Monday, 30 April 2012

Exchange Student’s Guide to Vappu

Vappu is a traditional workers’ festival celebrated on 1 May.  Nowadays, the carnival starts already on 30 April and is mostly enjoyed by the students.

To celebrate the beginning of Spring, the finish of the school year – or whatever your excuse may be (the Finns never really need a reason for partying)!

All over the city! Check out Koskipuisto park, Pyynikki beach, Vappu market in Central Square, Särkänniemi adventure park, or any bar or club!

Wear your student overalls and a funny hat or a wig, try munkki (doughnut) and sima (non-alcoholic vappu drink), hang out with 40 000 of your closest friends (the amount of University students in Tampere), have a picnic with a bottle of bubbly, and enjoy the carnival spirit!

If in any doubt see how the Finns do it – you’ll soon get the hang of it!

Text: Emma Roinila 
Photo: The Student Union of the University of Vaasa

Being social welfare counsellor and me.

It’s been now a little bit over one month here in TAMK, working as the new social welfare counsellor. During this time I’ve been trying to figure out this organization, get to know a lot of people and also had the time to admire the views from my offices window as my office is located of the top of the S-building. I was hired to TAMK to work with foreign degree students and in the beginning it just means meeting people, hearing what they have to say, gathering experiences/info and making plans on those things that I’ve heard. 

The main objective of my work with degree students is to give support in everyday life. Social matters and issues are my area if expertise, but I have to know a little bit about everything. Guiding, counselling and giving information for students in a wide range of different issues: Living in Finland and Finnish culture, accommodation and housing, residence permit and registration, working and taxes, social allowance and students’ financial aid, finding social networks (inside or outside school) and also other problems. 

If a foreign student doesn’t know where, how, what: they can come and ask. Or when one just needs to talk to somebody.  I have the obligation to maintain secrecy (and basically I am not much of a blabbermouth), so private issues are safe with me. As to my personality: I’m just a bit of a thinker and as some Finns are: quiet and calm, I am a sort of a prototype of a Finn. Yet I can use high-pressure methods when needed. 

In spite and because of the fact that I am the only social welfare counsellor in TAMK, I will be cooperating with the rest of the staff:  student counselors and secretaries, teachers, pastor, health care etc. And of course student’ union Tamko’s staff and tutors will be my partners in cooperation. During this spring and summer I will be making new contacts inside and outside TAMK, and hopefully I will get excited people to work with me from different kind of organizations. 

Although my main objective is to support the foreign students, I hope trough my work, we can find ways that bring good things in student life in general. The wellbeing of one is eventually benefit for the community and vice versa. Usually we see the domino effect in practice when something bad happens, but it’s still there when something good happens, you see it if you stop and look closely.

Different kinds of ideas are developing and things that are coming up are: meetings with students and groups and hopefully some activities like international get-together. And I am also planning to get some kind of Survival kit for degree students, a similar kind what exchange students have had the chance to have. But everything is still under construction so let’s see what I’ve done by the time next autumn semester starts. I am hopeful. 

Text and photo: Emilia Seppä

Friday, 27 April 2012

Librarians in Cardiff


Cherry trees flowering during the international Erasmus week in Cardiff University Library: Erasmus Staff Development Programme, 16-20 April 2012

Cardiff University

Twelve librarians from Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, Poland and Spain gathered together to learn new and share their experiences in cold but tulips blooming Cardiff in Wales ( We had a great opportunity to get an overview of the excellent practices of information literacy and information searching training. The Cardiff University Library is an award winning international leader in the information literacy (IL) field.

Through plenty of projects Cardiff University library has developed many new services and aids for information literacy teaching. Some examples of these are the successful Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching (translated in many languages, also in Finnish), IL Resource Bank, vodcasts and movies in YouTube.

Would you like to learn about Plagiarism? See the "horror-like" movie Cardiff University Library has produced various information literacy resources ( that can be utilized also in TAMK. Some of the library's new services such as special support for researchers and ”Ask a librarian live” chat were hot topics for us when considering and developing TAMK library’s future services.

Because of TAMK's new library building project, visits to numerous different libraries in Cardiff were an inspiring part of the exchange week. The most impressive library was the refurbished Trevithick Library ( that was opened in March 2009. After three years’ use the library's design furniture still looked like new. The co-operation of the young architect - also a library user - and the librarians was close and intensive from the beginning of the refurbishing. We really admired the excellently functioning, elegant and study oriented atmosphere of the library.

Cardiff week gave us fresh ideas. We feel that we learned a lot and are happy to share as much as possible of it with people in TAMK. With full of new ideas and energy we warmly recommend staff exchange to all!  

Cardiff harbour

Text : Auli Kuparinen, Information Specialist, TAMK Library, Pyynikintie and
Marja-Liisa Timperi, Information Specialist, TAMK Library, Kuntokatu 3

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

On site – Lisboa, Portugal

Square Rossio

Greetings to all from Lisbon, Portugal! I arrived here late last night, after travelling for hours and getting delayed in Paris for bad weather conditions. I’m here for the International Week organized by our Portugese partner, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa. There are almost 40 of us participating the week from all over Europe and I was happy to see some people from other partner universities as well.

After a well rested night, I found from the breakfast room some Finnish collegues from Metropolia in Helsinki by eaves dropping their conversation!  Together we made it to the campus which was located north of the city center. After giving my presentation about TAMK and listening to others, we had a great sightseeing tour. Lisbon is a beautiful city, in its own black and white style.

I’m about to explore some more of the city during the week, as well as have plenty of good practice to come home with.

I’ll be checking in with the full report after I’ve landed safely back home!

Text & Picture: Noora Järventaus, International Services

Monday, 23 April 2012

Erasmus 25 years

To celebrate the 25 years of the Erasmus programme, CIMO wants to give out overall patches to Erasmus exchange students. 
International services are giving out these patches to TAMK students that are going for Erasmus exchange during the academic year 2012-2013.  

So, if you're going to Erasmus exchange next fall or spring, come and get your overall patch for free from the room B1-44 during the opening hours:  Mon-Wed 12.30-15.30, Thu-Fri 9.00-12.30. 

Non-teaching staff week in Malmö

Happy clatter of discussion in the hotel lobby this morning was a good sign - we are all looking forward to what is to come (although our group decided that we are not "morning people"). Nearly 30 members of university staff from libraries, career services, PR & communication services and international services are gathering for a week to exchange ideas and experiences... We shall see what happens! Wednesday will focus on my expertise, student mobility, and on Thursday we will try to combine that with special media and its possibilities. Tomorrow we will see student presentations on international projects that they have taken part in. It will ne good to hear what the students' view on the gained benefits has actually been. Malmö university has made us very welcome, and the city seems charming. The hotel could be called "quaint" but I did not come here to stay in my room!

Friday, 20 April 2012

International buzz at TAMK

During this semester TAMK will host 9 international weeks. Some of them have been already, some are running as we speak and some will take place later this spring. This week there is international week of School of Vocational Teacher Education and next week it is turn for RDI international week. 

We also got visitors from the international weeks that were held in University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology. About 35 guests from all around the Europe got to know a little bit about TAMK. 

Our International Coordinator, Noora Järventaus hosted the visitors together with trainee, Sanna Hosike for few hours yesterday. Noora introduced TAMK to the visitors focusing on the international side of TAMK. After the TAMK introduction, it was time for lunch. As it was Thursday, Campusravita was offering among other things pea soup. It might not look really fascinating for foreigners, but Noora was able to convince the guests that it is one of the traditional Finnish foods worth trying. We were happy to see that many of the visitors took the chance. The experiences were unforgettable.

The visitors were really interested about TAMK and the exchange opportunities we can offer for them and vice versa. Even though in Finland UAS’s, Universities and Technical Universities differ from each other, the system in many European countries is not quite the same. For example TAMK and UTA have quite a few same partner universities.
We were glad to have the visitors of TUT and UTA’s international weeks to come and see TAMK as well during their stay in town.

The annual International Week for Non-Teaching Staff of TAMK will be arranged on 11 – 15 June 2012 for the fourth time. We hope to see as eager faces during our international week as we saw during this visit. 

Text: Sanna Hosike, Trainee, International Services

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Orientation for outgoing students – success once more!

West Finland HEInet organized an annual orientation day for outgoing students and trainees for the 13th time. The event was held at University of Tampere and brought together approximately 450 new hopefuls and veterans of internationalization.

The orientation day offers vital information for exchange students and trainees, and trains them to deal with situations which may arise during the exchange period. Previous days have included lectures about adapting to a new culture, personal safety abroad, and offered a chance to get more information about organizations and companies useful for an exchange student. Some of the lectures are aimed to all participants and some of them are host country or continent specific offering a possibility to present questions to students who already have completed their exchange period.

This year’s speakers included Dr. Teemu Palosaari from the Tampere Peace Research Institute and Ms Mirja Sipinen, a joint correspondent in Moscow for STT (the Finnish News Agency) and MTV Media. The focus of both speakers was on personal safety while abroad. The speakers emphasized the importance of critical thinking towards news that are spread in tabloids and remembering to follow the guidelines given by the authorities in crises abroad.

According to the received feedback – as anticipated – the afternoon country group discussions between past and future exchange participants were the most rewarding part of the day for the new outgoing students. First-hand knowledge on how things work in the planned destination is priceless.

Big thanks to everyone involved in making the day a great success once more!