Final blog

Studies in the Netherlands are done now.
Feelings before leaving are happy of two reasons; soon I’m back home and I had a great and also many sided experience live and study abroad.

I truly recommend studying or doing internship especially Utrecht, Netherlands or anyway abroad. I got perspectives which are impossible to catch only staying in Finland and own comfort zone. As a optimistic person, before leaving I thought it’s only fun and interesting to go and have this experience, but here I noticed it’s also hard and difficult sometimes. Still seems that I´ve survived and got the studies done. My free time here has been active and full of doing, lot sightseeing and enjoying cities in NL and also UK and Germany was easy to reach. Lovely friends, culture and activities always on weekends and some evenings.

Utrecht is of course my favorite city in Netherlands, really cozy. Easy to find city center, Dom tower can be seen far. People were really welcoming and friendly. Always someone is willing to help.

Netherlands is absolutely interesting country because of the cycling culture, small distances between cities (for a Finn) and people are more open minded in average. Eating habits are really different (no school meal, bring your own sandwiches) and some practices of course. Dutch are forerunners many things like elderly care, euthanasia and gay rights.

Going abroad for studies is a great opportunity to try out how is living in different culture and it opens eyes wider. I feel I appreciate everything even more now. Also I’m more confident to speak English.

In the professional point of view I see now it´s really important to network. Be open minded all the time. I have learned the meaning of validating, giving reasons why something is important. After this experience I feel more expert because I have seen many good practices in NL. I’m sure operating models in Finnish social services and healthcare could be more customer-oriented and that doesn’t cost more money. It cost more adapting new attitude of doing. I believe many professionals want to work that way, and many do work already as much its possible.

I´m happy to have small holiday before graduating and travelling back to Finland.
In the end, one sentence to summarize my experience:

Leven is lekker
(that means “life is tasty” in Dutch).

 
Tot ziens Nederlands!
(See you the Netherlands)

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Inspirational time in NL

I´ve been happy to visit many places related to health care and social services here.

During the visits I´ve got more perspectives and more ideas I could never imagine. Dutch are innovative even they have the same primary problem, money.  They want that services are customer friendly and made for the clients. I believe Finns want that too, and now I have seen small variety what is possible here.

 

To mention one field visit, I did visit Hogeweyk dementia village that has been in international news a lot. It is special place even in Netherlands. It gots the funding from government like other nursing homes. http://hogeweyk.dementiavillage.com/en/

and one news link: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-dutch-village-where-everyone-has-dementia/382195/

 

If someone is interested to read/hear more from all or any of my visits, feel free to email me or ask in comments.

 

I participated the school’s going abroad -fair. Quite many were interested about Finland. There was many brochures about Jamk and also other universities of Finland (I didn’t have any prochures with me) – and on the end only few was left. I told mostly how is studying in Finland and it’s easy to reach Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Lapland from here.

The nature, snowy winter and winter sports (guaranteed still in Lapland) university school lunch (only 2,60e whole warm meal) and sauna are the things I´m proud about Finland -for example. We have high quality education, and it’s free.When it comes to health care and services (it´s high quality too of course) our specialities are pharmacy/ apteekki and maternity package (for residents).

 

Being a rehabilitation counsellor -student is not easy even in Finland and that’s why no wonder people might have difficulties to understand the profession when abroad. I’m use to explain a lot, and after explaining my studies in English it must be more than nice to tell about it in Finnish. Let´s face it, it is going to be a bit difficult until I have place to work. I have found solutions how to compare, first I said that in Dutch perspective it´s health care management and social services a bit mixed. But now I have found out that Dutch people are quite aware what case managers do. That’s really a victory for me, I use less and less time explaining. I’m talkative and I do also listen, but here I´ve been promoting my profession more than usually. Or maybe I feel so, because of English and I met a lot people via studies. I’m exhausted and surprised I find out the short version for foreigners.

 

Less than 2 weeks studying here and I’m happy to go back home after. While abroad it’s easier to see good sides of the home country.  I still have many studies to do, but still energy to explore this country. But it must be good to be back home soon!

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Learn by doing mistakes

When you come to the Netherlands you see bikes everywhere but still there is strict rules where can you leave your bike. It is hard to be sure about that, because Dutch themselves don’t follow rules or is it just hard to see it as a foreigner? Well I have spend time with thinking where is it ok to leave the bike when the place is full (mostly in the city center and railway station). But then came the day I was in hurry. I left the bike in place near railway station/the shopping center which is the same building. Afterwards I got the feeling maybe now I didn’t follow the rules. When I came back from lovely day trip to Den Bosch  bike was gone..

Bikes are stolen in this country of course, but my bike was with 2 locks, the other around traffic sign. Bike is old looking and who would saw that lock if not the municipal bike depot who takes care of that bikes are in the order. I also did mind the opportunity bike is stolen. I walked to this town’s bike storage where they store this illegal parked bikes. I had to look photos and describe my bike. And there were about 20 different black womens bikes collected that day. 

Hurray my bike was also there!

Small fee, 13,40e because I didn’t follow the rules.  I chose to walk everywhere for two days, because it happen to be this storages days off. Now I know I live close by the station and walking is also nice in this city, even though I choose the bike because it’s faster. And this all happened because I was in a hurry and taught it’s more important to be on time than follow the rules.

 

I believe I have learned to read the map while here.When I visit a new place I must take extra time to be early or on time, still I have been late -road block, roadwork can come on the way. I will be very happy when again at home, because I know the roads. Oh, and also the language. This time here makes me appreciate what I have and what is Finland. And what is to live abroad and in the home country.

 

 

I haven’t wrote about the price level yet. For a Finn, I think basic things are ok or affordable. I´ve been discussing about it with other international students (different nationalities) and most think it’s expensive here. But it’s true that living in Finland it’s expensive when comparing. I haven’t really eaten out. I can’t really tell about that but some restaurants ask the same in Finland, some cheaper. 5 euro pizza is seen also.

 

Supermarkets, groceries in stores are on average a bit cheaper. Like vegetables, bread, meat and milk products. But some basic elements in my almost everyday meals are prized higher – surprisingly oat flakes (havermout in Dutch), potatoes (aardappels) and apples (appels) are more expensive. Now is the season for apples I believe, and still they are expensive. Potatoes cost 2-3 times more than in home! Maybe that effects that potatoes are usually sold washed. But I spend less money on food here than at home with similar choices. Plus here I buy stroopwafels, the national goody quite often.
Ps. If you really miss Finland and lovely Finnish blueberries, I found a place where they cost 12,5 kilo frozen, package is 300g. It´s a lot, when I live in a country where it takes only 5 minutes to pick that amount by hand, for free. This story I have told to Dutch, for most of them it’s exotic.  

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after 1st month

First month in Utrecht went fast. During the weeks I study and now more and more organise placements for my internship part here with teachers/coordinators and contacts. Studies are interesting, but more I wait all the field visits and getting to know Dutch Health Care and rehabilitation in practise.

 

I’ve held two individual presentations so far. Other about Finnish health care system comparing to the Netherlands and  other about my learnings & observations attached Dutch culture. While studying in Finland I used to think that presentation in English is horrible and if possible no-no.. But here those went quite fluent without extra pressure. Atmosphere in lessons has been easy going which helps. It must also help that I speak English everyday. And more and more, spoken & used vocabulary grows. Let’s see if I have Dutch accent afterwards.

 

As a hobby, I study Dutch for beginners. I think it’s interesting to know and learn a bit the country’s own language. At the moment pronunciation horrifies me. I can read and deduce some Dutch. Some say its German and English mixed. I do speak Swedish (if necessary, at the moment so rusty) and have studied German in primary school. It’s absolutely interesting to study this, but somedays I think why on earth I study Dutch, isn’t studying in English challenging enough? And I miss studying Russian, because that language I’m a bit more than a beginner, also it’s more useful for a Finn in general. More and more I begin to understand spoken Dutch.

In the University campus area is sportcenter called Olympos which offers sport possibilities like gym, group lessons really reasonable price. There I have visited on my free time. Also area Bunnik after campus area is beautiful place to go jogging or walking. Usually I go after school, because I live 6-7 kilometres from the campus. So when it comes to biking, somedays I bike more than 14 km, which is the amount if I go to school only.

Cycling is truly common in NL, the best way to more around and love it!

 

Now it’s time for weekend, in Dutch Goed weekend!

 

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Starting to settle

Last week went super fast because there was Introduction week for new international students. From Monday to Thursday every evening was happening with some activities like group competitions, beer Cantus (Oktoberfest like happening with “free beer” and sign songs), international kitchen (everyone brought traditional dish or sweets etc. from their home countries), pool playing and of course; getting to know with the mentor group. It was loads of fun, but because I had so much to do on a week some assignments I did on the weekend.

Also studying took a lot of my time after the first week, just yesterday I gave my first presentation about Finnish and Dutch Health Care in general, comparing those. In this course, I’m the only international student and Dutch students compared The Netherlands to their becoming destination countries where they are going to travel to do their internship after 5 weeks. I fit well in the group and it’s nice that teachers always ask how is this in Finland? So I´m the country expert which is really nice, I like that people are interested my home country. In the other course there’s other international students so I´m not that special.

Recycling is different here, in my area on Monday mornings I take the ordinary trash out and put them in front of the house near streetlight- and the trashmen take them to the car from there. And Wednesday is the same thing with biotrash except there is a bin for those that day only? Paper and glass I can take anytime I want to the recycling point nearby. With batteries and electronics the system is same here, which I haven’t use yet. And here is no pledge in plastic bottles and aluminium cans, so they go to ordinary trash. That was hard to believe for me, because in Finland we are use to take them back to the supermarket. So after asking it bytheway style from several people and google it -I can do so also. I found the information that they separate those later. I´m environmentally friendly so this is important issue for me. And often I check things from many people if I want to be sure.

Dutch culture is really punctual, and they will tell you that. Of course it’s not a problem for a Finn. One day I was lost and a bit late, but it seems that’s something what can be forgiven. Maybe it is not so forgiven if you have a private meeting with someone, you steal the time if you are late.

What a problem or worry sometimes might be, the lunch is more light than I am used to my whole life in school and at home. In Finland its common to eat warm lunch and it´s always been the biggest and most important meal for me + breakfast + dinner + usually snack on afternoon.. Now at school eating sandwiches for a lunch is something I get used to more and more.. I knew it beforehand, so bigger breakfast keeps me going very well!

I learned today from different concepts of culture; food, time management and how do we think the illnesses and how treating them comes from the culture. According our study material –

when asking how to explain culture? -here a quotation/ citation:

“Cultures compromise systems of shared ideas, systems of concepts and and rules and meanings that underlie and are expressed in the ways human beings live”

Keesing and Stathern, retold by Helman 2007. Book named Culture, Health and illness.
Couldn’t agree more!

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First week

First week was full of new things and I was tired after it, of course. Here are some special points and notices.

  • + Dutch are really welcoming and nice people. Example there was Finnish flag on blackboard to welcome me on the first day. My Dutch home was just ready to live in, (found it from private market in facebook) I didn’t have to buy everything from salt to toilet paper because there were some left. I´m absolutely happy with my dutch home! Everyone speaks English so far.

 

  • – My Finnish Debit card doesn’t work in grocery stores, like Albert Heijn or anywhere else. But all the other services like buying the OV-chipkaart, Museumkaart and in one clothing store and in music store it was fine so far. So I need to prepare myself with cash when buying food.

 

  • + I´m excited about all the happenings I can do on my freetime- Like I bought the museum card which gives free entrance in 400 museums in the Netherlands, still it’s not free in all. Lots to do and see. And I was lucky to get the last ticket in Introduction week organised by ESN Utrecht. Its local Erasmus Student Network, non-profit international student organization. Actually tickets were already sold out once, but they posted that there is some extra tickets for the first who come and buy one. It was a rainy day and after all my study things I went there thinking maybe none is left, and I asked about other happenings they have. So next week I’m going to participate in introduction week. There is a group of international students with 2 local students, which are called the Dutch parents. On monday we start with meal together.

 

  • + Studying started and my programme looks interesting. I was happy to start my last semester with these studies here. All lessons are in English, and later when I do my practical training/internship I cope with English. I’m the first student from my field of study here. At the moment organising my internship part is in process. That takes place after 6 more weeks “normal studying in school”, so there is time to plan. I´m excited about all the options and possibilities I´ve heard. Now with studies and contacts with  Dutch people I will learn about Dutch health care system and culture.

 

  • + Its easy to study abroad nowadays. I´m happy with internet, skype whatsapp.. Because Finland is not so far away with those!

And if you wonder the name of my blog, here is a link which gives some info about cycling in the Netherlands:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuDeF6pd2DA

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First impressions

First nights in Utrecht I stayed in B&B called Oorsprongpark. The bus stop is named the same so it was easy to get there with bus. The hotel was not the cheap (cheapest at the moment I booked)  but popular among students. Cheap hotel can be hard to find if it isn´t bed in a dorm.

First cultural difference I met the in the hotel, the thing I’ve heard about but never really thought about how is like- Dutch stairs. Those are really tight steps somethings only 20 centimeters… Travelling with 20 kilos bagbag and another bag is sporty already, so that’s hard sport to climb on second floor with these circumstances. Of course in my Dutch home is tight stairs, someday I will get use to it and run through them like the locals…?

Steps continuing; On the first weekend we visited in Dom tower which is the pride and sign mark in the center of Utrecht. Tower is 112 meters high and people can visit in 95 meters its -465 steps. It was amazing view from 95 meters which a small history parts besides. 

So steps are hard here, but cycling is lovely. Here is tracks for bikers almost everywhere in the whole country.

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Arrangements before leaving

There is some paperwork to do before going abroad; agreements etc. I managed those quite easy, because learning agreement was nothing new to me, and I find it always important to contact people beforehand. The LA base was the same as on courses I studied in Utrecht year ago and a course I took on St. Petersburg last spring. Paper works took time and I was really busy when arranging things, because I had already started my summertime working and our theater group had a play to practice and the show was on at Juni and July. So my normal day was work 8 hours, few hours free time which meant arrangements and preparing the time in Utrecht and on evening the play.. I love theater, going to see a play and making theater has been my hobby for few years. Usually my part has been behind the scenes ( with costumes & planning) but now it was my first time on stage.

The most hard thing to do was finding accommodation. And I was not the only one. Even now, when its less than a week before the semester starts there is people who are looking for a room and also offering one.. I asked advise from locals and Dutch students gave helpful links. I think the best place to seek accommodation from Utrecht and the Netherlands is Facebook groups. There people can post for free. Of course I ask from many rental offices but all where booked full that time, or too expensive. The school advised to ask from the office they have a contract with, but unfortunately it was fully booked also. There is many websites like kamernet, easykamer and nespick. I check those, but in some point I couldn’t use the service without payment, so  find Facebook groups the best this time. I send approximately 3 messages per a day for people who offer room/apartment. First weeks when I started to seek a room I messaged everyone, but after that I realized I should focus on offers for only about my time in Utrecht (and English written + furnished). If you compare to Finland there is a lot offers. Even more than that 3 on a day that would suit me the best. Finally I contacted with my becoming landlady. We had Skype meeting and after a nice conversation it seemed we have quite similar living habits. She choose me to rent her place for the fall. She had many offers, so I were lucky.

All the early summer rush was worth it of course. I am extremely happy that I have opportunity to study abroad and I had a wish to do that for few years. Now, few days before leaving I’m packing my back and meeting friends and family. Summerwork is done and the weather is lovely. I feel its good time in life to travel and study.

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Hello world!

This is my blog about my exchange, practical training period in The Netherlands, in the city of Utrecht. I’m a rehabilitation counselor -student and I´m happy to be to first from our field to study in Utrecht! I will graduate after my time in The Netherlands. I´m absolutely excited to have perspectives from a country which has really interesting rehabilitation services and methods.

Getting to know a different culture interests me. I’ve been in Utrecht before, year ago I participated on a intensive course called Active Ageing. So the school and few people are familiar to me. Dutch bike a lot and everywhere and that’s the thing I love, I bike everywhere in Finland. (With biking I mean cycling, with ordinary bicycle). Dutch have also rich food culture, windmills, wooden shoes…

Looking forward my time in there!

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