Friday, 28 October 2011

Business Innovations Intensive Course in Lithuania

We spent one amazing week in Lithuania. It was the first time the Faculty of Economics and Management of the Vytautas Magnus University organized an intensive course of the Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network, and they succeeded very well.

The week was organized by Vytautas Liesionis, his student assistants and Pirkko Varis from TAMK. Totally 30 students from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Lithuania joined the intensive week “Business in the Nordic and Baltic Countries”. TAMK students Pia Dag and Päivi Majamaa (TAMK Virrat) and Enni Jaatinen, Heidi Kuivajärvi, Ekku Ristilä, Juuso Saastamoinen, Joonas Samposalo, Laura Tiainen, Aki Vainio and Minna Vanne (Proacademy) took part in the intensive course. 

We travelled to Vilnius on Sunday and met other Nordic and Baltic students from Denmark, Norway and Estonia. From Vilnius we travelled to the first destination of our stay where the Lithuanian students joined us. The first evening, night and day we spent in Liskiava. It is an old place with an interesting history, a beautiful church and buildings. We had such a good luck to get the opportunity to start the programme in that kind of a place.

We began to get to know each other better through funny games and competitions. It was nice to notice that even though I have taken part in many international projects during my studies there's always something new to learn, starting with the getting-to-know-each-other games.  In the beginning of the course, all teams presented their countries, universities and study programmes and in addition, some greetings in their own languages, too.
After Liskiava, we travelled to Kaunas and got an interesting assignment from Tele2 company: the idea was to create tools for the company to increase its sales and expand its customer base. Once again it was wonderful and interesting to work with people from other countries.

Most of Tuesday and all of Wednesday were spent with our assignment. The teams worked hard and took the assignment seriously. There were many good ideas and, in the end, it was really hard to pick just one and start to work with that. On Thursday, we were all interested in hearing what the judges were going to think of our ideas, and who was going to be the ”winner”. It was also good to see the work of the other teams.  Every time you have many teams working on the same assignment, it's funny and interesting to recognize how differently people and teams think. The presentations were really good, and the ideas behind the presentations were even better. Brainstorming and hard work usually transforms into good and colourful results!
On Thursday evening, the winning team was announced during the Lithuanian evening. Our hosts had organized a wonderful evening with original Lithuanian food and music. And that was really an amazing experience!
On Friday, it was time for feedback, reflection and reports. Then we all travelled back home.

The week was tough but enjoyable. I think we all learned new things from each other, and I think the differences between Nordic and Baltic people are not that big. We are once again richer with the new things that we learned and the new friendships that we got.

Text: Pia Dag, student of Marketing and International Business, TAMK Virrat Campus
Photos: Pia Dag and Karoline Rafter, Tromsø University Business School, Norway

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

TAMK’s student Noora Mäcklin dazzles as the new Maiden of Light

Noora Mäcklin, a 23-year-old student from Ylöjärvi, was selected for the Maiden of Light, the figurehead for the 46th Tampere Illuminations. Noora was given flowers at the final organised in connection with the ASTA Koti 2011 fair in Tampere. The soon graduating social services student and the new Maiden of Light told how she ended up becoming the Maiden of Light and how her working place surprised her after the win.

A year ago, Noora was singing at the Christmas Market with her sister Joanna. At the same time they attended the closing of the market hosted by that year’s Maiden of Light Melinda Sulkama. As a result of this, Noora soon became interested in the work of the Maiden of Light. She searched for related information in the internet, and decided to apply in the following year.

Noora was accepted to the competition. She experienced the semi-final as the most exciting phase: 

”When I knew that I passed the semi-final, I had already partly won myself. The final weeks were fun; all the finalists were really nice. I had most help from the stage performance prep given by Anne Helistö (Fashion Studio). I was a lot better at the final as I was not so nervous anymore.  I was able to be myself.”

Noora will soon graduate to Bachelor of Social Services in the option of Social Pedagogy. She does not know yet where she would like to work. Noora says that she enjoys her work at the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. The best in her TAMK studies have been the practical trainings as she has found work and more or less her own place in social services through them. Noora also liked the bachelor’s thesis work.
Even if Noora has not yet actually begun her year as the Maiden of Light, she already waits for the visits to the old people’s homes and the opening of the Christmas Market:

”The best will be to meet different people. I believe that I will also enjoy the hosting jobs. I know that I will like singing and playing as there is nothing better to do during Christmas than to sing carols!”

According to Noora, her strengths as the Maiden of Light come from the studies and hobbies. Noora tells that she is social and empathic. She has also had experience in performance through music. Noora has played the violin and piano as well as sung since she was a child.

”The warm comments and congratulations have been the nicest during these weeks after the final and before the opening of the Illuminations. My family has been as excited about the future tasks as I. I also had a nice surprise from my working place: congratulations and a bunch of flowers from the directors and a head lamp from the fellow workers to bring light to the darkness!”

The new Maiden of Light begins her year by hosting the opening of the Illuminations on Sunday 30 October. She will also participate in the opening of Tampere Christmas and the Christmas parade on Sunday 20 November. In addition, she will visit numerous old people’s homes bringing light to them who cannot visit the Illuminations anymore.

Text: Emma Ketonen
Rendition: Reija Lamminsivu

Photos: Noora Mäcklin

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

International tutoring – memories for a lifetime!

Sanna with her new friends

Each semester TAMK receives about 150 new exchange students. To welcome the students the International Services rely on the help of the students union Tamko and its sub-organization Club International Tampere (CLINT). The student tutors are the ones who meet new exchange students at the airport, show them around their new neighborhood, and help with all the questions related to the way of life in Tampere.

But what else is international tutoring? And why would you want to be one?

Sanna Hosike, Business Administration student and Survival Kit Coordinator at CLINT, explains: “it’s all true what they say about making new friends from all over the world, brushing up your language skills, and having the time of your life! For me, the best times have not been the parties but the time spent hanging out together just getting to know each other, making good food together etc. The only bad thing about tutoring is having to say goodbye to your exchange students – I’ve never cried as much as I did the last time I took my tutorees to the airport.”

Karolina and her tutorees celebrating vappu
Annika Dillenburger, a second year Tourism student, adds that most of her closest friends are other international tutors who she got to know when she became one last year. Annika, too, still keeps in contact with the exchange students she tutored and has even been to Hungary to visit one of them since. “I would say becoming an international tutor was the best decision I ever made and I really mean that!” 
“The funniest thing is observing the exchange students’ first reactions to the Finnish ways”, says Karolina Cichacz, Chairman of CLINT and an International Business student, and continues “for example the first time we take the students to sauna and they realize that people actually go there naked!”

Karolina is excited about the global network of friends she has made. Last summer she travelled to France and Malta to meet some of the former exchange students and there are still so many more friends to be visited! “There’s nothing more heart melting  than a “thank you” from the exchange students. They really appreciate this unique service that we offer them”, Karolina concludes.

If you want to become an International Tutor, enroll to Tamko by 31 October 2011. More information:

Text: Emma Roinila, International Services
Photos: Sanna Hosike, Karolina Cichacz

Friday, 14 October 2011

Project Management in Greece

Sonja, Sami, Toni and I got selected to join the LLP Erasmus intensive project management course IP PROMECON in Larissa, Greece.
Of course we were excited to travel to Greece with just for 80 euros (expenses paid by students) for two weeks just when the rainy and cold weather would have started in here Finland. But we acknowledged also that it wouldn’t be only sun, beaches and cold drinks because we had done some interviews with students who had been there on previous year. They said that there was going to be some simulation about logistics and other workshops so we knew how to prepare ourselves for this upcoming trip.
After we got to the airport of Athens, we met our new friends from Austria, Portugal and Denmark. We shook hands and noticed that there were quite many guys and no girls except one from Austria. “Is this going to be a course only with men and engineers?” I thought to myself.
Luckily this thought was false because after the arrival day we met the other students from Bulgaria, Germany and Greece, and they had some girls and non-engineering guys, too. We got our room from the campus of T.E.I. of Larissa, and the weather was great as we expected.
Sonja, Toni and Sami
On the first day, we got familiar with our new environment and friends. The campus was ok and the people were a quite nice bunch. On the second day, we got divided into multinational groups and were given assignments for projects which would help Larissa’s environment. Our job was to plan the projects, and my group’s mission was to renovate old tracks and build some new ones. We started with discussing the goals for our project. After that we used some models to build an organizational chart, shaped different environments and broke down the work for easier task handling.
It was pretty interesting to see how the group got into work. Michael, an Austrian guy, became the leader of our group (which he never admitted) because he had some work experience and best oral English skills. Others were throwing in some ideas and thoughts about how the project should be done.
During the next week, the groups were mixed up a bit, and our next job was to play a logistical simulation game. The main thing was to run a factory which produced bicycles and to sell bikes.
My group didn’t change that much but we lost our leader, Michael. We didn’t still lose our hope because Alexandra, who was maybe a little quiet during the first week, started to show some leadership skills and she seemed to know what to do. It was exciting to see the transformation.
The simulation included five periods and there were a total of eight groups competing against each other. The main parameter how they measured our success was how much profit we got. I think the simulation added some great competition to the course. Our group was the leader until third period but after that we did a huge mistake with quantities of sold items. Our profits dropped dramatically and there wasn’t any chance to win anymore.
Before summing up the whole course I want to mention a few things about our free time in Larissa.  During the weeks, we usually went to the center of Larissa to see the city because there was a free bus ride. Sometimes we stayed at the campus to spend an evening there chatting with other students. The highlight was the first weekend when we went to the beaches of Neio Pori just about 30 minutes by train from Larissa. There we played beach volley, ate in restaurants, swam in the sea and sun bathed. It was really awesome. The main tourist season had just ended and there were no tourists except us and the weather was still great.
Local food in a local restaurant
All-in-all the trip to Greece was an eye-opener. We learned new things about other cultures and something also about project management, although there weren’t that many surprises. The course was maybe targeted more to engineers but I think we Proacademians were a nice refreshment to the engineers’ world of numbers.
Text and photos: Ilpo Ryynänen, 4th-year student in Business Information Systems

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Education through community theatre

TAMK’s specialisation studies in Drama and Inclusive Theatre organised a community theatre event together with the Centre for Practice as Research in Theatre on 5 October. Daniel Maposa from Zimbabwe visited the event. The event was part of the project Voimaa taiteesta. The workshop of the day considered the role of community theatre in promoting wellbeing especially in Zimbabwe, where Daniel Maposa directs the Theatre for Development  ”Savanna Trust”  group. The group aims at educating people and making them aware of their environment and wellbeing by means of community theatre. The main objective is to strengthen cultural democracy.  To attain it, the group also teaches very practical matters by means of inclusive theatre, such as sanitary issues to keep cholera under control, sexual education and other everyday wellbeing issues.

The inclusive theatre is a development approach, which along with education has also been introduced in Finland, for example to increase wellbeing in work communities. Theory and practice alternated in the workshop organised by the colourful and captivating personality.
Maposa’s work is so called field work in whole Zimbabwe, but he also teaches inclusive theatre methods in Harare University. Dance belongs to the African learning tradition. We could learn from the holistic and functional learning situations here in Finland, where the learning approach is IT and sitting oriented. 

Text and photo: Annukka Häkämies, Senior Lecturer

Friday, 7 October 2011

Tampere descents to kaamos

23 September 2011 marked the autumnal equinox, when the day and the night are equal in length.
From there on, Finland slowly starts descending to darkness, kaamos.
The Finnish word ‘kaamos’ means more than darkness. Physically, yes, it is the time of dark, wet, gloomy and , eventually, slushy days. You barely recognize your friends because they are wearing thick pullovers, hats, mittens and skarfs. But it also means a shift in mentality: people turn inwards, become less active. All of a sudden it is more comfortable to crouch under the blanket on the sofa rather than going out for a walk or meeting a friend.
For a few more days, we get to enjoy the colours of the foliage.

Text and photos: Mirja Onduso, International Services

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Stockholm, an AMAZING city!

It all started on Sunday morning at 11. We were gathering in front of TAMK with about 100 exchange students. In order words: the recipe for having a great time!
The trip was organized by Club International Tampere (CLINT), and they made sure that we had bus transportation directly to the Viking Line in Helsinki. We only paid 50 euros for the whole trip which was in my opinion really cheap for one of the best weekend of my life.
There were a lot of things to do on the boat. There were bars, a cinema, restaurants, a casino, a duty free shop and of course 100 other exchange students who want to have a great time!
My plan was not to party the first night since I didn’t like to have a hangover during the six hours in Helsinki.  But that is quite a challenge with such amazing people, nice drinks and great (Finnish) music in the club on the boat. It took 15 hours to get from Helsinki to Stockholm, but the time was flying.
The next morning I woke up with a tiny hangover and went outside to see the skyline of Stockholm, Sweden.
What an tremendously beautiful city! As soon as we got off the boat we seriously had no clue where to look, because everything was so beautiful. The old town is huge and all the buildings have beautiful colors especially in the sunny weather we had!

I have visited quite a lot of cities in Europe. I have been in Copenhagen, Riga, Tallinn, Paris, London, Milano and so on. But Stockholm is the most beautiful city I have ever visited. The 6 hours were absolutely too short so I would love to visit this city again!!
Many thanks to the great people who organized this trip!
Text and photos: Tom Winkel, International Business Exchange Student from Utrecht, Netherlands