Group works in session!

International weeks have been a tradition at TAMK since 2008. Today TAMK hosts approximately eight international weeks in different fields yearly.  This year’s non-teaching staff international week was titled “International Week – The Secret of Innovative Partnerships” and it was organized in cooperation by the TAMK International Services, R&D and Innovation services, Study Services, HR Services and Sports Services and took place in mid March 2019.  The week brought together professionals from 15 countries. These professionals work in many areas in higher education anywhere from researchers to sport and international services.

Best Practices, RDI and Getting to Know TAMK

Our week started off with an introduction to TAMK, the facilities, fields of education and services, and, of course, Finland as a country and its education system.

The participants had an opportunity to choose from two tracks:

A) Sharing is Caring track that included a cultural session and a two-day best practices workshop where participants brought in examples from their own higher education institutions

B) RDI track, where participants had the chance to present and discus about the best practices of the RDI processes of each university and common focus areas, to figure out and practice suitable tools from ideas to concepts and share their international networks and tools for networking.

Discussion on European Challenges at Y-campus.

During the week, the international marketing at TAMK and Y-Campus concept were introduced to the participants. Both seemed to raise a lot of discussion, questions and interest in combining the higher education scheme with entrepreneurial studies in practice.

Each participant also had the chance to book individual meetings with TAMK representatives in their own fields in order to discuss current matters and services/practices in more detail.

The social programme included Finnish free-time activities such as Cross Country Skiing and Sauna evening with ice swimming, naturally, as well as magical moments during dinner created by the hospitality students.

TAMK Hospitality Students created mouthwatering experiences for the participants.

Results of the two tracks

Sharing is Caring Best Practices workshop: During the workshop four  main issues were identified; Mobility Issues, Staff Week Planning, Development (new systems), Staff Week Planning, European Challenges Discussion anf Mobility Issues – Trends and Troubles.

Suvi Hokkanen with her colleagues from Germany, Belgium and France

There seems to be switch in mobilities: on the other hand, students think that they do not need exchange experience as a means of internalization since they already are travelling so much, meet new people from different countries and keep in touch with them online. The other part of the change is the need for security: some of the students already have steady jobs, apartments, relationships, which are hard to leave behind. In our group, the discussion went on about the promotion of exchange possibilities and destination information. The reasons, why students select a partner university differ – for one it might be the sport  opportunities offered, to another family ties.

As challenges, our group stated both changes of funding and administrative issues. EU’s decision to get arid of paperwork is welcomed, but causes lots of stress to many universities. Erasmus without paper (EWP) also has a very tight schedule: they plan to demand it already in the start of the next funding period, 2021.

Staff Week Planning

This group was very active and committed, since many of the participants were involved with the planning of their future Staff Week. One of the main questions they faced was how to involve the departments. If the Staff Week is organized by the international office, does it have any connection to the departments themselves? Should they have their own responsibilities?

Staff Weeks are usually offered only to partner universities – Why? Pro’s and Con’s: When concentrating to the partners, the content of the week could perhaps be more specific. Then again, a Staff Week is always a good way to introduce the university to possible new partners and a lot more cost effective too, compared to individual visits by delegations.

When talking about the budget of the Staff Week, the group pointed out the possibility of charging a participant fee. It was widely discussed but there are also points to be taken into consideration. If the fee includes accommodation and lunches, all participants stay at the same location and the transportation is easy, as well as the participants make good connections with each other when spending free time together too. If the destination country is expensive, the fee might rise so high that the low cost budget countries might not be able to take part.

The theme of the week should be selected outmost carefully – what do the organisers what to promote, how to go about it? How is the week planned and structured, lectures or workshops, visits to local companies etc.? Does the university gain international visibility with the staff week? Our participants thought that the most important thing of the staff weeks is the sharing of knowledge and benchmarking, without forgetting the new contacts and maintaining the old ones.

Development (new systems)

Our group discussed about the origins of the development – where does the need for the change/development come from? Focus on student means services should be easier and better. As a consequence, it means more effective and better use of worktime for staff too. Involvement of all parties should be from the beginning of the development project and it should be in an informal context. When talking about online systems to help our lives, it is important to keep the State of Mind: constant change!

European Challenges Discussion

At the brink of Brexit the biggest question is: “What then?” If Brexit goes through, all those students who planned to do their exchange in the UK either cancel or must be relocated. Funding questions if students are still send to the UK, who pays for the grants when Erasmus+ grant is no longer available – do the universities have their own money for such cases? Are we able to accept students from the UK partner university students as much as they want to send to us or should we have quotas for Asia, America, Africa, etc. and one for world after Brexit?

In general, the funding raises questions too. EU is cutting the grants, national policies change their focus point in funding and the student’s willingness to apply for exchange varies a lot. If the general attitude towards exchanges is no longer supportive, are there other means to promote exchanges? Should we promote practical training opportunities more if the more traditional exchange studies are not as attractive to the young anymore?

 

Results of the RDI workshops here: https://padlet.com/ella_kallio/redgsca2mqb0

Krista Merikoski, Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Fig 1. From left to right: “Lavoslav Ružička” college Erasmus coordinator Karolina Novinc, and lecturers in physiotherapy Vesna Šeper and Slavica Jankovic.

Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) has an Erasmus+ exchange agreement with College of Applied Sciences “Lavoslav Ružička” in Vukovar. Vukovar is a small inland city in Croatia, on the river Danube. During the 1991 Croatian War of Independence, Serbian troops destroyed the infrastructure, massacred several hundred citizens and expelled over 20000 inhabitants. Nowadays most of the city has been renovated with the help of the EU, but the population has not recovered and young people are moving away for better job opportunities.

“Lavoslav Ružička” is a small college. Circa 1000 students are studying administration, commerce or physiotherapy. Graduate specialization studies are available in preventive physiotherapy. For most students, studying is free of charge. Part-time students pay 1250 € annually. The facilities of the college are modern; It has, for example, a well-equipped gym and a hotel-like student dormitory.

Vesna Šeper (Fig. 1) is a lecturer in physiotherapy in Vukovar. She has visited TAMK twice. This spring we made a return visit. Three of our physiotherapy students are currently in Vukovar, and I was there one week as a teacher at the end of March. All of us received a very warm welcome, and the Erasmus coordinator Karolina Novinc (Fig. 1) of the college arranged everything perfectly. We even had an interview with the local radio channel (Fig. 2).

The student exchange is executed at the local hospital clinic and at the hospital wards. The role of physiotherapists and physiotherapy students differs in some respects from Finland: In Croatia, medical doctors prescribe more precisely the content of physiotherapy and the physiotherapy students mainly observe. In Finland, a physiotherapist receives often only the patient’s medical diagnosis from the doctor and everything else is left to the therapist. Also, physiotherapy students are given more responsibility, and they can participate early on to the examination of the patient and the execution of the therapy.

As an exchange teacher, I gave lectures in Vukovar about Exercise Therapy and Pain Science. During and after the lectures we had good discussions of the profession with the local physiotherapy students and teachers. I experienced genuine hospitality and learned that the academic level of the college is high. Many of the teachers are involved in research and are doing their PhDs. On the other hand, the small college and the distantly located city are not very attractive to new students. The “Lavoslav Ružička” college could benefit from an advertisement campaign, of which Finnish universities have a lot of experience. I also saw a lot of potential in the city: developing public transport system and the banks of Danube, for example, would increase the attractiveness. Perhaps TAMK could help to brand the college and the city.

Fig 2. Physiotherapy students were interviewed by the local radio channel. From left to right: Iiro Hyvärinen (TAMK), Ivana Antunovic, Emma Siippainen (TAMK), Nikolina Vugrin and Alma Vormisto (TAMK).

Text and photos: Ilkka Piiroinen, Senior Lecturer, TAMK

TAMK – Your Exchange Destination

Did you know that in international rankings of education systems, the Finnish system is TOP of the class!

We offer you exchange studies in several programs in English at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TAMK. Studies may consist of courses, a final thesis or project work. There are wide variety of courses taught or guided in English. In addition, as an exchange student at TAMK or Tampere University, you are entitled to seek studies at the study offerings of other campuses.

In case you are a student in the field of Health Care and interested in Trainee Exchange, we offer you a great possibility to complete your practical training. TAMK has close ties with companies and public institutions in the Tampere Region.

 

      

You will be provided a tutor to ensure that your exchange starts smoothly. Student Housing companies also gives their support by organizing accommodation for you. You can easily apply online.

Tampere is safe and the most student friendly city in Finland. The unique combination of nature, nightlife, sports and culture provides great opportunities for your free time. Tampere with its 230 000 inhabitants – of which every fifth is a student – is a lively city in the second largest economic area in Finland. The city center is surrounded by two lakes and ridge scenery. That means the nature is close to the city, parks and forests are open to the public and offer a great environment for a wide variety of recreational activities.

Tampere is also ideally located. You can reach it easily by car, bus, train or airplane. It takes only 1,5 hours by train from Helsinki to Tampere. Tampere public transport services, too, ensure good coverage of the region and easy connections.

We are happy to welcome you! Take the chance, come and study with us!

 

Student experiences:

“It was one of the best experiences of my life, without a doubt! I fell in love with Finland, the Finnish nature and the people. – I got to know new friends from all over the world and I got to know myself better.”

  • International Business student, Belgium

“I really like the city of Tampere. It is cosy and you have everything you need really close.”

  • International Business, Spain

“TAMK is the perfect university for international students, they give us a tutor at the beginning that solves all our doubts and is available…”

  • Nursing student, Spain

“Everything in TAMK was organized very well, I felt home quickly. They made the change to something new easy.”

  • Physiotherapy student, Belgium

“I like the teaching methods in here. Students aren’t stressed and studying is fun. This experience gave me a lot. I know how to work individually but also in groups.”

  • International Business student, Slovakia

“The way lectures are delivered and the teaching method used is extremely interesting, questioning based learning was a delightful experience.”

  • Nursing student, Malta

“It was really amazing, so much interesting opportunities and studies, very beautiful library, open people, good gyms, calm and beautiful nature.”

  • International Business student, Russia

Text: Tarja Kononov

Photos: Joel Forsman, Ville Salminen

Many people say that their exchange studies abroad was the best time of their life: new country, friends, experiences.

Spanish Laura Martinez Rodriguez and Italian Stefano Scrimieri came to Tampere in 2008 for their Erasmus exchange – and fell in love with each other! Laura studied Physiotherapy and Stefano Nursing at Tampere University off Applied Science (TAMK, earlier PIRAMK).

Now they are married and live and work in Barcelona, Spain: Stefano an operating room nurse and Laura in a pharmacy.

“Since we met, we are still together, sharing love, live experiences and travelling as much as we can”, says Laura.

Laura and Stefano in 2008

“Kuntokatu family” Erasmus exchange students in 2008

Stefano and Laura in 2018

Irish Cìosa Le Gear (below) did her Erasmus exchange in TAMK Fine Art and met her husband-to-be Harry Nicholson from England who did his exchange in History at University of Tampere (UTA, now Tampere University):

” We were both living in Tuomiokirkonkatu and met on our first night while playing a game of hide and seek: we both hid in the sauna (it was off)!”

“Since then we have survived long distance and lived together in Dublin and London.”

“I wanted to share our story and thank you for the life long love, friendship and adventure I found in Tampere.”

Harry and Cìosa got married in Galway, Ireland, in 2018

PS. Valentine’s Day 14 February is called “Friends’ Day” in Finland!

Text: Mirja Onduso
Photos: Laura Martinez Rodriguez, Cìosa Le Gear

Text: TAMK’s Social Services students Tommi Vaittinen and Otto Vaattovaara

Photos: Tapio Salomäki

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Eight brave student souls, headed by Tapio Salomäki, accepted a challenge that lead them on an unpredictable journey. This challenge was called the project FAD. There were participants also from the children’s houses from Akaa, Turku, Estonia and Latvia.

The main idea was to create two pedagogical adventure camps for the children of ages between 8–14, based on their own dreams. All of this was evaluated by the students from the University of Riga, Latvia.

The first camp took place in Ylöjärvi, in November 2017, in snowy conditions. The camp was enclosed with Moomin theme and especially with the tale about Moomin Pappa’s days in the children’s home and thereafter.

After the camp, it was time to think where we had succeeded and where we had made mistakes. Everybody felt that they had learned something. The second camp was held in Tarto, Estonia. It was build around Lotte who is the children’s favourite character in Estonia. Lotte lead people to exciting situations.

In the end, it was time to gather around in Tampere and conclude everything, and wash all dust from the adventures away in a hot lake-side sauna. Finally, we realised that this project was able to offer unique experiences for the children and a possibility to exceed their own limits. Many dreams came true and wonderful people met each other. Now the brave souls were even more braver and extremely happy for accepting this challenge.

Text & Photo: Minna Metsäportti, M.A. Senior Lecturer in English, Language Centre, Tampere University of Applied Sciences 

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Taitava Neonataalihoitaja (Skilled Neonatal Nurse, 30 ECTS) is a specialised professional study programme organised by five Finnish university hospitals. It is intended for nurses working in neonatal intensive care units, high dependency units and neonatal wards. The professional English studies (2 ECTS) belonging to the study entity were provided by TAMK Language Centre, this spring for the third time.  

A total of thirty-six neonatal nurses from the university hospitals of Tampere, Helsinki, Oulu, Turku and Kuopio studied in our Tabula learning environment. The aims of the course included practising how to successfully instruct English-speaking parents to participate in the care of their premature baby, as well as improving one’s competence to read and utilise scientific publications.

One of the characteristic methods throughout the course was collaborative learning.

The shared contributions led to productive threads which enabled the participants to get familiar with other hospitals’ care practices and to learn from other nursing colleagues’ experiences.

Part of the professional English studies was implemented with a colleague from the University of Tampere. Working on research articles was integrated into a Finnish course on written communication with the purpose of supporting the participants  in their overall learning process during the ongoing programme, as well as encouraging self-study to stay updated with current neonatalogy practices also after the completion of the course.

The course was received well by neonatal nurses, achieving the set goals successfully. Flexible schedule and specifically tailored course content were appreciated by the participants, many of whom felt strongly motivated to continue improving and maintaining their English.

For an educator the opportunity to design a professional language course to respond to working life requirements is a rewarding experience. Intense collaboration with professionals and authentic course elements offer a welcomed insight into a special field, thus paving the way for the design, development and implementation of similar training programmes in the future.

 

Text and photo: Kirsi Saarinen & Minna Metsäportti

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The fourth Fast Track to Professional English course took place in spring 2018. Students from the fields of engineering and health care accomplished their compulsory professional English courses by studying together in our 5-week Tabula-based web course.

This spring we had a German colleague participating in the course. Mr. Hubertus Weyer gave an interactive Skype lecture on “Tool box meeting as a communication act in health and safety”.

One of the main aims in Fast Track English is to form mixed teams, plan and work on the final project. In the earlier courses, students have designed and worked on a variety of topics such as “Healthy Building” and “Microchip Technology in Paramedicine”.

This spring we chose another approach.  Students discussed, reflected on and presented their views on what the forthcoming digital learning environment of Tampere3 should be like.  The students’ suggestions were included in the initial planning stage of the environment development.

The fifth Fast track English will start in autumn. The concept will be developed further and new approaches will be adopted. A special emphasis will be given to examining and analyzing students’ experiences of studying and learning in a multi-professional student group.

 

International weeks have been a tradition at TAMK since 2008. Today TAMK hosts approximately eight international weeks in different fields yearly.  Non-teaching staff international week took place at the end of April and brought together professionals from eight countries. These professionals work in many areas in higher education anywhere from financial services to library and international services.

Best Practices and Getting to Know TAMK

The week started off with an introduction to TAMK, its facilities, fields of education and services, and, of course, Finland as a country and it’s education system. The guests of the international week had an opportunity from the beginning to find best practices among each other and from TAMK and they usually became the most excited when they had the chance for a free flowing Q&A during and after presentations.

As the week went on the guests were introduced to Demola and Y-Campus concepts. Both seemed to raise a lot of discussion, questions and interest in combining the higher education scheme with entrepreneurial studies in practice.

Guests were also offered the chance to book individual meetings with a TAMK representative in their own fields in order to discuss current matters and services/practices in more detail.

Photograph by Kukka-Maaria Korko

Fun and Games

There were also two evening programs planned for the guests. First evening get-together took place in Mediapolis Campus, where guests met other international week participants that were taking part in the week arranged by Art, Music and Media at the same time. Mediapolis students had put together a viewing of the new short films produced and made by students and the guests got to watch improvisational theatre as well.

Second evening program was something very Finnish and very different from what any of the guests had ever tried before. Sauna and swimming at Varala.  The food was great, sauna was enjoyable and some even dared to take dip in the icy lake.

Photograph by Suvi Hokkanen

To sum up the week, it was full of fun, laughter and discussions on developing services. Thanks to all that helped in the organization, all the presenters and especially the guests that made the week all that it was!

 

Text: Suvi Hokkanen/International Coordinator for Staff Exchanges

Downtown Tromsø

 

In spring 2018 we spent one week in Tromsø, Norway. The coordinator of the Nordplus Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network and the intensive course “Multiform marketing of experience-based product/service innovations”, Senior Lecturer in Marketing Pirkko Varis from Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Finland together with Vidar Alvarstein and Kirsten Zachariassen  from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics, organized the programme for us.

 View from downtown to Fjellheisen

 Participants on the viewing platform of Fjellheisen

 

Altogether 28 students and 10 staff members from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Norway joined the intensive course. From TAMK, Finland students Marja Koskimäki, Miisa Kuivanen, Noora-Emilia Hassinen, Salla Vaittinen, Maria Eskola, Janica Saralevä, Titta Savolainen and Henri Hellsten took part in the Nordic & Baltic week.

Downtown Tromsø with sailing boat harbour

 

 View from Fjellheisen to downtown

 

On weekend we could get acquainted with each other and spend some time together. We also did a walking sightseeing tour in Tromsø, including a visit to Fjellheisen with a cable car. On Monday we had presentations of all the countries, cities, universities and study programmes taking part in the intensive course.

May-Tordis Simonsen presenting Veita

 Assignment to students

 

On Monday we were given the assignment from the representative of Veita shopping center, May-Tordis Simonsen. Student teams were given tasks to think of what Veita can do to ensure its future, and if there would be alternative ways to go for instead of being a basic shopping center. Also the aim was to think of various target audiences and give ideas for marketing.

Teams working at Veita

 

 On Tuesday and Wednesday we worked in our multidisciplinary and multicultural teams with the assignment. We created for Veita new business concepts and ideas for marketing and marketing communications activities, including online marketing, mobile and social media. We finalized our work and also delivered our reports by the deadline.

May-Tordis Simonsen moderating the presentation session

Audience following the presentation of the Norwegian Kåre and his team 

 

On Thursday our presentations took place. Various business concepts, and marketing and marketing communications ideas were presented, and a winner was chosen between the teams. All teams did great work and the results of the teams can be used by Veita. Some of the suggestions will be implemented immediately and some in near future. The winning team members were Inga Barauskaite, Philip Firouzian, Maria Eskola, Janica Saralevä and Omar Olivares Villarreal with their “The north pole living room” proposal. On Thursday evening we had a closing ceremony and dinner. We congratulated the winners and thanked the organisers and all participants and spent the evening together. On Friday we left Tromsø with a lot of memorable experiences.

Winning team presentaion     

 

In the following some students share their experiences and thoughts of the intensive course and time in Tromsø.

Students from Denmark

 

Philip Firouzian from the University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Engineering, Product Development and Innovation, Odense, Denmark

Thank you very much for great planning and huge experiences. It was a pleasure to work across borders and to experience similarities/differences both in work and culture. The overall course was well planned and I think the case was very relevant. It was also nice to be located in the actual shopping mall to work on the case – It was amazing to meet the other participants and to explore    Tromsø. I am very happy to have taken part in this course and met the network. I hope to see our new friends later again soon 🙂

Presentation about Denmark

 

Students from Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, Kaunas, Lithuania

 

Agnė Juknaitė

I’m so grateful that I could have an opportunity to be a part of this project in Tromsø. It was really great experience! I am so happy that I could see the beauty of Tromsø. The Northern lights and fjords were stunning. Thank you for this amazing week full of new experiences and practice. I would repeat it again if I could.  Thank you, Pirkko for your concern during the whole week. Everything was so perfect.

                   Loreta Petrauskaitė, Mantautas Račkauskas and students from Lithuania

 

Smiltė Sedekerskytė                               

First of all, it was a pleasure to be a part of this project. This experience was incredibly fascinating. I learned a lot about the things that are very important to me, my studies and my future.

As a matter of fact, this intensive course was a marvellous opportunity for students not only to work with a company but also to get experience while working in groups with very different individuals, get to know various cultures, peoples’ lifestyles and even their educational systems. It was the first time for me practising working with this kind of a company and trying to help it to reach its goals. While being a part of a group of complete strangers, I learned that even a week can be enough for people to get along and get to know each other or even become friends.

Peaks of mountains and a fjord

 

To be honest, Tromsø is one of my favourite towns I have ever visited. The experience that I got there was really different from what I am used to because I prefer to travel somewhere South from Lithuania, but it was still my best decision to finally reach a place that is beyond polar circle. The things that were very new and fascinating to me were the northern lights, the amount of snow that I saw, very huge mountains and their peaks from where one can see the magnificent panorama of    Tromsø. And the friendly local people who were always smiling and trying to help you no matter what cannot be forgotten to mention.

It was a pleasure to have a chance to participate in this project. And again thank you very much for this experience. It has changed my life significantly.

Martin, Anneliis and students from Estonia

Students from Tallinn University of Technology, School of Engineering, Estonia

 

Ilgar Akbarov

Education is mostly about experiences. I would like to say thank you to the Nordic Baltic Business Innovation Network for giving us the opportunity to have this great experience.

We were able to improve our knowledge and experience in many ways while seeking solutions to problems with people from different cultures and disciplines. We were able to consult tutors with different professions while developing the concept for Veita shopping mall. We handled with the decreasing attractiveness of the shopping mall in local context, but the concepts we developed during the intensive course are applicable to many others shopping malls, because the problem itself is not special to certain places.

 Martin Pärn and questions to Ilgar’s team

 

We were also able to explore the amazing nature of far north city. In a short intensive course, we had the possibility to explore the city with guidance of Vidar, thank you to him :). Since I am from a southern country (Azerbaijan), to be able to see the Aurora Borealis was another great privilege for me, which maybe normal for students who are form Nordic countries. We also had chance to learn the city’s culture, history and how the city plays role in polar overreaches and about scientists who conducted researches there.

All in all, the balance between working on the project and exploring the city was well considered by organisers and it was an unforgettable experience. Thank you all!

 

Omar Olivares Villarreal

 When they proposed me to go for this experience I was expecting to find a country and people cold like the lots of snow that I saw in the pictures before. To my surprise I couldn’t be more wrong to think like that, except that there really was a lot of snow, the people were warm and really open, they even made jokes. The moment we were landing from the plane I could see the huge mountains that hug Tromsø making it look like a picture of fantasy in a big composition of blues and whites. My friends and I were welcomed with a smile in the face in a really nice hotel and after looking around the city and loving the city more and more, we went to a nice place for snacks where we met other participants of the course. After talking and making new friends we decided to go once again around the city to look how beautiful it looked in the night.

Anneliis and students from Estonia

 

On the next day we went in a walking tour around the city with all the companions for the course, we saw interesting places with a very local but fun explanation, like the brewery they have or the polar scientific research center. The last point we visited was the top of a mountain, after a very fast but entertaining trip on the Teleferic, we came into the view of the extension of Tromsø from the top of this beautiful mountain but the best part was to look this majestic view of nature. Mountains, fjords and even the colors in the sky mixed together to create a wonderful picture to the point that not even the city feels out of place. Trying to get a better picture of the scenery some of us decided to go further up to the mountain, must say it wasn’t easy at all but was 100% worth.

Mountains by a fjord

 

The next day besides introducing ourselves and listening to the presentations of other national teams, we discovered what we are going to do in the next days. So we formed teams with the people we were assigned (I think I got the best team) and began walking back to the center of Tromsø. I will not be tired to mention that you get enchanted in the view. I find that the service culture in Tromsø was really high, in the café the beautiful girl in the other side of the counter received us with a huge smile and attention, something in this quality of service was repeated in each place that I visited later.

Ilgar taking a photo of Omar

 

In the afternoon of that day we met in the place that we were working with, the mall Veita, an incredible place hidden in the very center of Tromsø. Working here the next days with my teammates was an incredible regarding experience, I would like to say that all of us enjoyed the process of working together and we got quite interesting ideas. The place is lovely and has a nice café in it where I did go for a very nice chai latte tea and a cloudberry tea (both a must if you have the opportunity to taste). From time to time in the mall you could see mothers taking their babies to play in the park inside, also they give public yoga classes. In general little surprises pop up in there.

I would like to resume that my whole experience was enjoyable and eye opening, to see the city and work with new people. I am sure we will visit Tromsø once again and by sure I will try to participate in the event next time.

 

Coordinator Pirkko looking for new experiences

 

Text

Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland 

Students from Denmark, Estonia and Lithuania

 

Photos

Anneliis Tomingas, Tallinn University of Technology, School of Engineering, Estonia

Omar Olivares Villarreal, Tallinn University of Technology, School of Engineering, Estonia

Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland 

 

The following institutions are members of the Nordplus Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network:

Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Business, Finland

The University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Engineering, Odense, Denmark

Tallinn University of Technology, Schools of Engineering & Business and Governance, Estonia

UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics, Tromsø, Norway

Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, Kaunas, Lithuania

Text and photos: Luka Saksio, Student of Degree Programme in Building Services Engineering, TAMK

(Talotekniikka, LVI)

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One Russian Plus One Finn Equals More Than Two

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

We had an amazing opportunity to visit St. Petersburg from March 18th to March 24th 2018 with a group of people participating a course about cultural diversity. Our group, hopping to Allegro train, going from Finland to Russia, included a mix of people from different degree programmes from Tampere University of Applied Sciences and from Helsinki University Aleksanteri Institute. All of us more or less unknown to each other, all somehow unfamiliar with the culture of Russia.

The students from Russia participating this project were from North-West Institute of Management and from ITMO University. On the second evening of the trip, we had a lovely dinner in a local Georgian restaurant.

It was one of our first opportunities to get to know the Russian students who were participating in our project. At this moment already, they all turned out to be very talkative and not at all introverted, as I first had assumed for some reason. Although, many of them said they aren’t normally so very loquacious, it seemed like they were much more talkative than us Finns. That’s something depending on the person, of course, but this is how it first seemed like to me.

Great views, great population and great Putin

Over the Expectations

Lots of nice walking and wandering around the city was included in the trip.

The trip proved out to be more than just a school trip, at least for me – it was a very important experience. The fluency of spoken English and the skills for cooperation with other people really evolved in me during the stay, both of which I consider really important factors in working life. It was very easy but still so very challenging at the same time having to cooperate with foreign people all week, with them having their own accents, different levels of spoken English and the weird features of their cultures. But eventually, as we got to know each other a little bit better, it all started to flow spontaneously and everyone found the common tune.

Real-life Project Work

As we had had the time to get to know each other, we were separated to smaller groups and then given different kinds of project works concerning an all-new way (at least for most of us) to approach businesses: via business model canvas. Each group consisted of different nationalities (there were others too than only Finns and Russians), which made the project even more interesting. After a little theory about the business model canvas, it became clear to us how to use it as a tool to understand every aspect of the business and innovate new things for our project companies.

The Business Model Canvas for Bonava.

My group got Bonava as the project company. It’s a construction company (or a housing company as they call it) that operates in Scandinavian countries and in St. Petersburg. As a contact person for the company we had Pekka Eskola, a development manager of Bonava in St. Petersburg. To figure out new, out of the box innovations for the company, we were told several times by teachers and Pekka himself to throw every crazy idea on the canvas that crosses our minds, and then consider letting some of the worst ones go afterwards.

At first that was kind of hard for us, but as we got moving with the task, the canvas started to get filled of ideas. We got help during the process from the teachers and Pekka, and finally succeeded to make a full canvas and a complete story to support it. I think Pekka liked the presentation we gave him at the Bonava headquarters, as we managed to figure out almost everything their development team had came up with during the past few years, and even a little more.

Success in Every Way

People from RANEPA, ITMO, TAMK and University of Helsinki

The group attending the project was full of unbelievably cooperative and skillful people. I could’ve never thought that mixing several cultures would end up with a project task as big as this having done absolutely wonderful works that I know will help the companies in their businesses in the future.

As a conclusion, the trip was a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience for each and everyone of us involved. Learning about cultural differences in theory is nothing compared to a real-life practice like this. Even just small conversations in a foreign language sets people in a mood of receiving information almost as easily as in their own language, and personally getting to know foreign people they’re working with as a group, makes things really easy. On top of the unique chance of getting to work with people from different cultures, I believe everyone of us made some long-lasting friendships during the trip that will never be forgotten.