Posts in the Finland category

Text and Photos: Heini Pääkkönen

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The motto ‘there are no limits!’ has been a driving force in Karina’s life, helping her become one of the few female general directors of Instituto Federal de São Paulo’s Câmpus Salto in Brazil. The inspiration for her career as a leader came in part from Finland.

Karina Ap. F. Dias de Souza is a pioneer in the field of female leadership in Brazil, having undertaken a long journey to become a general director at Instituto Federal de São Paulo’s Câmpus Salto in Brazil. The position of women in Brazilian society is changing gradually from that of a house wife to one of career woman. Female leaders are gaining more value than before thanks to their good organisational skills and their ability to listen. One big step for the women of Brazil was the election of the first female President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, and even the boundaries between roles at home are becoming more blurred, with men participating more in housework.

‘In our house, for example, my husband cooks and does all the ironing. I don’t feel the pressure of learning to do these things just because I’m a woman. I do other things that I’m better at,’ Karina smiles.

Karina started her educational career at Campus São Paulo in 2010 as a chemistry teacher. She progressed quickly to management roles, first as a manager’s assistant, coordinating courses, and eventually to the position of educational director, the right hand of the general director. It was during this time that she first discovered an interest in management and leadership as a career choice. However, when she returned from maternity leave after her first child was born, Karina returned to regular teaching. The general director had changed whilst she was on leave and new directors had been chosen.

Her old interest in a career in management was sparked again during Karina’s first visit to Finland in 2015, while she was participating the Teachers for the Future programme.

‘I was amazed by the strong culture of trust in Finland. You trust that the students will study, teachers will teach, and managers will do their jobs without being constantly supervised and controlled. The culture is completely different from ours. In Brazil, the trust is non-existent. In Finland people trust that I will do my best and this is something I wanted to bring home with me. I think this is also one of the core reasons why the Finnish education system is so successful,’ Karina explains.

What better way could there be to pass her vision on to others than as general director of Campus São Paulo. Karina decided to go for it and apply in the next election. A major challenge was the fact that there had never been a female rector at Instituto Federal de São Paulo, and of 35 general directors only three were women. It seemed that the odds were against her. Sometimes it can be hard to be a woman applying for a such a high position in a conservative country where people are used to having male directors. People’s opinions can be quite harsh in relation to women who try to reach these positions. One of the biggest prejudices women leaders face stems from the fact that if they have children, they will be on maternity leave at least for six months: something a man would never have to do.

‘I would not have applied for the position of general director were it not for the trip to Finland. I bounced the idea of putting myself forward as an applicant back and forth with my colleagues in Finland and they encouraged me to apply. So, I did and here I am,’ Karina smiles.

But the journey was not easy and Karina faced critical opinions along the way.

‘For example, I’ve been told that I got elected only because I was the better of two bad choices and the other applicant was dark-skinned,’ sighs Karina.

The hardest thing for Karina about her career has been shuffling between family and work, balancing between being a mother, a wife and building a career at the same time. And what happens to your own personal dreams on top of everything else? This is a problem that many women have to face, especially those in high positions.

‘I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s the society, but I feel that I should always be perfect. A constant sense of guilt follows me where ever I go. At work, I miss my family and I know I should be there more, whilst at home the pressure of people’s expectations and my workload is sitting on my shoulders.’

Karina’s mother was a single mother and raised her alone, and Karina met her father for the first time when she was 11 years old. Her attitude and courage she learned from her mother.

‘When I was young, my mother also used to work a lot. She was a nursing teacher and a single mom, always working or doing house work and I was by myself quite often. But when she was with me, she would pay full attention to me and I never felt left out or thought of her as a bad mother. On the contrary, my mother is my greatest idol and I learned my attitude towards life from her. She would always tell me that there are no limits and not to let anyone tell me what I can or cannot do.

I think this gets passed down through the generations. My grandmother was widowed very young and raised her children alone too. I met my father the first time when I was 11 years old, so I have never had a male figure in my life. That’s ok, since I’ve been surrounded with such brave women! I think us women should have mercy on ourselves. After all, we can only do the best we can.’

The trips to Finland were well-organised combinations of work and family; both times Karina brought her family with her. On the first trip for Teachers for the Future -training in autumn 2015, Karina’s mother and son travelled with her. This year when she was studying on the Finnish Teacher Training -programme (FiTT), her photographer husband and son accompanied her to enjoy a few chilly weeks of Finnish summer.

The trips were not all about work; Karina’s mother fell in love with Finnish flea markets and is now running her own in Brazil. The eco way of thinking is rapidly gaining popularity in Brazil and the idea of flea markets was considered an excellent one. Karina’s husband admires Finland’s nature and shot gigabytes of pictures during their stay.

‘What will I miss the most about Finland, hmm … probably the forests and incredible doughnuts at Pyynikki Observation Tower,’ Karina laughs.

Another thing that Karina was impressed by in Finland was the beautiful learning premises at TAMK, and how different learning spaces and colours support learning. This contrasts with the situation at home where the school building is old and had fallen into bad shape. She decided to do what she could to fix it. Due to the low budget available, she contacted all the teachers and the parents of the students and asked them if they would be willing to undertake voluntary work to support the school, painting classrooms and fixing broken equipment.

‘It was not our responsibility to take care of the building and not everyone that I contacted was pleased about the idea. Yet everyone who participated loved it and was keen for more projects like this. In addition to a better learning environment, working together increased team spirit and showed us that change is possible if you just get stuck in.’

Karina also wanted to set an example for others and not just boss people around, telling them what to do.

‘I was painting walls like everyone else. These kinds of little things are how I am trying to bring the Finnish culture of trust into our practices here in Brazil in my role as a director,’ says Karina proudly.

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

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

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

Thursday 9 of June

Last lecture from Nancy Aalto

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

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

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

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

Social Media and Campus visits during Benchmarking

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

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

“Graduation”

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

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

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

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

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One last group photo before the farewell lunch.

Farewell Lunch and surprise Quiz 

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A wonderful sour filling wrapped in salmon.

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

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

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Great food equals happy faces.

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

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

Greetings from the writer

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Small reminder, every day.

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

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

 

Text & photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

Igor Ter Halle

 

Back to Tampere University of Applied Sciences for the third time, representing Windesheim University of Netherlands during IWBAS 2016 was Igor Ter Halle, Lecturer in Online Communication. Igor hosted two lectures on ‘Content Marketing: how to get content right’ aiming to teach students how to develop a content strategy that works.

The interest rate in his lectures was impressive and overcame his expectations; a number of fifty Finnish and exchange students showed up to listen to his knowledge.  “I’m very satisfied with the overall result. All students spoke English very well and they were not afraid of making errors. We make errors all the time in life.”, he said. Though Dutch people are more perfectionists and stressed about getting things done properly, Igor sees the laid-back Finnish way rather relaxing and ascribes it to the self-confidence of having a great educational system: “You can’t go anywhere else in the world for a better system. Finland is famous for that. We even have TV documentaries on the Finnish education.”

Another differentiating aspect between TAMK and Windesheim University is the number of degree programmes in English. TAMK provides its students with more options. Igor is currently developing a business semester in English, starting in September and hoping to encourage Dutch students to cross their boundaries and dare improving their cultural skills, along with Erasmus students.

There are, of course, similarities between the two universities.  Both use innovative practices and focus on coaching instead of traditional teaching in order to create and deliver experiences and not just knowledge. Since students don’t respond to traditional lectures anymore, teachers and educators are challenged to find new ways of getting their attention. This is done through combining lectures, workshops and projects in an entrepreneurial manner. “Thinking outside the box” is the solution Igor believes in.

Igor’s career path took an interesting turn during the years, starting as a Journalist and currently being a Lecturer in Online Communication. The education field offers the freedom of creating your own job, however, this comes with responsibilities and obligations too. “What I like most about working in education is that I never did the same thing twice”, he states.

“I’d like my students to stop trying controlling everything and sometimes, just let it happen. To stick to themselves and find out first what motivates them. There are lots of people who are not doing the job they are trained for. They can do a lot more than they think, if they would only try.”

 

Text & photo: Andruta Ilie

Tampere on kaunis

1. kuva

It’s the end of my first period in TAMK and Tampere and I can say I’m very comfortable here. I’m so comfortable that I have not even travelled to Helsinki yet.

But why move when I can make so many things here? Just getting out of my room and being able to be walking on a lake in five minutes is magical for me. We don’t have lakes where I live and let alone big amounts of frozen water.

I’ve discovered many beautiful places in Tampere and I’m ready to see more of this winter wonderland. Hopefully I’ll go to Helsinki next week and I will certainly visit some smaller cities and towns.

2. kuva

 

2. kuva viereen

But the lake next to Lapinkaari is my absolute favourite place, I’ve seen such beautiful skies there. And of course the sauna next to the lake is a plus.

3. kuva      3. kuva viereen

I’m comfortable with the place and also with the people. I like people who don’t talk much, but honestly finns are not as cold as they think they are (but their weather is). Yesterday an old woman laughed with me at the supermarket when I accidentally pressed a button in a children’s book and it started to make an odd noise. Finns are as nice as everything else in Finland, not including food, drinks and cinema ticket prices.

4. kuva

This place is very nice in winter and I can’t wait to see how it is in spring. On the other hand, I don’t want spring to come because that would mean that my time for leaving this city would be even closer.

P.S. Kudos to the munnki! 10/10 would eat 10 of them everyday.

5. kuva loppuun

 

Text and photos: Idoia Davila

 

 

Group photo

In the photo ( from left to right): Mark Curcher ( Program Director for the 21st Century Educators Program at TAMK), Dr Rodolfo Silveira, Carita Prokki ( Director, TAMK EDU) and Virpi Heinonen (Adviser, Global Education at TAMK)

Forty years have passed since his previous trip to Finland, and Doctor Rodolfo Silveira, Counselor at the Technological University of Uruguay (UTEC) and President of Board of Directors at The National Research and Innovation Agency of Uruguay (ANII), returned to visit TAMK and several Finnish universities in order to transfer new teaching and learning techniques back home.

His visit is a consequence of an agreement with UPM (a Finnish forest industry company) in 2015, aiming to build a new Regional Technological University (ITR) in Fray Bentos to advance technical skills and engineering expertise in rural Uruguay. The regional university will specialize in mechatronics, renewable energy, transport and logistics. ‘Finland is famous for its education system, comprehending the early stages up to the academic levels. We have a similar model in Uruguay and we need more innovators and entrepreneurs to facilitate the mobility between different degree offers. The purpose of my trip is to see how it’s possible to collaborate and to develop programmes and activities together. It can be a win-win situation ’, he said.

Dr Silveira recognizes challenges while switching to a new education model. “We have to change people’s mindsets. In general, people are conservative and don’t receive changes well. If we are able to demonstrate this new model actually works, they might respond in a positive way. Our government and political parties are supportive, but without the society’s involvement, it won’t be possible to do anything. The natural course of evolution is to move forward. The whole world is changing and we have to constantly reinvent ourselves. Ideally, it will result in a better life quality for us all.”

Read more about the agreement between UPM and UTEC here:

http://www.upmpulp.com/pulp-and-paper-news/all-news/Pages/UPM-and-the-Technical-University-of-Uruguay-sign-agreement-on-new-Regional-University-in-Fray-Bentos.aspx#

 

Text & photo: Andruta Ilie

The right decision!

Between those who feigned enthusiasm, and the others who weren’t so subtle about disguising their not-so-positive reactions when I told them about my exchange plans, I wasn’t feeling totally convinced by my decision to come to Finland for this Autumn semester.

I had done very little research into my host University of TAMK, or indeed the city of Tampere where I’d be living. At every step, the countless forms and emails I filled in and sent out were completed at the very last minute; a fitting portrayal of my ambivalence towards the whole process. A constant dialogue ran in my head in the months leading up to departure day:

“Just stay in Glasgow… naaaaaah, go on, it’ll be exciting! But it would be easier to just leave it… I do like change… wait, no I don’t, just stay here, on this course, where it’s nice and comfortable. But how often is this chance going to come up?! It’s a great opportunity, go for it!”

In the end, as you can probably deduce, it was the latter argument which prevailed.

And I’m certainly glad it did.

 

Suomenlinna Island in Helsinki

Suomenlinna Island in Helsinki

 

Cannon on Suomenlinna Island

Cannon on Suomenlinna Island

Things didn’t start quite as smoothly as may have been desired; the Dutch were concerned that the the folding trays in the aeroplane wouldn’t fold properly… or perhaps it was something slightly more integral to the flying properties of the vessel. I don’t know. It was all Dutchy… but either way the flight was delayed, which were it not for the saving grace of a 100 kroner “sorry”, might have stressed me somewhat.

Stress however isn’t something I often succumb to; indeed, I arrived in Helsinki sleeping like a log. From there it was a mere two and a half hour bus journey to Tampere, where at about three in the morning on the 6th of August 2015, in the cold, dark, wet bus station, I met my first Finn.

Actually, there were two of them. The one who first introduced herself was Anni Hirvonen, whom I had previously known only through email. She was to be my tutor for the semester; a guiding hand, and ever available ally on whom I could call when facing the challenges of integrating myself into the Finnish culture. The second was Tytti Kapanen, who was to be our chauffeur.

 

A bike

A bike in Ratina

 

Tampere Orthodox Churc

Tampere Orthodox Churc

 

Needless to say I was not my usual sprightly self. A total of roughly 18 hours travelling had drained most of the life from me, so it was with limp hand and rather blunt “hi” which first brought out worlds together, and between hauling my luggage into Tytti’s car, driving, de-hauling my luggage and entering the flat which would be home for the next few months, I’m afraid to say I was a rather feeble ambassador for Scotland!

But it didn’t matter. The next day I started to get to know my flatmates, and later we met with Anni again for a quick tour of the city. Having arrived at night and in the rain, I had not come anywhere near to fully appreciating the beauty of this fair city; from the grandeur of the centre square, to the millions of trees dotted here there and everywhere, to my personal favourite of the many lakes, which have already played host to countless refreshing visits (as well as a sizeable community of ducks), the at-oneness with nature Tampere boasts is truly breathtaking (see pictures attached).

One month in, I know I made the right decision.

 

One of a thousands lake

One of a thousand lakes

 

Sunset in Rauhaniemi, Tampere

Sunset in Rauhaniemi, Tampere

 

Text and photos: Seamus Lane

August 4th, 2015. Vienna Airport. Time: 12:40.
„Moi!“
„Kann ich mein Handgepäck überall hier rauftun?“
„ Sorry, do you speak English?“
„Erm … erm …. can I put my luggage also up there … on the right?“
„Sure, anywhere you like.“
First time flying with Finnair and my first encounter with the stewardess after onboarding was pretty
embarrassing. Never mind.

Helsinki Airport. Time: 17.05
“Excuse me, Madam! I’m looking for the bus that goes to temper …”
“Sorry?”
“Temper? Tam … per? Pere? Tampere?”
Stammer. Stutter. Stumble. Here we go … Story of my life.
“Oh, sure … the bus station is right there!”
“Thank you so much!”

Tammerkoski2

Lapinkaari, Time: 21.00
After seeing approximately ten million trees passing by from my window seat on the bus, I finally
arrived in Tampere. My international tutor picked me up from the bus station and took me to Lapinkaari,
where my dormitory was located.
“Huh? How does this doorlock work?”
“You have to turn to the right.”
“To the right?? Are you sure? Huh? Like this? Oh … wait … wait … oh. I got it, one second. No, wait …
please help me.”
“It’s like this. Here we go, this is your room.”
“Yaay!”

Safe (but awkward) arrival … Check!

August 5th, 2015. Lapinkaari. Time: 13.00.
Meeting up with my tutor to go shopping at the city.
“You really need this? Then we need to go to Halhoiejbgdlilkatu, then move on to Laihdhdosksliukatu to
get you a 30-days ticket. Here, this is the main street Haldsjoiskloarjfnkatu.”
“Huh? Ah yeah, sure. I got it. Where is the “Lidl”? I would need food for later.”
“There is a “Lidl” at Rhoshahslkghkatu.”
“Ah? … yeah … sure.”

Timetables.docx

IKEA. Time: 16.30
“Moi! Kahdeksankkylejlsk kolmekymemtää.”
“Sorry? I only speak English.”
“That would be 80,30 Euro.”
“Oh … here, thanks!”
“Kiitos!”

Grocery Store. Time: 19.00
“Moi! Kolmetoisja viisikymmentlakj.”
“Wow, everything is quite expensive here compared to Austria.”
“Sorry? You speak English?”
“No! I mean yes! Sorry, I was just talking to myself. 13,50 Euro, right? Here, thank you.”
“Kiitos!”

Back at Lapinkaari. Time: 22.30
“Tutor … where do I recharge my prepaid SIM-Card?”
“At the kioski. You also need to recharge your bus card there every month.”
“Ah ok, kiitos! I need to go to Nlajoirötupitödkatu tomorrow, which bus do I take?”
“Number 2 and then at Kkulajlronlsidkatu you make a transfer and take the number 8 bus.”
“Ah ok … thank you! I mean kiitos kiitos.”

First culture shock … Check!

Sunset.docx

 

Text and photos: Chen Yi-Pei

 

Flying high

On my way to Tampere

Hi, I am a student from Germany, arrived in Tampere at 1 August. I landed in Helsinki and took the Express Bus. Because this is my first time in Finland, anyway in a Scandinavian country I was really excited. During the drive with the bus I noticed the landscape, there are big differences to my home country. Much more woods and so less cities. My first real contact to a Finn was the guy from Airbnb, by whom I booked two nights to stay. Against all odds, which was formed from guidebooks I read before, he was really open minded and talkative. He picked me up at the bus station, brought me to his apartment and then walked with me through the city center and took me to Café Europa. I heard from the prices for alcohol before, anyway I was shocked.

 

Koskipuisto

Koskipuisto

The next day I explored Tampere on my own, checked how to get to TAMK for the Summer School starting the next day. My feelings about Tampere were pretty good. I thought, that it is a lovely city and I will enjoy the stay here. To orientate was easy. From TAMK back to the city center I wanted to take the bus, but nobody told me that I have to wave at the bus drivers. Second shock! – as the bus just went past. In my own town the bus still stops always, if somebody is waiting at the bus stop.

 

At my first day in Tampere I explored lovely places in the town and also learned more about differences from my home country. Prepared with this knowledge I began the Basics of Finnish Course the next day, looking forward to learn more about Tampere.

On the waves of Pyhäjärvi

On the waves of Pyhäjärvi

Text and photos: Vanessa Rodewald