Posts in the internationalization category

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

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

A group of Master students of TAMK International Business visited St. Petersburg 14-16 May 2015. St. Petersburg appeared to us as a modern and European big city, which reminded us of the great Russian history. Of course the current economic situation was shown too especially when moving further from the city centre. We had very interesting company presentations of Finpro and Sokos Hotels. Both company representatives told about Russia and doing business there, especially was interesting to hear about the future changes in the Sokos restaurants.

groupy ipm iisakin kirkon edessäThis northernmost metropolis is a huge and is populated almost the size of a Finland. The city has beautiful buildings especially along the Neva, the palaces and museums are in scope of its own (the Winter Palace, the Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral etc.) – a really one of the unforgettable places to visit. Many of us noticed that St. Petersburg had indications from Paris.

We were positively surprised that young Russians spoke well English in general. For example in coffee houses and restaurants there was always somebody who spoke English and that made the communication much easier. Plus the restaurant menus were in English too.

Our location in the city center and near the Nevsky Prospect was great. We were a walking distance to the main attractions, shops, good restaurants and night out. I think restaurants had good price-quality relation. A lot of places offered sushi and more Italian and French cuisine restaurants could be found in the center. Positive thing was that some stores were open 24/7. Since the weather was good, we took a cruise on one of the canal ships and experienced some excitement and beautiful scenery in that way.

 

St Isaacs panorama

Honest opinions of adult international students, but most of us for the first time in Russia

“What I experienced once again is that Russia is what it is, fascinating, unpredictable and surprising. What makes it fascinating, is the culture and the way how things works. Their rich culture and history are full of amazing stories. What comes to society and its functions, it is easy to see that Russia is not a fair, modern or democratic society, which take care of its citizens equally. That is why Russians are creative people who will find their ways to survive in unpredictable society. My experience is that Russia also always surprise you somehow, either positively or negatively.”

“I had heard and read a lot about Saint Petersburg before our trip. The more I found out the more nervous I was about it. Especially the news freaked me out so I completely stopped watching them about three weeks before the trip. It was nothing like I expected. It wasn’t that difficult or slow to get past the customs as people had been telling, or then we were really lucky. The water in the shower wasn’t brown. I didn’t get mugged, killed or arrested and neither did anyone else in our group. The traffic in the city centre was surprisingly hectic, but I still wasn’t as afraid as when crossing a road in Tampere. I was very positively surprised about Saint Petersburg. I really enjoyed our trip and especially the company. Although when planning the trip a few people were concerned about the location. I’m glad we did this, because otherwise likely many would have never gone to Russia.”

 CaxLzaZBlAkGood way to know each other better – a bus trip from Tampere to St. Petersburg

Trip was excellent way to get to know the team of project managers even better. Absolutely the only way actually! We had interesting talks during bus drive and in St Petersburg also. St Petersburg was lovely and beautiful, getting information from business trips gave more understanding of the Russian business culture.

Many thanks to all students, Russian student translators, excellent driver with excellent knowledge about St. Petersburg and especially thanks to our teachers Mauri and Kai for making this true with some pressure ! This is an educational trip, which we shall never forget!


Text collected and edited
by Ursula Helsky-Lehtola,
event coordinator at TAMK and Master student of International Project Management (IPM)

TAMK International Services had a pleasure to welcome two colleagues from Romania on 2nd of February 2015 to visit the TAMK main campus. The reason for this visit was to create links between TAMK and ULBS. The visitors were Mr Silviu Nate and Mr Dacian Popa. ULBS has 23 000 students and more than 300 partner universities all over the world.

From the left: Riitta Vihuri, Dacian Popa, Silviu Nate and Kirsi Tolvanen

From the left: Riitta Vihuri, Dacian Popa, Silviu Nate and Kirsi Tolvanen

During the visit Romanian colleagues met Ms Kirsi Tolvanen, Head of International Services, Mr Riku-Matti Kinnunen, International Coordinator for Engineering, Technology and Natural Resources and Ms Riitta Vihuri, International Coordinator for TAMK School of Business and Services.

One interesting detail about Mr Popa needs to be mentioned. He studied at TAMK International Business programme during 2004-2007 and he still has tight links to Tampere and Finland.

Visitors’ impressions about TAMK were very positive:

“At Tampere University of Applied Sciences we met a dynamic and open team for promoting academic internationalization. Visit at TAMK was a real pleasure to observe a successful combination between academic vision for preparing future generations by providing practical support and educational infrastructure at the highest level.

The relatively similar volume of TAMK’s and ULBS’s ERASMUS+ mobility, study visits, and International Weeks represent excellent prerequisites for future collaboration between our universities.”

Text: Kirsi Tolvanen, Silviu Nate and Dacian Popa
Photo: Krista Merikoski

It’s that time of year again – applications for student exchange in the academic year 2015-16 are flying into the database by the minute (deadline 1st Feb), chat service is busy with all sorts of chatter, and parter universities materials are available for browsing in the main lobby. Info desks have blasted videos from partner universities in the lobbies and all the buzz is positive.


Some leaflets are still printed... not everything is online!

Some leaflets are still printed… not everything is online!

TAMK has been steadily growing the percentage of students who spend an exchange semester or a training period abroad during their studies. Most students go to Europe through the Erasmus+ programme, but some venture even further. The only unconquered territory is Antarctica, but that may be only a matter of time…

Rhodesnow is just one of the companies that visit TAMK or promote training placements for students. With an impressive 1000 openings for trainees in the summer of 2015, they held a presentation to a keen audience at TAMK today. The process is quite easy and flexible, so why not spend a summer where the sun always shines? TAMK supports students with Erasmus+ grants, if the training is accepted as part of your degree!

Did you miss the presentation and would like to secure a training placement? Check out the flyer and email Ms Mikulenaite at work@rhodesnow.com

More info on grants and applying for TAMK students HERE (study abroad) and HERE (training abroad)


Text & Pictures:
Piri Hiltunen, TAMK International Services