Monday, 2 December 2013

Erasmus Adventurers at TAMK and Turning Forty in Fabulous Finland!

Birthday girl Nicole!
Several years ago whilst I was working as a temp, my manager asked me to meet and greet some international guests. On asking the group of friendly ladies where they were from, their reply was Tampere in Finland. I had never heard of the place and knew nothing about the country. So from that moment I knew that one day I wanted to visit.

Fast forward to the present day and I’m extremely happy to say that I finally got to visit Tampere and Finland. And it was by doing Erasmus as a Staff member at Anglia Ruskin University that made one of my dreams come true!

I am passionate about travelling and meeting people from different countries and cultures, so doing Erasmus also gave me the chance to do something I love! Plus have the chance to visit a university abroad, meet some lovely people and exchange information about the way we work – benchmark. It’s also a great way to build relations between other partner universities.
I chose to go to Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Finland for a week in October and what an amazing time I had! My programme was prepared by Matti Pietilä, one of the International Coordinators at TAMK. Wow! - It was certainly a packed itinerary; it looked and felt like I was meeting the whole of Finland in a week! But everyone I met was so friendly and eager to talk about their work and ask about mine.
Nicole visited many of the TAMK Services during her visit
My Erasmus programme allowed me to see and learn about a wide variety of things, for example, I learnt about ‘SoleMOVE’ the TAMK mobility tool; an online programme that eliminates papers and forms and makes the Erasmus application process simpler. ‘Kykylaakso’ – the virtual learning environment used by the TAMK School of Business and Services, as a method of teaching entrepreneurship in the Business Administration programmes. Plus I visited ‘ProAcademy’ which helps students set up and run their own real businesses in teams with some guidance from their Coaches. As well as meeting some lovely Study Secretaries and various nice people whom work in the International Services.
TAMK Library and origami birds
I loved seeing the colourful, paper origami birds suspended in the library as if they were flying. And I enjoyed sharing a break with the other TAMK staff members in their new staff room situated along the student Service Street. It was proof no matter if you are English or Finnish, we all laugh and chat about similar stuff and enjoy having a nice cup of tea and eating a yummy piece of cake or chocolate!
Centre of Tampere is known for it's old factory buildings

Shopping at Helsinki
Luckily during my visit, I also had some free time to check out Tampere, Helsinki and enjoy a unique sauna experience at the oldest public sauna in Finland ‘Rajaportti’ in Tampere.
I gained so much from my fantastic Erasmus trip! As well as discovering:
Salty Liquorice, also known as ‘Salmiakki’ is popular in Finland, as is the physical activity of Nordic Walking, walking with poles.
Nordic walkers

Ice Hockey at Hakametsä Ice Stadium
Ice Hockey is the most popular sport in Finland and I was lucky enough to be taken to watch a game one night with my host.
Team Ilves 
The Moomins was created by a Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer Tove Jansson in Finland. There’s a Moomin Museum in Tampere which I visited.

Saunas are a part of the Finnish everyday lives, they’re places to relax and socialise and many have saunas in their homes. In fact, I bought some chanterelle mushrooms that were handpicked and dried in the sauna of one of my newly made Finnish friends.

I want to thank everyone I met so much for making me feel so welcome. It was a pleasure to meet you all!
Finland will always have a special place in my heart and the fact I got to celebrate my 40th birthday there and even visit Helsinki for the day on my actual birthday was totally awesome!!

WOW! Forty in Fabulous Finland! What more could I have wished for!

Text and Pictures: Nicole Tomlin
Receptionist & Administrator
Lord Ashcroft International Business School
Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, England

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