Posts in the ISWTRE16 category

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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.


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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


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

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Morning welcome with Noora Kahra.

TAMK’s strikingly bright colored Y-Kampus was the setting for the third day of the programme. The collaboration between UTA and TAMK gave the participants some new perspective as it was time to see how Tampere University of Applied Sciences functioned.

Wednesday 8 of June – Welcome to TAMK! 

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Did you know that Finns drink more coffee per capita than any other country? Total of 12 kg every year.


Kirsi Jokipakka, the Head of International Services of TAMK gave a welcoming presentation about the key facts and functions of Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The big difference between TAMK and UTA is that the applied science part of practicality plays a huge role in TAMK. Many of the courses offer very practical projects and hands on experiences for the students, compared to the more academic and theoretical atmosphere in the traditional scientific University. Both of them serve an important role in educating our future generations.

Tampere University of Applied Sciences is one of the most attractive Universities in Finland. The recent applicant numbers speak for themselves: TAMK had third most overall applicants in Finland for  the academic year 2016–2017. Metropolia (UAS) in Helsinki was the first with 25 758 applicants, University of Helsinki second with 24 568 and TAMK was third with 19 202 applicants. Not bad at all! However, many of these applicants didn’t unfortunately get a study place. This is a trend everywhere in Finland as there were 151 357 applicants and only 47 473 of them were offered a study place.

TAMK’s attractiveness could be explained with the variety that comes with 7 fields and total of 17 Bachelor’s and 15 Master’s degrees. This combined with the modern and international atmosphere is one of TAMK’s strengths.

Tour around TAMK and Nancy’s second lecture

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Overhanging origami swans in TAMK’s library. 

With the quick welcome over, it was time to see the campus. Service Street was the first stop for our tour. It is a corridor which houses most of the different services that students might need during their path to obtaining a degree and beyond. Services varying from admissions to exchanges and work life services, this unique “street” is very useful for the students. If they don’t find it here, someone definitely knows where to go. Last but not least, TAMK’s library is located in the end of the Service Street.

Smaller and cozier than the huge Linna library at UTA, it serves the students by offering course books, computers, a silent room, meeting facilities and an exam room. One of the beautiful features of the library is the first floor space with sofas and overhanging origami birds. This artistic feature brings wanderlust for visitors and one can often see someone looking up, admiring the birds.

The brief campus tour ended by visiting the orange connecting tube between the main campus and Kuntokatu 4, where nursing, physiotherapy and other health care degrees are being taught.

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It is good to review previous lessons for better information retaining. 

After the tour it was time for Nancy’s lectures to continue with a brief review of the previous topic: Worldview. The topic for the new lecture was Personal Leadership as a methodology for managing and learning from intercultural experience.

The process of this kind of leadership started by recognition. Being mindful about your actions and surroundings gives a possibility for a choice. There are two of these for intercultural communication: the automatic response of previous cultural programming and the personal leadership path of taking discreet action. Mindfulness had a great importance in this, as without knowledge one cannot change their actions. The lecture continued with these themes explaining the benefits of visualization, visioning yourself and ending with listening skills.

Track programme for services

With Nancy’s great lecture over it was time to continue with benchmarking. Each service group divided into their own meeting rooms had discussions about various topics.

  • The library services went to have a deeper look at TAMK’s library and how it functioned. The Finnish library system was another topic of discussion for this session.
  • Sports services had a cozy session in small meeting space at Y-Campus. Their topics consisted of presenting their university and discussing the current issues in the field of sports services.
  • HR services dived into benchmarking the best practices of HR planning, HR development and staff training.
  • Study services had a tour around TAMK’s service street and its different services. Afterwards these functions and the ideology of collective services were discussed at Y-Campus’ workshop space “Paja”.
  • International Services group gathered in the second floor of C-building to discuss practices for risk management of student and staff mobility. With the current restlessness around the world, this topic was quite new for most and ideas were appreciated.

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The library has great teamworking rooms that can be reserved by staff and students. 

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Sports services had a nice sessions in one of Y-Campus’ teamworking rooms that can also be used by staff and students. 

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Study Services’ benchmarking session in Paja at Y-kampus.

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International Services had an exiting lecture surrounded by bright colors in the C-building.

VisitTampere city tour

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You can see almost the whole city from the Tower of Pyynikki.

For a city outside of the coastal region, Tampere is quite large. It is actually the most populous one in the Nordic countries with population around 225 000. In Finland, it is the third largest city after Helsinki and Espoo. The popularity of Tampere might be explained with the idyllic location near nature with two lakes surrounding the city; not to mention the amazing people living in Tampere.

City tour hosted by VisitTampere gave more details into the history and culture of Tampere. The tour started from TAMK and went to visit the Tampere Cathedral, Finlayson area, Pispala and ended at the “Pyynikin Munkkikahvila” tower.

The bus trailed around the city while the tour guide Ritva Haveri was pointing out the different buildings and their details. Tampere has quite the history due to Finnish civil war between the whites and reds – Tampere was a stage for many brutal battles.

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Ritva Haveri telling a story about a mother who gave birth to a baby during the civil war at the Cathedral. You can also see the two men holding hands.

First stop for the tour was the over 100-year-old Tampere Cathedral. Built from stones in similar fashion to Scottish castles, it had an international hint from the beginning. The church looks like an old castle in a way with stones lined in various patterns. After admiring the church from the outside, it was time to go in and explore further. The history of Tampere Cathedral is quite vivid, even scandalous, as the painter Hugo Simberg was gay and at that time it was considered very inappropriate. The frescoes had hints of homosexuality with men holding hands and the only angel being wounded and carried by two men. There are also naked boys all around the church. The Wounded Angel and The Garden of Death are one of Simberg’s most well known artworks.

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After the church there was a short walking tour around Finlayson area among the old cotton factory buildings. Currently the buildings house offices, restaurants and even a movie theater.

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The tour continued onwards to Pispala and Pyynikki along the world’s tallest ridge or “esker”. The weather was nice enough to allow bright views to be seen from the Tower of Pyynikki. The surrounding Pyynikki recreational area is within a walking distance from the city center and attracts joggers, dog walkers, travelers and all kinds of people who enjoy the nature.


Text and photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen

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The morning after monday evening seemed to be quite fun. Carolin Koenig and Katharina Ritz.

Tuesday 7.6 – Intercultural Communication Nancy Aalto

The next morning began with the theme of Intercultural communication. Lecturer and specialist in the field of international communication, Ms Nancy Aalto came to give a lecture about this topic. She has been working for many years in this field, and currently at the University of Tampere.

Her lecturing style is very practical and fun as the participants told the lecture was very enjoyable. These kinds of Intercultural Communication topics are not discussed or trained very often, and in an ever changing world of globalization these skills become very important. As everyone gets more internationally connected it is important to understand each other.


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Beginning of the captivating lecture by Nancy Aalto.

The first lecture was about perception and how that affects our worldviews. The emphasis was to understand these different worldviews and what was similar and different in our own. It was also very important to meet the actual people and not the cultures.

To read more about the topics from the lecture, there is a book written by Barbara F. Schaetti, Sheila J. Ramsey, and Gordon C. Watanabe called Personal Leadership.

Track programme

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Workshops can also be fun. Julien Fremont from France.

One of the main points of the international week was to bring together different services and departments from partner universities. This way the participants can share experiences and ideas among colleagues. The first workshop session for this active sharing was held at UTA during the sunny Tuesday afternoon.

Different services and departments had their own “tracks” to follow for these workshops. There were total of 5 tracks for: Sports, Library, International, Study, and HR Groups. Each of them had a different theme for the session.

  • International Group: Integration – International students and staff.
    During this track there were small discussion groups for topics in the theme of: Tutoring process, Student Union Tamko, Social Integration seen by Social Counsellor Mirja Onduso from TAMK and Welcoming international staff – to visit and to work.
  • Study Group: Study Services of the world – Benchmarking from each other.
    Presentations about home organizations and study services were the first topic to familiarize everyone with different systems and practices. After this there was an idea and experience discussion to benchmark best practices.
  • Sports Group: Unipoli Sport in Tampere area.
    The very beneficial and convenient Unipoli Sport agreement to allow students use TTY, TAMK and UTA sports services with one fee was the topic for this session. Visit for Atalpa sports facilities was the sportier part of this workshop.
  • Library Group: Libraries and future.
    Similar to the Study Group, the Library Group began the workshop with short introductions into different home libraries and their future developments. In addition to this there was a discussion about the international student’s acknowledgement in libraries.
  • HR Group: Introduction to HR personnel
    Introductions for the HR Services and the responsibilities for everyone was the main topic for this track where presentations of everyone’s home institution were shown.

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Heinze Elzinga listening to Helena Hausmannová telling about the practices in her University.

The rest of the week continued with similar topics for the tracks at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

Varala Sauna Evening 


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Sunshine, Sauna and surprisingly cold water brought smiles to faces. Martyna Wasserfurth-Grzybowska and Melanie Köster swimming in the lake Pyhäjärvi after Sauna.

Evening event for Tuesday was held at Varala Sports and activity center. The sauna was located on the shore of beautiful Pyhäjärvi lake. The whole are is an outstanding example of the unique Finnish nature with its forest ridge and lake view. With sunny weather, refreshments, food and hot sauna there could not have been a better place.

Sauna is always very interesting experience for international guests and there were many questions about “how to do Finnish Sauna”. As many might have guessed, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Customs vary from family to family and specific rules or recipes do not exist. As long as the Sauna is hot and you stay alive during the session, you are doing it right. Although, there is a small thing that you need to go swimming from the sauna if there is water nearby. This was followed by nearly everyone trying the sauna. The contrast between hot sauna and cold lake brought a different aspect to the experience.

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Nothing beats the cozy and warm feeling of relaxing after Sauna.

After the sauna there was food and several beverages to try. One of them that received great popularity was Lonkero. A unique drink only made in Finland that was first introduced in the Helsinki Summer Olympics of 1952. Food, Finnish pop and country music along fun table conversations about the experiences filled the atmosphere before it was time to prepare for the next intensive days to come.

The first days packed in many activities and cultural insights. The late Sauna evening gave time to relax for a while before it was time to try and sleep in the bright Finnish night. Many of the international participants were amazed about this brightness, even during midnight the light never went completely away.

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Finnish lakes can be quite amazing. Heinze Elzinga swimming.

This was the University of Tampere part of the International Week story. In the next entry we will hear more about what happened at TAMK.

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There were many countries represented during the amazing week.

What is ISWTRE16?

International Staff Week in Tampere 2016 was organized for the first time in co-operation with TAMK and UTA. It is an intensive educational and benchmarking week for the non-teaching staff members of partner universities. The goal is to change ideas and practicalities between partner universities around Europe.

Monday 6.6 – Welcoming session

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Welcoming desk at University of Tampere. In the picture from left to right: Jurga Pšemeneckaitė, Laura Lalu, Paulette Noirbent and Noora Kahra.

The week started with warm welcoming session at University of Tampere. Noora Kahra from TAMK and Laura Lalu from UTA, the main coordinators behind the whole event were welcoming the arriving staff participants from different universities. The trainees from UTA International Education Services were also there to give information package folders for everyone. Participants arrived from many European countries: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Chile and Lithuania. Some of the universities are partners of both TAMK and UTA.

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Kaisa Kurki presenting the UTA staff.

After cup of coffee and cookies, Kaisa Kurki the director of International Education Services gave a presentation about University of Tampere and the Finnish education system. The versatility and multiple route system was very interesting for the participants. To think that there could be many different possibilities for obtaining masters and even doctoral degree was a surprise for many.

UTA Campus Tour

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Riikka is pointing at the Linna library building from the bright tube between UTA campuses.

Sanna and Riikka, the International Education Services Trainees at University of Tampere took everyone for a Campus Tour. University of Tampere has quite many things to show at the premises.

The main building was designed by architect Toivo Korhonen and it was finished in 1960 when the University moved from Helsinki to Tampere. Back then it was called School of Social Sciences and the name change came in 1966. The main campus building has a hint of Alvar Aalto in its design as it represents the clean and simple white styles similar to designs of Aalto. Toivo Korhonen may have gotten this inspiration when he was working in Alvar Aalto’s offices in the 50’s.

As the tour continued, the trainees took the participants from the main building through the light turquoise tube into the Pinni buildings. These two, Pinni A and B are one of the newest parts as they were finished in 1993 and 2003. During this part of UTA, everyone saw many lecture classes and interesting working spaces. The large lecture auditoriums were of great interest as they could be separated into smaller spaces depending on the requirement for space.

Finally, everyone gathered to visit the art gallery in the main building that had paintings of the rectors that had been in the office for the past years. There were quite many paintings and also many women rectors among them. The current rector, Liisa Laakso has been in office since beginning of 2016.

Demola Tampere

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Christin Reise and Vivien Aehlig enjoying their ice creams along the way to Demola.

For the afternoon there was a possibility to visit specific schools of UTA or walk to Finlayson area for Demola visit. Most of the ISWTRE16 participants wanted to visit Demola as it was quite unknown concept for many. It was just a short walking distance away, so everyone took that route. There was even time for ice-cream as it was very sunny day.

Ville Korpiluoto, the Head of Demola Tampere was there to welcome everyone for the visit. After everyone had comfortable seats in the newer part of Demola, he gave an easygoing presentation about Demola and New Factory. The whole New Factory had just moved into new part of the building because of growth and requirement for larger spaces. The bright color theme for the industrial type spaces gave a bright enthusiastic look and atmosphere for the whole space.

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Ville Korpiluoto at the speakers booth.

Demola is and very interesting concept of project collaboration for students and companies with concepts or prototypes to develop. For a little cost a company can have someone develop new products, concepts or theories that the company might otherwise not have manpower or resources to do. With this concept Demola is facilitating the student teams and offering guidance for them at their projects. Ville Korpiluoto is also one of these facilitators that coach the teams into success. He had seen many different cases and said every one of them brings their own unique challenges and cheerful moments.

Currently most of the teams consist of students from the three different Universities in Tampere: UTA, TAMK and TTY. The reward for students participating in these projects are usually credit points towards their degree and payment for the effort if the end product is satisfactory to the customer.

Cocktail Evening

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Tintti Mikkonen the Firelady

The evening event came with a big surprise for everyone. A Fire dance show with Finnish heavy metal music! This special show was performed by Tintti Mikkonen the Firelady from Tampere. Even if it was during daylight, the show was magnificent and everyone enjoyed it. Flames and music from Nightwish seemed to work perfectly together.

Having seen the very nice performance, everyone gathered inside the lounge area of University of Tampere’s Teatterimonttu. There were all kinds of nice and tasty foods served for everyone. The sweet chili chicken sticks were especially good. Refreshments of many kinds were also served for the cocktail evening.

Päivi Myllykangas, the Director of Tampere 3 process came to give light speech for the ISWTRE16 participants about the cooperation project between the three Universities in Tampere. Ms Myllykangas explained how the project was going and that the goal for the project was to have functioning unified University in 2018.

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The Teatterimonttu lobby was packed quite full.

TAMK’s Head of International Services, Kirsi Jokipakka also welcomed everyone for the International Week. It was a nice start for the upcoming programme as everything went very smoothly. Rest of the evening continued with nice mingling among everyone with pleasant table conversations. Cultural differences between the countries was a popular discussion topic as it was the theme for the whole week.


Text & Photos: Aleksi Jolkkonen