Back in Finland

Here we are! Back in the cold weather. The change wasn’t that nice – when we left from the Netherlands it was +5°C while we came back to Finland it was -15°C. Hrrrr, so cold! In the other hand I’m more use to the weather in Finland so for me the cold wind and rain was more worse than just the cold air. 🙂 But still, if I could choose I would stayed in the Netherlands the whole year but it wasn’t an option for us, because our education programs are differing too much. 🙁

image01_02

In our studies, Media Engineering, we are doing a lot of more programming, practical things, while in International Media and Entertainment Management it’s more reading from the books. I can still really recommend the exchange for everyone, because even it takes much effort to fill up all the forms and collect all the necessary proofs, the exchange as an experiment gives you a lot of more! You will notice that how you think what is normal, isn’t really normal for everyone – even thought it would be normal in your culture. You will also get into situations where you need to develop new skills to be successful.

About our flights; the Norwegian had changed their rules and offers a lot after the New Year 2014! This time we needed to bought the second luggage, but it was still cheaper to come with Norwegian then with some other airplane company’s flights. The extra luggage was costing 15€ for each so this time the flying tickets were costing around 140€, which is a big difference with the 90€ that we paid last time. We had flight from Amsterdam to Arlanda, where we needed to wait about 10 hours for the next flight, and then we had the second flight to Helsinki. And check all the stuff what we had; so much! We needed bigger taxi than normally, that we could fit in, even there was only two persons travelling! 😀

image02_02

We moved my stuff to Jyväskylä on the date of arrival and you can just image how “tasty” the sauna was at the evening – after 5 months! Small fact in this point: there are more saunas then cars in Finland. 😀 So you can image what kind of withdrawal symptoms we had! 😉 The next day we were organizing the stuff on correct places and on Monday I needed to call a caretaker to fix the heater, which was broken; we had only 7°C in the living room! I also needed to call multiple other places so it was good that our school started on Tuesday and we had few days for settling down back to Finland.

In the first week I still felt a bit weird that we were back. We also had been afraid that the food’s price would grow a lot, but it hadn’t. We thought the food was a bit cheaper in the Netherlands, but now I need to say that it’s not true. Maybe some things like alcohol and soft drinks are a lot of cheaper, but in Finland you can get big cheeses more cheaper and other things. So now I would say that Finland and the Netherlands are quite equal with food prices. I also feel our system, that we are having free health care for all students, is better organized than in the Netherlands; there, if you have for example flue, you need to go first to some “home doctor” and he/she will sent you to the hospital if needed and it’s costing. Also in Finland every student, Finnish and exchange students, are getting the same discounts – in the Netherlands only Dutch students can travel for free and the exchange students need to pay normal prices if you will not get  the costing discount card from NS.

For persons who are considering the exchange I would tell the next tips before you will leave/when you come back:

  • fill up all the necessary papers on time and take all once to your coordinator (you need the coordinators signature almost to everything)
  • close or change your telephone subscription (you can for example ban the Intern usage in foreign countries, because you don’t want to get high bills after your smartphone has done system updates through Internet)
  • think will you rent your apartment or give it away (both are good options, but if you have a lot of furnitures I recommend to rent it and if not give it away, because you will get a new one from your city’s Student Housing when you come back)
  • arrange van/trailer ready for your stuff
  • if you will give your apartment away arrange a space for your stuff (warehouses are really expensive so I recommend to ask if you relatives are having empty space on their summer cottages etc.)
  • mark up on paper where you put your important, and less important, stuff (we were searching almost one week the bonus cards and other club cards, which we had left to Finland)
  • remember to inform for KELA your changes in the living conditions (when you leave and when you come back)
  • take few free days before you will start school (for organising everything as opening/chancing telephone subscription, etc.)

And that’s it I guess. You can find more tips from my earlier blog posts, but if you are considering exchange or you have any other questions I’m willing to answer – just ask. 🙂

image04_02

Comments Off on Back in Finland

Dutch Culture and Society

Between the Netherlands and Finland is multiple differences – even though we have also a lot in common. In both cultures we like to keep similar power distance while speaking, but the Dutch are used to greet their friends or wish good luck by giving three cheek kisses. For me it was a bit weird at the beginning, because if you don’t know the person well you are greeting only with saying: “Hi” or with hand shaking in Finland. When it’s your friend’s or family member’s birthday party than you can hug, but we are not used to give cheek kisses.

The floorball isn’t so popular sport in the Netherlands than in Finland, but it’s getting more popular all the time. The biggest differences are in the contact game and technique – they are more likely to avoid the contact and yelling if you are pushing a bit. 😉 But if you compare the football level in the Netherlands and in Finland it’s the other way around than in floorball. So one thing what you should do for sure in the Netherlands is to go to watch a football game – AFC Ajax games are always sold out and there is around 51 000 spectators. For the games you can’t get the ticket if you don’t know someone who owns the club card and can buy the ticket for you.

image01

At 5th December the Dutch are celebrating the Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas. It is a bit similar character than Santa Claus, which we celebrate in Finland, but the history and way to celebrate him is different. The Saint Nicholas is originally coming from Turkey, he is the bishop of Myra, but Dutch believe he is coming from Spain. It’s the same thing than in Finland: we believe Santa Claus is coming from Korvatunturi, Finland, but Americans would say argument to this historical fact that the Santa Claus is coming from North Pole. Sinterklaas usually arrives with white horse, but in the Netherlands he comes with boats and he’s having helpers Zwarte Piets, Black Petes.

In the Netherlands is few funny cultural things; my friend, Loraine, told that when she moved with her boyfriend to their apartment they needed to pay separately for the floor. So when you’re moving out from rented flat you can rib off the floor with you if you don’t want to sell it to the next person, whose coming to live in the apartment. Dutch are also used to put Nutella, this chocolate spread, or hagelslag (chocolate chips) on their bread at the morning. For lunch they are eating something light like bread or small soup, but never warm, diverse lunch as in Finland. Also when you go inside you never take your shoes off – it doesn’t matter is there wooden floor, fitted carpet, or any other material which can be easily ruined.

image02

Drinking culture is pretty balanced in the Netherlands – people are drinking few drinks with their friends, not trying to get totally wasted. Of course there is exceptions as students who like to party, but you can still see the people are knowing more better their limits than in Finland. What has influenced to this is the Dutch history of drinking culture; at 1600 century even 6-year-old children were drinking beer! 😀 Naturally their purpose wasn’t to get drunk, the beer’s strength was under 1 per cent, but because the water was so unclean it was better to drink beer. So very in the first place the beer wasn’t thought as a way to get drunk, but to have a drinkable drink.

I have visited now three times in Amsterdam, but what stayed in my mind of the capital city of the Netherlands? Well, the red light district was something what I really didn’t expect! 😯 I knew the prostitution is allowed in the Netherlands, but it still surprised to see in real life the girls swinging their hips on front of the glass doors and windows. But gladly they are having really good security; there is polices all around the place and photographing is denied. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is also really famous of its free drug policy, but there just goes one thing wrong: the drug policy isn’t really free. You can’t buy and use legally hard drugs as cocaine, heroin, etc. – only legal drug is cannabis, which you can buy once only 5mg for your own use from places called “Coffee shop”.

image03

Our classmates are paying around 2000 euros every year for the education, but as Finnish students we didn’t need to pay anything. That’s why it was a shock for me how much the Dutch students were keeping noise in the lectures, because in Finland students are silent and respecting the lecturer. If the lecturer didn’t have any authority the Dutch students really took unscrupulously the advance from it; they were just chatting, being on Facebook, tweeting, reading news, and doing everything else than listening. For me and for others, who wanted to listen, keeping disturbing noise was really rude because it wasn’t even obligatory to be in the lectures. But probably this is one reason, why Dutch are having “silent” railroad cars – in Finland we don’t need those, because people are already silent and using their headphones. 😀

Every week there was market on Haagdijk street on Saturdays and in the city center on Fridays. The farmers were selling their products straight to the customers, why the prices were lower than in the grocery stores. In Finland the markets are kept rarely, because the farmers need to pay the same taxes than stores. In the Netherlands it’s probably a weekly habit, because of the trading history and more warm weathers than in Finland. There was some small details of the Netherlands and Dutch. 🙂

image04

 

Comments Off on Dutch Culture and Society

Third time in Belgium

Few days ago it became our third time visiting in Belgium. It’s so easy to go from Breda to Belgium, because the train connections are so good and going often. First time when we went to Belgium it was at in the end of September. We were going with our floorball team’s founder and leader Victor by car to city called Antwerpen. Victor wanted to take us under the ground to the tunnels – in Antwerpen the canals were closed, because the water was so dirty and smelling. But it wasn’t possible, because it is so popular that it should been reserved earlier; there was already the maximum amount of visitors going in the tunnels with their flashlights.

image01

So then we were just walking around the city center and Victor was telling us about the history. In the central square was going on trial cycling competition, which looked so cool! 😀 It’s unbelievable how the guys could balanced so well with their bikes and bounce so high.  In the area was going on few guys on the same time, but everyone were having their own referee who was counting the mistakes and taking the time. Even I don’t know how the points are counted this guy in the upper photo didn’t do any mistakes in his bounce – if I got it right – because one other competitor falled down and just gave up and moved to the next point.

image02Middle of their race was also unique fountain; statue of men throwing his hand. The story behind the statue is that in the old times a giant was taking tolls from people, who were crossing the river. Those who didn’t have the money or refused for paying it, the giant called Antigoon, cut their other hand and throw it to the river as a payment. Throwing the hand is in Dutch hand werpen from where comes the city’s name: Antwerpen. 🙂

The second time when we visited in Belgium it was also in Antwerpen with Henri’s mother and sister, but this time by train. The ticket for one person there and back was costing only around 14 euros, because we were travelling in weekend, and it took time around 1,5 hours. We were just walking around and watching the city, but we also went to buy some traditional Belgium food, where happened “funny” thing when we went to this outdoor “frituur” and it was my turn to order food.

Firstly the seller wasn’t looking at all to me, she was looking somewhere else. So I asked: “Hi, could I have customer service please?” and she said with a pissed and blasé voice: “Yeah, yeah, all the time”, but still didn’t looked at me. I thought it was really rude, but I still made my order: “Armm.. Well could I have one small portion of french fries?” and then she quickly moved her eyes on me and said with arrogant voice: “It’s not any french fries, it’s BELGIUM fries!” I was so shocked! 😯 Okay, maybe I could seek for information about Belgium, but come on! As a customer I think I don’t ask too much if I would just want to have appropriate customer service and that definitely was everything else then appropriate and nice from her.

I paid my food, without saying anything, and went to sit with others and told them the story. I also was wondering can I go anymore to buy a soda, which I forgot to buy, because I really didn’t want to buy anything anymore from this girl. Gladly Henri came up with this funny joke so I went back to the desk and asked: “Hi again, could I have one BELGIUM coke please? :P” and the girl was laughing a bit and hopefully she got my message. But sadly this wasn’t the only bad customer service experience in Belgium – we got careless and arrogant customer service in everywhere. Not as bad, but still as a customer you got this feeling that you shouldn’t bought anything and you were just wasting the employees time; even they are there to serve you. Well..

image03

The third time we went to Brugge with Henri and his father at 23.12. to see Belgium Christmas market, beer and chocolate stores, which they are known of. This time the travelling was taking a bit longer time; 3 hours in one direction and because we were going at week the tickets were costing around 40 euros per person, but it was worth it. In the city center of Brugge they had built an ice skating area and around it was all the booths. At the day all the stores were open and you were able to buy the Belgium chocolate, which is so tasteful, and at the evening you could admire all the beautiful Christmas lights. And I have never ever liked of beer, but you got to taste the cherry beer (Liefmans kriek is the best) – I love it!

If you ask from me you should definitely go to Belgium to walk to the tunnels, buy the beer and chocolate, and try their traditional food – the Belgium waffle is my favorite. 😉 But don’t be too surprised if you will get unpleasant customer service, which was for me a big surprise, because the Belgian who I have get known to on their free time have been really nice. In this post I told you about Belgium what means that next time I will tell you about the Netherlands so be aware! 😉

image04
Comments Off on Third time in Belgium

Houston, we have a problem

This post is about problems, which we have faced, and especially directed to the JAMK students who are considering the exchange in the Netherlands. NHTV Breda or StudentAlleewonen haven’t thought at all the exchange students, because they are sending all the important information late. Of course for the Dutch it isn’t any problem, but for foreigners it is; we need to buy the flight tickets in early point, that the prices aren’t yet too high, and organise other things. Like in our case we got in early point e-mail about the Student Rooms Breda site, where we could reserve the apartments, but we got the actual logging codes over one month later. We got 26.6. e-mail that at the next week we would receive the codes. I started to wonder at the end of the week, why we hadn’t got any e-mail, until I was asking about it and we found out that our login codes had went straight to the spam folder.

image_02_05

Great! I didn’t even know that Gmail was throwing straightly some e-mail in that folder. 😛 So we got four days later the codes, then others, why there was anymore two apartments available: 420€/month costing apartment, and 440€/month costing. We selected the more expensive one, because the difference in prices was small and this apartment was bigger, we have 15m2 size rooms, and the other apartment’s condition was in totally different level – it was looking really old while this was new. After reserving the rooms we got a new surprise: we needed to pay over 1200€ before we could have the rooms. I understand that it was including rents of August, September, January, rent deposit, cutlery- and sheet packages, but I think it’s really stupid to assume that all students are having that kind of money.

image_03_04

We needed to start to organise the money for the payments, we had time about one week, before the reservation would been gone and we would loose the apartment. We thought it would been fine to buy the flight tickets for 20th of August, because it was written in the website that the renting was starting on 20.08., we knew our school was going to start on 02.09. and we thought we would have introduction week before it. In this point we just didn’t knew few facts as that receiving the keys from StudentAlleewonen would be day earlier, because that e-mail came at the end of July: “Monday (19th of August) you are expected between 13.00 hrs. – 15.00 hrs. to sign your contract and collect your keys”.

Now we had a new problem: how to get the keys? Our flight was arriving at the evening to Amsterdam and I was checking that our train would be at 20:00 o’clock in Breda, so I was trying to arrange the keys collection for the evening. But what do you guess was it possible? Nope. They answered we could pick up the keys on the next day before 15:00 o’clock so we needed to book a hotel from what you saw pictures in the second blog post. 😉 But the problems weren’t yet here, because then at end of July – again in very late point from view of exchange student – we got message from NHTV Breda: “On Wednesday the 21st, Thursday the 22nd and Friday the 23rd of August 2013, Student Office organises the International Introduction Days for all new international and exchange students”, which were mandatory for us.

image_01

We didn’t knew which time we needed to be at the school and how long it would took, which was a problem, because like I earlier mentioned we had a time limit to pick up the keys. Gladly it worked out, because close to the D-day we received a new email from them, where was written that IMEM’s check-in time was starting at 9:00 o’clock. The check-in took only few minutes; we just said our name, showed our ID’s, and then we went back to the Apollo hotel. Haha, this is starting to be really tragicomic but we also had problems with finding the AlleeWonen’s office. We had checked from Google Maps where the office should be, but in the place which Google pointed out wasn’t anything. So we tried to find the office with the street number, Spoorstraat 200, but the street numbers of houses were going really illogically – the numbers were bouncing from even to odd and from small to big. After half an hour of searching we finally found it; it had been all the time really close to the Apollo hotel, but alone in other side of the street then the other houses! Un-be-li-e-vab-le! 😀

So prepare that you need to have big cash of money in your rear pocket for the apartment costs and that you need to be in the Netherlands two weeks before your school actually starts – you can’t take summer job till the end of August like we thought. 😛

image04

Comments Off on Houston, we have a problem

Long time no see

image4Let’s go back to the second week. When we bought our bikes and started to cycling I had the same feeling than when I learned to cycle.. But seriously – What a feeling of a cycling! You cannot understand it before you will drive in the Breda – the Netherlands is the flattest country I know. The roads are in really good condition, because here is no ground frost which is ruining the roads in Finland. The cyclists are having more ”rights” and space than a pedestrians. For example for cyclists there are own lights, which are changing more often than the lights for pedestrians.

If you are going to live longer time in the Netherlands, you should definitely buy a bike, because it’s so much easier to move from place A to place B. Almost everyone in the Netherlands are using bikes – even the King and the Queen. I bought my bike from second hand shop called De Klein Breda with 65€, so not bad price for travelling costs of five months. Just remember to check, when you are buying the bike, there is mudguards because it’s raining often. And it’s really not a bad idea to even bring your own raincoat in here.

You also need to have headlight and tail light at the evening or otherwise the police will fine you. The bikes are important for us in other reason also: there wouldn’t be even good connections from our EasyStreet apartment to our NHTV Breda school. What reminds me that in last post I promised to put to this post picture of my room and our apartment/house, so here you go!

image1

Indeed the house is new, it was build at last summer, but still we have had some problems: leaking toilet, blocked drain, and so on. We have also wooden floor, where is coming scratches every time when you are vacuuming the floor – so not that good quality even everything is looking brand new. Even I realize this is a student house I’m still a bit surprised why they have used the cheapest, easiest ruined materials, because like the old saying goes: “The poor can’t afford to buy cheap”.

It’s bad managing like we have learned now in here. Who ever was the manager should compare price vs. quality form and think these things in risk analysis. Gladly I remembered some of these things also in the Project Management exam. 😉 It was kind of basic stuff about managing a project even there was some differences how the things have been told us in Finland. For example in Finland we are making the Project Plan more comprehensive then in the Netherlands. But well, you just need to find your own way to work with all the information, which you have gained.

At least we had good preparation for the exam week, which was few weeks ago, because we had a study week before the exams started. It would be a good method also to use in Finland – I really learned a lot when I was efficiently studying approximately 6 hours per day. The teachers had also prepared us for the exams with the weekly assignments. Thought, the teachers don’t realize how much effort the assignments are taking from us: our Canadian teacher said writing the assignment should take one hour. Yeah, right. 😀

image3

Every week we got individual assignments from Introduction to Management and Media and Entertainment Management, group assignment from Project Management and every second week individual assignment from Fundamentals of Storytelling. In every answer we needed to use proper sources, which Wikipedia wasn’t, and read the books. There were also many new words and terms like “ethnocentric”, “parochialism”, “quantitative approach”, which I first needed to translate in Finnish and then search the explanations. I counted once it took 6-7 hours from me to write 1500 words, when I wasn’t familiar with the subject, so kinda near the teacher’s one hour. 😀

By the way did you know that in the Netherlands they are giving grades from 1 to 10 and you can’t pass the assignments or courses with grades 1-5? And they don’t give you any mercy or other possibilities to pass the course if for example you haven’t pass the exam, because you got one point too less, even you have done all the other exercises and hours in. Just a small detail for you how much easier it’s for us in Finland! But that’s it this time, thought. Next time I will tell you about problems, which we have faced in here, so if you will ever come to study (or visit) to the Netherlands you will be a bit smarter then what we were. 😉

cusoon_02

Comments Off on Long time no see

3.. 2.. 1..

Our first day of trip we had flight from Helsinki-Copenhagen-Amsterdam. We wanted to take especially this flight, because in Norwegian you could take per person two luggages to airplane (max. 20kg/one luggage), hand luggage and laptop bag or women purse (max. 10kg/all together). We also took a floorball bag which was costing extra only 25e. Even I have been travelling a lot I of course needed to have some oversize liquids, which they took away from me in the security check. The rule is that you can have ten 100ml of liquids and I thought you could have 50ml of liquids for example in 125ml sized package, but no. So I needed to say byebye to my makeup remover and face cleanser. 😀

At the Copenhagen we med two other finnish students: Milja and Gessu (Gezim). They are from Helsinki and they will be studying International Hotel Management – just a bit easier to say than ours International Media and Entertainment Management. 😉 Anyway we had planned the same flights so we had about six hours time at Copenhagen to see the city center and the Tivoli. Yes, it was really called Tivoli as you would say in finnish. The Tivoli was pretty awesome – I really can suggest it for you.

The Tivoli’s entrance was around 13e and for one ride you needed three tickets, which were costing together nine euros. You could also bought different entrance & ride -ticket, which price would been pretty same than in Linnanmäki or Särkänniemi in Finland, but we had no point to buy it, because we were planning to spend time there only few hours. The Tivoli and Copenhagen itself wasn’t really the cheapest places. I was buying from the airplane station my life’s most expensive water bottle: 3,6e! Come on! I could have school food and coffee with that price (if I would drink coffee)! 😀

At night we arrived to Amsterdam and we took a train called Fyra. The train was so handy because it was going straight from the airport to Breda in every 30 minutes. It was costing 20e per person, but with the Smart-card system you can travel for free at weekend or at week and other time you are having 40% off from the normal price – also three of your friends can have the last discount. You can have the OV-chipkaart if you will have the Student Identity Card and you will Open a Dutch bank account, where you need to pay the 55e for one year use.

Anyway when we arrived to Breda we went straight to our hotel called Apollo. Few months earlier we had booked one night from there, because they had special offer: room for two, without breakfast, was costing only 65e (normally 115e). It was the best choice, because from the railway station to our hotel was only 200 meters and to school 1,4km. Milja and Gessu had hotel from Amsterdam, but because we had first introduction day right at the next day, they thought it was more reasonable to come with us to Breda. Unfortunately our hotel was totally full so they needed to go to Youth Hostel Breda, which was looking like a brothel. 😀 But they survived. 😉 Under a pictures of our hotel room and -restaurant.

After we got our stuff to the room we went out to eat something, because we were starving. First diner which we found was really cozy Restaurant ‘t Valken, which was front of the railway station. The drinks were really cheap: one glass of wine was costing only around 2,8e. Our waitress asked us to add her to Facebook and she said she could come some day to show us more of Breda, so we also found out how friendly Dutch people are! And tall! Did you know that the average tall for Dutch man is 183cm and for woman 169cm when in Finland the same rates are 177cm and 163cm. Finally I have found “my mates” and I don’t feel anymore overlong with my 177cm length! 😉

Oh, I would have so much more to tell! But I think I will stop this time in here, that you will not get too dizzy of reading, if you have had the time even to read this far! 😀 In next post you will see photos of my room, grilling party, etc. But..

 


What a paperwork!

Even I was very from the beginning listening “the old” exchange students experiences, I could never believe how much paperwork we really needed to do. You have the instructions of the exchange process in Optima > Opinfoorumi / Study Forum > Opinfoorumi >  Kansainvälistyminen opiskelussa > Opiskelu ulkomailla > Ennen ulkomaille opiskelemaan lähtöä. And you can’t forget the all lovely paperwork when you are coming back from the exchange, but let’s not go so far away yet. 😉

My most precious advice is that start enough early to filling up all the papers. Of course first you need to decide which country you would like to go and do the electrical application for JAMK, but after you have got approved start to get the information. For our school, NHTV Breda, we needed to next things: Their electrical application, Learning Agreement, English level proof, full CV in English, motivation letter and copies of passport, passport size photograph and travelers insurance card. We also needed to do the Grant Agreement and OTm.

In Learning Agreement you need to fill up the courses you would like to take, but don’t think too much because probably you need to do changes. English level proof you need to ask from the teacher, who was keeping the professional English -course etc. In motivation letter you need to explain why you would be the best choice for the school. Don’t forget the Grant Agreement, because without it you will not get any money from the school and EU. The OTm-form (Opintotuen muutosilmoitus) you can find from Kela’s webpage.

Few tips for filling the forms: Be sure when your exchange period is starting and when it’s ending. Gather your written things from JAMK’s electrical application and use it in motivation letter. Do all the paperwork once and bring it to the Int’l Coordinator, because you need almost in every form hers or his signature – and also yours. She or he can also put your printed OTm-form forward and it will be posted to Kela. Before leaving be sure that the exchange school’s Int’l Coordinator has also put the signature to your papers.

After all these steps you can start to wait your exchange and new upcoming tasks! 🙂

Comments Off on What a paperwork!

css.php