The last adventure – Ruka!!!

Ruka, Lapland. Snow falling softly, gentle down on the ground and forming a smooth, thick bed of fluffy substance. The first thing you want to do when you see it is dive into it and crawl around. What do we have to do to make a winter trip in Lapland with 18 international students happen? We must all work together and divide the tasks for the trip and planning of the trip.

The adventure started with the preparations. We got an overview what and when each activity was going to happen during the week. We discussed about the roles within the group and then every student got a task. There were ‘day-leaders’, ‘kitchen masters’, ‘accommodation queens’ and more. We had an overall leader, and this time this was one of our students. Our teachers were only local guides when we would arrive in Ruka. We had to organise everything with the least help as possible.

Not only the day planning is important. Some of the challenges were waiting for us in the snow in Ruka. Before we went, we learned about hypothermia and frostbites, and not only theoretical. Like always in this course, the method of learning by doing was used. We practised how to secure somebody who has hypothermia in our classroom. We can already say, we were lucky and nobody had to be secured during the Ruka trip. But still it is important to know about these methods when someone will be in danger. After all the preparations and packing, the trip to Ruka could start.

It was Sunday morning around 9 o’clock when all our students and their luggage was in the bus off to Riihimaki. It was a long and tiring journey up North: Bus, train, train… 3 o’clock it is getting darker… Train, bus, 4 o’clock pitch black… Stop for some food… bus. Finally, we arrived at the cottages 2 hours later than planned. We prepared the beds, talked a bit and fell asleep to be energetic the next day, for our first day of winter sporting.

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Adventure sports, Ruka 2017

The first day we went snowshoe hiking. The leaders of the day decided to walk 8 km in total and have lunch in a nice hut next to the mountains top. We had two groups of 9 people. The ‘faster’ group and the ‘slower’ group, which meant one would go first and arrive at the hut and start the fire and the second would wait and walk slower to get to the hut. We got our equipment at the Ruka rental shop and started hiking. Nobody forgot the compass or map, so we were able to train our orienteering. Everybody who wanted to lead the group through the snow was welcome to do it. In our group, the day leader said: “We don’t want to do an easy way so there will be some challenge.” Therefore, we had to find our own way  without following a certain path. We trained to use the baring on the compass and it worked all well. Heading for the lake, that would be in the middle of our way to the hut, we found it. It was already frozen so we were able to walk over it our leader said. But next to the lake there was a swampy part which was not fully frozen, and it made “gggrchhhhh” sounds and one of our group members got her feet wet, up to her knee. This was a somewhat critical situation, since we had to find the hut and fire to warm us fast now. Cold temperature and wet feet are something you really have to take serious because it can get very ugly. If we wouldn’t have had spare socks with us, the chance of a frostbite would have been very high. Luckily, we were prepared and we could walk further to find the hut.

We walked up the white and fairy tale looking hill in front of us, but it was not always easy to find the right way. It was exhausting to walk through the swampy area.  And the snow was high and difficult to hike through. To walk in the front needed a lot more energy than to walk in the back because the path was already made by the people in front of you. But we reached the hut and enjoyed the lunch before we climbed to the top of the ‘mountain’. (Actually, Finland doesn’t have any real mountains, since a mountain has to be above 1 km and the hill in Ruka is 500 metres. Just a nice fact.) From the top, we had an amazing view over the area. We were almost able to see Russia, but the clouds averted this. After this beautiful viewpoint, we walked back to the village and then again, we had a little stop close to the end and reflected the day. Back home we cooked dinner, went to the sauna and fell washed-out but happy into a deep sleep.

Ruka

Without too much sleep, the next day started. This day the activity was going to be cross-country skiing. Almost nobody did it before. For the students who were used to stand on Alpine skis, it was very difficult, because it is completely different from downhill skiing. Everybody got it in the end and managed to ride the long thin skis down the trail. When there was a “big” slope which we had to ride down from, nearly everybody fell, but all came back without injuring. We had a lot of fun.

On the third day, we again had a new challenge. This day, everyone could choose between learning to ski or snowboard, and two of our students could get intermediate training because they already were able to ski or snowboard. There was a big difference in the level of experience, but there was a lesson fit for everyone because the more advanced skier and snowboarder could teach the other group members together with the instructor. They started on the baby slope, but at the end of the day they already went of the blue and sometimes red slopes. Even though the snowboarders fell dozens of times, they also picked it up really fast and joined the skiers on the slopes. We had a lot of fun helping each other and improving our techniques but also just playing in the snow together.

 

Erasmus students, Ruka
Way too fast the fourth and last day started. For this day, we could choose ourselves what we wanted to do. Almost half of us went for a sled ride with husky dogs. Truly, this was a once in a lifetime experience. The rest continued their snowboarding or skiing fun and we all had a great time in the snowy Lapland. In the afternoon, we were all together on the slopes either skiing or snowboarding. We had just as much fun as the day before and it was a nice and fun way to end the course together.

Last but not least, we were invited to a secret place for a meeting with the teachers somewhere close to the huts. With a little drawn map we navigated us to the spot and got a snack and a warm drink. This was the final reflection of the trip and a goodbye to the teachers who were going to stay in Lapland.

We drove home in the busses, trains and busses again, all worn out, sore from the sporting but content. Someday some of us will be the overall leaders for these trips and plan everything alone or with someone else. We learn a lot!

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.