Even though the weather in Turku was very cold especially in the beginning of the semester there were a lot of activities to do during winter. The best way to compensate the cold temperatures, which were -27°C in January, is to go to sauna in my opinion. Before I came to Finland I have never been in sauna but of course it is an important part of Finnish culture, so I tried it. There are a lot of saunas to choose in and around Turku. My friends and I preferred to go to the saunas where you can also swim in the frozen sea. At the beginning I couldn’t imagine to go into the water surrounded by thick ice. But after the first few times I realized that it is a great feeling even if it feels very cold every time and after you cooled down that much it feels even better to go back to the hot sauna. After 5 months I think that sauna will be the thing I will miss most when I will be back in Germany.
Before sauna I recommend to go hiking. It is a great reward to relax at sauna after an exhausting walk. There are so many beautiful places to see some Finnish nature around Turku. All the forests, the sea and lakes are totally worth to see it and it’s beautiful not only during winter.
It is totally worth to visit the same places again during spring time because it is a totally different experience. My favorite place to hike during my semester was the island Ruissalo. You can easily reach the island by bus and then enjoy the forest and the seaside there. Every time I went there, I explored new beautiful spots to have a nice view at the sea.
If the weather wasn’t nice enough to go for a walk, I went a few times to ice hockey games at HK Areena. The tickets for games of Turku’s team TPS Turku were quite cheap for students so I watched a few matches there. It was a nice atmosphere in the arena every time and the games were exciting. We had even the opportunity see a game of the Finnish national team playing against Slovakia. I can totally recommend to go to ice hockey at least once.
Text & photos: Dominik Czernetzky
As an optional course I chose the ‘Get Finternational’ course at TUAS because I wanted to learn some things about different cultures and especially about the Finnish culture. In the first days after my arrival in Turku we had already our first meeting. After the orientation days it was also the first chance to meet many other exchange students from other accommodations. We had some group work together where I realized that I already got to know many people from all over the world which was great. Many of the students I met there for the first time became good friends of mine during the semester.
To pass the course you have to participate in different events which were partly organized by TUAS and partly by ESN. In my opinion it was very good that you could choose the events by yourself, so I could go to events which were interesting for me. I attended for example a Trivia Night organized by Finnish ESN students. It was quite cool because they prepared a lot of questions about Finnish culture but also about different countries. Then we formed small teams and competed against the other groups in a quiz. It was a great chance to learn some trivia about different cultures and they even had prices for the winner team.
At another event I got to know more about the languages of the other exchange students and I could teach the others to speak German. There were also some events for people who are interested in pop culture. One day we were watching a Finnish comedy movie in Salo but to be honest the Finnish humor was quite strange in that case. A good occasion get to know some typical songs of different countries was an event called ‘Music Panel’. It was like a small version of Euro Vision Song Contest where we could present popular songs of our countries and the others had to rate them.
Unfortunately there were only two or three Finnish students participating in the events. I really would like to learn more about Finnish culture during this course. But still, I enjoyed it a lot and it was a great experience and good chance to get to know other exchange students and learn more about different cultures.
Text & photo: Dominik Czernetzky
Since I’m studying Data Communication at TUAS, my main campus was ICT City at Joukahaisenkatu. I was very impressed when I was at ICT for the first time. The building is very big and modern since it’s the newest TUAS campus. My lectures usually have been in quite normal lecture rooms or computer rooms which are quite similar to the rooms at my home university in Germany but at some other events we have been also at the big auditoriums on ground floor. At my university we don’t have such huge auditoriums so it was quite impressing that the lecturer needs even a microphone to be understandable for the last rows. With the very comfortable seats you really feel like in a movie theatre.
For me it was also nice to see that there are some labs for different subjects to have a specialized environment like the Cyber Security Lab or the Game Lab. At my university of course you are allowed to use everything you need but there are only normal computer rooms for common use.
The lectures were also quite different from the German ones. At the beginning it was very strange for me to call the teachers by their first name which is normal in Finland. In Germany on the other hand it would be very impolite to do that. We have to be very formally and call teachers by their surname with a title like Mr. or Mrs. even when we know them for a long time. After I was used to that in Finland, I liked it much more than the German way because you don’t have to think a lot about the right formal phrasing for example when writing an e-mail.
In general I think studying at TUAS is more open and you have a better relationship to the teachers because you don’t have that formal distance. On the other hand my German home university is much more organized in some cases because I had a lot of changes of my schedule and sometimes we got important information very late. But still it was a great semester at TUAS and I got to know many people with the same interests like me.
Text & photo: Dominik Czernetzky