Posts in the Education category

The new digital channels and social media platforms offer for SMEs (small and mediumsized enterprises) in tourism and travel businesses a lot of opportunities to target and access markets at low cost, and to achieve business and sustainability goals.

It is important to create marketing strategies and select appropriate integrated online and traditional marketing and marketing communications activities, tools and channels, including websites, digital, mobile and social media channels, for various customers/customer groups, target markets and businesses, taking into consideration the size and type of the business.

Virrat in Finland

Virrat in Finland

Marketing environment, tourism as a service product and offerings, value proposition and brand, marketing plan, strategy and management, enlarged marketing mix

Marketing is a concept that relates to forward looking strategies to understand customer needs, influence customer perceptions, and identify how a company can capitalize on that. Initial steps for a novice entrepreneur to successfully do marketing include; establishing and increasing the customer base, increasing the product sales per customer and encouraging repeat business, and increasing the sales of more expensive, higher margin products per customer.

The micro-environment includes the actors, such as customers, competitors, suppliers and other stakeholders, whilst the macro-environment consists of political, economic, socio-cultural, technological and the legal environment (PESTEL). New technologies have made it easier for us to find out about the markets around the world, to travel, to buy and sell anywhere. In analysing the current situation it is important to conduct market situation, customer, competition situation and competitor analyses.  Customers are vital to our business, so know your customers well.

The company should identify the target markets and distinct segments, select the target markets and customers to approach, develop a market offering,  do positioning, and do targeted marketing for them.  This applies to consumer, business-to-business and other markets.

Nowadays, people use more and more TripAdvisor, Trivago, Instagram and other similar platforms, the Internet, Facebook and other social media as information sources when planning their trips and finding out information on the destinations etc. The amount of bookings done online via the website of the companies and via the online travel agents, such as Booking.com etc. has increased rapidly. However, the use of traditional booking methods and also the influence of family members, friends, travel agents etc. as information sources vary between various markets and cultures, and companies should take this into consideration when making decisions on marketing.

Tampere in Finland

Tampere in Finland

Tourism can be thought of as producing a total tourist experience that will include everything from the pre-planning, the purchase, the journey, the visit and stay, the return journey and overall reflection on the activity. Tourism, hospitality and leisure products/services are a service product having specific characteristics: intangibility, perishability, inseparability and variability. The value of a tourism product is based upon: perceived quality, service and image associated with the brand/product, the price asked and the relativity to prices for similar products, the convenience of purchase and the amount by which the purchase fits the needs and aspirations of the customer.

The intangible value proposition is made physical by an offering, which can be a combination of products, services, information, and experiences.  A brand is an offering from a known source but you can achieve this known source position fairly quickly if you have a valued proposition that you market with care and originality.

We have to start with a marketing plan. Marketing strategy is the overall guideline for the company to manage and allocate its resources the best possible way. Marketing strategy has a focus on actions, such    as promotion. It has been suggested that every successful marketing strategy should have the following attributes: customer at the centre of everything, networking, different forms of partnering, having a corporate culture and effective use of technology.

The marketing management process includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P’s of marketing that are:

  1. Identification, selection and development of the product.
  2. Determination of its price.
  3. Selection of a distribution channel to reach the prospective customer.
  4. The development and implementation of a promotional strategy.

Enlarged marketing mix in tourism consists of products/services/destinations, price, place (location, logistics, distribution channels), marketing communications, people, processes, programs, and performance.   

Virrat in Finland

Virrat in Finland

 

Virrat in Finland

Virrat in Finland

 

Determine integrated marketing communications activities, tools and channels

Integrated marketing communications mix includes personal selling (also sales events and workshops to meet b-to-b customers, e.g. travel agents, tour operators and travel organisations), advertising, sales promotion (including exhibitions and trade fairs), publicity and public relations, events and experiences, direct and database marketing, online, mobile and social media marketing, word of mouth, marketing through networks etc.

One of the key aspects of marketing strategies is building a brand identity.  Sales is the ‘push’ to buy the product once the customer is there, marketing is the ‘pull’ that gets the customer to you in the first place. The important thing for any business owner is to focus on both the ‘pull’ and the ‘push’ effectively, and this will ensure that your business is positioned to succeed.

Online, mobile and social media marketing

There is a multitude of low cost channels and platforms for online, mobile and social media marketing, such as websites, emails, search ads, display ads, company blogs, third-party chat rooms, forums and blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube etc.

Marketers distinguish paid and owned media from earned media.  For tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses the value of earned media is significant.

Generally the advice is to include moving pictures – videos – and include as many pictures and videos whether provided by you or your customers. 

You can find in the SMARTOUR Marketing and social media module some advice for building and using pages on Facebook but the advice would easily fit with other platforms. You can also find some information about blogs.

Setting up a simple website

In the SMARTOUR Marketing and social media module you find essentials that every small business website should have for it to effectively help you to do business. Remember also that you should make your website mobile-friendly.

For everyone developing a travel website and venturing into social media VisitBritain is very useful with an online marketing toolkit on its website https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en

You find the Online marketing toolkit and other toolkits as follows: after entering the website, click Corporate, click Developing England’s tourism, and click under Business advice hub Engaging customers through social media etc.

For further information, visit also VisitFinland website http://www.visitfinland.com/

To find out more about marketing and social media and related case studies from UK, Finland and Italy, visit www.smartourproject.eu

 

References

Cheverton, P. 2004. Key Marketing Skills: strategies, tools and techniques for marketing success. 2nd edition. London, UK: Kogan Page Ltd.

Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D., Wanhill, S. 2008. Tourism. Principles and Practice. Fourth edition. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. L. 2016. Marketing Management. 15th edition. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Paley, N. 2007. Marketing Strategy Desktop Guide. Second edition. London, UK: Thorogood Publishing Ltd.

Wood, M.B. 2014. The Marketing Plan Handbook. 5th Edition. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.

 

Emmiina Lindfors and Ella Laakso assisting in registration

Emmiina Lindfors and Ella Laakso assisting in registration

 

SMARTOUR Event in Tampere 2 - participants waiting for training

SMARTOUR Event in Tampere – participants waiting for training

 

Event on “Social media in marketing” in Tampere, Finland

 

Hanna Takala training

Hanna Takala training

Free event on “Social media in marketing” was organised by TAMK in April 2017 in Tampere, Finland. In the event for tourism and travel businesses and accommodation providers, SMARTOUR project, course and online tool were presented and training in Finnish on online marketing and social media was organised. Over 50 participants were very satisfied with the event and training on online marketing and social media.  For more information about this and other events, visit http://www.smartourproject.eu  and  https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

Waiting for the certificates

Waiting for the certificates

 

Iris Mäkinen, Katriina Hyvölä, Teija Lindell & Tiina Aaltonen and the certificates with Pirkko Varis, Hanna Takala and Irja Pietilä

Iris Mäkinen, Katriina Hyvölä, Teija Lindell and Tiina Aaltonen and the certificates with Pirkko Varis, Hanna Takala and Irja Pietilä

 

Text: Pirkko Varis, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Photos: Anneliis Tomingas & Mika Mäkiaho

 

 

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“The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

On the way to Mars

TAMK participated in the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA’s Epic Challenge project, which studied challenges of colonising Mars. One of the project’s top moments took place in the Finnish Science Centre Heureka on 10 May when the project participants had the chance to meet NASA’s astronaut Timothy Kopra.

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Project participants in Heureka. Back row from left Juha Hyytiäinen, LAMK’s Epic Challenge coordinator; TAMK’s coordinator Antti Perttula (second from left); Timothy Kopra (fifth from left); Dawn Kopra (sixth from left), and TAMK’s teacher Tomi Salo (back row, first from right)

Astronaut Kopra lectured on his work in the International Space Station ISS to a full auditorium. Kopra told about his latest six-month space journey and related research on the planned journey to Mars. Timothy Kopra, who is of Finnish descent, thinks it is possible that the journey to Mars will take place in the 2030s.

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Timothy Kopra told about his space journeys in Heureka with his wife Dawn Kopra.

Students and teachers from the higher education institutions participating in the Epic Challenge programme attended the event in Heureka. The atmosphere of the event was warm. The students had the chance to present their one-year project results.

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TAMK’s students Jessica Mattila (left) and Polina Petrova presented their project to Kopra.

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TAMK’s student Catherine Fait presented their project to Kopra.

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TAMK’s student Svetlana Rybina was part of a student group that developed a test chamber suitable to Mars.

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Astronaut Charles Camarda wants to continue the Finnish cooperation. In the photo from left teacher Tomi Salo from TAMK, Charles Camarda, and student Polina Petrova from TAMK.

Mars colonisation was also a topic at the SciFest 2017 event in Joensuu on 12 May 2017. In the learning environment symposium the Epic Challenge teams of Joensuu and TAMK introduced themselves and met the father of the Epic Challenge programme, astronaut Charles Camarda and Timothy Kopra. This year’s Epic Challenge programme ended but NASA’s astronauts are interested in continuing the Finnish cooperation.

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Coordinator of the Epic Challenge programme, Principal Lecturer Heikki Immonen from Karelia University of Applied Sciences received a Finnish flag which has been in space twice from Timothy Kopra.

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Continuation of the Epic Challenge programme was planned in the amazing scenery of Koli. From left Charles Camarda, Timothy Kopra, Dawn Kopra, and Antti Perttula.

In addition to TAMK, the University of Eastern Finland, Karelia University of Applied Sciences, North Karelia College, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Town of Joensuu, and Savo Consortium for Education participate in the Epic Challenge programme.

Text and photos: Antti Perttula, Principal Lecturer, Degree Programme in Mechanical Engineering, Leader of TAMK’s NASA Challenge project

Amanda Toler Woodward and Kimberly Steed-Page from MSU together with Aura and Kirsi from TAMK

Text and photos: Kirsi Jokipakka

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A small delegation from TAMK, Kirsi Jokipakka and Aura Loikkanen, had a chance to visit Michigan State University at the end of May. Two-day program included visits to MSU support services and learning environments. MSU is among the world’s top 100 universities and it has over 200 programs in undergraduate and graduate level but it also offers various pre-professional study opportunities. MSU is also one of the world’s top research universities and students are linked to research and development activities although their studies. TAMK has co-operation with MSU in the field of social work.

One of the focus areas of MSU is to support the regional development but also global responsibility is an important matter. At MSU students have great study abroad opportunities and in addition to this the services for international students and scholars are well organized. MSU’s 25 international institutes, centers and units collaborate with academic colleges across campus to help the students to develop their global competencies.

The student services of MSU are broad and divided into four parts. Services include Student Affairs and Service Operations, Health, Wellness & Safety, Identity & Affinity, Transition, Leadership and Experiential Learning. Staff members’ role is to support students throughout their studies. At MSU the student life is active and students are well-integrated into university community. Support services are visible and easily accessible. The tuition fees are the most important income for MSU and therefore degree-seeking students are vital for the university.

During the visit it became clear that MSU is committed to take good care of its students. It is important that the university offers good-quality education and research but also the student life should meet the needs of the present and future students.

Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions

Entrance hall of the Student Affairs and Services building

 

 

 

 

 

Text: Mirja Onduso
Photo: Merja Halivaara


Laughter and chatter in various languages filled TAMK’s cafeteria on a Friday evening in March when 59 international students from TAMK, TUT and UTA and 43 local Friend Families met each other for the first time over blueberry pie at TAMK.

IMG_3332– I was thrilled and eager to meet my friend family, said Hai Luong Dang, a first-year student from Tampere University of Technology (TUT).

Hai was one of the lucky international students studying in TUT, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) or University of Tampere (UTA) to get a local friend family through the universities’ Friend Family Programme. His Friend Family is Mira Pihlström’s family.

The universities have been running the Friend Family Programme together for already six years, and this year a record number of 43 families got involved. Earlier the programme was coordinated by UNIPOLI staff; from this year onwards it will be TAMK’s responsibility.

The idea of the programme is to help international students integrate into Finnish way of life, and to offer families a chance to practice their foreign language and intercultural skills. TAMK arranges the first and the last meeting jointly to all participants, and the family-student pairs otherwise agree on how often to meet and what to do. The families and the students commit to the programme for one year – but may even become friends for life!

Most families ‘adopt’ one international student, some brave ones even two.

Exciting experience for both sides

Mira Pihlström was an exchange student in Spain during her own studies, so she knows how it is to live in another country.

– I like meeting people from different countries and learning about their cultures, and it’s never a bad thing to have more friends either, she said.

In her application, she wished to have a “social, humorous and chatty” student friend – and she got two social, humorous and chatty Vietnamese boys, who had never met each other even though they have both lived in Finland for almost one year.

– I didn’t know anything about Vietnam but they told me e.g. that the traffic is chaotic and that families are only allowed to have two children, Mira said.

Hai was also excited:

– Meeting Mira erased my preassumed thoughts that Finnish people are not so into small talk: she was so receptive to our conversation and it was a memorable experience. We talked a lot of many different things: life in Vietnam and for example Finnish life, food, traffic and law. We helped Mira to know a lot more about Vietnam, since she didn’t have any clues about our country before, said Hai.

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Students may live here for 4-5 years without ever seeing a Finnish home

International students often find it difficult to integrate into the Finnish society and local activities. Many have said that they have lived in Finland for many years and have never been to a Finnish home or met other people than students: children, elderly or working people.

– My first meeting with my Friend Family is actually my first time ever talking to Finnish people outside the university and supermarket, said Hai.

The Friend Family Programme is open to TAMK, TUT and UTA students and any local families. Students may be selected for the Friend Family programme only once but families may act as Friend Families as many times as they wish!

Although most of the advertising is done through the universities, families don’t need to be related to the universities: any family interested in sharing their family experiences and learning about other cultures is welcome to apply. Also, all kinds of families are welcome: families with children or no children, large families or single-person families.

Both students and families have to apply for the programme. The application period is in January-March, and the programme runs in March-December.

The next application period for 2018 programme will be in January-March 2018. The instructions can be found on the UNIPOLI website.

Kauppi forests calling in May

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Many international students are usually interested in nature – and they have often only heard stories of the Finnish summer cottages. Hai might or might not yet know that Mira’s family also has a summer cottage!

In May, TAMK usually arranges also a joint forest trip and sausage roasting in Kauppi forest for the families and students.

Before the forest walk, they have plans for May Day (in Finnish, vappu) celebration:

– I wait for more activity with my Friend Family. These weeks are very busy for us, the exam week. However, we are going to have a picnic after the exam. I hope the weather will be nice to us, wished Hai.

Hai, how was blueberry pie?

– I don’t remember, all my memory and attention was drawn into the conversation with Mira!

 

Text: Mirja Onduso
Photo: Merja Halivaara

Tanyu and Virpi presenting the 21st Century Educators program to the world

Tanyu and Virpi presenting the 21st Century Educators programme to the world

Outstanding, highly acclaimed and on top of Europe’s rankings for the past 16 years, the Finnish education system continues to be an appealing topic for many educational institutions around the world. Consider the World Economic Forum and the many articles published on insights and secrets of Finland’s one of the most successful exports to the world. With the doors to the world already open and an increasing worldwide interest, a team of experts from Tampere University of Applied Sciences discovered an undeniable need of educating teachers through innovative methodologies to guarantee immediate results. Meet TAMK’s 21st Century Educators.

21st Century Educators is a fully supported, cohort based, collaborative programme which believes that learning is best undertaken as a social activity in an authentic context. The programme is developed so that it encompasses courses and services which can be delivered either online, face to face or in a blended format by TAMK Global Education. Which countries respond the best to the program? What skills should the educator of the future possess? Customer Relationship Managers, Virpi Heinonen and Tanyu Chen provided me the answers.

The first thing I notice when I step into their office is the chemistry between Virpi and Tanyu and how they conclude each other’s answers. Virpi constantly gives Tanyu the chance to share ideas related to her experience as a researcher well-accustomed to the Chinese market. As a consequence, Tanyu discloses how satisfied she is with her work “I realized that what I learned, researched and analyzed in theory, I can put in practice at TAMK.”

This year, they have worked with partners in China, Brazil, USA, Uruguay, Oman and Myanmar but the first two are the most eager to learn about the Finnish education system and implement the knowledge into their teaching practices. When it comes to China, the opportunities are bigger since the education model is shifting. “In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a new policy wanting to have 600 out of 2000 existing higher education institutions transferred to universities of applied sciences. This is a big transformation. If previously the education methods and approaches were adopted from English speaking countries, nowadays China is more focused on the Nordic countries. They are deeply impressed with the Finnish education.” states Tanyu. Despite their sincere enthusiasm, Chinese customers are not easy to reach. For high-end customers, traditional face to face training is preferred to digital studies.

“We have been operating in the Chinese market for two years now and our program is very well known there because China is a very special case. Universities send their leaders to study abroad which means the management and the leadership are the core. Teachers don’t have so many opportunities and their visits here are relatively short. So if we can impact the leaders, then they will make the right decisions regarding the teacher training services.” she adds.

Do they have a follow-up scheme to track the progress of Chinese leaders back in their homeland? “Actually, we do have a follow-up scheme to collect the feedback for those who have learned in Finland and we also have Finnish experts to train the local teachers in China. So far, we received positive feedback from those teachers who attended the teacher trainings. Many of them got promoted or their level of teaching has increased. Teachers are switching their daily practices and taking to their classrooms what they learned from Finland. It’s very difficult in the beginning because their mindsets have changed, but the students’ not yet. The change is gradually happening in the classroom and it’s a slow process. “

Virpi travels more often to Latin American countries and Brazil is a top destination. “With Brazil it is going well. We just had our third graduated group and they are all great ambassadors. They are marketing Finland themselves within the federal institute where they work at so we are expecting more Brazilian teachers next year and we are also sending our teachers to Brazil. Mark Curcher, our Program Director is also taking care of the online program and services besides travelling to Brazil for conferences and workshops. We have traded in Brazil for four years already and there has been a lot of interest in Proakatemia type of innovation weeks, leadership and coaching trainings. TAMK will have a new Master’s programme in Educational Leadership starting in 2017 and the goal is to prepare those who work in educational institutions, HR management, governmental positions or NGO’s.  We are hoping to reach people from different countries with interesting and distinctive backgrounds.”

The must-have competences of a future educator

Is leadership one of the must-have competences of a future educator then? “Definitely. Leadership and coaching skills are the most needed at the moment. An educator has to be able to facilitate the student’s learning process. Students are already capable to find the information they need to support their studies so the teacher’s role is to facilitate the learning conditions and create an experience.” continues Virpi.

“If you go deep, you’ll probably find lots of skills. Lifelong learning and cultural competences are also very important. To always be hungry for learning and developing new skills and share them with your group of students. All student groups are diverse and international and we learn from them as much as they learn from us.”

Virpi and Tanyu have been working together for slightly over one year now and laid the basis of a small, but very efficient team. And while they’re selling the expertise of different degree programmes to other countries, they are counting on all the support they can get from the head of each department and front-line teachers. Especially when they have international visitors interested in class observation, laboratory showing and project presentation. A quick response is crucial in sealing the deals from which the whole institution benefits.

“We need everyone’s help and more effective internal communications in order to reach our future goals and spread the Joy of Discovery to the rest of the world.”

 

Text & photo: Andruta Ilie

 

Read more about 21st Century Educators: http://21stcenturyeducators.tamk.fi/

Discover our brand new Master’s programme: http://www.tamk.fi/web/tamken/educational-leadership-master

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

Our Finnish activities have reached their end for this year and we wanted our exchange students to take some sweet memories with them back home. Literally and figuratively speaking. For our last event, Mirja and I brought gingerbread in different shapes and a gingerbread house to her office. Many students showed up that day to decorate the cookies and the winner of the house was Cong Nguyen, who says:

“Last Friday afternoon, I walked past the social counselor’s office. Fortunately, it was the time for Finnish activities and many students were already decorating gingerbread cookies. I joined in and decorated a pine tree (it was very beautiful!). I took part in the lottery for the gingerbread house and won it! The gingerbread was so good and it was a great evening.”

Mirja and I would like to thank all our students who joined Finnish activities at TAMK and to all staff members who supported us!

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Text: Andruta Ilie

Photos: Mirja Onduso

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

We all love giving and receiving cards for Christmas. But what about making them? We tempted our international students with glögi and joulutorttu and invited them to show their artistic skills and make Christmas cards from scratch.

Mirja and I were both impressed with what came out of their hands. This time, it was her turn to tell us about the festive atmosphere in her room:

"Christmas certainly means different things in different countries: while most students draw Christmas trees and decorations, stars, snow flakes, gifts, snowmen, Santa Claus, elves  – one student draws an elephant and another one camels! The Japanese students are professional in drawing Moomins. No matter where we come from, may Christmas bring peace and love to us all! Hyvää joulua!/ Merry Christmas!"

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Text: Andruta Ilie
Photos: Mirja Onduso

 

 

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

Another week of hard studying is over. We brush off the dust of our collars and we are ready to relax at Kaupinoja sauna. Situated by lake Näsijärvi, the public sauna is open almost everyday and counts around 57 000 visits yearly. Winter months are the busiest. During them, the water is cold but the sauna is hot. What matters most is to listen to your own body. The regular way is to plunge first and last in the cold water, but everybody should choose where they sit in the sauna and for how long they swim, as long as it makes them feel good.

“Kaupinoja sauna was nice. There is a one very big sauna where everyone gathers and outside, a long staircase into the lake. However, the water was so cold that I only managed to go in twice. Gladly, they have a grill outside so Mirja grilled some delicious sausages to keep us warm.” are Daan’s thoughts (Daan Krijnen is one of our exchange students from the Netherlands).

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Text: Andruta Ilie
Photos: Mirja Onduso

 

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the atmosphere at TAMK is getting festive and the snow outside is of great help too. Therefore, we thought it would be the best time for our international students to learn how to bake Joulutorttu, a delicious Christmas pastry in shape of a pinwheel with a middle filled with prune jam.

32 hungry students showed up at TAMKO’s kitchen and altogether, 128 Joulutorttu were baked and eaten. By far, the biggest number of students we had during our events, until now. It felt wonderful and rewarding to see them sharing the tasks with a smile upon their faces and waiting patiently to get the pastries out of the oven. Here’s what Ruotong Xu, Chinese exchange student, told us after the event:

"Such a fine day! I joined this lovely activity to bake Joulutorttu: windmill-like pastry. Upon my coming in the room, I felt the warm atmosphere here. So many pretty people with smiling faces, were all busy with their hands working. I just went in and found my place, then threw myself into the work. Firstly, I cut the dough into two pieces and put the jam in the middle, then made it like a windmill. Easy and funny job! After a few minutes, I smelt the flavour of the baked pastry and felt excited to see them because some of them were made by me! Yummy, yummy, I like them! After the baking, a funny game involving fighting for the chairs began. My heart was beating fast at that time because I was extremely excited. I forgot all the worries after this beautiful day! Thank you for organizing this activity!"

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Text: Andruta Ilie

Photos: Laura Wirth, Nao Oikawa and Andruta Ilie

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

Finland has always been considered one of the world’s healthiest countries. Could it be the pure and raw nature, the quality of life here or the fact that Finns are very active and love their sports? I believe the answer comprises all of those aspects. It’s very common to see people jogging or cycling on the streets no matter the hour. Not to mention how passionate they are about fitness and staying in shape. Their attitude via living a healthy lifestyle is contagious and works as a good motivating factor when you are willing to implement some positive changes to your daily activities.

Tampereen Kiipeilykeskus is a rock climbing and bouldering venue located at a reasonable distance from the city centre. Big enough to host several groups of people, it provides diverse climbing walls and all the equipment needed. Our international students were up for the challenge, especially that some of them have never tried it before. Together, we walked all the way from the city centre to our destination in order to warm up. There, we were offered a warm welcome and explained the safety measurements and how to use the equipment provided. So off we went climbing to test our mental and physical strength.

We reached the top many times, but we also fell on the mats and laughed about it. We checked that we are safe before each and every climbing attempt because we understand what a big difference it makes to go on your journey feeling secure. It gives you a great peace of mind.

What impressed me the most though, apart from the enthusiasm shown by the students and their willingness to push their limits, was their team attitude and the way they supported each other in reaching their climbing goals. Our last part of the session was bouldering one of the walls and stand on top of it. It wasn’t an easy task with not many grips to hold on to and a bit difficult in the end. Our most agile climbers went first to lead the way, followed by the rest of the group. Some of us struggled on our way up, but we received a firm hand to hold and a ton of encouragement to help us. Eventually, we all made it there and we shared a big group hug and congratulated each other for doing our best. It was a truly unforgettable experience!

"It was so much fun to climb and boulder with the group. It's fun to watch how people climb differently and then figure out how you are going to do it yourself. It certainly was difficult at some points, but the challenge is part of the fun. The group itself was very fun to be with, all friendly people who I could share a laugh with." says Daan Krijnen, exchange student from the Netherlands.

"A few years ago I also tried wall climbing, but I could never go further than 1 meter above the ground. So this time, I also believed that I couldn't do it and didn't want to go because if would be a waste of money. Luckily, my friend did wanted to go, so I decided to come anyway and just watch him climb. My inner tree-climbing child couldn't resist those walls and started climbing. And suddenly, I was at the top. That was an amazing feeling. The climb reminded me of a short life lesson. Take it step by step, don't look too far ahead or it might scare you and don't look back, because you've already past that stage. Just take little steps and you'll reach your goal. 

It was amazing to see what I could do, but also what others could do and the most important thing, what we could all do together. Reaching the top all alone feels great, but it feels way better to reach it with the rest." says Ryanne van Vliet, exchange student from the Netherlands.

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Text: Andruta Ilie
Photos: Johan Nguyen & Daan Krijnen