Differences between TUAS and Kufstein University of Applied Sciences

Sommer3First of all I want to say that I really enjoy the time studying in both universities. But there are some differences between this two universities. At TUAS you have a fixed schedule of your courses for the whole semester and you have each of the courses every week. In my home university they organise it in a different way. There you have the lectures in blocks, which means that you have one course as an example 3 days a week in 3 weeks in a row and then the course is over and the next one starts. Furthermore the whole bachelor degree and all courses are determined and therefore there is no overlapping possible in Kufstein. In TUAS you have the opportunity to choose between courses and as a result there could be overlapping courses.

Moreover there are also differences in the lectures itself. In TUAS you have to participate much more actively than in my home university. There are a lot of group works and presentations. Of course group activities and the improvement of your presentation skills are important but in my opinion it is too much to have every lecture one or two group tasks.

There is also a difference in the communication style between lecturer and the students. At TUAS it is more in an informal way and in Kufstein the students communicate with lecturer more in a formal way. Another fact for the difference is that you have more different lecturers in my home university. This could lead in benefits but also in disadvantages. Through having different lecturer you get more different views and ways of looking on topics. But then there is also a higher quality variation of the lectures. At TUAS I have only two different lecturer for 6 courses and this makes it possible to have a solid quality in all courses but you also get only a one-sided approach to the issues.

Text & picture: Matthias Sommer

Traveling in Finland

One of my goals in the beginning of my exchange semester was to visit as many cities as possible. My semester abroad endures from the end of August to the end of December, which gives me the opportunity to experience Finland in the last summer days and also in the winter time. What is my impression about the summer time in Finland?  Finland’s short but reliable sunny season sees the country burst into life. Finns seem to want to suck every last golden drop out of the summer in the hope that it will make hem last them through the long dark winter months, and there’s an explosion of good cheer and optimism. It’s a time for art exhibitions, lake cruises, midnight sunshine on convivial beer terraces, lazy days at remote waterside cottages and mouth-watering market products. As a result I enjoyed the last summer days and my first weeks in Finland a lot and my first goal was to discover the city, in which I will live the following months. And of course Turku doesn’t look that spectacular at the first moment but if you take a closer look, you will find the hidden beautiful places in the city. At the latest when you are going to visit the beach in Ruissalo you will fall in love with this city. It turned out to be one of my favourite places during my exchange semester. The view there is impressing and it is a nice place to cool down.

Secondly I want to talk about my trip to Lapland. First I took the long way from Turku to Kajaani by bus. There I met a friend of mine, who is doing his exchange semester there. Kajaani is a really small but enjoyable city. We rented a car there and then our first target city was Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and the hometown of Santa Claus and it is located on the Arctic Circle. The fact itself that you can visit the original santa claus village and the arctic circle is worth to visit it. Our next stop was Levi, an amazing city, which Sommer lappioffers a lot of activities. Unfortunately the world cup slalom ski race was canceled, but nevertheless we had a lot of fun with skiing, snowmobile driving and to go partying. Our last stop was Saariselkä-Ivalo-Inari which offers you the ideal opportunity to experience the mystery of Lapp culture. Overall going to Lapland is a one lifetime experience, which you shouldn’t miss if you plan to visit in Finland. The fact itself to drive the road straight ahead for kilometre and hours with nothing beside you except woods, lakes, trees and snow and some reindeers on street is it worth to do this road trip.

Text & photo: Matthias Sommer

Get Finternational

Sommer1First of all I want to give an understanding about this course. Get Finternational is about cultural awareness and to improve your own intercultural skills and responsibilities. It should help you to reflect your exchange semester, to value your own experiences and to minimize intercultural barriers.  Moreover this course is a possibility for the students to get in contact with the finnish society and to learn something about their culture and tradition. The students can participate at different events and can increase their knowledge in international issues.

You will pass the course if you participate at the two mandatory workshop- lectures and then you have to choose one further workshop, in which you are interested in. Furthermore you have to participate in five other events organised by ESN-IAC, Get Finternational or Student Union Tuo. Finally you have to write a final report and to return your full passport.

The course consists of interesting lectures about international issues, a lot of fun at the events and the possibility to make new international friendships. It includes events where you can learn something about other cultures and their traditions as an example the “International dinner”. There you get known to some foreign gastronomic specialities and common meals of other countries in a comfortable atmosphere. Furthermore there are also sports activities and events.  Sports give you the possibility to work in an international team for common goal. Although there are maybe some communication problems, you try to reach the same objective and that makes a connection between the team members. Events like The Hang Around Monday where we could try some common finish sports, the “We are! Football tournament” or the ice skating event makes this possible.  Moreover events like the Ruissalo Hiking, Blueberry pie baking or the Christmas Gathering give you the chance to learn something about the finnish culture and to discover finnish nature.

In my opinion this course is a must for all exchange students, because it gives you a view to the finnish life besides the university. Furthermore it gives you a variety to the normal university courses. Although there is a high number of event offers and activities, it wasn’t easy for me to get all the stamps for my passport and there are a lot of reasons for that. Sometimes you couldn’t register for activities because of a high number of people, who want to participate and there were place limitations. Then there could be the situation that some interesting courses overlap with other university courses or it happened that there were events while you were travelling or learning for exams. As a result it is very useful to do a compensation work like the blog or the video to get your stamps.

Text & photo: Matthias Sommer

Turku

In my home country, I live in city three times bigger than Turku (comparing number of inhabitants), so this semester was like summer in quiet cottage. I expected differences, but few things still surprised me.

First thing- space and greenness. Similar sized towns in my country are more… dense. More concrete and bricks. But here, in Turku there is plenty of green areas, a lot of space; low, wooden buildings- citizen-friend place. What surprised me the most, berries and heathers grow everywhere. Parks, squares, even by main roads- a little piece of Finnish forest is literally everywhere. The fact, that living 20 minutes by foot from city centre, I can pick up berries, just on my way to university,  (of course, there are better places to pick up berries than city) shocked me really hard.

Is it middle of forest or just view from window, somwhere in Turku? Both.

Is it middle of forest or just view from window, somwhere in Turku? Both.

Second- bikes. Bikes are everywhere. Without bike you are no one here. Public transportation is not that convenient, as it could be- but why one should develop it more, if you can get to almost any place in town by bike in 30 minutes? Fast, cheap (which is pretty unusual in Finland) and healthy. Any time, any conditions- Finns don’t have time for caring about rain or ice. They just ride. Also streets are traffic-free. When I see rush hours in Turku I can only laugh. And be jealous, because I’m used to waste a lot of time and nerves in traffic jams in my home city. Here- empty, wide streets. Perfect for cycling!

Third- some more about cars, bikes and pedestrians. As cyclist or pedestrian you can feel in Finland like some kind of ‘ubermensch’, master race over car-driving peasants. Drivers will give you right of way anytime and everywhere, even when you don’t want to cross street, just passing by pedestrian crossing. And it is on almost ridiculous level- sometimes car stops to let you go, even when it is the only car on that street for last and next 15 minutes. Drivers seem not to care, if there is no one after them, if you as pedestrian, can eat three-meal dinner in the middle of the street, beacause it is empty. No, they will let you go.

Fourth- Everyone is calm, everything (ok, almost) is in order. There is no space for chaos on each of 338 424 km² of Finnish land. That makes everything quite clear to understand, predictable, but also hmmm…. A bit boring? Maybe not, I  haven’t experienced boredom yet here, in Finland.

Of course, I can write much more about differences in everyday life I can point. Those four are in my opinion, easiest to see and most characteristic to this place. Finland is great!

Text & photo: Wojciech Lasota

Northern Lights

When I was coming here, I did not expect to see northern lights. In my thoughts Turku was not north enough.  And to be honest- it isn’t north at all, maybe for people from mediterranean  regions. You can imagine my face, when some people told me, that they saw northern lights here, ‘yesterday’. Beginning of September, yeah, surely. Too early, too south, stop fooling me, guys. But then, they showed some pictures- maybe not best quality, taking photos in the night is rather hard, but anyway- aurora borealis was visible. DAMN! Northern lights just over me, and I didn’t see them! For me, a guy who is a huge fan of northern territories, who spend some time during last three summers in arctic, it wasn’t just disappointing. It was painful!

After maybe a week, exactly the same situation happened. Oh no, I won’t miss that for third time. So, weather forecast, aurora forecast- next time I will be prepared. And after few days- alarm. Someone form my floor (5th) saw some green light over city- YES! THIS IS IT! But in the city there is huge light pollution- you can see literally nothing. Fortunately, my friend came here with car- here we go, out of  the city. Some more friends also joined, so with full car we were heading to bridge just outside Naantali- we chose that spot before, no lights, small traffic, quite clear view around- almost perfect. But far. Being very impatient we stopped somewhere in the middle of way, at some field. Lights around were distracting us a little, but the show we saw, was surely unforgettable. Green lines hovering over city, constantly changing its position. Above our heads green and violet lines were dancing- this is the only word I can describe that. Many photos and amusement screams later, we got to the car again and came to our primal spot. Without any lights around, the view could be even more astonishing- but Aurora Borealis as unstable phenomenon, calmed down.  Even though, view of  bridge with green sky in background will remain for long time. Some local guy stopped near to us- he was very surprised, that he saw northern lights in that place (so south) and that time. The fact, that he stopped at the same place ensured us, that this is good spot. Or maybe, he just joined us, seeing, that some group of overenthusiastic youth is walking around bridge, near quite good parking?

Sometimes it is normal, when sky glows green

Sometimes it is normal, when sky glows green

First meeting with northern lights will remain surely unforgettable. Show of nature, similar to nothing. Fantastic conditions, fantastic weather, fantastic company- it couldn’t be better. Another ‘northern’ experience on my ‘to do list’ checked. Finland is great!

Text & photo: Wojciech Lasota