Thursday, 17 October 2013

SoMe, Sauna and white nights - two intensive weeks in Finland!

Scenery from the accommodation at Lomasaari
Hi my name is Alexander Steverink, a fourth year International Business and Languages student at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, located in Zwolle, the Netherlands.

Before I get to the actual story of my experiences during the Intensive Programme I would like to tell you how I got selected for the IP in the spring 2013. Earlier this year I read a notification on the intranet of Windesheim, they asked students to apply and those who met the requirements and were selected could join on this two week Intensive Programme DIGISOMEMAR - Digital, social and mobile media in marketing, internet and IT applications & management of M- and E-business, coordinated by Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TAMK. Due to my interest in this area and close affinity to it I was one of the four students selected to represent Windesheim together with one of our lecturers. After the application, approval and preparation it was time to pack my bags and travel to Finland.

The Dutch student team Joost, Alexander, Mariko and Anne
The journey started in Amsterdam where I took the plane to Helsinki to meet up with the other Windesheim students and our professor to travel to Tampere. The next day in Tampere we had a delicious breakfast and already met some other students. During the day we had plenty of time to get to know each other a little bit and we had a rather interesting introduction at TAMK. After the introduction we spent some time in Tampere and left for Virrat, our ‘’basecamp’’ for the next two weeks. I was happily surprised once we reached our final destination. Just outside this little town Virrat there is a beautiful lake surrounded by forest and some cottages where we stayed during the IP. Each cottage is located at the lake, with an own kitchen, bathroom and sauna. Not bad at all!

Audience preparing for a presentation
The first day we also had the opportunity to do some shopping and to get to know the surroundings a little bit. The rest of the time we worked in the DIGISOMEMAR IP, coordinated and guided by Pirkko Varis, a very warm, caring and helpful person that works at the TAMK University of Applied Sciences as an international coordinator and senior lecturer in marketing. All students and professors from every participating university presented and discussed on various topics relating to the IP, besides these presentations you participated in workshops that covered a wide range of topics.

A workshop session

The programme of the IP was very intensive, not only due to high number of subject related presentations, courses and workshops but also due to all the activities during and besides the programme. The programme itself was filled with various presentations and workshops related to the theme but it is unimaginable what students and teachers came up with to share with the group. From frequently made mistakes within social media communications up to real live augmented reality gaming, from mobile media marketing all the way up to new technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication). A very comprehensive programme that offered you as a student the possibility to widen your horizon and get a glimpse on the latest developments.

Some fun between presentations

The most challenging part of the programme was not the programme itself or the content but the different people, cultures and countries they came from. It was highly interesting to hear and see how students and professors form an opinion or explain their experiences with a certain product or service. Do not forget that even though most participants were from countries inside the European Union, the European Union itself has a lot of different cultures and perceptions. All in all it was a really challenging and intensive two weeks, in a beautiful country, with very warm people and interesting presentations and workshops in a multicultural setting. You did not only learn by participating in the mandatory part of the IP but also during the parties, during the sauna or during a dip in the ice-cold lake. Actually you were learning 24/7 in these two intensive weeks!

Fire made by ourselves

 The DIGISOMEMAR IP was a really great experience, even if you had been abroad to study or work, meeting new people from different cultures in this setting created completely new challenges. Besides the benefits of this programme for your own development, participation in the IP is something that can give you a head start when applying for a vacancy.

Pirkko and Iittala team members happy with the work done

Alexander from the Netherlands and Alexandros from Greece enjoying the IP

Text: Alexander Steverink, a student of Windesheim University of Applied Sciences

Photos: Christian Reimann, FH Dortmund; Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences

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