Posts in the exchange category


Text and photos: Henri Annala, Kirsi Jokipakka, Tarja Kalliomäki-Linnas, Sanna Laiho



The EAIE Conference is the biggest event in Europe within the context of higher education, and this year it was organised under the scorching sun of Seville, Spain. Taking place on 12-15 September, it was the 29th EAIE conference ever organised, and it hosted a record number of 6,000 participants from 95 countries. TAMK sent a team of four people to attend, and in this blog post we try to crystallise some of the ideas and insights raised by the event.

Henri Annala, International Coordinator for the Language Centre and Social Services, attended the conference for the first time and felt it was a really immersive experience in many ways. Besides attending a number of very interesting and relevant sessions on topics such as online collaboration, internationalisation at home and internationalising university strategy, the week offered plenty of chances for ever so crucial networking.

The opening reception

This proved to be the most significant benefit the conference could offer: as a result of several meetings, receptions and negotiations, there are now many new contacts and ideas for collaboration both in the field of languages and social services. In addition to creating new contacts, it was of course also really important to meet with the already existing partners (for example the Hague University of Applied Sciences) and strengthen TAMK’s collaboration with them.

Henri would definitely recommend the event for staff wanting to kill several birds with one stone in terms of networking and relationship building – instead of attending a single international week hosted by a partner university, you could go to EAIE and meet almost all your partners at once. In addition, Seville proved to be a really beautiful and hot venue for the conference.

Kirsi Jokipakka, Head of the International Services, had visited the annual conference already several times before. One of the main insights for her was that the top management of the university needs justifications why internationalisation is so important, and the International Services staff is responsible of providing enough useful information to them.

In terms of international co-operation, staff training is key for success, and we need enough individualised training for our staff. In addition, it became very clear to Kirsi during the week that the International Services is the bridge between partners and university community.

FIBES, the conference venue

Sanna Laiho, International Coordinator for Health Care, attended the conference for the first time and it was a memorable and worthwhile experience for her as well. The conference programme offered various opportunities with hundreds of different activities; to mention a few, lectures and sessions concerning internationalisation, online learning and intercultural competence. They offered a good insight into the current situation in European higher education.

The conference was an excellent opportunity for networking, arranging meetings with partners and gaining new collaboration opportunities. Sanna also had a great opportunity to have a poster session presenting the outcomes of an Erasmus+ project where TAMK had a role as one of the partners. The poster session was a unique chance to introduce not only the project, but also TAMK and its Health Care unit to new possible contacts and future cooperation possibilities.

Sanna giving a poster session

Last but not least, this visit to beautiful and sunny Seville was a great opportunity to share experiences and make future plans with your own colleagues from TAMK; going to an intensive conference trip together is a great way to get to know the people you work with.

Tarja Kalliomäki-Linnas, Head of Study Services, attended the conference for the first time, too. Her point of view was maybe slightly administrative, but it was interesting for her to take part in sessions concerning how smaller regional universities compete and how to prepare for international work and study experience. In addition, all the poster sessions were like spices in the conference soup – many interesting projects were presented.

Furthermore, both exhibition halls were really huge! Tarja also had the opportunity to take part in the discussions with TAMK’s partner university MUAS (Munich University of Applied Sciences) with Kirsi. The discussion topics ranged from the upcoming academic year to the double degree students’ studies. In Tarja’s view, it was really great to have a possibility to meet people and colleagues face-to-face.

Plaza de España

Tarja also visited Pablo de Olavide University (founded 1997) which is Seville’s second public university and one of the youngest state universities in Spain. With a student population of over 11,000, Pablo de Olavide University offers over 30 degrees in areas such as law, economics, business administration, social and natural sciences, nutrition, technology, the humanities, sports science and many others.

Mind full or mindful? Tarja attended plenty of interesting sessions concerning ideas to support staff and faculty in dealing with international students and mental health, the efficient, effective and culturally sensitive use of e-mail, managing stress, and being more productive among others.

The conference experience has definitely opened up new viewpoints for the participants. All the interesting discussions with the representatives of partner universities and other participants were thought-provoking and unforgettable. To sum it up: it was a most memorable and enjoyable lesson on internationalisation.

TAMK and Hochschule Hannover students getting together during the international week.

TAMK and Hochschule Hannover in Germany share a long history in cooperation in the field of Mechanical Engineering. Study exchanges are supported and friendships are being built through annual visits.

Back in the mid-1990s, a group of teachers and students from Tampere University of Applied Sciences hired a bus and drove all the way to Hannover. Moreover, TAMK’s President, Markku Lahtinen, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at that time, went on one of the study exchange trips with the aim of strengthening relations with the German university. As a result, bilateral visits became an annual tradition.

Earlier this year, a group of twelve students and two professors from Hochschule Hannover came to TAMK. Half of the group studying Mechanical or Industrial Engineering visited departments within their fields, whilst the other half studying Process Energy and Environmental Technology visited the Environmental Engineering department for lectures, workshops and excursions.

The diverse schedule kicked off with a cultural exchange on studying and living in Finland and Germany, continued with lectures, and ended with social activities like sauna and ice hockey events, and a visit to Pyynikin Craft Brewery.

Hosting each other makes the visits special

TAMK students went further with the workshops and organised an ice rink driving session, which really impressed the guests. Next day, they generated a weather data breakdown and an elk test to work on. What made this call very special though was German students being hosted by Finnish students in their own homes. The favour was returned during the time of the Hannover Messe, the world’s leading Trade Fair for Industrial Technology.

From left to right: Wolfgang Strache, Anne Nadolny (Hoschule Hannover) and Harri Laaksonen (TAMK) know that excitement and openness are important in a succesful cooperation.

This custom turns out to be a very good international practice for students, and not only. Teachers are very keen on the study exchange and getting involved in activities. They have a positive attitude towards meeting new faces, engaging in projects together and practising their language skills.

“The secret to this successful cooperation between the universities is teachers and students showing excitement and openness”, believes Harri Laaksonen, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at TAMK.

And as for the German side, Prof. Dr Anne Nadolny at Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering shares similar thoughts.

“Study exchanges are supported and friendships are being built. We enjoyed the very warm welcome from TAMK and the visit of Finnish students in April. We look forward to seeing you at TAMK in 2018!”

Text: Andruta Ilie
Photos: Essi Kannelkoski

I was one of the first exchange students to arrive in Tampere, I got here on August 4th. My flight was a very short one since I was coming from Barcelona where I spent some time on holiday with my sister, but my trip began from Mexico City. Anyways, on the plane from Barcelona to Helsinki I was very nervous. I was not sure what to expect but as we approached to Helsinki, being now over the north of Europe, I was able to see the big green landscapes. I was so shocked!



If you have ever been in Mexico or have ever heard anything from it, you must have only two (wrong) ideas: We live in little villages, ride donkeys and wear sombreros all the time, or you think we live in not that big cities with air pollution, trash on the streets, drug dealers everywhere and non safe places. The last one is not that far away from reality, but people think the worst of it. The truth is that we live in big, clean, kind of safe cities (most of us) with clean air and just a little pollution. Like most of cities in the world now, we have big buildings, subways, buses, lots of cars (too many of them I think) all kind of houses, big companies and a lot of industry. But it is also true that we don’t have a lot of green landscapes, most of them are very far away from the cities and it is very hard to get there. So, you can imagine my face when I was flying upon this new kind of cities, surrounded by the woods, so close to lakes and nature. Then I took another (very short) flight to Tampere, the view from the window was no different but better. From that moment on, I felt calm, I told myself this is exactly what I need.

Old Church at Keskustori

Old Church at Keskustori

Since I got down from the plane, my tutor, who has been very kind and nice to me, was waiting for me. She ran into me waving and saying “hi!” like she has known me for years. That was my first impression of Finnish people, and yet has not changed at all: Every single person I have met here has been very nice to me.

We took the bus to the city centre,  and during the ride she was explaining all these things to me about the city, the school and my apartment. I have to admit, I did not pay any attention to her! (Oopsi!) I was just looking outside the window, the city was so calm, the people look like they don’t even know what stress is. It was not like I imagined at all, it was so much better.

On the second day I bought my bus card. I didn’t even know where to buy it but I went to the city centre and started asking. As I said, people are so nice here, the lady in the bus office was the sweetest person ever and answered every single question I had about the card, some of them were pretty lame, haha. With the bus card now, I have been just taking buses around the city and getting lost to get to know the city. And I must say, what I have liked the most is that the city is surrounded by woods and it is very clean and beautiful.





Text and photos: Nohemi Cuituny

Viola-koti is a sheltered house for elderly in Tampere. It provides sheltered housing for 60 residents but also sports and rehabilitation services to both residents and elderly living in their own homes. Viola-koti has had international exchange trainees for example from Spain, Hungary, Poland and Belgium during the years it has been cooperating with TAMK.

– People living in their own homes prefer swimming pools, residents participate more in other groups. We also try to support family caregivers, for example by drawing up chair exercises to them, physiotherapist Teija Vihervaara says.

– Clients like foreign trainees even though the language is sometimes challenging. Some of them have been living abroad, so they are happy to speak English.

Helmi Vahtera, Maire Järvinen and Maija Pöri participated in chair exercise.

Helmi Vahtera, Maire Järvinen and Maija Pöri participated in chair exercise.

According to Teija’s experience, students’ cultural background has an effect how students react to situations they confront in placements.

– Some students don´t think it is very important that elderly people leave their homes and come here to get social contacts. Also students’ own culture affects how clients are contacted.

Before Viola-koti, Hungarian physiotherapy students Edit Sió and Hanna Szolnoky had been at Tammelakeskus health centre. What kind of differences in physiotherapy have they discovered between Hungary and Finland?

– It has been useful to see how physiotherapists do their job in Finland. At Tammelakeskus we got our perception about the health centre. It was a new experience for us, because in Hungary there are no health centres, only hospitals, Edit says.


Edit and Hanna have enjoyed their stay in Tampere.

Edit and Hanna have enjoyed their stay in Tampere.

– Individual therapy is really common in Hungary. In Finland, there is more group therapy, for example at gyms. In Hungary, if you had a surgery you go to physiotherapy every day, while in Finland the responsibility for rehabilitation is given more to a patient, students say.

– I think you have understood the importance of prevention, that´s the most important thing. My impression is that in Hungary elderly are not in that good physical condition as in Finland, Edit says.

– Language barrier is higher when working with elderly, so misunderstandings are more common than with younger people. However, clients are really motivated. They want to know what is the purpose of each exercise, Hanna and Edit say.


Text and photos: Marika Kyllönen

Belgian physiotherapy students Lisa Swinnen and Karolien Mertens are doing their three-month exchange period in TAMK. Tammenlehväkeskus was their second placement.

– We thought that this is a rehabilitation centre for war veterans, but actually here are people of all ages and conditions, Karolien says.

The period at Tammenlehväkeskus has been very agreeable for the students. They have done various tasks and got known completely new forms of rehabilitation. Perhaps this would be something they could apply to their future profession.

– Hydrotherapy is not very common in Belgium, but in Finland it seems that there are therapy pools here and there. And salt room, we had never seen nor heard anything about it before we came here.

Karolien makes sure that Kari Kumpulainen carries out the exercise correctly.

Karolien makes sure that Kari Kumpulainen carries out the exercise correctly.

– We are oriented in musculoskeletal conditions, but at Tammenlehväkeskus we have worked in the field of neurological rehabilitation. It is useful to have experience outside of our field of know-how and to know widely about things, they say.

The lack of a common language brings its own specialties and challenges.

– For most clients, the situation is not tricky. They don´t mind even though we don´t understand Finnish, many of them understand English a little. They appreciate the fact that we speak some Finnish and many are trying to teach us more words, such as numbers, Lisa and Karolien say.





The gym at Tammenlehväkeskus is a familiar place to Raija Vento.

The gym at Tammenlehväkeskus is a familiar place to Raija Vento.

Hungarian Petra Dunai did her exchange in TAMK in the spring 2013. Tammenlehväkeskus was one of her training placements at that time and what happened: Petra found her way back.

Petra Dunai feels at home at Tammenlehväkeskus.

Petra Dunai feels at home at Tammenlehväkeskus.

– I met my boyfriend here in Tampere. I went back to Hungary to finish my studies and came back in November 2013. I didn´t speak Finnish then so I enrolled for an intensive course which took 10 months. I noticed that Tammenlehväkeskus searched for a substitute for a physiotherapist so I decided to apply for it. I got the position and started to work here in last December. I really enjoy working here, Petra says in excellent Finnish.

Rehabilitation Manager Titta Soimasuo has been satisfied with the international trainees.

– We have received positive feedback on all the trainees we have had here. Our staff and our clients have a positive attitude towards foreign students. Positive experiences feed the interest to continue taking foreign trainees, Titta says.


Text and photos: Marika Kyllönen

Being an international exchange student at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) will an experience to you. You will meet new people, try new things and become acquainted with a new country – Finland. Finnish higher education institutions are known for their innovative and high quality teaching and learning and you will have a chance to experience that personally.

TAMK hosts yearly some 300 international exchange students and this spring about 100 new international exchange students will come to TAMK. The orientation week for incoming exchange students will take place 7-10 January 2014.

It’s important to us that our international students are integrated with our Finnish students, giving the students at TAMK the chance to make friends and experience international cultures The previous international exchange students have enjoyed studying in our university and I truly hope you will enjoy your stay with us too. You are very welcome to TAMK!

Kirsi Tolvanen

Exchange student orientation, autumn 2013