Monday, 23 September 2013

Omani students learnt entrepreneurship skills at TAMK

Joy, inspiration and friendly words!

A summer course offer TAMK made for Oman brought 36 young Omani higher education students to study entrepreneurship skills at TAMK. We had the chance to work with glad and friendly Omani students during the summer.

The group of the best Omani higher education students arrived in Finland after Midsummer for a one-month study trip. The education included idea generation methods, project management, development of self-marketing, development of personal business ideas, and above all, experiences on Finland. We at TAMK received a lot of information and understanding of the life and education system of a country so far away but yet so close.

Differences in learning cultures

Our learning culture differs considerably from the Omani one. A student described the Omani way of lecturing like this: ”First the teacher opens a book, lectures about it, and closes the book. After this we believe that it is so. In Finland we have been able to ask, wonder, and participate in teaching. The idea generation methods were challenging but extremely interesting ways to develop new business ideas.”

This was not our first experience on Omanis but whether the course succeeded and the Omanis felt comfortable kept us in suspense for the whole July. We wanted our guests to enjoy and return to their home country with positive experiences and inspiring ideas. Luckily the students were flexible and self-directed. We soon learnt the culture differences and got used to the men doing everything before the women. The women were used to waiting and it was natural for them to remain in the background. On the other hand, the men were very polite and considerate towards the women. Discussions with the women revealed their wide education and willingness to develop themselves and find meaningful employment. On the basis of what we heard, Oman has same problems as Finland – there are unemployed young people and it is difficult for them to find work. Entrepreneurship is often the only option.

The summer with the students went fast. Our biggest worry was the food. Finding the right ingredients and cooking the food options were challenges for our cooperation partners in food services. The students bravely fasted almost their whole time in Finland. Could you do this – in a foreign country, in the middle of strange habits without food and drink during daylight?

The group achieved a lot

The visit took place during the Finnish holiday season and TAMK facilities were quite freely available for us. Y-Campus offered a great setting for teaching new learning methods. Due to the holidays, there were not many company visits; we offered business life examples by inviting company representatives to TAMK. Despite the holiday season, TAMK Extension Studies staff and numerous teachers participated in the summer project. Tabula was used diligently and emails and text messages flew in order to make everything succeed as desired.

The students also readily shared information with each other. An Arabic lecture on blogging was interesting. Ideas were exchanged and hands swung eloquently. The group spirit was literally tangible.

And what was achieved concretely? The male group practised for example video editing. They probably had a twinkle in their eye when uploading this video to YouTube after the study day.

Our guests started their return journey feeling wistful. They packed memories and a piece of Finland in their suitcases. We at TAMK had a feeling of success with experiences of a new but already familiar culture.

Text: Kerstin Jääskeläinen and Taru Orell
Photo: Badr AlKhatri 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Kamilla got inspiration from Erasmus Staff Training at TAMK

TAMK Social Counselor Mirja Onduso and Kamilla Trubicki picking up new international degree students from the airport.


My name is Kamilla and I’m from Austria. I work in the international area of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Wels Campus. Our university has approx. 5000 students in total, 1500 of them at Wels Campus, so it’s fairly small.

I had been thinking of going on an Erasmus Staff Training for some months, but somehow the timing of the proposed staff training weeks never seemed right. When I discovered that TAMK holds its Orientation Weeks for both Incomings exchange and international degree-seeking students in August, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me. Usually staff trainings are held during organized staff training weeks, but as TAMK was very flexibly with hosting me, in my case this was a spontaneous and individual week.

Exchange students getting to know each other

I stayed at TAMK from August 19-23 with the goal to attend both mentioned Orientation Weeks and also to meet the whole International Team at TAMK. As my tasks at my university contain taking care of international students of our English taught Master’s degree programme “Innovation and Product Management”, but also Incoming exchange students, I knew I would learn a lot during my time at TAMK.

My week started, as it did for more than 100 exchange students (amazing!), with welcoming words by Kaisa and Marika and interesting introduction sessions on Monday and Tuesday. And some korvapuusti of course. It took me three days to remember that word, but I still know it! :) On Tuesday there also was a trip to Viikinsaari Island which was organized by the international coordinators for all the exchange students, with various games, team building activities and grilling sausages. It was a great opportunity for the exchange students to get to know each other and also the finish sauna culture – which I enjoyed a lot, too. :)

Get-together activities for new exchange students during the orientation week

The rest of the week I followed the Orientation Weeks for international degree-seeking students. It was really amazing to see the excitement to welcome international degree-seeking students! All the department heads and staff members welcomed those students and made them feel really comfortable. Another great part of the week was meeting the social counselor of TAMK, Mirja Onduso. She takes care of mainly international degree-seeking, but also regular and exchange students’ social issues on a full-time basis. We got to pick up some students, show them their apartments and also organize furniture for some students together. It was really inspiring to see Mirja’s – and of course also TAMK’s – commitment towards international students.

Finally I also had the chance to meet many of the international coordinators that I only knew from exchanging e-mails. It’s always great to meet people you usually only deal with by e-mail in person!

Kamilla took part in the trip to Viikinsaari Island together with the new exchange students

What I brought back home from my week at TAMK? First of all a great intercultural experience and a lot of inspiration by the great work of the International Services at TAMK. A head full of new ideas to improve my own processes in working with international students, some of which I’m currently trying to implement. And a great recipe for korvapuusti (thanks Mirja! :), but that’s still on my to do list.

Kiitos to Mirja, Kaisa, Marika, Matti, Piri and Noora for a great week at TAMK!

Herzliche Grüße aus Österreich,


Tampere by night

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The first exchange students from Brazil and Lebanon

Mateus Engels Henke from Brazil and Fabio El Khoury from Lebanon have the honor to be the first TAMK exchange students presenting their home countries. Mateus is studying Paper Technology and Fabio is studying Film & Television at TAMK.

 Mateus Engels Henke and Fabio El Khoury in TAMK main campus during the orientation week

The students are from very different parts of the world but the reasons why they chose TAMK in Finland as their first option were the same: they searched information and they noticed that the level of studies is high in Finland and the education system works well thanks to the investments of the government. Fabio also got recommendations about TAMK from his Head of Degree Programme in Saint-Joseph University who had been a visiting lecturer at TAMK earlier. In addition, Fabio was tempted by the peaceful lifestyle in Finland so the desicion was easy to make.

The first impression of Finland was also similar for both: lot of trees and lakes, lot of space and a language which is really different from the other languages they know. Mateus was suprised to see how the cities are planned and Fabio noticed how everything is so well organized.

Mateus is a scholarship student of  Science without Borders programme which is a large-scale mobility programme primarily funded by the Brazilian federal government. Thanks to this new way of cooperation, next spring there will be more Brazilian students joining TAMK for the exchange studies.

Altogether, around 170 exchange students from 30 countries will do the exchange studies or training at TAMK this semester.

A bunch of exchange students and international tutors getting to know each other on Viikinsaari island

Text: Kaisa Merilahti, TAMK International Services
Photos: Kaisa Merilahti and Annika Dillenburger