. It should be directly connected to their personalized curriculum so they are building their capabilities and competences expected to use in their future careers. The competences brought to each project include use of social media, use of ICT in delivering services along with a designer orientation for service modelling approach to development work.

However, Coaches understand there is no such thing as one fits all so, for particular projects, they’re looking for students with skills to match the requirements. In order to find them, they contact staff members and ask them to promote the projects, use social media tools and TAMK’s own communications system, Intra. In some occasions, they approach students personally by visiting them during classes and introduce them to the projects.

Projects are requested by TAMK’s organizational and teaching staff and their number varies a lot. Earlier this year, Floworks had about ten projects running at the same time. Coach Jussi Hannunen believes that’s quite a lot, but there are no limits. “Five to seven projects are more comfortable to work with. We value quality to quantity and we won’t take up any projects which don’t fit TAMK’s strategy and criteria.”

Deadlines for the projects are set with Floworks’s customers after deciding when they need the product and what is practical for the team. Students are guided by Coaches about their responsibilities so they know exactly what they have to do from the start until the end.

So far, Floworks’s customers have been really impressed by the work students put in. They realized that the more they engage with the project, the more useful the product will be and the deliverables. And that they can learn a lot about the functions of their own operations. Most of the projects have been successful and delivered what was expected from them and sometimes more.

Summer projects

This summer, Floworks has three exciting projects going on: “Orientation Goes Online”, “Building Connection with International Degree Programme Applicants” and “Video Production Team for Mindtrek 2016”.

Coach Timo Nevalainen reveals the purpose of the first two projects and how new students will benefit from them: “We’re trying to find ways to do online orientation for new international students before they arrive at TAMK and also during the orientation week at their arrival in Tampere. To come up with a service where TAMK will be as open and helpful as possible from the first minute a student is interested in studying with us. We’re targeting students from outside the European Union for our degree programmes in English. If they can learn more things before coming here, then they could dedicate more time to socializing at their arrival in Finland and take in the new information in a more relaxed way.

The second project aims to connect potential students considering applying to the International Business programme with existing students and staff here. This way, they will already have some contacts here and their parents will receive more information about TAMK.”

“There are two co-creative projects developing for new students by TAMK’s IB students. In these two projects, we have students from Arts and Media, Environmental Engineering and Piano Pedagogy. Third project comes from our partner, MINTREK. Mindtrek is an international conference on open community development and newest digital technologies in business, taking place in Tampere on the 17th of October. Altogether, the projects are covering the months of June, July and August.” adds Coach Kseniya Tarasova.

“Everybody needs new tools in delivering the services they provide, whether they’re provided to students, or in general. There’s always a chance to do your work better. And students can help with that by giving information, ideas, or even taking a concept that you have and turn it into a service you can use. These kind of opportunities exist in all big organizations, such as TAMK. There’s no fear that we will run out of projects.” concludes Jussi Hannunen.

Coach Jussi Hannunen hosting a workshop at Floworks

Coach Jussi Hannunen hosting a workshop at Floworks

Coach Kseniya Tarasova

Coach Kseniya Tarasova

Coach Timo Nevalainen

Coach Timo Nevalainen

TAMK students taking part in Floworks's summer projects

TAMK students taking part in Floworks’s summer projects

Floworks's Coaches working closely with TAMK students

Floworks’s Coach, Kseniya Tarasova having a lunch break with TAMK students


Text & photos: Andruta Ilie

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The mood was quite happy at the certification. Rasa Jakstaite from Lithuania.

Farewells are always moving, especially after some intense and eventful past few days. Though, everything must come to an end and now it was time for the International Staff Week in Tampere 2016.

Thursday 9 of June

Last lecture from Nancy Aalto

The final lecture of Nancy wrapped up the last lectures with culture shock and adjusting to foreign countries. These are some of the topics that are important to convey for students and staff going abroad. Culture shock can for example have physical symptoms such as different pains and bad feelings. These are mainly caused by disorientation after the initial honeymoon phase with the new country begins to fade. Loss of familiarity makes everything too overwhelming, because there is a constant need for attention.

Although, after a while it becomes easier. This might take few weeks or months, depending on the impact of the culture shock, but eventually the new country starts to feel familiar.

The familiarity starts to feel like home usually right about when it is actually time to go home. This happens quite often for exchange students – when the moment of home arrival comes, the re-entry culture shock begins. Almost the same phenomenon as going to a foreign country, but this time it is the home country causing the shock.

Intercultural Communication is a very important topic for everyone working with people from foreign countries: It helps us understand what they are going through and how we can help in the culture shock phase. This importance was recognized by the lecture attendees, as Nancy received praises from everyone. The lectures felt very personal and thus had a good impact and a meaning for practical use.

Social Media and Campus visits during Benchmarking

Last benchamarking sessions were held in quite a big group as both Library and Study services joined with International services in social media session held by TAMK’s Community Manager, Essi Kannelkoski. Along this session the HR and Sports services had their own topics.

  • International, Library and Study services had social media session called “Using Social Media and TAMK Learning Environments Through Student Experience”. Here ideas and practices were shared from social media usage in the universities. Most of the Universities had Facebook pages and some groups for exchange and degree students. Some were even on Instagram and their students had “taken over” the official page for day or two to show interesting pictures of student life. The overall Social Media activity for Universities is still in development as there were no “all-star” best practices to benefit from different platforms. It is very hard to measure the impact of different social media services, even for businesses that rely constantly on these services.
  • Sports Services had a wrap-up session of the topics discussed and went to visit Tamppi Areena, the sports center of Tampere University of Technology in Hervanta – currently the newest sports center for students before TAMK’s new facilities are finished. At Tamppi Areena, there are group activity halls, weightlifting gym and sauna facilities for the students to use.
  • HR services had a discussion about Recruitment, HR systems and Payroll. Along these topics the past discussions from previous days were recapped to have nice wrap-up.


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Everyone received a sertificate and small gift bag to take a small piece of Finland back home. Silvya Hristova from Bulgaria.

With the last benchmarking sessions over and best practices pocketed for further development in each institution, it was time for the “graduation” ceremony!

Noora Kahra and Laura Lalu started by giving post letter to each participant. Everyone wrote the key learnings from the week into the letter to be sent to themselves as a reminder after the week. This way everyone could retain the best ideas and thoughts from the week. It will be a nice surprise to get an unexpected postcard from yourself.

After summarizing the week into a tiny card, the certificates were given to each participant. Gifts and hugs were given as everyone received their certificates. In these moments, the realization that it’s finally over, catches on.

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One last group photo before the farewell lunch.

Farewell Lunch and surprise Quiz 

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A wonderful sour filling wrapped in salmon.

TAMK’s hospitality management students have this great learning environment called “Catering Studio”, where they can organize real lunch and dinner events. The farewell lunch for International Week was held there. The students had prepared a very nice buffet style lunch with appetizer salads, warm Finnish foods and wonderful lingonberry mousse dessert.

Though, before anyone could enjoy the appetizing foods, there was a challenge. A Kahoot quiz about Tampere and Finnish culture. There were total of 18 hard questions and teams of five had 30 seconds to answer the question from multiple choices. Points were given based on right answer and how quick the answers were given. Price for the winner team were Fazer chocolate bars that the winning team was kind enough to share for tasting.

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Great food equals happy faces.

The food was amazing as the impressions of “yum” and “mmm” could be heard all around the restaurant. Catering Studio did an awesome job with the menu. The dessert with sour berries and sweet mousse had an interesting contrast between different flavors. It was just large enough portion to give small cravings a little extra.

With the lunch eaten and last farewells and few tears of joy given, the week was over. Many new friends and connections were made, ideas and thoughts shared, culture and customs experienced. This was the International Week in Tampere with TAMK and UTA!

Greetings from the writer


Small reminder, every day.

After being part of such an awesome event it was somewhat melancholic after the week ended and it was time to wrap up things. Even if the week was quite hectic; juggling between organizational tasks, assisting Noora and Laura, photographing everything, giving guidance, representing student and employee of TAMK and being uncommonly talkative example of a Finnish person, I thought it was the best time of my current practical training. Especially nice was the relaxed evening get together at Plevna with those who had their home travel arranged for Friday.

I want to thank everyone who attended and wish that the next international weeks you are attending are as great and awesome as this one was for me. Thank you!


Text & photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

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Morning welcome with Noora Kahra.

TAMK’s strikingly bright colored Y-Kampus was the setting for the third day of the programme. The collaboration between UTA and TAMK gave the participants some new perspective as it was time to see how Tampere University of Applied Sciences functioned.

Wednesday 8 of June – Welcome to TAMK! 

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Did you know that Finns drink more coffee per capita than any other country? Total of 12 kg every year.


Kirsi Jokipakka, the Head of International Services of TAMK gave a welcoming presentation about the key facts and functions of Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The big difference between TAMK and UTA is that the applied science part of practicality plays a huge role in TAMK. Many of the courses offer very practical projects and hands on experiences for the students, compared to the more academic and theoretical atmosphere in the traditional scientific University. Both of them serve an important role in educating our future generations.

Tampere University of Applied Sciences is one of the most attractive Universities in Finland. The recent applicant numbers speak for themselves: TAMK had third most overall applicants in Finland for  the academic year 2016–2017. Metropolia (UAS) in Helsinki was the first with 25 758 applicants, University of Helsinki second with 24 568 and TAMK was third with 19 202 applicants. Not bad at all! However, many of these applicants didn’t unfortunately get a study place. This is a trend everywhere in Finland as there were 151 357 applicants and only 47 473 of them were offered a study place.

TAMK’s attractiveness could be explained with the variety that comes with 7 fields and total of 17 Bachelor’s and 15 Master’s degrees. This combined with the modern and international atmosphere is one of TAMK’s strengths.

Tour around TAMK and Nancy’s second lecture

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Overhanging origami swans in TAMK’s library. 

With the quick welcome over, it was time to see the campus. Service Street was the first stop for our tour. It is a corridor which houses most of the different services that students might need during their path to obtaining a degree and beyond. Services varying from admissions to exchanges and work life services, this unique “street” is very useful for the students. If they don’t find it here, someone definitely knows where to go. Last but not least, TAMK’s library is located in the end of the Service Street.

Smaller and cozier than the huge Linna library at UTA, it serves the students by offering course books, computers, a silent room, meeting facilities and an exam room. One of the beautiful features of the library is the first floor space with sofas and overhanging origami birds. This artistic feature brings wanderlust for visitors and one can often see someone looking up, admiring the birds.

The brief campus tour ended by visiting the orange connecting tube between the main campus and Kuntokatu 4, where nursing, physiotherapy and other health care degrees are being taught.

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It is good to review previous lessons for better information retaining. 

After the tour it was time for Nancy’s lectures to continue with a brief review of the previous topic: Worldview. The topic for the new lecture was Personal Leadership as a methodology for managing and learning from intercultural experience.

The process of this kind of leadership started by recognition. Being mindful about your actions and surroundings gives a possibility for a choice. There are two of these for intercultural communication: the automatic response of previous cultural programming and the personal leadership path of taking discreet action. Mindfulness had a great importance in this, as without knowledge one cannot change their actions. The lecture continued with these themes explaining the benefits of visualization, visioning yourself and ending with listening skills.

Track programme for services

With Nancy’s great lecture over it was time to continue with benchmarking. Each service group divided into their own meeting rooms had discussions about various topics.

  • The library services went to have a deeper look at TAMK’s library and how it functioned. The Finnish library system was another topic of discussion for this session.
  • Sports services had a cozy session in small meeting space at Y-Campus. Their topics consisted of presenting their university and discussing the current issues in the field of sports services.
  • HR services dived into benchmarking the best practices of HR planning, HR development and staff training.
  • Study services had a tour around TAMK’s service street and its different services. Afterwards these functions and the ideology of collective services were discussed at Y-Campus’ workshop space “Paja”.
  • International Services group gathered in the second floor of C-building to discuss practices for risk management of student and staff mobility. With the current restlessness around the world, this topic was quite new for most and ideas were appreciated.

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The library has great teamworking rooms that can be reserved by staff and students. 

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Sports services had a nice sessions in one of Y-Campus’ teamworking rooms that can also be used by staff and students. 

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Study Services’ benchmarking session in Paja at Y-kampus.

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International Services had an exiting lecture surrounded by bright colors in the C-building.

VisitTampere city tour

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You can see almost the whole city from the Tower of Pyynikki.

For a city outside of the coastal region, Tampere is quite large. It is actually the most populous one in the Nordic countries with population around 225 000. In Finland, it is the third largest city after Helsinki and Espoo. The popularity of Tampere might be explained with the idyllic location near nature with two lakes surrounding the city; not to mention the amazing people living in Tampere.

City tour hosted by VisitTampere gave more details into the history and culture of Tampere. The tour started from TAMK and went to visit the Tampere Cathedral, Finlayson area, Pispala and ended at the “Pyynikin Munkkikahvila” tower.

The bus trailed around the city while the tour guide Ritva Haveri was pointing out the different buildings and their details. Tampere has quite the history due to Finnish civil war between the whites and reds – Tampere was a stage for many brutal battles.

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Ritva Haveri telling a story about a mother who gave birth to a baby during the civil war at the Cathedral. You can also see the two men holding hands.

First stop for the tour was the over 100-year-old Tampere Cathedral. Built from stones in similar fashion to Scottish castles, it had an international hint from the beginning. The church looks like an old castle in a way with stones lined in various patterns. After admiring the church from the outside, it was time to go in and explore further. The history of Tampere Cathedral is quite vivid, even scandalous, as the painter Hugo Simberg was gay and at that time it was considered very inappropriate. The frescoes had hints of homosexuality with men holding hands and the only angel being wounded and carried by two men. There are also naked boys all around the church. The Wounded Angel and The Garden of Death are one of Simberg’s most well known artworks.

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After the church there was a short walking tour around Finlayson area among the old cotton factory buildings. Currently the buildings house offices, restaurants and even a movie theater.

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The tour continued onwards to Pispala and Pyynikki along the world’s tallest ridge or “esker”. The weather was nice enough to allow bright views to be seen from the Tower of Pyynikki. The surrounding Pyynikki recreational area is within a walking distance from the city center and attracts joggers, dog walkers, travelers and all kinds of people who enjoy the nature.


Text and photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

It was time for hard thinking – ISWTRE16 Part 2

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The morning after monday evening seemed to be quite fun. Carolin Koenig and Katharina Ritz.

Tuesday 7.6 – Intercultural Communication Nancy Aalto

The next morning began with the theme of Intercultural communication. Lecturer and specialist in the field of international communication, Ms Nancy Aalto came to give a lecture about this topic. She has been working for many years in this field, and currently at the University of Tampere.

Her lecturing style is very practical and fun as the participants told the lecture was very enjoyable. These kinds of Intercultural Communication topics are not discussed or trained very often, and in an ever changing world of globalization these skills become very important. As everyone gets more internationally connected it is important to understand each other.


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Beginning of the captivating lecture by Nancy Aalto.

The first lecture was about perception and how that affects our worldviews. The emphasis was to understand these different worldviews and what was similar and different in our own. It was also very important to meet the actual people and not the cultures.

To read more about the topics from the lecture, there is a book written by Barbara F. Schaetti, Sheila J. Ramsey, and Gordon C. Watanabe called Personal Leadership.

Track programme

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Workshops can also be fun. Julien Fremont from France.

One of the main points of the international week was to bring together different services and departments from partner universities. This way the participants can share experiences and ideas among colleagues. The first workshop session for this active sharing was held at UTA during the sunny Tuesday afternoon.

Different services and departments had their own “tracks” to follow for these workshops. There were total of 5 tracks for: Sports, Library, International, Study, and HR Groups. Each of them had a different theme for the session.

  • International Group: Integration – International students and staff.
    During this track there were small discussion groups for topics in the theme of: Tutoring process, Student Union Tamko, Social Integration seen by Social Counsellor Mirja Onduso from TAMK and Welcoming international staff – to visit and to work.
  • Study Group: Study Services of the world – Benchmarking from each other.
    Presentations about home organizations and study services were the first topic to familiarize everyone with different systems and practices. After this there was an idea and experience discussion to benchmark best practices.
  • Sports Group: Unipoli Sport in Tampere area.
    The very beneficial and convenient Unipoli Sport agreement to allow students use TTY, TAMK and UTA sports services with one fee was the topic for this session. Visit for Atalpa sports facilities was the sportier part of this workshop.
  • Library Group: Libraries and future.
    Similar to the Study Group, the Library Group began the workshop with short introductions into different home libraries and their future developments. In addition to this there was a discussion about the international student’s acknowledgement in libraries.
  • HR Group: Introduction to HR personnel
    Introductions for the HR Services and the responsibilities for everyone was the main topic for this track where presentations of everyone’s home institution were shown.

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Heinze Elzinga listening to Helena Hausmannová telling about the practices in her University.

The rest of the week continued with similar topics for the tracks at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

Varala Sauna Evening 


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Sunshine, Sauna and surprisingly cold water brought smiles to faces. Martyna Wasserfurth-Grzybowska and Melanie Köster swimming in the lake Pyhäjärvi after Sauna.

Evening event for Tuesday was held at Varala Sports and activity center. The sauna was located on the shore of beautiful Pyhäjärvi lake. The whole are is an outstanding example of the unique Finnish nature with its forest ridge and lake view. With sunny weather, refreshments, food and hot sauna there could not have been a better place.

Sauna is always very interesting experience for international guests and there were many questions about “how to do Finnish Sauna”. As many might have guessed, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Customs vary from family to family and specific rules or recipes do not exist. As long as the Sauna is hot and you stay alive during the session, you are doing it right. Although, there is a small thing that you need to go swimming from the sauna if there is water nearby. This was followed by nearly everyone trying the sauna. The contrast between hot sauna and cold lake brought a different aspect to the experience.

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Nothing beats the cozy and warm feeling of relaxing after Sauna.

After the sauna there was food and several beverages to try. One of them that received great popularity was Lonkero. A unique drink only made in Finland that was first introduced in the Helsinki Summer Olympics of 1952. Food, Finnish pop and country music along fun table conversations about the experiences filled the atmosphere before it was time to prepare for the next intensive days to come.

The first days packed in many activities and cultural insights. The late Sauna evening gave time to relax for a while before it was time to try and sleep in the bright Finnish night. Many of the international participants were amazed about this brightness, even during midnight the light never went completely away.

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Finnish lakes can be quite amazing. Heinze Elzinga swimming.

This was the University of Tampere part of the International Week story. In the next entry we will hear more about what happened at TAMK.

International Weeks tend to be amazing! – ISWTRE16 Part 1

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There were many countries represented during the amazing week.

What is ISWTRE16?

International Staff Week in Tampere 2016 was organized for the first time in co-operation with TAMK and UTA. It is an intensive educational and benchmarking week for the non-teaching staff members of partner universities. The goal is to change ideas and practicalities between partner universities around Europe.

Monday 6.6 – Welcoming session

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Welcoming desk at University of Tampere. In the picture from left to right: Jurga Pšemeneckaitė, Laura Lalu, Paulette Noirbent and Noora Kahra.

The week started with warm welcoming session at University of Tampere. Noora Kahra from TAMK and Laura Lalu from UTA, the main coordinators behind the whole event were welcoming the arriving staff participants from different universities. The trainees from UTA International Education Services were also there to give information package folders for everyone. Participants arrived from many European countries: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Chile and Lithuania. Some of the universities are partners of both TAMK and UTA.

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Kaisa Kurki presenting the UTA staff.

After cup of coffee and cookies, Kaisa Kurki the director of International Education Services gave a presentation about University of Tampere and the Finnish education system. The versatility and multiple route system was very interesting for the participants. To think that there could be many different possibilities for obtaining masters and even doctoral degree was a surprise for many.

UTA Campus Tour

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Riikka is pointing at the Linna library building from the bright tube between UTA campuses.

Sanna and Riikka, the International Education Services Trainees at University of Tampere took everyone for a Campus Tour. University of Tampere has quite many things to show at the premises.

The main building was designed by architect Toivo Korhonen and it was finished in 1960 when the University moved from Helsinki to Tampere. Back then it was called School of Social Sciences and the name change came in 1966. The main campus building has a hint of Alvar Aalto in its design as it represents the clean and simple white styles similar to designs of Aalto. Toivo Korhonen may have gotten this inspiration when he was working in Alvar Aalto’s offices in the 50’s.

As the tour continued, the trainees took the participants from the main building through the light turquoise tube into the Pinni buildings. These two, Pinni A and B are one of the newest parts as they were finished in 1993 and 2003. During this part of UTA, everyone saw many lecture classes and interesting working spaces. The large lecture auditoriums were of great interest as they could be separated into smaller spaces depending on the requirement for space.

Finally, everyone gathered to visit the art gallery in the main building that had paintings of the rectors that had been in the office for the past years. There were quite many paintings and also many women rectors among them. The current rector, Liisa Laakso has been in office since beginning of 2016.

Demola Tampere

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Christin Reise and Vivien Aehlig enjoying their ice creams along the way to Demola.

For the afternoon there was a possibility to visit specific schools of UTA or walk to Finlayson area for Demola visit. Most of the ISWTRE16 participants wanted to visit Demola as it was quite unknown concept for many. It was just a short walking distance away, so everyone took that route. There was even time for ice-cream as it was very sunny day.

Ville Korpiluoto, the Head of Demola Tampere was there to welcome everyone for the visit. After everyone had comfortable seats in the newer part of Demola, he gave an easygoing presentation about Demola and New Factory. The whole New Factory had just moved into new part of the building because of growth and requirement for larger spaces. The bright color theme for the industrial type spaces gave a bright enthusiastic look and atmosphere for the whole space.

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Ville Korpiluoto at the speakers booth.

Demola is and very interesting concept of project collaboration for students and companies with concepts or prototypes to develop. For a little cost a company can have someone develop new products, concepts or theories that the company might otherwise not have manpower or resources to do. With this concept Demola is facilitating the student teams and offering guidance for them at their projects. Ville Korpiluoto is also one of these facilitators that coach the teams into success. He had seen many different cases and said every one of them brings their own unique challenges and cheerful moments.

Currently most of the teams consist of students from the three different Universities in Tampere: UTA, TAMK and TTY. The reward for students participating in these projects are usually credit points towards their degree and payment for the effort if the end product is satisfactory to the customer.

Cocktail Evening

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Tintti Mikkonen the Firelady

The evening event came with a big surprise for everyone. A Fire dance show with Finnish heavy metal music! This special show was performed by Tintti Mikkonen the Firelady from Tampere. Even if it was during daylight, the show was magnificent and everyone enjoyed it. Flames and music from Nightwish seemed to work perfectly together.

Having seen the very nice performance, everyone gathered inside the lounge area of University of Tampere’s Teatterimonttu. There were all kinds of nice and tasty foods served for everyone. The sweet chili chicken sticks were especially good. Refreshments of many kinds were also served for the cocktail evening.

Päivi Myllykangas, the Director of Tampere 3 process came to give light speech for the ISWTRE16 participants about the cooperation project between the three Universities in Tampere. Ms Myllykangas explained how the project was going and that the goal for the project was to have functioning unified University in 2018.

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The Teatterimonttu lobby was packed quite full.

TAMK’s Head of International Services, Kirsi Jokipakka also welcomed everyone for the International Week. It was a nice start for the upcoming programme as everything went very smoothly. Rest of the evening continued with nice mingling among everyone with pleasant table conversations. Cultural differences between the countries was a popular discussion topic as it was the theme for the whole week.


Text & Photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

Floworks’s 12-hour Kick-Off Jam

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Eager students ready to invent great things

Three challenging summer projects were introduced for a group of students working with Floworks: Orientation Goes Online, Building Connection with International Degree Programme Applicants and Video Production Team for Mindtrek 2016.

Y-Kampus was the location for the 12-hour Kick-off Jam that started in the morning of Thursday, 2nd of June. Lecturer and Coach, Timo Nevalainen had the students begin the day with a fun teamwork game. Everyone formed a circle and one person pointed for three to do an imitation of something. Choices for these were an elephant, a mosquito and a toaster. A loud laughter boomed around Y-Kampus during the fun game. After the students relaxed themselves and their brains from the active game, it was easier to follow up the lecture about idea generation. The main point of the lecture was to use different tools to generate as many awful, bad, great and awesome ideas. Quantity over quality matters here.

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Morning activation game: mosquito imitation

The projects presented by Floworks’s Project Assistant and Coach, Kseniya Tarasova aimed to overcome some of the challenges with student orientation and development of the Mindtrek 2016 conference. The day continued with a Post-It note workshop where students circulated around tables in mixed groups. The purpose was to talk and discuss while writing new ideas on the Post-It notes regarding the project on the table. This kind of method resulted in tremendous amount of new ideas from the students. Eventually, the tables were filled with Post-It notes.

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Post-It notes are a great tool for any team working and brainstorming sessions

With the first idea generation round finished, it was time to introduce some of the project commissioners from TAMK. Head of Higher Education Services, Aura Loikkanen, International Coordinator, Piri Hiltunen and Tamko Tutoring Expert, Satu Hiltunen came to present the orientation project goals and requirements for success. The students had the possibility to ask questions related to the projects and the ideas they generated. Some ideas might not work for different reasons and this was a very good time to find out while the commissioners were there.

The day continued with more ideas, group discussions and concept developments. There shall be more updates about the projects during the summer.


Text and photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

Georgina’s and Elisabeth’s Finland adventure!

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How can it be ended?

We have been living in Tampere for three months and a half. It could seem a long time but in fact we still have the feeling that out first day was yesterday. How can it be possible? Maybe the reason is that we have been experiencing new situations all time, meeting new people and challenging ourselves with different cultures and different languages. We think everything we’ve lived here has made us grow as persons, which before embarking on this adventure we didn’t thought about it!


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Party of Vappu

We know that we are not Finnish but obviously we would like to enjoy typical events from Finland or from Tampere like Party of Vappu. Because of that, all exchange students decided to meet in front of the Tampere’s river, lying on the grass and to watch how new university students are being submerged in the river’s cold water.

What surprised us most was the fact that at the end of the festival all students who organized the event began to collect and clean the park to leave it as it was before any party. In Spain these things do not happen…


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Thanks to our Erasmus we have had to opportunity of travelling with marvellous people! One of the incredible trips was Tallinn. It wasn’t the longest one, in fact it was the shortest one, we only spend one night there, but it was enough for many things to happen, starting for the ferry problems, as we had lost the first one because we were at the wrong terminal twice. But at the end we reached Tallinn and we had so much fun during that night there and the journey back to Tampere.


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Someone said sauna and ice swimming?


Of course we couldn’t go from Finland without trying the famous sauna and ice swimming! So thanks to our teachers from TAMK we had the opportunity to do it and made our farewell party.

At the beginning the idea of swim in the cold water from the lake of Tampere scare us a little bit but after getting into the hot sauna and sweat a lot we need at least deep us in the cold and good water. So for us it was a great experience, even some of exchange students repeat it more than once! It will be another thing that we will miss when we’ll be back home…


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We are going to miss you

Of course we are going to miss you. We are going to miss your lakes, your sunrises, your sunsets, your cold, your forests, your beers and Karl Fazer chocolates. And I remark on Karl Fazer, probably chocolate with milk and strawberries was our favourite one.

Tampere has been the nucleus of our Erasmus and our home for some months. After being travelling for some days and because of that being very tired, we didn’t thought in returning back to Spanish home we were just thinking in returning back to our flat in Tampere, our new home.

Doesn’t anyone share the opinion that have had the feeling that Tampere was home is not the perfect consequence of having had a perfect Erasmus?


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Tampere in our retinas

Now we are back in Barcelona, with our family and lifelong friends. Many of these people think we were brave to undertake this wonderful experience and opportunity because they think that these four months we have just travelled, went out for party and made friends around the world.

But only those who have lived the experience as we will know how difficult it has been to solve those problems in college, practices and accommodation in a language that is not ours. Nor they know what it was for us when we saw photos of family and friends having fun, realizing all the moments that we were missing.

But time passes quickly and we realize that all problems have solutions, they are not afraid to take the bus because we use Google maps; we also learn to go to the supermarket and buy only those things we need. We discover that every day is a new adventure.

The most important thing about this experience is that all these challenges can’t be achieved without the help of those special people who’re recognizing throughout the adventure. They end up being your family. Thanks to all these people we are more humble, generous and open to different cultures and ways of thinking.

Time goes too fast, we have learned to make the most of every day, see new places, try different food, but now we are already adapted have to say goodbye. Goodbye to our new friends, favourite places, food we liked, all the memories we have built…

At this point in our Erasmus, we wander among so many feelings that we do not know how to express them. We still longing for people waiting for us at home, more with each passing second. But also we started to miss the new friends that we have not yet fired. Many probably will not ever see them again and the feeling of helplessness that generates is so strong that sometimes do not know if we want or prefer to follow Erasmus forever. In the retina we have stuck the most beautiful corners of Tampere, Helsinki and Tallinn, in the ear a couple of dialects… and in the heart, them. Because during the Erasmus we realize that building our unique experience are not the most beautiful cities on the planet, parties or approved by the face (also good) but the people with whom you share…

So everything depends on us to continue to build new memories in different cities with our new family. Therefore this is not a goodbye but a see you soon!

Kiitos paljon Suomi!


Text and photos: Georgina Ros Branson and Elisabet Ferrando Sanchez

Nordplus Seminar (1 of 4)

Jukka Vesterinen from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture

The seminar was held for the first time in Tampere and the event was hosted by Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

Digital International Collaboration in Education was the main theme for the seminar which showcased different projects that had been possible with Nordplus funding. The Nordplus programme aims to strengthen educational collaboration between the Nordic countries. There were participants from all of the countries and some of the Baltic countries were also represented, as new additions.

Before the actual project cases were shown, a presentation was held by Olli Vesterinen from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. He explained where Finland was going regarding digital education. After Vesterinen finished, there was a speech from Project NEMO’s Team Leader and Researcher, Katri Saarikivi from the Cognitive Brain Research Unit of University of Helsinki. The NEMO Project aims to bring empathy to the digital environment and possibly solve the issue of the mean and inhuman atmosphere surrounding internet behavior and social media. Even with the very complex neurobiological terms and theories, Saarikivi’s speech was both very understandable and enjoyable to listen to.

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Katri Saarikivi promoting the emotion hack day 16 for the NEMO project

Many interesting educational projects were introduced and some of them were quite complex. One of these was the interactive multilingual book for comprehensive school. The successful idea behind this project was to teach children different languages of Nordic countries. They created an online educational book which was then translated into different languages. You could read and listen to it side by side to see the differences in pronunciation and words.

One of the newer things among the projects helping digitalization is the MOOCs or Massive Open and Online Courses. This could potentially bring thousands of students, parents, employees or otherwise interested people to learn new and interesting topics with the magic of Internet and fast networks at their own convenience. All these people could learn from their own homes while the teacher could be on another continent. These virtual learning tools will give great possibilities to many people as technologies develop.

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A new technologies presentation given by Gytis Cibulskis

Gytis Cibulskis from Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania explained some of the new technologies such as VR or Virtual Reality and 360 degree cameras that could capture everything in the classroom or during an event, such as a conference.

At the end of the seminar a panel discussion was led by Nordplus’s Main Administrator and Special Adviser, Henrik Neiiendam Andersen from the Danish Agency for Higher Education. He and the seminar participants asked various questions regarding topics discussed for the panel consisting of Nordplus members from different Nordic countries.

Overall, the seminar gave new ideas and topics to the participants. For some, the MOOCs, VR and digital interactive books were new things they never heard of before. These seminars spread great ideas we’re developing in Nordic countries with help from Nordplus.


PowerPoint presentations and other material can be found on the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture website.

Text & Photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen