Monday, August 30, 2010

Finnish surroundings

It is interesting to see that foreigners pay attention to things what are ordinary things to me in Finland. They are amazed that there is a lot of trees, it is fascinating to see squirrel running or rabbit jumping on the road. For them it looks that everyone is blond in Finland. They are also wondering how the streets are so empty in the evening.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Five tips how to get started with your Exchange year

Exchange students are starting their studies soon in the new country. Based on my experience I made a five point list how to get started with exchange year.

1. Study the language of the destination

It helps a lot if you have studied the language before arriving to the new country. It is not necessary to have studies of five or more years. One year is already enough to have good basics to start speaking and learning the language in the destination.

2. Start speaking the local language right away

Do not speak first in English and then switch to the local language when you have learned it better. Probably you will not ever change to the local language and the faster you start speaking with the local language the faster you will learn it. There are many cases where someone have studied a language ten years but does not speak it. Even after studying a language one year you can easily learn to speak better than them if you start to use the local language right away. It will be hard in the beginning but you just have to fight and you will be speaking a new language fluently if you use it everyday.

3. Find a tutor

In some places you have tutor assigned for you but if you do not have one, Find one from the university. You can ask for example your classmates at the studies. When you have a tutor it means that he/she is eager to show you things of his country. So do not miss the opportunity. Eventually when you spend time together you will be friends.

4. Go out especially in the beginning

When studies start in the beginning there is people who do not know eachother yet. Therefore in the beginning it is easier to find friends because people are more open to meet new people. Friendship circles are not formed yet but they will be formed quite quickly. So be active in the beginning and go out and other gathering what are organized. If there is nothing organized you can invite a bunch of people to join you somewhere. Take a beer, to see some attraction, to go play together something, ETC.

5. Go alone to exchange

It is a bad idea to arrive with friend, boy/girlfriend because it limits your socialization with the new people.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tutoring starts

I am now in Joensuu. I have taken some of exchange papers to my university for recognizing the studies but I have to still wait for the transcript of second semester from Spain. I will be tutoring exchange students in Joensuu and today I am going to see the first arrivals. Tomorrow we will have tutor meeting to prepare ourselves for the upcoming arrivals.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


In Spain I had three girl flatmates in the first semester. When I mentioned about it to other guys almost everyone envied me. In the second semester I had only one flatmate which was also a girl. In Finland I had lived one year with two boys and it is very rare to have flatmates of the opposite sex. I did not see a big difference living with girls compared to boys. When living with girls Bathroom was not always occupied and there was sometimes dirty dishes. In Finland all the students want to live alone on the contrary in Spain I found out that almost everyone preferred living with flatmates. They explained that having company is nice and it feels safer when you are not living alone. In Finland students have fear of bad flatmates and therefore they want to live on their own. Then you can decide when you have company and no one else leaves kitchen dirty.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Here I am writing some after thoughts about the parties that were organized in Alcalá. In Alcalá there was very tight Erasmus community and always when you went to some party you could be sure that you will meet there many friends. Santi and Esn played big role in forming the community. Both added every Erasmus student to their friend list in Facebook and then invited them to the different places to have a party on every tuesday, wednesday, tuesday and friday. Especially every Thursday was a big Erasmus party. Some people did not like much Santis business because people think he is just making money with the Erasmus students. That is partly true but he also organized parties in his flat. Erasmus students were big part of the night life during the week therefore bars hired Erasmus students to work as a bartender.

Every week parties had some different theme. Themes were for example: White T-shirt party, party in the color of your nation, brazilian party and so on but no one really followed the given dresscode. Parties were marketed through facebook. Bars had their profile or group page and invited people to join them and then sent every week invitations. I joined some groups but later on I unjoined these groups because every week I received a some type of annoying event invitation. After few weeks you knew about the party without the event invitation.

I had an idea about different party what I missed. Before going to Erasmus I thought that there could be a party in a swimming pool because Spain is hot. but There was not never organized such party in a swimming pool. There is a lot of things to organize it but it is possible. Many Erasmus students had party in a swimming pool when they went to Ibiza but it would have been also great to have that kind of party in Alcalá. This idea is for the people who will make the part of the Erasmus next year somewhere where swimming pool is available.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Modern sauna

Living room with fireplace

I went to house exhibition to see brand new Finnish houses in the new block in Kuopio. I thought that what you can find in every Finnish house but is not common in Spain. Typical Finnish house is made of wood. The floor is made of wood, there are fireplace and sauna. On the contrary houses in Spain are made of rock or tiles typically and there is tile floor and air conditioners.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The goals I reached

In August before starting my exchange year I set seven goals for myself. I reached six out of seven. Goals which I reached were: learn fluent Spanish, join Spanish floorball team, see la liga match live, eat churros and octopus, earn at least 50 credits and meet Spanish people who I got to know in Joensuu. I am happy to say that I can speak fluent Spanish now and it gives me change to learn French or Italian more easily in the future. The floorball team where I played was UHK Madrid. I saw la liga match of Real Madrid live. I ate churros and octopus and many other new Spanish food but I did not try for example cocido. I met seven Spanish persons who I had seen before in Joensuu but I did not see them as many and much as I imagined before coming to Spain.

The only goal which I did not reach was to play field hockey. Field hockey was not as popular as I thought. I asked from people do they know any clubs where I could play but they did not know. I just got a chance to hold a children's field hockey stick.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Finnish beach

In Spain most of the new houses have a swimming pool. During the summer it is hot and it is very nice to have one. I was surprised that swimming pools are in use just during the summer because I thought pools are used a longer period. Lifeguard is very popular summer job among young people because of the many swimming pools and they get decent salary. In Finland we do not even need swimming pools that much because we have warm water in lakes where we can bath in the summer.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Culture of sharing

In Spain I discovered much stronger culture of sharing. When travelling with my teammates someone always bought some pack of snacks and then shared the whole bag equally with everyone. In Finland the one who bought the bag would have given one or two snacks for his friends and then eaten the rest by himself. When going for a short trip it is necessary to go to the supermartket to buy some food. In Spain we chose together some food for the common basket and then we shared the price. In Finland everyone would take care of their own food and then buy it on their own. I have even sometimes begged someone to share pack of sausages with me but no one wanted to share with me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The beach

Twisted house

Now I have returned back to Finland from my travel. Two last days of my trip I slept in Gdansk which is city in the northern coast of Poland. Also in Gdansk I got a place to sleep therefor I did not have sleep in a hostel or hotel during my stay in Poland. I am really grateful for everyone who took my to their place to sleep. Travelling is very nice when you know a friend in whose place you can stay.

I had bad luck with the weather in Gdansk. It was raining a lot and therefore sightseeing was not that enjoyable. I saw the landscape of Gdansk, old town, Sopot and the beach. In Gdansk I got a chance to enjoy a great home theater just like what you can see in Music televisions celebrity cribs program. I realized that in Poland everyone has two locks in their door. In Finland two locks is not that common.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Polish wedding

Decoration on the cake

Finally I have Internet connection after celebrating two day Polish wedding. The wedding party was great. The wedding started in the flat of the bribes parents where they gave their blessing to the marriage. After that we came down and bribe threw sweets for people outside and then we continued to a church where we had traditional catholic wedding ceremony. From there we went to the villa where was a lot of food and drinks offered. The whole night people danced for the live music. Also games were played which guests could participate. Party continued the whole night and on the next day we continued the party in the same place with the same catering.

260 people were invited to the wedding and 160 participated. This size of wedding is not considered a big wedding in Poland. Vodka plays very important role in the Polish wedding. There was reserved one half a liter bottle of vodka for each guest and band encouraged people to take shots during the whole night.