Adventure called Breda

A small blog of a Tiko student about an adventure in the Netherlands, Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Chapter 8: Home

It’s already May when writing this.

The exchange was worth it. A unique chance to get to know a new culture, new people, try your wings in a different country, to have an adventure on your own, to learn new languages.

I’m still reading scandinavian/german words in dutch way, agenda turning into “ahenda” (pardon my Brabantse accent), fruit into “fräyt”, Van Dijk is “van Däijk”. And, “Ik vil een kopje koffie met säyker, zonder melk hebben, alstublift!” No, that isn’t spelled properly. XD Anyway, the dutch language is fun, sounds weird, but gives a nice challenge with pronunciations. 😀 Dat is heel leuk en lekker!

The exchange leveled the independence up a level or two for a person who’s always been in close contact to their family. Encouraging the experience to those who want to try their wings with a jump to unfamiliar. 😀

I got friends and contacts world wide. I met people I want to meet again in future. People I’m still in contact with.

I learned to appreciate some things in the Finnish bureaucracy and “ease of studying” in new light. I have huge respect with the dutch students with their insane workload and expectations to work on the side to pay the studies.

I loved the whole experience, but advice people not to take the 31 credits to study for in the Netherlands if you want to travel. The only places I managed to travel were Amsterdam for one day and Antwerp for another (family wanted to have me home for the autumn and Christmas breaks), though had a chance to squeeze a martial arts camp in Zeeland for one weekend. 😀 Other students took the opportunity to attend group travels across the Europe, some of them organized by the ESN-network.

It turned out that the accommodation I had was relatively cheap compared to public market. And in super good condition! So be fast with it!!!!!

During the exchange I met people who chose to move to Netherlands to study the branch/profession of their dreams. It made me wonder what is my dream and what have I done to achieve it. The exchange gave me the courage to check the Game-dev-hand to the end and to take the missing game-dev -courses once back home.

But. Once back home, I basically flopped into general “I don’t want to do a thing” -mentality for a month, kind of exhausted after the intense study-pace. This “return-shock” is a personal experience, mine was a counter-reaction for giving the best I had to offer for the studies, which did pay off. 😀  Would suggest to consider yourself and how you manage workflows and changes of scenery. I guess that the return to the familiar/home settings kind of releases the tension of being in a place you know isn’t permanent for you. It’s a peculiar feeling.

BTW. If you’re planning to study in Breda or Tilburg, concider taking your flights to Finland to and from Brussles. It’s closer than Amsterdam Schiphol. 😀 And the train is a bit cheaper. 😀 The pros of EU! Though I really liked Schiphol as an airport, it was a very clear one! 😀

Also, if you ARE using Schiphol, take the earlier train, and if using the Intercity through Rotterdam, be prepared to delays. I had cancellations and delays with both to and from journeys between Schiphol and Breda. When it happened the first time I was luckily early at the station to pick another connection through Den Haag. On the second time I had to use the Belgian/Dutch train. On the third time I don’t really remember what route I took, because I just wanted to get to the apartment and sleep. XD But that was just me, and another finn (they missed their flight because their train was late). Be warned, with plenty of salt. At least it was a very educative experience to sort out just what to do, and to manage stress. XD

That’s it. I’ll keep writing chapters when finding the inspiration to do so. I love helping the future generations, to give them the information I would have liked to have available when preparing form my own travel. 😀 Hopefully these posts are useful. 😀

See ya around!

Love,

-A-K

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Chapter 7: Food

Note: Will be adding posts in random order about random subjects along the way. Enjoy!

Dutch food culture, local dutch food. There really isn’t any. Or, there’s a strong snack-culture, and incorporated foods from the biggest immigrating cultures, but the actual dutch food is quite scarce, and the locals admit it and joke about it as well. Didn’t try the “Stompot” aka vegetable pyre, though. Instead tried kroket, frikandel, kaas souffles, bitter bollen, emansipadas, friets and olliebollen.

  • Krokets are deep fried meat/fish(?) pyre that looks like a big mozzarella stick. It was a nice warm snack to enjoy with either mustard or mayonaise.
  • Frikandel are sausages made of meat-dough that resembles of meatballs, and baked/fried. They are usually served with mayo. I really liked this snack, because this snack actually kept hunger away for a while.
  • Kaas souffles are once again something deepfried. This time cheesy filling in a leafy crispy dough-pocket. Tasty warm snack. 🙂
  • Bitter bollen is a similar to kroket, but a bit more sour, in a form of a ball. They are served with mustard.
  • Emansipadas where a snack in the school cafeteria, a vegetarian option for the days I didn’t feel like eating anything meaty.
  • Friets. Aka Belgian Fries. Fries are originally from Belgium. And the friets served in the Netherlands are usually thick ones, served with mayo, curry-sauce, garlic-mayo, truffle-mayo, sate-sauce or good old ketchup. And with onion. There was a good place in Breda that sold thick fries, cut and fried at place from fresh, big taters.
  • Olliebollen is a local version of “munkki”, a ball of greasy dough, deep-fried and served with powdered sugar. These are usually eaten at fairs and in New Year’s celebrations.

In addition to snacks I tried local semi-processed meal options. The local grocery stores sold pre-cut vegetable packs for bolognese and other italian dishes, but what caught my eye was a nasi/bami-mix of veggies. Turned out it was an asian dish, brought to dutch kitchens by the immigrants. It was easy to prepare a nasi out of a box of these pre-cut veggies, a pouch of a spice-mix, a meat/vege-alternative of choice and either rice or noodles (Nasi is fried rice, bami is fried noodles, I think). It was fast to cook the whole 4-person portion and store it to fridge to have easy meals for the half of a week.

Bread-wise, I’m a bit of a purist Finn, I longed for rye bread. And the dutchies have their own version of it, rogge brood! It’s similar as the Real-bread in Finland, and the taste was good. 🙂 Bread-wise there where white breads and darker breads. There where also sort of sweet, dark breads to serve with chocolate paste or something. Never quite figured out the function of that stuff, but as a sweet snack it was good. 🙂

Once back home I realized that the dutch rusk is a very are specific delicacy as well! It’s a round crispy light biscuit style rusk, and you cover it with sweet or salty things, apparently strawberries and whipped cream are the classic. I tried them with tangerines and Nutella on Sunday mornings. 😀 

One of the most legendary foods in the Netherlands is Stroopwaffel: two round, thin and crispy waffles with caramel syrup gluing the layers together. Incredibly sweet, but oh so tasty! There were at least ten taste variations of it in super markets, my favorite being caramel and sea-salt. Once I also had a chance to try a freshly made one, and it was so goood! 

The downside of the food culture was that it seems like in the Netherlands there isn’t a real culture of a proper lunch meal. Only sandwiches, a salad-table, small soup or snacks. There was a microwave in the lobby to heat ones own meal, but for finns and germans used to a proper lunch meal this was a surprise. Not criticizing, though, it’s a culture thing, and the foreigner adapts. 😀 

The prices are approximately a bit cheaper than in Finland, at least for meats. Cannot guarantee anything regarding vegetarian or vegan options, though couldn’t find dried soy flakes, and the processed vege-options where twice the price of the meat-products. But there were quite a variation of veggies available. 😀 

That’s it for the food stuff. Don’t worry, you won’t starve there. 😀

More to come later! 

Love, A-K

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Chapter 3: Studies at BUAS

Studying in the Netherlands is intense, that was not a surprise based on the information online. There’s plenty of interesting 2-3 credit courses, which offer a variation of assignments to do. In BUAS IMEM the semester consists of two 6+2-week blocks, in which the first six weeks consists of lectures, tutorials (= more practical classes in class-groups) and home-assignments. The seventh week is a study-week, when the students have time to study for the exams and finalize assignments before deadlines, which can be during the study week. The eight week is the exam-week, when all of the exams and some assignment return take place. In each block rinse and repeat, though from 2nd block onward there’s a ninth week for re-dos. For a Finn it felt like a return to high-school. 😀

In practice each lecture-/tutorial-week had different schedule, each week was individual and a proof of efficient schedule planning with many teachers to teach the crowd of 5 classes of approximately 20-30 students. The teachers expected professional approach to many things, yet where understanding and supportive. Each of the teachers had experience from the actual industry of their own, such as from marketing in a worldwide company, editorial work in television, and so on. The lectures and workshops where inspiring and of good quality.

The amount of assignments was a bit of an expected surprise, but luckily there were a days and hours between lessons to work on those. For and exchange students there was a bit more to world with to catch up knowledge-wise with the locals. BUAS doesn’t give discounts to the exchange students, we were just like the degree students. There were days when I worked on homework until midnight to wake up to get to school at 9. And a sprint of four days on one study week to start working at 10 and work until one or two in the morning to finish two assignment with deadlines in following days. The funny thing was that I actually enjoyed the chance to concentrate only on one assignment for the whole day, because the assignments were interesting. Wouldn’t do such sprints for too long, though. 😀

For those who’d like to travel and have some fun outside of school during their exchange in the Netherlands, I don’t recommend doing 30 credits in a semester there if you want to get good grades. If your grade isn’t enough for a pass, you take a redo in the next block. I had to make time for both weekly trainings on Saturdays and three day-trips to three cities and didn’t have much time or energy to explore Breda during the studies. However, I’m a slow and thorough perfectionist when it comes to studying, so take it with a pinch of salt. ;P

While it was demanding and exhausting at times, enjoyed the Dutch ways of teaching, because all the time I had an idea of what to do next and the teachers knew their business.

Until the next chapter!

<3 Anna

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Chapter 2: Arrival to Breda. Part 1: First impressions

First days at the Netherlands, almost a week. Here are the first quick impressions.

 

A picture from the landing to Amsterdam Schipol.

When landing to Amsterdam Schipol, this view was the one that made me fall in love with the Netherlands a bit. A canal sided with trees. Beautiful. (Not to mention a runway going over the said canal.)

 

Enjoying Breda already! It has some nice historical buildings and in general the kind of architecture which makes the city feel warm. The traffic as a bit crazy compared to finnish traffic. Cars drive very fast, as well as bikes.

During the first days noticed that Visa Electron does not work in most of the places, and the supermarket that sells food, doesn’t accept credit card. On the other hand, in most other places they accept the basic credit card, and the laundry system of my accommodation needs credit card as well. So, a credit card is a must to have on an exchange. The finnish combination of Credit/Debit might cause some issues, though. Be prepared! There’s also an opportunity to start a local account, but for five months it might be too much extra bureaucracy. One can decide it themselves, though. 😀 There are ATMs to extract money from finnish cards as well, though.

 

The Great Church of Breda.

De Grote of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk. The Great Church of Breda. It’s beautiful from both inside and outside and is situated in the center of the town.

 

The apartment is nice, generally very clean and spacey with good equipment like fridge and stove. The roommates are nice as well and we’re finding our tune together quite well. 😀

Decided to rent a bike, which I got on Monday, because the journey to school is a bit on the long side. The campus of IMEM and IDAG (game design) where moved to another campus due to changes at NHTV, or as from September 1st, Buas, Breda University of Applied sciences.

Had some home sickness before getting more used to the apartment and the area. Mostly things are a bit unfamiliar and the stress of traveling and packing is starting to release itself. But believing it’ll pass ones the school starts. 😀 On Saturday met some other international people through Erasmus ESN-network, which helped. 😀 Local bars are relatively small and the place the event was at, was crowded. Music was good, and drinks cheaper than in Finland. Didn’t want to risk it on the first night, so left very early back to apartment, just in case

The locals speak english very well in general, and they seem to be surprised that people from Finland visit their country. 😀 Or then I’m just so ridiculous tourist now. XD On Monday’s International Kick-Off, a staff member of the bike rental company said that there have been quite a few finns getting their bikes that day. Saw at least three finns, based on their name tags, on that day.

Took the Tuesday after the Kick-Off lazily. Found a way to the new campus of IMEM, and got lost a couple of times. Highly recommending either downloading local off-line maps on your phone, or a paper map of the area. My own connection dealer was Telia, and wasn’t interested to get a local prepaid, so rather tried saving the relatively large amount of mobile internet for “emergency” situations during the exchange.

The courses starts on next Monday, so taking this week as a chance to rest and get used to the area. The courses I chose are second year studies. Found them interesting and supportive for my professional goals. When meeting international students who are starting their game development degree, feeling a bit of a stab. But thinking that these studies and the experience in the Netherlands in general are useful.

Don’t know when there’s time to write more new relevant things. Just waiting for the actual studies to begin. 😀

Take care you all!

Until the next time!

-A-K

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Chapter 1.5: Accommodation aquired

Hello again!

 

It’s been a short while since the last update. Since then something relevant has happened: found a place to stay!

 

In general, NHTV doesn’t offer dormitories or student rooms for the exchange students automatically and students need to find their own accommodations. However, the school is part of an arrangement called Studentrooms Breda, which is a joint service of two companies which build, maintain and offer student accommodations and the two schools in Breda NHTV and Avans. The accommodations are mostly single rooms in shared apartments of three and include basic furniture, bed linen and things like electricity, water and gas (and web). The rental prices are a bit higher than a room through KOAS in Jyväskylä, and the living period is fixed duration of one semester or one school year. Could say that the bit higher price is worth the hassle of first buying and then selling the furniture for a similar room in private sector.

 

Which brings in another option to find a place to stay: Facebook groups. While waiting (and panicking over) the booking-day of studentrooms, I joined a couples of FB-groups where students offer or search a room for rent. Got one good and affordable offer, but being a super-stressing person, chose the bit more expensive, all-inclusive option. If you like adventure, are social and extrovert enough, and don’t find extra hassle with furniture a problem, this is a good option as well.  Third option would be KlikVoorKamers (Click for rooms), where you can apply for a room or studio apartment, depending on your age. For me this option was ruled out, because I’m too old for shared apartments and a studio would have exploded my monthly budget over the limit.

 

Speaking of expenses. When booking for room, have roughly 1500-2000€ worth of credit available for reservation payments. Once you’ve chosen a room in the studentroom service, you need to pay for the rents of August and December in advance, since they are not full months, as well as the furniture and linen packages. The amount for me was 1400€ and they only take a credit card. For Finnish students getting a credit card shouldn’t be a problem if you have acquired enough study credits. At least it wasn’t in 2010. (Feeling ancient now….) So, if you don’t have a credit card, get one in early summer or spring.

 

Some other notable things about Student rooms are that the accommodation period doesn’t last until February, when the last exams are (or could be, not enough info available about these things), so be prepared to make friends on who’s couch/floor you’ll sleep for the last week, or look into hostels.

Another important thing is to be reloading your email constantly on the day you’re supposed to get the login-info for searching the room. If possible, ask your boss for a chance for special arrangements so you won’t miss this chance and will get your hands on the rooms immediately. The rooms run out in minutes. I was 30min too late because I was at work and the message went to trash-mail-folder, so I didn’t hear the message arrive to my phone. By the time I was making my choices, there where only 12 rooms left. Had to act fast and pick one. Later it turned out that I’m going to have a 5km biking from the apartment to IMEM’s new campus, but at least the terrain is flat, and not a hill-race as the 5km biking to Jamk at home. XD I was a bit pissed, because the house was 3km from the old campus. No can do.

And. Once you’ve paid the reservation, there’s no turning back! You cannot cancel a paid reservation. So this is the final frontier to be sure ou want to go.

 

Anyways. Now having a bit pricey room (by finnish standards), but at least having a room! And the Netherlands is flat so at my biking pace it’ll be some 15min journey at the best. 😀 Just extremely relieved to have a place to stay in the first place!

And starting to get exited and a bit worried. At the moment when writing this still feeling very calm and cool about it. When doing the reservation and immediately after it was feeling very weird a stressed and surreal. I’m really going there now! The closer the day of departure comes, the more I’ll start to stress, I’d assume. Too busy with work to stress yet, though. 😀

 

Anyways. It’s the hottest summer in Finland in years. I’m gonna head outside and take the most of it! More updates to come later!

 

Love,

A-K

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Chapter 1.25: Paperwork, bloody paperwork

Hello again, peeps!

This time around not so much have happened. Breda sent in an e-mail that I’m accepted and sent them the learning agreement. Now just fiddling with my fingers nervously and hoping that everything is okay.

Meanwhile, did a language assesment which is demanded for Erasmus Study Grant. The first invitation went to junkmail-folder, and the mobile Outlook-app or desktop-extetion didn’t show it. Lesson nr. n+1: Remeber to check the junkmail-folder as well. Eventually got a link to the service and passed the test. As a result, going to get the grant for the exchange. Makes life easier, then. 😀 And it was a fun test to do, a way to challenge oneself to see just how challenging language one can understand.

Also got an e-mail from Breda, apparently I need to go to the State Office there and announce that I’ve arrived (Insert a Fabulous entrance meme here XD ) to live there for a few months. Apparently that’s a thing to take care of closer to the date. Yet another bureaucratic mini-adventure ahead.

Otherwise things don’t look too complicated. Going to report about accommodation once it’s all sorted out in later posts, that’s perhaps the biggest stressor to deal with.

More to come when having stuff to write about.

‘Till the next time! <3

-A-K

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Chapter 1: How on Earth to apply for an exchange?

Hello!

From where to begin this story?
From the day I began the studies in JAMK Business Information Management? Sounds about right.
The first week. They talked about student exchange. About how it changes a person. About how it gives one a hand in applying for work. Challenge accepted! And then forgot for a year or so due to studying and life.

On the second year, after considering the topic between other duties until the last week before applying, started to think. I kind of made the decision on the first week of this degree. And you can press the cancel button any moment if you’re not ready for the jump after all. Okay. Let’s apply.

Netherlands.
Canada.
Japan.

Picking the countries listed above after browsing both Elmo and Asio for information and experineces, browsing the the websites of each school I was interested with, writing down a table of approximate expences of each option and listening to ones soul and heart. What do you want? What is the thing you’re after? What makes your insides scream “I want to study that and be there!!!!”. 😀

 

Elmo Intra has great resources to prepare for yor exchange.

Elmo Intra has great resources to prepare for yor exchange. Check the things from there before bombarding the exchange office people with questions. Usually the data you need can be found from here or from the website of your target school. 😀

 

For me a chance to work with game dev or game art lifted NHTV Breda in the Netherlands and Humber in Canada over Japan. Japan would have been more of a culture and language school due to a precious hobby. Out of the three NHTV Breda had most to offer for my personal professional goals. Sent the application on the last day possible, luckily not at the last minute, though. (Note to self, procrastination is not always a good thing, while it gives time to process things.)

Some time later school e-mail pinged.

“You’re accepted to apply for an exchange in the Netherlands, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences”.

Okay. Here we go then. Right? Right???

Turned out that the school won’t take people to study in their Triple-A Game Dev Degree from a business-line of companion school and that the courses would have to be chosen from the Creative Business / International Media and Entertainment Management Degree. This is a tiny problem of Tiko (Business Administration and ICT -degree) being branched under Business rather than Technology. For more technical students it closes doors to apply for some of the Game Dev schools. Which happened to two of my classmates. Sad for their sake. 🙁

Personally the Media and Entertainment Management (IMEM) sounded interesting, so I kept moving. Next step was to fill in the application for NHTV online and send a bunch of copies of papers and a motivational letter. Then it was all about waiting. At some point the school sent an e-mail about the steps to take regarding the application-process. The most urgent one was to register to the application-workspace, fill in the needed data and start searching for options regarding accomodation. Joined a couple of Facebook groups which are basically marketplace to rent a room from open market of shared student apartments. That’s is an adventure for another time, though, I’ll most likely write a post about living arrangements later as it’s own.

The week I’m writing this, the official acceptance letter arrived. Okay, so it’s official hat they’re okay that I’m going. 😀

The next step is to send the learning agreement to NHTV, whenever they send more details about it. The application for Study Grant is now filled and sent as well, with a bit of a detour due to starting and ending dates of a semester in central Europe. For exchange students it is usually from the last week of August (introduction week, the actual semester starts at the beginning of September) to the last week on January. Please keep that in mind when choosing the courses you’re about to study (you need 5 credits / month) and when applying for summer work back home.

I also updated my data in ASIO, marked myself as Present for the next two semesters, and visited Kela to sort out the study funds and asked for European Health Insurance Card, jut in case. Also contacted my insurance company and asked for extension for the extra months a basic travel insurance does not cover. Just in case. Also should take care of vaccinations as well.

Anyways. Still a lot of stuff to do. Highly reccomend to sort the bureaucracy ASAP. Less stress to everyone.

And.

As fantastic as the people at the JAMK exchange office are, please keep in mind that they are two person handling hundreds of us students. Of course, if things get very super tangled and confusing and anxiety-inducing, they are more than willing to help! But Elmo, Asio and these blogs serve as a great source of information for the basic info you need, and you can always ask a friend to lend a second set of brains for help and discuss if you’re uncertain with something. And there are Exchange Infos during spring to tell you about what to do and when and how. If there are previous year student’s been to the school you’re attending for, ask them, they usually are more than happy to help. 😀 Thank you for my seniors for all the info when I asked them! <3 And the peeps at the Office as well! <3

But perhaps this wall of text is enough for one sitting.

See ya around!

Love,

Anna-Kaisa

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