Monday, 4 July 2011

Wiener Melange mit Apfelstrudel, Wiener Schnitzel mit Erdäpfelsalat, steirisches Kürbiskernöl

Typical Viennese and Styrian culinary delights spiced with Austrian openness and friendliness

In June before my summer holiday started, I was priviledged to meet only friendly, professional and interesting people during my Erasmus international exchange week. I visited three different places of two different kind of educational institutions in Austria. I saw the beautiful Capital of Austria Vienna, Graz - Unesco City of Design and a small village in Styria in between and behind the beautiful and rocky mountain.

The other place of my visit was University of Applied Sciences = Fachhochschule and the other one was a small, private owned, flexible degree and continuation education institution. I met people from the International Office, Project Office and two different Degree Programmes. In the private education institution I was taken care of by the Managing Director and his team the whole day. My exchange week was very pleasant, interesting, educational, fruitful and cultural. We shared mutual interests and functions, also shared and compared some differences. I shared information about my project and got to know about their “green” projects and education. I got to see some laboratories as well. There can be a closer partnership in the future, if mutual interests are strong enough. Finland has good reputation in Austria and it is easy to function with Austrians, also with English. It was interesting to discuss about the difference and relations of Universities of Applied Sciences and Universities in both countries.

My keys and hints to a successful international week for you and your employer are:

- Good planning in advance, content, meetings, timetables, travel planning
- Good contacts and network inside your own organisation
- Enough good language and cultural skills
- Real interest of learning new things from different cultures, companies, people
- Good manners (of course)
- Openness to other cultures, habits and languages
- Openness to share your work content and experiences with others

My advantage was fluent German and knowledge of Austria from my background and prior to TAMK work experience. I could tell about TAMK, Tampere and Finnish education system in German. Even my new project task I could describe in German, though the project is a local project with Finnish material. It was a real joy for me to notice that I could participate in all discussions and degotiations in the local language. I noticed that the money and time I have spent on living abroad, visiting friends abroad, traveling for leasure and moving from another country to another was not lost or wasted. The proficiency was there under the skin or somewhere hiding in brain – what a joy and surprise! All language skills are investment and especially in Europe it is a great advantage to command also other languages than English.

I can warmly recommend TAMK staff and students to go abroad for studies, business or pleasure – even for a short time. I have noticed in the long run that the command of several languages have helped to find a job in a hard competition in Finland and abroad. Especially if you travel alone, you will get more advantage. It is good to see how things and life can be different in another culture or country. During my next trip abroad I will strengthen my Polish :)

They say that travel broadens the mind.

Happy Holidays! Schönes Urlaub ! Hauskaa lomaa !

Text and photos: Ursula Helsky-Lehtola

The writer is Service Coordinator in TAMK, Research & Development Services and since May 2011 substite as Project Manager in OPI ENEMPI “green energy and new learning environment project”

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