Student life in Turku – Adapting

Life in another country is nothing short of terrifying. My first few days here were emotional due to being the first to move into our accommodation. Being first had left my friend and I feeling lonely and unsafe, however I am grateful that I had a friend from my home university to keep me company as doing it alone would have made me feel very vulnerable. Fears ran through my head, what if I can’t cope on my own without my parents? What is something bad happens? Who is going to make my dentist appointments now? Haha, Joking I can do them on my own…. Sometimes.

When more people started to move in, Retrodorm had begun to feel more like home. I have a friendly outgoing personality so making new friends was not a problem, although as more time passed I see them more as a family than friends which makes life in the flat very welcoming at all times. We all share a common room and a very small kitchen. It’s very intimate but extremely annoying sometimes, especially when four people want to cook at the same time. Our flat contains fourteen people, so this actually happens a lot.

I am the most independent I have ever been as I am now doing my own grocery shopping, laundry, travel arrangements, rent payments and organization of placement. All of which I had help with at home from friends, family or my home university. This gives me confidence that I will continue to adapt well and improve personally and professionally.

Concluding my blog on adapting, I would like to leave you with this….

In my first few days of coming here I never knew how much I would change as a person, I never knew how this experience would make me a better person. It has! By gaining this independence, I’ve become myself, my true self! I know this sounds cliché, but it’s true. When you get away from everything at home, your responsibilities, your problems, even your boyfriends!!! You see yourself in a different way, a good way and it puts everything into perspective! I promise to anyone ever thinking about Erasmus, it’s an experience not to be missed! It’s hard but it will be worth it I assure you.

Rebecca Garfield

 

 

 

Student life in turku – Studying

Studying in Finland is unlike studying in my home university. The learning is much more independent, there is a lack of guidance and the questions asked are vague in comparison. My home university has me provided with presentations, lectures, and guidelines in which to follow. It is left to us as students to interpret the question ourselves. We are expected to gather information ourselves and the tutors want to hear our views. In my home university, we are taught to put our opinions aside and work on facts and relevant reading. In Finland the situation differs- they want to find out what our thoughts are on certain topics, they prefer to know what is going through our heads rather than what an author has written in a book. I like this idea as it allows me to connect and really relate to a topic. I can explain in my essays what the information means to me and if I agree or disagree. I think that this way of working really allows you to enjoy what your studying as you have a chance to ut you own heart in it.

On the other hand, our course is laidback in terms of deadlines. For example, in our first tutor meeting, we discussed our Special Education module and got to decide our own deadlines and choose one that suited us all best. Back home deadlines are set for us and there are penalties if they are missed!

I personally like the idea of being able to discuss and choose a deadline that suited us best, however I prefer my home university’s way of studying when it comes to lectures. I like to be shown the information I need and be given the opportunity to have it explained to me, it ensures me I am on the right track and that I understand correctly.

 

Rebecca Garfield

Student life in turku

Communicating

Mina Olen… Rebecca

When I first arrived in Finland I had very little Finnish. I come from Northern Ireland and my only language is English. I never had much success at learning languages in my past. However, all of my flatmates speak English as well as most Finnish people. This is helpful when asking for direction or even how much you owe the cashier at K-Mart,  however having little Finnish makes for great difficulty when trying to communicate with those without English, especially younger children. Communicating with younger children is something I want to achieve due to being placed in a Finnish speaking, Swedish Immersion School for placement. The older classes can speak fantastic English for their age, however younger classes cannot and I want to be able to communicate with everyone as well as show the same respect back to the older children. If they make the effort to speak English to me, I want to return that favour with Finnish. I am now a couple of weeks into placement and my Finnish has developed due to listening and learning words within classes. I have now begun my Finnish module which has also aided my ability to communicate, however my pronunciation needs a lot of work.

Finnish is one of the hardest languages to learn. This if fact and experience talking. My accent is so strong and I do not possess the ability to roll my tongue to pronounce “R” sounds especially. This makes my Finnish module extremely embarrassing for me, although knowing that everyone in the class is feeling the same, puts me at ease. Our class is laidback and I love that it is. This makes me more calm and enjoy learning the language in my own time. I know it will be difficult and I will not perfect the ability to speak it so soon, however I am motivated and know that learning it will make my stay here more comfortable.

Kiitos, for reading!

 

My brand new home !

Retrodorm 

I had the luck to get a place in the Retrodorm, an old nursery home and now the home of a crowd of exchange students, divided onto the three wings and their floors and in the middle of a little idyllic forest with great stone formations in the backyard and lots of parties, especially birthday parties all around, where I got a small culture shock as one, after we kidnapped him and carried him in the wrong direction, actually gifted a package of ham which was taken in happiness. Well played, these little things, that you did not know could happen.

Next to finding someone to party with it’s also easy to find people that want to do sports, which there are a big variety of available sports in all forms, mainly organized by a student organization and as cheap as it can get for a lot to do all week long. The Taekwondo trainer, a black belt with his share of funny stories to tell about tournaments around the world, is there every week to sweat and kick high and he is all out of sweat.

What else is to find here is a weekly tradition of someone burning their food and waking the whole Retrodorm from its siesta by activating the fire alarm which has to been made by a dj considering the rhythms it plays in the upper floors. Always a great get together since everyone comes down and has time to chat a bit, until the firefighter troops come and click the redeeming button.

And if there is no fire in the buildings, it was in the fingers after the greeting of the snow with a snowball fight around the dorm and a snowman that greeted students every morning with a crooked grin. And if that is not enough, going to sauna in the Student Village and swimming in the snow, making naked snow angels is one hell of an experience (in a good way).

 

 

Written by –  Till Pohland

So it begins

Journey

Being in Turku is nice, but the northern side of the Baltic Sea has also a lot more to experience. And it does not have to be one of the capitals. We rented a car with three people and drove through the lake plate of Finland, living in cottages and apartments that we found.

The first one was a cottage located in a big forest, as there is an uncountable amount of in Finland, hidden at the end of a long mossy path and directly at a lake. We even found a small paddleboat and after being amazed long enough by the interior of the cottage, we set sails and paddled to the middle of the lake to a little vacuum of silence in midst a circle of cottages, shined on by the setting sun.

Until we detected the small hole in the boat that slowly filled it with water… And after some parking maneuvers and fights with the jetty, we could enjoy the warmth of a preheated home, an experimental meal and finally, the sauna we had been waiting for!

To give a little tip to everyone that didn’t yet ran down a small hill and jumped into a lake full of algae, wear flip-flops! It is this fantastic sauna feeling of being able to wander around naked with a temperature of minus degrees Celsius, but the feet feel like the pipe where all the warmth flees from your body. Flip-flops are the saviors in your preferred color.

So, if you have flip-flops on, walking through the fresh air outside, counting the stars and trying not to be scared of the friggin’ monster below the jetty, where it’s algae arms look out from, so jumping in and it resulting in the best thing you could have done, the sauna is absolutely amazing.

We actually also found a dartboard to try our skills.

During the following dayswe found our way to a lot of things that are all signed out as cultural sites right at the big streets, awesome for tourism by car. A castle, an old fort, a tower to see an amazing view from and our goal, the Ukko-Koli, one of the small mountains of Finland, from which we could see a giant lake with a lot of different islands in. Ukko means grandfather and he is also one of the old Finish gods, the god of the sky (and a bit more). And from Ukko-Koli I could understand why they named the mountain after him

Written by : Till Pohland