Jussi vaihtoon

Waffles and fries in Antwerp, Belgium

Courses in KdG

I decided to write one more post to briefly introduce the courses I attended.

 

1. EILC Dutch language course. I definitely suggest to participate this course in the beginning of semester, since you get very good skills of everyday basics of Dutch language. At least for me it was a good help during my stay in Antwerp. Even though people speak very good English, it is good to know some basics in your everyday life. Takes only one month and is definitely worth it!

2. Maritime transport & ports. We had a visiting lecturer during the whole course and he taught us well to understand differences between types of vessels and their way of operation. Also port logistics and operations were included in this course. I suggest every logistics-related student to attend this course.

3. International trade. Maybe the most difficult course I had. From the beginning we started to make a huge project related to transportation of goods from a country outside EU to some EU country. For 3 credits there was definitely too much work, but as an experience I think it was worh it. Lots of local students in this course, who prefer to communicate in Dutch (presentations, questions etc.)

4. Human Resource Management. Visiting lecturer was sitting in front of the class and talking. Then we write. Repeat. There were problems with examination since the results were not always correct. There is some useful information about basic company structures but the lessons were very oldschool.

5. Brand Management of industrial goods. A teacher from Austria introduced us to some theory about the topic and then gave us a case study. I liked the course very much, since the teacher was motivating and the case study was interesting. Even for logistics student I think this is very good course to have. Totally suggest!

6. Supply Chain Management. Visiting lecturer again, at first telling what SCM is about and then divided different case studies for every group. The course was brief but I think it is good for logistics student to attend.

7. EU Transport policy. Very interesting course, where we get to know detailed information of how EU legislation is based on and how decisions are made. Also lot of information about liabilities and regulations for logistics inside EU. Very high-quality lecturing and also visit to a session of EU Committee of transport and tourism is done to Brussels!

8. Import & Export Management. This course is very interesting and at least for me there was lot of information about importin and exporting goods. The course introduces different participants of transport operations and some liabilities included in importing and exporting of goods. Important course I think..

9. Economic Geography. This course is a bit funny. The teacher introduces different kinds of cases where geographical knowledge is used to solve logistical and economical problems, in the end of course each student is going to prepare own real-life case study from their home country or a region nearby. Interesting but needs a lot of attention if you want to be up-to-date on this course.

 

Overall the courses in KdG are interesting and well-taught. Level of English is always very good and the courses are usually only for Erasmus students. So you meet lot of friends there, but sometimes it is also a bad thing if you want to pay attention to the lesson. Belgian Culture & Economy course is interesting and almost all the time there are visits to different places in Antwerp and Belgium (EU Parliament, Brussels, 1st world war sceneries, Antwerp city hall & museums, Port of Antwerp etc…). I decided to fail this course because after all the visits, we had to write a report of each visit.

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Courses in KdG

Back home, was it good? YESS!!

It’s been now three weeks since I came back home from Antwerp. I have not been writing a lot since Easter because I had fantastic things to do all the time with other students! Erasmus in Antwerp was a great experience! The final exams in May were not too difficult, but without any preparations I would not have passed them. Some exams were done orally, and for some courses we just had to write a report or a case study about some topic.

There were not so many contact lessons, so we had a lot of free-time besides school. In the early months I spent most of the time doing sports, but towards the end I started to travel and party more and more. I believe that variation in free-time activities gives you much better overview about the city. During the weekends I did a lot of travelling, for example to Paris, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and also to some other Belgian cities. From Antwerp it is easy and quite cheap to travel around Europe, especially compared to Finland.

I would definitely recommend the spring semester of International Business Course in Karel de Grote-Hogeschool to everybody studying Logistics, since at least I learned several things we have never even talked about in JAMK. Of course in Jyväskylä we study engineering, not management.

I felt a bit depressed when I came back to Finland. There was so much life and nice people in Antwerp, that Finland (especially Vantaa where I’m working during the summer) feels really boring. Actually, I’m still very unhappy not to be in Belgium. During Erasmus you meet so nice people from whatever country, so it’s very difficult to suddenly leave them and get back to the “normal” lifestyle. However, there is at least one person I didn’t have to say goodbye forever, since I happened to find a girlfriend during my stay in Antwerp. At the time I’m in the plane flying to see her, but I will not tell to which country 😉

If you ever have a chance for Erasmus, take it! And take it in Antwerp 😀

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Back home, was it good? YESS!!

Last lap

The almost three-week easter holiday is now left behind and it is time for the final period of my exchange. Before the holiday I already had quite big issues inside my head, I just was so homesick that I couldn’t really enjoy my time here. After the holidays the things changed, fortunately. I had a one-week trip to Spain just by myself, and it was very relaxing. After the trip I came back to Antwerp and the weather here was perfect! Every day was just sunshine and 25-28 celcius 🙂 Spring here is just lovely, lots of events and things to do! I also realized that perhaps Belgian people are a bit like Finns, waking up when the sun starts shining 🙂 Thockxis weekend we are going to hitch-hike to Amsterdam to celebrate Queensday. Let’s see if we ever get back home alive 😀

Not so many contact hours at school any more, but lot of papers to write and presentations to do. Here are photos from my holiday in Spain and a free Drumnbass/Dubstep/House festival last night! Njoy!

Holiday

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Last lap

First exam week, check!

Long time no see?

It’s been a while since my last post and I’m very sorry for that. I’ve been quite busy with many things and now I finally got myself to write here again, since the first exam week is finished. I have to say I’m quite surprised how easy it actually was, a lot easier than back home 🙂 There is certainly nothing to be worried about if you just stay alert on the lessons, or at least attend them. I studied one week, each day something about the subjects. The results were just fine!

Last weekend I had a superfast visit to Finland, since I suddenly got myself a job interview. The visit was worth paying for, since I got the job! Unfortunately the negative side is that I have to spend my summer in Helsinki 🙁 I also had a one day trip to Paris, which was lovely. One day is certainly not enough to really get to know Paris, but if you can walk fast and just want to touch the surface, you can make it in 10 hours. I didn’t have time to climb up to Tour Eiffel, nor visit the museums, but I saw many beautiful things and enjoyed sunshine. I also had a chance to use my beginner-level French (three courses in JAMK is definitely enough for getting around and ordering food, asking directions etc.), which I had already practised a few times in Brussels.

Spring has come to Antwerp, and the temperatures have been as high as 18 celcius! However the cold wind has sometimes a bad effect on these sunny days. Now I’m really looking forward to April, since then we have again a holiday season (2 weeks no school!) and this boy is heading to Andalucia! I try to remember to write here as soon as something special takes place here! See ya!

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa First exam week, check!

Big ups to KdG profs!

A couple of weeks have passed since the last update over here, that is mostly because I have not really had anything special to write about. For me, the recent weeks have been filled with studying, training, sleeping and repetition of the mentioned activities. There are however some things I would like to point out considering the way of studying here in KdG.

I am not sure whether the way of doing is the same in all over Flanders, but at least studying in KdG does not actually differ so much from what I have got used to in JAMK. There are pros and cons related to the courses. Let’s start with the positive ones. Compared to JAMK, the level of English among teachers is something fantastic! Also during the classes they seem to push students forward to really learn, not just read the same old slides. The way of teaching is also very interactive, the teachers get the students involved to the topic not by giving them series of exercises nobody can solve, but by telling example cases and opening common discussion. I’m not directly stating that there is something wrong with the way some teachers give lectures in JAMK, but there are some things they could learn from these guys. There are however some things I am not that satisfied with, such as  the huge variation of workload for same amount of credits. Some courses take the whole spring and you write shitloads of assignments to get 3 credits, and sometimes you just more or less study the .ppt material and pass the exam to qualify. Even though everybody has their own laptop here in the classroom, it’s not needed in most cases. This is again up to you whether you want to make notes, search for relevant informations or update status on Facebook. So far so good – never been so motivated to study! Big ups to KdG profs!

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Big ups to KdG profs!

Language course finished, ready for IBC

I am proud to announce that I received grade A from Dutch course, which is the best possible. I did not really do so much studying at home, since we already had so much to do at school. In fact, the originally four-week course was made in three weeks this year. In my opinion that was a good way to learn a new language, since the atmosphere was all the time so intense and you were all the time in touch with the words and phrases. To sum up, the course was short, heavy, but teachful enough to give some tools for living in a Dutch-speaking city where everybody speaks English. I totally recommend the course for every exchange student.

In addition to the language course, I also attended the course ”Belgian culture and economy” which turned out to be very interesting, but requires too much work on your freetime. We visited interesting places such as the EU headquarters in Brussels and the Port of Antwerp. The big minus from a student point-of-view is that all the visits need to be reported with a 500-word document. There are now 11 reports that I have to write about things we already know, so with my Finnish studying background and culture this feels very furstrating. It feels more like copying a finished book than writing a new one. Anyway I still have time to write those and I’m really looking forward to the beginning of the real spring semester and our Erasmus-tailored International Business Course!

That’s about school for now, let’s move on to the life itself. At first I have to say I miss home more than I could have ever imagined. My family, my friends, my flat, the winter sun.. This is probably something you always feel when you leave home for a longer period, right? My dad has been telling me not to worry, after all it’s just two-hours away from Helsinki airport 🙂 I’m really waiting to get some of my friends to visit me. I’ve also ran out of money so I cannot even travel anywhere. The good thing is that riding my bike is free, so that’s how I like spending my freetime here. I’d also like to share some photography here, greetings from Bruges and the last Dutch lesson!

Bruges

Bruges

De laatste Nederlandse les!

De laatste Nederlandse les!

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Language course finished, ready for IBC

First week at school

I was standing in the entrance hall of Karel de Grote-Hogeschool on Tuesday. I saw students entering the building. I looked at them and tried to find people like me. Foreign people. People in the corner, alone, also looking for someone. Some of them looked like they would be in this place for the first time, but after a while their friends stepped in from the street and together they walked away. ’Goeiemorgen’ just polishing my assumptions incorrect. It was 10 AM and I was waiting for someone to break the ice – calling for people like me. The exchange students.

Finnish people often tend to lie foreigners about our ability of being always on time. Well, this time the story was actually proven to be true, since the same time I saw my watch taking the last step towards the H-hour, I heard a Finnish guy asking someone next to him if he was about to attend the Dutch language course today. I turned around and saw a bald guy – very Finnish looking guy actually. He introduced himself using the name Mikko. ’A Finnish name’ I thought and decided to move closer. The icebreaker resulted a chain reaction mobilizing the people to leave the corners behind, and suspiciously approach towards the two talking boys. Unfortunately my camera was out of reach, since the approaching students looked quite similar to zombies. Reaching the target slowly, but conscius of having the right direction. Next thing I actually realized was series of handshakes and names everyone knew they wouldn’t remember. Then a man came and took us into a lounge room with free coffee and more students. The first school day was full of new faces with different nationalities and dialects of English. It was no big deal for me, since I’ve already studied almost three years with people from all over the world. The main point was that with these people we would share a semester of our lives. Something we will never forget.

The word to describe the start of our Dutch course is ’explosive’. The first week has been very busy with studying and arranging things. I am very overreactive when it comes to making sure everything goes well, which has had a negative effect on my sleeping during the week. The positive side of our tight schedule is of course the fact that the more we study the more we learn. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have imagined how much one can learn in four days when it comes to Dutch language. Hard work requires of course some celebration, and I guess the whole Erasmus reputation is more or less dominated by this theme. The first party was on the second day of our studies, and after that some of us has been celebrating every day. Even though the beer is very good in Belgium (even the cheapest ones beat the Finnish reindeer pee), I still try to keep my drinking under control. Training on my bike is so solid part of my rituals that since I’ve put a huge effort on getting my dear peace of aluminium here, I try to go ’fietsen’ every time it’s not raining like Amazon. On thursday I took a ride to the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom. The idea was to follow the same route home, since I didn’t want to get lost in a new territory. All the way to my destination was very enjoyable and especially DRY. Riding home was quite nice too, even though it started raining right after turning back. Tomorrow will be another day for fresh air and rotating legs. Our Dutch teacher is also a cyclist and she told me where to find nice cycling routes around here. I like these people, I like these students, I like the language, I like the beer, I haven’t had any waffles yet but I know they’re good, I don’t like the instant coffee at school but I like the crema from espresso.

Last but not least a photo from a visit to the city hall. This is hospitality, but something that should not be carried out in the presence of Erasmus students.

Antwerp city hall

Antwerp city hall

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa First week at school

Zeemanskerk and sunday shopping

The weekend is over and the school is starting tomorrow. This is the 7th day for me here in Antwerp and everything should be now arranged, except the copies of my rent agreement which I should give to the school during registration. As I wrote in the previous post, I had some issues with finding a safe place for my road bike. Well, that is not a problem any more – I’ll get back to this as the story goes on. I also got myself a gym membership to a place nearby. So far I have nothing bad to say about the place (except that own drinks are not allowed). I’m more of a ”iron up-iron down” -kind of guy, but there are also some group lessons available. The website is http://www.centercourt.be. Students get good discounts, so if you live in Borgerhout or e.g. somewhere close to the central station, I suggest you take a look! The personnel speak good English and they’re very nice too.

So, it was the first Friday evening for me here, and I had nothing to do. Normally on Friday evenings I’ve used to see my friends and stuff like that, but as sad it sounds I have no friends here, yet. Before coming to Antwerp I knew there is a Finnish Sailor Church (NL: Finse Zeemanskerk/FI: Suomen Merimieskirkko) located somewhere here. The idea of the church is to support bypassing Finnish sailors, travellers, truckers, students etc. There is a café, sauna, Finnish TV and of course Finnish newspapers available for everyone. The café also sells some classic Finnish groceries. So, I decided to pay a visit. The place is situated on Italiëlei, and there’s a Finnish flag on the wall. After some everyday troubles with my bicycle chain I managed to get to the front door and the café waitress took me in. We had a chat about living here with her and another Finnish girl, who was doing her internship here in Belgium. I told them about my time here and also mentioned about the problem with my road bike. The waitress promised to ask her boss whether she knew a place for storing the bike. It was worth of trying, since yesterday she emailed me some really good news. She told that the bike could stay in the church premises. The place couldn’t actually be more perfect, since the location is just at the very northern part of the city center, so I don’t have to ride the cobblestone streets of the center.

Yesterday it was Sunday, and what could be a better way to start the day than heading off to local marketplace! That’s right, vegetables, rabbits, waffles, sausages, hats, bicycles, olives, comics… what ever you could think of! Everything was for sale and the square was crowded. In addition to the nice atmosphere lead by a choir of salesmen shouting their prices, the sun was shining like never before! It was an enjoyable moment and took me back to my childhood years when I used to visit the marketplace for strawberries and pancakes in Jyväskylä! The evening was, once again, the same as every day: taking my fiets (local word for a bike) around the city and getting to know the districts.

One thing still reminding me of my ascetic Finnish nature, is the fact that I’ve spent a whole package of coffee in just seven days. Dark roast, me like it.

Sunday market

Sunday market

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Zeemanskerk and sunday shopping

Je suis arrivé!

Finally here in Antwerp and everything has gone well so far! My journey started from Jyväskylä (my home town) at 00:30 by taking a 4h bus drive to Helsinki airport. Then I flew to Brussels via Copenhagen. A bus took me from Brussels airport to Antwerp in less than an hour. I hopped off the at the Central station at around goedemiddag -time (at least that’s what the coffee lady said after checking the clock). I had a look at the map and found the front door to my apartment very quickly, since I live next to the station. I called my landlord and he took me indoors.

The landlord explained all the dos and don’ts related to renting the place and was really helpful with my questions. He was the first person I meet here, and gave me once again a helpful and positive picture of Belgian characteristics. There is only one problem in living here in this very place: taking bicycles in your apartment is strictly forbidden. My road bike that I sent here by Schenker should arrive in couple of days and I cannot use it before I find a safe place for storage. That is after all a minor problem and I’m sure things will sort out in a matter of time! Actually, my landlord is again being helpful and also looking for some alternatives.

The sales season is on. It started in the beginning of January and I heard it will last for about one month. This gives some advantages for incoming students on January, since you find lots of low-price accessories and clothing. The disadvantage for sure is that at least the main shopping street Meir is packed! You really need some time for the fitting room cue.

I also rented a commuter bike today. I had reserved it beforehand on http://www.fietshaven.be. The only problem is that I don’t have the local student card yet and I had to pay the full price. That is why I rented the bike for one month, and they promised to return me the surplus after I have the student card and will make the contract for the rest of the time. As I already mentioned, the bikes cannot be taken indoors, so one has to lock them on the streets. The good thing is that there is a parking hall for bicycles under Astridplein, which is just next to Antwerpen Centraal (the main train station). That’s also where my bike is at the time, or at least should be. You get two locks with the bike so you can lock the rear wheel to the frame and also lock the frame to some fixed bar.

That’s all for today folks, below there is a photo I took on the way to Antwerp.

Windmill

Windmill

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Je suis arrivé!

Arrangements before going

Hello,

As you may have noticed, this is my first post in this blog. I am going to write about how I handled all the necessary arrangements before going the exchange. At first I had some problems with my application, since there was some dilemma with the departments of my university and KdG. You see, in my university Logistics is set to be as part of the Technical department, and in KdG Logistics is under the Business department. My department had an exchange contract with the Technical department of KdG, so there were some misunderstandings about the courses I’m about to have. Fortunately the administration in KdG handled the situation well and sent me an email about my acceptance to the department I applied to, and that an information package has been sent to me by mail.

After receiving the information package, the first task was to find myself a place to stay. I wanted to have a studio, since I’ve got used to live alone aready in Finland. I sent a huge number of applications to different landlords whose contact information was given in the package, but only message I got was that contracts are usually made for one year, not six months, or everything was already booked. Finally I logged in to http://www.studentkotweb.be (password given in the information package). Living in a student room wouldn’t have been a problem for me, but since I finally found a studio from Studentkotweb, I decided to take it.

The information package included a map, some info about studying in Antwerp and of course an arrival document and information about required certificates etc. My flight to Brussels will depart on January 5th, so before that I should have taken care of all the paperwork and arrangements. Last week I filled in all the necessary documents for financial Erasmus support and the student grant from Finnish government. KdG requires a document guaranteeing that my financial support will cover my studies there. I also had to get a third-party insurance (also covering possible health-care). Now I’m just looking forward to leaving Finland. Today it was as cold as -20 celcius here, so I wish my winter here was already over!

Student guide

Student guide

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Arrangements before going

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