Greetings from Graz, Austria! Grüß Gott originally means (according to Wikipedia) ”may God greet you”. And they greet you like this everywhere.
I’m Ella, a third-year student at TSE. I’ve been calling Graz home for a month now. I’m here for the summer semester 2015 which started in the beginning of March and ends with exams in the beginning of July. (That’s why it is called summer and not spring semester and that’s the way it works in the most German speaking countries.)
Graz, the capital of Styria, is the perfect combination of small town and a big city. It is the second largest city in Austria. You can climb up to Schlossberg, wander through old town that can be found on the Unesco World Heritage list or drink coffee at one of the many cafés in the city. The location is very nice also for travelling and I’ve already been to Budapest and during our 3 week (yes, 3 !!) holiday I will be visiting Prague and Zagreb. And Vienna is only a two-hour train ride away.
I study BWL (Betriebswirtschaftslehre = Business administration) at Karl-Franzens-Universität. Among other classes I’ve picked two classes of Information Systems Science (also my main subject in Turku) which I study in German. Mostly exchange students study their courses in English and they offer plenty of courses in both English and German which is good! The university also offers German courses on every level (A1.1 to C1) which are very helpful if you are interested in learning German. You must remember though that the real Austrian German is far from the “Hochdeutsch” you learn at school: “auch” becomes only “a”, potatoes are “Erdäpfel” and the bin “Mistkübel”. Even Germans here have trouble understanding the dialect which I find very calming… And Graz is very international so you will survive with English almost anywhere 😉
What helps with learning the language is living with locals. Most students here live in WGs (Wohngemeinschaft = shared flat) either found through a student accommodation service, like me, or through Facebook. Most student houses have a gym (ours has one exercise bike…), laundry room and a party room. Some even have cleaning lady! There is a party in one of the student homes almost every week. In my free time I’ve chosen a few courses from the University Sports Institute and one class costs only 17 euros for the whole summer term. You have to wake up early to sign up for the classes but they offer everything from paragliding and basketball to dance classes. ESN is very active in Graz – I’ve already been to a Buschenschank (a special restaurant serving only locally produced wine and small dishes) and ice skating.
Don’t expect Austria to be like Germany (you know the stereotypes…). I feel Austria is a more chill version of Germany where there is no hurry to do things but still everything works effortlessly. Even though there are lots and lots of incoming exchange students, emails are answered within ours and people are always ready to help you!
Graz may not seem the most hip and cool place to do your exchange but it’s perfect for me! I warmly recommend everyone to consider it for their exchange. The location is perfect and the city has a very nice international flair to it.
Heipsan kaikki! Olen Viivi, 3 vsk. kansainvälisen liiketoiminnan opiskelija ja vietän tämän kevään vaihdossa Ranskan pohjoisessa metropolissa, Lillessä. Kaupunki muistuttaa kooltaan ja rakenteeltaan pääkaupunkiseutua, joten tänne on ollut melkoisen helppo sopeutua. Rakennukset ovat vanhoja ja tunnelma muutenkin hyvin perinteisen keski-Eurooppalainen. Bonuksena kaupungista löytyy tanskalainen pikkuputiikki, jonka valikoimista löytää ruisleipää ja salmiakkia. Pohjoismaalaisen aamu kun ei yksinkertaisesti lähde käyntiin valkoisella paahtoleivällä ja Nutellalla.
Yliopistokseni valikoitui EDHEC Business School, joka on kansainvälisestikin todella arvostettu yksityinen business-koulu. Lukuvuosi maksaa pyöreät 14 000 euroa ja kampuksia heiltä löytyy myös Pariisista, Nizzasta, Lontoosta sekä Singaporesta.
Omalla kohdallani haasteelliseksi koulun osalta muodostuu opiskelukieli, sillä suoritan opintoni täällä ranskaksi. Istun siis kursseillani natiivien ranskanpuhujien kanssa, jotka eivät juurikaan puhu englantia. Valitsinkin Ranskan kohdemaakseni oppiakseni kieltä, joten sainpahan mitä tilasin. Tietysti nautin suuresti myös ranskalaisista rypälemehuista maukkaitten juustojen kyytipoikana.
Myönnän aidosti aikaisemmin ihmetelleeni, että minkä takia koulumme käytävillä parveilee hyvinkin usein tutkijoita läheltä ja kaukaa, jotka haluavat tutustua ylivertaiseen koulujärjestelmäämme. Proffat puhuvat aina liian hiljaa tai huonoa englantia, eikä NettiOpsukaan ikinä toimi.
Kovin olin väärässä. Jo reilun kuukauden jälkeen ikävöin stressipisteitä mukavasti kutittelevia kurssi-ilmoja sekä asiasisällöltään pääsääntöisesti kiinnostavia luentoja. Täällä olemme toisen suomalaisen opiskelijan kanssa jo päässeet ihmettelemään luennoitsijoita, jotka eivät vaivaudu edes seisomaan luennoidessaan tai kommentoivat 300 silmäparin edessä satunnaisen opiskelijan painoa. Myös vaatimustaso on selvästi alhaisempi. Tänään opin muun muuassa rakentamaan juomapilleistä torneja ja viime viikolla maisteriopiskelijat kuulivat ensimmäistä kertaa lyhenteen CEO.
Eipä siinä, kaupunki itsessään on hurmaava ja kotoisa sekä tästä pääsee hujauksessa mihin tahansa Eurooppaan. Matkalistallani onkin useita visiittejä Pariisiin (1 tunti junalla), Brysseliin (30 min junalla), Amsterdamiin, Barcelonaan jne. Jokainen viikonloppu on jo bookattu erilaisille seikkailuille! Aika ei siis tosiaan käy täällä pitkäksi.
Opiskelijaelämä tarjoaa myös paljon mahdollisuuksia ihan jokaiselle. Bailaamaan pääsee tarvittaessa vaikka joka ilta, mutta erinäiset järjestöt organisoivat myös muutakin ohjelmaa aina museokäynneistä ulkomaanretkiin. Eli hyvin samankaltainen meininki kuin meillä Turussa!
Pisteitä täytyy EDHEC:ille täytyy kyllä antaa opiskelijoilleen tarjoamista palveluista. Opiskelija-asuntolat ovat siistejä ja muutaman askeleen päästä kotiovelta löytyy vasta rakennettu fitness center, josta löydät harrastusmahdollisuudet aina uinnista squashiin sekä kuntosalista karateen. Koululta löytyy myös oma pankki sekä career centre, jonne voi ilmoittautua työnhakijaksi kesää varten. Kaverini sai soiton suuryritykseltä 20 minuuttia visiittinsä jälkeen.
Mainitsemisen arvoista on myös se kuinka erilaiseksi olinkaan luullut ranskalaisia ihmisiä ja maan kulttuuria. Meillä Pohjoismaalaisilla on Chanelin luksusparfyymin tuoksuinen kuva eleganteista, tyylikkäistä ja viiniä lähes ammatikseen nautiskelevista nappisilmistä. Pieleen meni taas. Henkilökohtaisen hygienian puute etenkin miehillä ei ole pelkästään ilkeä stereotypia, klubille mennään koulun logolla varustetussa hupparissa ja viini on pannassa. Saapuessani juhliin viinipullon kanssa paikalliset nauroivat minulle ja sanoivat: “Oh, you must be an ERASMUS student!”. Kuulemma vodkapullo olisi ollut sopivampi valinta.
Asiakaspalvelu on käsitteenä myös täysin tuntematon patonkimaan asukkaalle. Silmiin ei katsota ja vaihtorahat paiskataan tiskiin niin ronskisti, että pikkuhilut singahtavat Belgian puolelle.
Lopuksi en kai voi muuta kuin kliseisesti suositella vaihtoon lähtemistä ihan jokaiselle. Tahdon myös muistuttaa, että jokainen vaihto on erilainen. Jollekin se on elämää mullistava kokemus, joka saa jättämään opinnot Suomessa ja muuttamaan laamankasvattajaksi Peruun, kun toiselle se taas on askel kohti aidompaa itsenäistymistä ja aikuisuutta. Molemmat ovat kokemuksina yhtä arvokkaita.
Vaikka paikoin tekstissäni pommitinkin melko rajusti paikallista koulujärjestelmää ja etikettiä, niin voin silti vilpittömästi suositella myös EDHEC:iä ja Lilleä vaihtokohteena. Ilmapiiri vaihtareiden sekä muiden opiskelijoiden kesken on rento ja vastaanottavainen. Ennen kaikkea tuuletan täydellisen sijainnin puolesta eli jos mielit matkustelemaan mukavasti ja edullisesti, suuntaa Lilleen!
Huisia ja jännittävää pian alkavaa kevättä kaikille – nauttikaa jokibåteista! Ja vive la France!
I’ve been fortunate enough to call Auckland, NZ my home for the past 6 months. Travelling to this side of the world has been a dream of mine and being able to stay here for a whole semester was a great opportunity. Another reason for me to study here was that my sister has been living here for quite some time and from the stories she had to tell I just couldn’t resist. But even if you wouldn’t have a personal tie to the place I can recommend NZ to everyone.
As NZ is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons here are opposite from what they are in Finland, my semester in NZ began in the middle of July. So I had to leave warm Finnish summer for NZ in the middle of local winter. To make things worse, buildings here have no central heating so the first couple mornings were… refreshing. After learning to cope with the absence of heating it wasn’t that bad especially when winter turned to spring and later to summer.
I didn’t have accommodation when I arrived so I decided to stay first week in a hostel trying to find an apartment to live in. I ended up living with two Americans in the city center which turned out to be a good result. The accommodation that university offers for a single bed room are relatively expensive with weekly rent of around 200-300 dollars (140-200 euros) and renting a room from a private market is way cheaper. Also the location of my apartment was excellent as it took no longer than 10 minutes to get to the uni, grocery shops, casino or to other necessities. I found that even without living in a student apartment you can still live a proper student life if you wish to and you’re enough interested in meeting new people. Also living in a privately owned apartment you can save a lot of money to use in other activities.
Auckland as a city has a lot to offer to everyone. Whether you’re interested in chess, Pokemons, kayaking or anything else you can find it here. I also liked that everything was close by and despite the struggles of public transport to stay on time it is quite easy to get from place A to B. It’s also a great spot to start travelling around NZ as you can fly to any major or minor airport there is. After seeing other university cities in NZ I’m pretty happy that I chose Auckland as my destination. The city is also very diverse in its population with around 1/3 of residents are not native New Zealandians which can be seen everywhere in the city. This large ethnic diversification sometimes makes you feel like you’re not in NZ anymore but it has its perks as the diverse cuisine is just delicious.
Studying in the University of Auckland was not as time-consuming as I expected. Typically students pick four courses to complete during a semester but I ended up picking only three as I wanted to spare some time for other activities. What was great about the courses that I picked was that the assignments were done to actual companies. Not only it gave more motivation to do the assignments but it shed light to business world more than just another lecture-based theory course would’ve done. After the semester concluded I realized it wouldn’t have been that bad to pick fourth course as well and still have time to travel but nevertheless I’m still happy with my choice.
University of Auckland has multiple clubs to spark the student life but very few activities are directed specifically to exchange students. Due to that I realized that if you want to get something done or travel around you better do it by yourself. So far I have travelled around the whole NZ, from the northernmost to the southernmost point and pretty much everything there is to see in between. I’ve also been to Fiji and to Australia but since flights there are relatively expensive and take around three hours, most of my trips have been in NZ.
There are a lot of things to do and see in NZ. Naturally anyone who is interested in Lord of the Rings will find the country amazing. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the movies but still I managed to visit The Shire, Mt. Doom, Isengard and Lonely Mountain among other places. Even if you wouldn’t be a fan you would most likely appreciate the landscapes here. Glaciers, snowy mountain ranges and waterfalls mixed with endless green hills and lush forests are just stunning every single time no matter how often I’ve seen them. The landscapes make NZ perfect place for hiking and you can find hikes ranging from 1 hour to multiple days all around the country. Surfing, diving, mountain biking, skydiving, bungee jumping are also some of the activities I’ve been part of during my stay so I could say there’s no shortage of outdoor activities.
The semester here ended in the beginning of November and after that I’ve been just relaxing and travelling around. It was nice for a change to spend October and November in 20+ degrees without endless rains. However, all good comes to an end and so I’ll be coming back to Finland in the beginning of January. In a way it’s exciting to get back to Finland but on the other hand leaving NZ behind after half a year knowing that coming back might not be that soon. I can honestly recommend studying abroad to everyone and studying in NZ in particular.Matti Sahi University of Auckland (Marketing, 07/2014-11/2014)
My exchange semester here is about to come to an end, and now is the perfect time to look back at the past four months with calm contentment while shoving my life into a couple of suitcases.
When I arrived in August, I was lost like a needle in a haystack and honestly had no idea what to expect. Of course it didn’t take too long for things to start rolling smoothly; new students are always taken good care of, and there are always several people and organizations making sure that exchange students quickly get their lives into order in the new city, and get socialized into the exchange student community.
Linköping is definitely a university town, and as we know, many of the traditional student activities in Finland, such as sittningar and overall parties have originated from Sweden. Student associations at the Linköping University are very active – there are always events to attend and parties to party.
A bicycle is absolutely a must-have in Linköping. Most of the student apartments are located a couple of kilometers away from the campus, and biking to the city center takes about the same time as taking a bus. Furthermore, the campus is formed as a wide road with the university buildings on both sides, which means that two buildings you need to go to can pretty far away from each other and biking within the campus is very convenient.
The main reason I wanted to come to Sweden was, as for most other Finnish students here, the language. I had heard many people complain about not learning the language as efficiently as they would have liked to, and I have to say that this was a bit of a problem for me as well. I had been registered on international courses despite my wishes to study in Swedish, but the people at the university’s International Office were very helpful when I wanted to change my course plan. Since in Sweden it’s common to have only one course running at a time, I got to study three out of my four courses in Swedish.
However, I spent my free time with other foreigners, as I got close with a group of around a dozen exchange students during the first couple of weeks here. Throughout the semester, we arranged different activities ourselves – canoeing, ice skating, a weekend trip to Gothenburg, countless corridor fikas and cooking dinner together, often several times a week.
Even though I didn’t get to know quite as many locals as I had hoped, I ended up learning much more than just the language by spending time with this very international friend group. For one thing I can say that even though I have always appreciated the Finnish education system, the appreciation is taken onto a whole new level when I talk to people who are constantly impressed about things that I would just take for granted. I definitely enjoyed my stay, and I will miss my friends as well as the city and the university, but I’m also very happy to return home, knowing that I can always come back across the gulf for a visit.
God jul och gott nytt år!Varpu Somersalo Linköpings universitet (Marketing, 8/2014-12/2014)