Are the stereotypes real ? Let’s make an investigation about the clichés !

clichés

Every country have a really long list of stereotypes, and Finland is not an exception. Going in an other country can be a possibility to verify the stereotypes that you believe in which can be wrong or true.

First, to be fair and realized how we can be judged by the other countries, let’s see the clichés of each country where we, the Erasmus students, come from :

 

cliché hollandais Dutch people are constantly stoned, they don’t hesitate to dare to say to people what they have in their mind, they are rude and they become really attentive when it’s about their money.

 

cliché

The French people are really nationalist and the cheese is their God. Their jobs are always related with arts and cooking, and they are food and wine lovers “Oh là là!”, maybe for this reason they are life enjoyers.

 

 

 

spain cliché

If I say to you these following words : hot blood, fury, passionated lovers, laziness, procrastination. Can you tell me about who we are talking about ? That’s the Spanish people who take everything easy and enjoy their life with sangria and paella.

 

 

cliché germa

 

What to say about German people? Beer, wurst, beer, wurst, beer, wurst, … But even though they drink so much they are really serious and they don’t laugh a lot. Be strict and well-organized is running in their veins.

 

cliché belge

In Belgium the people are kind, naive and they are considered stupid at the same time by their neighborhood countries. They seem younger in appearance but not in mind … Drink a lot of beers and make a good chocolate are the best abilities that they have.

 

 

Now let’s talk about our adopted country for our Erasmus experience : FINLAND.

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Before coming to Finland, we didn’t know a lot about the social culture of the country and its people. We didn’t know how the people from Finland are communicating with each other, how they express their feelings or how their friendships and family relations are. Nonetheless we were expecting to find a person according to these next stereotypes.

 

  • All the Finnish people are introvert, don’t show their emotions and never smile.

This is one of the bigger stereotypes about the Finnish people, but when you spend every day with them, you realize that they are no like robots. Of course they can not be compared with the people form south Europe, but you can perceive something from them..

  • All the Finnish people don’t talk to strangers.

It’s not so easy to accost Finnish people because they look serious. And one thing to consider is : they don’t like to be near people, you have to keep a distance between you and them. But..but when you learn more about them, then this distance can be destroyed and you can talk to them easily. 

  • All the Finnish people are calm. 

F-A-L-S-E, completely false. If you live with them you can hear shouts all the day at all hours. Something that surprised and impressed us. 

  • Finnish guys and girls are good-looking.

Before coming to Finland, we can imagine that people are handsome and attractive. In fact, it’s not completely true but it can be consider by many different point of view. It depends if you like tall blond-haired and blue-eyed persons! Oh…wait.. that’s a new stereotype!

  • All the Finnish people are tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed.

Most of them are like that. If you get bored in the transport, you can play a game and try to count how are they. It can happen that some of them don’t want to belong to this figure and try to hide these scandinavian attributes by different manners.

  • All the Finnish people are depressed. 

Cold and darkness. What could be more depressing ? It’s less depressing for them when they are drunk.

  • All the Finnish people are alcoholic.

We can corroborate that this stereotype it’s more true than false, Finnish people drink a loooooooot, and where can they find so much alcohol? In Tallinn of course, you can’t find cheap alcohol in Finland, so let’s go to Estonia! But there is a good new, there are studies where is said that the consumption of alcohol is decreasing in Finland.

  •   Sauna, Sauna and Sauna. 

It’s quite strange if you describe to someone who doesn’t know what is a sauna. “Well, in Finland, I am sitting naked in big hot box and I throw water on stones…” Sounds weird. But it’s the temple of the Finns and it become ours as well because there is nothing better than relaxing and sweating in a sauna after a long day.

  • All Finnish people are honest. 

In every country there is honest people and dishonest people, and in Finland as well.

  • All the Finnish people respect the rules

They are not so different to the other european people, they also cross the road when the traffic light is red!But one of the things that impressed me, and in a really good way, is that they respect a lot of the nature, and they have a lot of rules to conserve it. Hopefully all country had the same consideration to the nature.

  • All the Finnish people speak good english.

Another false stereotype. Not everybody speaks good english, it’s more, not everybody speaks english, and you can find it out, for example, using public transport or going to the supermarket. If you take the right bus: congratulations!!

 

Can you approve these stereotypes ?

As we can see, all these stereotypes are not completely true but sometimes you can discover a little part of the truth. We encourage you to verify these stereotypes by yourself and see if they are right. BON VOYAGE !!!!!!  

Demonstration in Finland – Voices in the streets of Helsinki

Demonstrations in Finland? Sounds untypical for Finnish people right? That’s why we decided to find out just how Finnish people demonstrate. On the 12th of March we took part in our first Finnish demonstration in Helsinki. On that sunny Saturday around 8.000 Finns from all sides of the political landscape were on the streets to fight together against the “dark government cloud” and government’s austerity plans.

But aren’t Finnish people known for not being very talkative and shy towards strangers? Well…we decided to ignore that stereotype and confronted them directly. With the microphone on and a couple of questions in our pockets we tried to get an authentic picture of the demonstration while interviewing Finnish people, both demonstrators as well as rubberneckers who just watched the event. We asked about why they are going on the streets, how they feel and what they think – what their voices in the streets mean to the Finnish society.

And what a surprise! Finnish people do talk to strangers and they can be talkative! We had a couple of very interesting answers and we met a lot of very nice people!

arnaud
Interviewer Arnaud ready to talk to the voices of the streets about the demonstration in Helsinki

The reactions of the interviewees in the streets of Helsinki differ, but are mostly positive. The demonstrators were workers, students, parents, kids, elderly people and many more, demonstrating against austerity measures and funding cuts, for ecological reasons, like saving and protecting the planet and especially the Finnish nature, lakes and water as well as financial reasons like capitalism, student money and education.

The demonstration started at around 14:00 on the Senaatintori (Senate Square) with a speaker and music, people were sitting on the staircase of the Helsingin tuomiokirkko – the Helsinki Cathedral, warming up their voices to get ready for the march in streets, signs in their hands with statements to show what they are demonstration for.

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Demonstrators on the Senate Square holding up signs

_DSC7642 sign demo2

A lot of people also just watched the demonstration and weren’t quite sure what the voices of the streets are demonstrating for but seemed interested and wanted to know more about the demonstration. Compared to our countries, Germany and France, we noticed on arrival that the demonstration was much quieter. So why? Don’t they want to change something?

After approximately an hour the demonstration continued as a parade marched towards the Hakaniemi Market Square. Suddenly there was more movement, more noise, more people and we felt the voices of the streets, their concerns and fears. Still peaceful and calm but with more ambition.

Do you want to know why people went on the streets and how they felt about the protests? Here you can listen to the voices of the streets, their emotions, statements and fears: Voices in the streets of Helsinki

But what were our fellow exchange students saying about the demonstrations? We received the following answers from Alex and Aline, both from France (of course):

Alex: “It’s a sunny day with positive atmosphere and a lot of people from all origins, every age, it’s a very, very nice. We can also find dogs in demonstration, but dogs don’t speak very much, because they don’t speak Finnish or English very well. But I’m also a bit disappointed with the demonstration, because there is no violence, it’s too calm and with music.”

Aline: “For the beginning it’s a calm demonstration, but hopefully it will become more violent at the end because I saw people with alcohol and they might become violent because they are maybe disappointed.”

Interviewer: “And will you get violent?” Both: “No never.” Others: “Of course, for sure – French people!” 😉 Luckily we managed to keep the three French away from any violent acts, which was not easy! 😉

marching
Exchange students marching with Finns through Helsinki – trying not to become violent

All in all we can say that it was an interesting experience to join a demonstration in another country than our own, we had lots of fun while interviewing the Finns and also marched with them for a couple of hundred meters during the demonstration.

Wake up in the snow !

Hi,

We are 9 exchange students who started studying in Finland. We study at the University of Applied Science of HUMAK in Nurmijärvi. We are from all over Europe: France, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Belgium. But why choose Finland? The beautiful nature, the interesting program, the desire for snow?  Let’s find out!
Kuva1

Sports

Being a sport-a-holic is definitely possible in Nurmijärvi. In the past weeks, we already enjoyed a lot of different activities. First of all, Finland is well known for their cross-country skiing. Here they just call it skiing. In this area you can also do it. And… It is fun! The accommodation doesn’t have skies for us. So one of our teachers brought 2 pair of ski’s that we could borrow. THANK YOU!

Kuva2          Kuva3

Once the Finnish students organized winter funny games. We played football in 20cm snow! Fun guaranteed! You slip, the ball doesn’t go the way you want and everyone is laughing. We also made ice sculptures that day. What do you think of our results?

 

Catepillar       Unicorn

                     Catepillar dragon                                                           unicorn

Further there is a gym you can always use, a swimming pool and a large sports hall. Two days a week we can use the sports hall with the students. Then we play games like volleyball and badminton.

Saunaparty

In our first week we had a lot of introduction about the Finish school system, Humak, the area… But also a lot of fun things were in the program. One of them was an outdoor sauna and a swim in ice water. The sauna is located near a lake and completely frozen. Except one part, here we could go in the water. They recommended us to first go in the water and then to the sauna. So we did, starting scared, but full of adrenalin! It was so refreshing and we felt alive. Then to the sauna. Also great! Some of us went a couple of times to the sauna and back to the lake. Already addicted after one time.

After the sauna, we stayed in the cabin and ate some cookies, fruits,… We talked and practiced our Finnish. Not a typical party, but one we will never forget!

 

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First impressions Helsinki

Helsinki is a beautiful city. It has huge buildings and is quit clean. When you take the bus from our place to Helsinki, you’ll arrive in Kamppi. This is an area where are a couple of shopping centers, a bus station, a railway station… There is also a lot of beautiful culture. The modern art museum is definitely recommendable. I haven’t been there yet. But other Erasmus students have. They were enthusiastic and when I saw the pictures, I understood why.

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          Modern arts museum                                                       Modern arts museum

Nice to know

We also had some struggles and questions the first weeks. Sometimes it’s nice to know already things before you go to that country. So here a couple of ‘nice to know’:

First, bring a picture (like the one on your passport!) You will need a student card and then this is necessary.

Another nice thing to know, don’t bring to many hot clothes. The building is quite warm! So bring 1 or 2 thick sweaters, but 5 is too much and not necessary.

Third, shops and parties are not close! The closest shop is 5 km from our staying. Some students have a car, then you can ride with them. Otherwise you can walk (1h) or take the bus. Hitchhiking is also very useful. When the winter is over, we can also use the bikes. For a party you have to be in Helsinki. That is 50km from Kiljava Opisto (1h with the bus). There is one night bus at 2u10.

You want to drink alcoholic drinks? That’s possible, but not as easy then in most countries. If you go to a normal shop, you won’t find alcohol above 4.7%. If you want stronger drinks, go to an Alko. They have a large offer of different drinks. Alko’s are easy to find, but look at their closing hours. On Saturday they close up at 18 hours.

Alko

 

And last but not least, there is a lake here! When we arrive, you could just walk on the ice. In a couple of weeks the lake will melt. We can take a boat and enjoy the lake in a whole different way. Nature is beautiful and by the changing of seasons, we can replace the winter activities as skiing  to frisbeeing!

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Citytrips

When I hear Erasmus, I automatically thing of traveling. These just go together. Above you could already read about Helsinki. But we still want to visit much more.

Some of us have visited Turku, we loved it. It is a very nice and cosy city. We went to a Castle, Biological museum, Cathedral,… Now that biological museum, not quit recommendable. But the castle is! A lot of interesting information and a beautiful building.

Further we went to a couple of bars in the weekends. We enjoyed our time with a beer (or a coke) and played games. When the Easter holidays are coming, we all have the opportunity to travel again. Everyone has their plans; Tallinn, Riga or Lapland.

We are still looking for more opportunities to travel and time by time we find those. Goal for at the end: see as much as possible of Finland and the neighbouring countries.

In turku    Turku Castle

                               In Turku                                                         Turku Castle

Communications Lecture in NJC

This blog post is written [almost] live by Humak’s Communications Manager Jarmo Röksä  who visited Nurmijärvi Campus in order to give brief introduction on the digital communication. This blog was written to demonstrate how to create strong search engine optimized content with tools WordPress gives to us.

Lecturing on Communications in Nurmijärvi

I had the pleasure to meet Humak’s Erasmus Exchange Students in Nurmijärvi today. I gave a presentation on the Humak’s communication strategy, different channels we are using and explained why we are doing the things in a way we are doing. After all, all communications you see in our internet pages – and especially what you don’t see behind the curtains – is created carefully and is continuously evaluated with the criteria we have set up for us.

This blog text was the last part of the lecture. This text were written in order to give a clear picture how to write a good SEO-strong text and what are the tricks we have to make with images. For instance, remember the meta data and the normal size for the photos you see in Humak’s web page have the width of 1200 pixels. It can be larger, of course, but large images lengthen the download times. But in order to have a good page which Google loves, it is recommended to have pictures in it.

Jarmo Röksä
Jarmo Röksä, Communications Manager in Humak, gave a presentation on digital communications for Humak’s Erasmus students.

I had our media assistant with me. Emilia Reponen is responsible for these images. She took the photos, had the fast fix to them (yes, it is a good idea to edit all the photos. The minimum should  be adding the contrast), emailed them to me and I uploaded them to this entry – all that took just few minutes. Of course, all the necessary meta data was put in to the images.

Other topics I briefly talked about were strategic communication, altering space of the media and how also our way to use social media services chances. Our way to use Facebook has evolved from the personal log book to the “meta media” – a collection of media commentary. I also talked how the younger generation finds new channels for their interaction. This obviously challenges the way how we can reach our audiences lets say after four-five years. Not only media has shattered around also our audiences are spread widely across the media landscape.

Then I went through the principles of SEO-strong text. Funny enough, in order to explain that I used Instagram photo I posted to Internet from my lecture in Turku campus. So, you can save the flap board paper and recirculate you drawing in this way. I kind of liked the idea.

Give Space to People’s Voice

Blog text is more interesting, like a good news story is, when you give the voice to other people as well. So, I shot some questions to lovely students Marga from Spain and Arnaud from France. I asked what they have learned from my lecture and how did they like it. I admit that I – with they following my writing – edited a text and deepened it a bit.

—”The subject was little bit difficult to follow, but it was interesting to learn about digital communications”, Marga said. For Arnaud it was interesting to learn strategic use of key words and how they affect to Google rankings. —”What we learned was that you have no easy way around to make well optimized pages for Google. You have to work hard for it”, Arnaud concluded.

Marga and Arnaud in Nurmijarvi Campus enjoying communications lecture
Marga and Arnaud giving a strong opinion of today’s course.

Communications can be done also by other means that the text

Roksa also demonstrated how to add video to the blog. This is called embedding and he took a random video from his Youtube channel. You copy the share -link of the Youtube video, then return to the WordPress and the editing window of the story you are writing. Select the place where to put the video in and press the button “Add Media”. Then select Insert from URL and paste the link to the top field of that page.

I chose random video from my YouTube channel. Enjoy the views of rainy Copenhagen.

— The fiirst version of this blog entry was written live in the front of the students i a class room. After returning home to Turku I edited the text and optimized it. Now this article is scoring high with all aspects of SEO.

Our Adventure Sports Experience

Adventure sports course is coming to the end. During this autumn we have learned a lot of new and important skills. We have had many lessons for example about instructor skills, orienteering and goals of adventure education. We have learned about hiking skills, kayaking and climbing.

Kayak lessons

Kayaking - a cold but interesting experience
Erasmus students´ Adventure Experience. Part 1

On our first week it was already time to shine. “Kayak lessons” we read in our timetables. But to our surprise we started in the swimming pool. Wet exits sounded exactly like what they turned out to be. There we went, 18 fresh Adventure Sports students, going underwater in the swimming pool. We did it and that meant we could do the real work: kayaking! The first moments on the water were difficult for some but definitely a lot of fun for everybody! We learned a lot about different paddling and steering techniques and luckily nobody fell in the water. Well.. until Friday then, when we had to do the real wet exits in the lake. A cold but interesting experience!

Experiences in northern Finland

Adventure Sports in National parks

We started our experience in the national park Pallas Yllästunturi, in the north of Finland. 4 days walking across the park, sleeping in a hut on the first and the last night, and in a tent the second night, with bad weather. The trip was nice and a great experience, because we have learned a lot of things, for example, how to use an axe and a knife to make fire and also how to shit in the woods. We enjoyed the trip but have had some stressful moments.

After one week we had another chance to improve our survival skills, this time in Nuuksio National park, without tutors, in little groups between 3 and 6 people. Sleeping in temperatures of -5 and -7 degrees, according to that we had to improvise our form of sleeping this two nights, some groups have slept around the camping fire to keep warm, others in the tent with all their clothes on. It was also an experience that we will never forget.

Our experience with climbing in Finland can be summary in two parts: high rope and low rope.

Adventure sports: high rope

Climbing: It is essential that safety is taken care of

We have been in Salmisaari, in Helsinki, at the biggest climbing gym of the whole Scandinavia and it was the paradise of climbing. There we had a basic lesson with Eeva and Kai, our lecturers, about climbing with rope where we learned a lot of safety and we also enjoyed a lot on the wall and we got really, really tired.

After this we changed the style and we were in the boulder place where we had about one and a half hour as free time there.

Low rope

The other part of climbing is low rope. Here we learned a lot about how to set up slack lines, how to make lots of knots and to be creative using the nature(trees), ropes, boxes… And we used this to apply it in the project “Schools on the move” which was really successful enjoying the time and the activities with kids of the finish school. For most of us, it was the first time to climb and we had the opportunity to discover another style of adventure sport.

During this whole course, we have had an exercise, independent training. Independent training has been a big part of the course. We have done independent hiking trips, independent climbing, kayaking and other new “exotic” sports. During this course we have marked our independent training to the logbook. The idea is that at the end of the course, there will be at least sixty hours training. We have had the opportunity to borrow all needed equipment from our school storage. It’s been very important part of the independent training. That makes us feel trustworthy.

The schools on move project was a really good experience for all of us, not only because we learned a lot, also because we could improve our skills in leading, instructing and making projects with all the needed parts (project plan, lesson plan, risk management and risk analysis, time tables), we also had really good team work, everybody helped each other and all of us cooperated and worked together to succeed and achieve the goals. In this project exist different roles that we could play or observe (leader, instructor, coordinator, observer). It was also an opportunity to practice all of our knowledge with a real public, and also challenging ourselves.

Winter trip

Cross-country skiing
Experiencing winter: skiing

The last adventure sports trip will be the winter trip to Ruka, where we will learn and work on our snowboard- and skiing skills and of course visit the famous Finnish husky farms. After this the exchange students will fly back home and our adventure in Finland will be over. We enjoyed our stay and had a great time in Kiljava, meeting a lot new interesting people and experiencing the real Finnish lifestyle!

Julia Uusikari, Marga Rigo Portell, Lara Veldkamp, Martí Vinyoles Busquets, Enric Garcia
Photos: Sini Lahti

 

Adventure Sports students: Schools on the move

Erasmus exchange students at Humak had the opportunity of participating  in a  national project – “Schools on the move” – aiming to establish a physically active culture in Finnish comprehensive schools. The students describe their cooperation with the pupils of Tähtiniitty school in Espoo.

We have worked hard for four weeks. That means planning, organizing, instructing, and fun active games with pupils of Tähtiniitty school (2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade).

Schools on the run aims at establishing a physically active school
Schools on the move: The pupils from Tähtiniitty school started the project at Humak Nurmijärvi campus.

First of all

In the first day we arranged activities to the children in our Humak Nurmijärvi campus at Kiljavan Opisto. We worked with the pupils of 2nd and 4th grade, in total 50 kids. For some of us, it was the first time, to instruct children in English, one reason to become a bit nervous!

We have to remark that it was a successfull day, they enjoyed the activities, worked like a team and we established a good relationship with them. We finished the first day a little bit tired, but after a few hours we were ready for the next day!

Second day

We started the second day with the children of the 5th and 6th grade also at the campus. Activities were more challenged, because of the age. It was also a successful and fun day. Teamwork and coordinate to the groups was much better compared with the other day. Maybe some reasons of that were that the children were older and we were a bit  more experienced to lead compared to the first day. After that we had a week to prepare the big event, that means our whole day at Tähtiniitty school.

Third day

In the third day some of our group members saw the school for the first time. It was a big challenge. Pupils were used to the environment and felt safe, the weather was not the best but in the end we SURVIVED!.

To summarize, the project was for us a great and new experience, because we were able to train our leadership skills and learn to instruct. Thanks for the opportunity we really enjoyed it.

Some opinions of the foreign students:

It was a great opportunity to improve my leadership skills” Marti, Spain (Catalonia)

Great project to change the learning process of (learning by doing, fun and active activities) children. And I think it’s good for the children to have a different learning process.” Aline, France

I think this project is good not only for the children also for us to try out ourselves.” Ann-Kathrin, Germany

 

 

Written by Piotr Rozwadowski, Francisco Juan Vives, Dorothee Reichel, Peppi Turunen and Juri Kettula, Students from adventure sport 2015

Photos: Sini Lahti

 

How to survive in Finland?

1. The Finnish winter is really cold, so remember to dress properly from head to toe, if you don’t want to end up frozen.

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2. We already mentionned it, life in Finland is expansive, prepare your wallet and don’t forget to carefully check the price before you buy anything

3.Don’t be confused by the creative methods of teaching, It’s not as theorycal as it can be in your own country.

4. Wave! If you have to take the bus, you MUST wave at them, otherwise they will not stop and you will be late or lost… (It happened to us!)

bus

5. Don’t be scared to be naked! In the Finnish culture, people go often to the sauna,naked of course. Even if you feel a little shy, you should really give it a try, it warms you up during the cold winter, it’s good for your health (and ladies, it’s good for your skin!) and it’s a good opportunity to share a good moment together. You can still go wearing your suimsuit, the Finns won’t be offended.

sauna

6. Dip into the icy water! You really have to try it, it’s really cold (1°), can hurt you feet and maybe cut your breath for a short time, but after that you will feel really good and warm outside even if it’s minus 5 degrees or less. And, you can tell that story to everyone when you go back to your own country. It’s a good experience and adventure!

ice swimming

7. Drink coffee! Finns drink a lot of coffee and maybe too much for you, but hey! It keeps you warm and aware.

coffee

8. Enjoy ice hockey. They really love this sport and if you ask them which ice hockey team is the best, they’re going to answer “Finland”, of course. If you live with Finns prepare yourself to watch all the match and shout with them “SUOMI, SUOMI, SUOMI!!!”

hockey

9. Appreciate nature! Don’t come to Finland if you don’t love nature. Finland is one of the most beautiful country in the world. The nature is splendid at any time of the year.

nature

10. Hope you like the snow! Because the snow stays for a long time in Finland, 5 months.

snow

11.Don’t forget to take off your shoes! In Finland, it’s considered dirty and impolite to wear shoes inside the house. Even in the classroom, many students take off their shoes!

shoes

 

Erasmus Suomi – Study in Finland

MEET THE EXCHANGE STUDENTS

Welcome to HUMAK’s Nurmijärvi campus! We are nine exchange students in the Youth Work and Civic Activities Program. For a little longer than three months, we live and study on the campus, all together.

#ErasmusFamily2015

Meet our lovely and colorful international group or, as we love to call it, family. First, there are our two Belgian best friends and teachers-to-be, Rani and Sarah who both turned 21 during the semester. Then there is Sonja, our mate from the Netherlands, she’s 22 and study orthopedagogy (special education) in Belgium. Julia, our youngest sister, is 19 and comes from Russia, where she studies Western Europe area. Our two sociology students, Eve-Anne and Pierre come from France. Adil, our big brother is French as well and study to become a social educator. Finally, us, Laura and Camille, are both 22 and study educational sciences in France.

STUDY ABROAD

Everyone who ever studied abroad would probably tell you the same, it is such an amazing experience. But studying abroad for a semester or a year is far for being trivial. It means, being far from home, family and friends for a while. Being immerged into a totally different culture is a challenge as much as it is a unique human experience.

WHY FINLAND?

We all came here for different reasons, most of our studies are related to education but Julia, Pierre and Eve-Anne study in different fields in their home country. We asked our mates about what they think about studying in Finland. Why did they choose this country over the others? Did it match their expectations?

“In Russia we don’t have Erasmus Program, but my University has contract with Finnish university of applied sciences, and I wanted to change my life, to meet new people, to practice my bad English, so I’m here.” – Julia

“During my studies I’ve always wanted to go on Erasmus exchange studies because I think it’s a good way to travel. I had the choice between Canada and Finland. I chose to come here because I wanted to see the education system of course, and I like Nordic countries, and English speaking countries.” – Adil

“I really wanted to go to Finland. Just to see the country, but another reason, also because I wanted to become more independent and some other stuff. What do I like here? Nature of course, and summer. Food, I like the cold, it’s a different cold than we have in the Netherlands and I like it. I like Helsinki, I like Lapland just like the all country.” – Sonja

“I was about to go on an Erasmus exchange program in Spain but, as soon as I knew that I could go to Finland, my choice was made. First, I’ve been looking forward to visit northern Europe and it sounded like the perfect opportunity to do it. Then as I know from my own studies, Finland is one of the best country regarding education, I was really willing to learn from this amazing system, totally different from the one we have in France. It was also a good point that the courses are in English, I wanted to improve my skill. And by using it every day, all of us did.” – Camille

CHALLENGES

Studying abroad may not always be a piece of cake. Although we’re trying our best to learn – thanks to our Finnish mates – none of us speak Finnish. When we asked them about the challenges they face in Finland, many of our exchange students mentioned Finnish language…

“it’s impossible to understand Finnish if you don’t know it, and Finnish is everywhere, and there is no English version, so yeah, it’s kind a problem sometimes.” – Julia

“Getting understood by bus drivers!” – Adil

“Going to Helsinki is one of them, hum, understand the language, and, hum, try to explain myself” – Sonja

Indeed, our campus is 40 kilometers away from Helsinki, it takes a bit longer than an hour to go there and there are not so many buses that stop at Kiljava. Most of our students are doing their internship in an international school in Vantaa, and have to spend almost 3 hours in the bus every day. Moreover, these bus tickets are also pretty expansive (even with the student discount!), it costs 11 euros to go there and come back. A monthly bus card costs about 120 euros.

This brings one of the other issues we all had to face in Finland, the cost of living. Food and transport are more expansive than in our own countries. Luckily, we have a cheap accommodation here and we can enjoy student prices lunches.

LIVING ON THE CAMPUS, TERVETULOA KOTIIN !

(French) Crepes Party

As we already mentioned, all of this awesome people live on the campus located in Kiljava, around 40 kilometers away from Helsinki. We live, eat and go to class in the very same building. Handy (we don’t even need to put shoes on)! We are accommodated for a reasonable price in single or double rooms and happily share the dorms with Finnish students who welcomed us with open arms and showed us the tricks to survive here. Indeed, we arrived in the middle of the winter, and the closest store is 6 kilometers away from the campus… More than driving us around, our “hosts” gave us a really good taste of Finnish culture and what it means to be a student here in Finland.

“We have like our own Finnish family here” – Julia

Kiljavanranta main building

Apart from a store, we can find everything you need on the campus, a sports hall that we use every Tuesday and Thursday to play together, a gym and, last but not least, SAUNA! (It may sound trivial to our Finnish mates but for us foreigners, it’s something). Now that the weather gets warmer (finally!) we can also rent bikes, to go to the store or just enjoy a nice ride through the forest, and even boats to sail on the (no longer frozen) lake. Built right next to Sääksjärvi Lake, Kiljavanranta offers a beautiful landscape and wonderful sunsets. By studying abroad, some may seek a vibrant city life but if you chose Finland, this place pictures perfectly the peaceful and quiet atmosphere of this country.

Sunset from the roof

“I feel like home here” – Julia

LIVING TOGETHER

As we spend a lot of time together, we share a lot about our different cultures and ways of living. If you walked by the living room, you could hear four or five languages spoken at the same time. In such conditions, you get to know each other pretty soon, everyone bringing a piece to our multicultural puzzle.

Languages lessons

As you may know, living with (many) other people sometimes mean making concessions. Sharing spaces such as the kitchen and the living room may be source of conflicts. A certain organization is needed here, regarding the food and the cleaning, we established some rules together to make sure it’s a comfortable place for everyone. If community life may sometimes be challenging, it’s nothing compared to the moments we spend together. Birthdays, holidays, every event is a good reason to celebrate and spend time together, cook for eachothers, or play in this giant playground Kiljava is.

Easter Brunch

“We take care of each other and share a lot of moments, just like members of the same family would.” – Camille