Study trip blog part 2

Sunday 21.10. 2018

On Sunday there was still some time to participate in an interesting walking tour of Dresden highlights before our train left to Berlin at around noon. Some of us preferred sleeping long after the strenuous hiking day. There was some excitement in the air as we had some misunderstanding about the meeting point at the train station and the train was about to leave. A quick last minute phone call and in no time at all, we were lucky to get on the train after all. During the afternoon we settled down and checked in at the hostel. The other study trip participants arrived and we met the last lot at the airport at around six pm. After everyone had their key cards to the rooms we went to a pizza place just round the corner. The owner of the place is a real entertainer and he always tries to guess customers’ countries of origin.
We finalised our plans for the next day and went back to the hostel. (Kaija)

Fernsehturm Photo Tea Sissonen

Monday 22 October 2018

We woke up to have breakfast downstairs at the hostel. The breakfast was surprisingly good.
The first item on our programme was the Olympic stadium of Berlin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we got there, so we resorted to plan B and went to see Kurfürstendam and the Memorial church there, as well as the KaDeWe – Kaufhaus des Westens that is Europe’s second largest department store after Harrods. When we managed to visit the stadium, it was enormous, as expected. It was such a pity to see the old stadium being left there to rot next to the renovated one. We also experienced an incident with the public toilets that would not open despite our efforts and coins. We wondered what we did wrong and tried to see if other people managed to get in. Later in the evening we had a guided tour in the Reichstag building where the German parliament meets. I was surprised by the security checks before entering the tour. This, as well, was a gigantic piece of building. It was such a pity the dome was under cleaning and we were only able to check it out from outside. But either way the view from the roof terrace into the illuminated city was nice. After leaving the Reichstag to head back to the hostel we decided to check on the memorial for the Jews as it was only a couple of blocks away. The depth of this memorial was cool, but being late and dark already, there wasn’t much to see as it was so dark between the huge concrete blocks.
Still it was a humble feeling similar to being in a graveyard. (Rasmus)

Dom Photo Antti Liimatta

Tuesday 23 October 2018
Every day started the same way. We ate breakfast in the hostel lobby. Today it was a really horrible experience to a Finnish girl or guy because there was a big group of German teenagers eating at the same time, so it was weird to sit so close to someone and there was a really long line before you got the food. A lesson in cultural encounters.
After the breakfast we went see the Berlin cathedral and it took only 15 minutes to walk there. We paid 5 euros entrance fee, so we had a chance to see the cathedral inside and visit the dome. It was really beautiful inside and we got good exercise as we walked at least 270 steps up so we could see the dome and the Berlin city from a higher point.
After visiting the cathedral we went by bus to Potsdamer Platz. It is a huge place, where you can do anything, there were many different stores and malls. We quickly ate there in an American diner before meeting a few exchange students and their teacher, Ms Daniela Schultz, and together we went to the Philharmonie lunch concert, which is really famous in Berlin. The players were really talented performers with their instruments.
When the concert finished, we had a plan to go on a tour under the Berlin city in the tunnels, but the tours were sold out – and it wasn’t possible to reserve tickets in advance – so we went to a museum which told about everyday life in the former German Democratic Republic.
After that we decided to go shopping and eating in Alexander Platz and then to Friedrichstrasse. I think we just hanged around there for almost 3 hours. When everybody was happy, we went back to the hostel and rested, because it was a really amazing day but pretty exhausting, too. (Jenna)

October 24 2018
On Thursday we were at Wildau Technical University of Applied Science. This time the train trip was longer than normally but at least there wasn’t so much walking. In school we participated in two classes: European identities with Ms Wiktoria Allan and two other teachers, and Cross Cultural Communication with Mr Greg Bond. In the first lesson we gave a little presentation about Finnish identities and in the second one we were in small groups discussing the differences between Finnish, German and Chinese people and cultures. After the lessons we went to eat in the Mensa, the university canteen and Daniela gave us a little campus tour. The food was good, and school was nice. We visited also the library and met the robot library assistant, Wilma.
On our way back to the accommodation we went to see the East Side Gallery and Berlin Wall. We did a little bit of other sightseeing, too, like Berlin’s Television Tower and world time clock (Weltzeituhr) at Alexander Platz. After that we had some free time. Some of us went to watch a view of Berlin and some went to eat. The rest of the evening was nice and relaxing. (Tea)

TH-Wildau Photo Kaija Sankila

October 25, 2018
Today we had an amazing day, even though it started mirthlessly. When I woke up, I was feeling laconic, unmotivated and unenergized, despite the fact that I had slept well. A thought that this day is going to be a real disaster came to my mind.
I don’t want to bore you with the details of the morning. Let’s just say that our little group slept a bit longer than usual, ate and traveled to the destination, to Wildau, where we had a lot of program. First, we attended a German class, which was orchestrated by wonderful Daniela. We talked a lot but unfortunately not very much in German. But we gave small
presentations in German about our school and North Carelia. Secondly, we participated in the international afternoon. We had a chance to taste foods and drinks from many different cultures. We also had our own Finnish table that we hosted. People loved lonkero drinks; however, salmiakki did not sell well.

The international day was the final event in our Thursday’s program, but the day didn’t end for many of us. The fun was just beginning when four Finns approached the gates of the Oktoberfest tent. I had quite a show with my 5 € note – goddamn wind! At least the incident brought a smile to other people’s faces. In the festival itself we enjoyed ourselves to the point that even I started to dance, which is very unusual. The energy of the Germans was very inspiring and cheering.
All in all, the day was better than I ever could have expected. No words can describe how satisfied I felt, and I suppose I wasn’t the only one. (Jukka)

International afternoon: The Finnish table Photo Jenna Leinonen

October 26, 2018
Friday started slowly, as I too had been at the Oktoberfest the previous night. After a refreshing breakfast we decided to go on a walking tour in the nearby area and later go shopping for some souvenirs, since we were going to fly back the next day. We found a small gift shop near the bridge on Friedrichstrasse and got some overpriced mugs and T-shirts to bring back home. On our way to the meeting at the Finnland Institute we got to enjoy some equally overpriced Curry Wurst for the complete Berlin experience. I personally didn’t care much for the Finnish Institute visit, but I suppose it was good to know such an institution exists and helps students, for example, with practical advice if they want to do their internship in Germany.
After our visit to the Institute, we walked to the Brandenburg Gate, which wasn’t too far. There we entered a room of silence, which was a nice break from the noise of the city. We also visited the Victory Column, though we didn’t go inside. It was impressive anyway. After some pictures we headed back to the hostel and had pizza on the way. Nothing much happened for the rest of the day. In the evening we toured some bars with some Russian students we met at the Oktoberfest, which was nice. Nighttime Berlin was definitely a must on the list of travel experiences. (Antti)

A concluding remark from the teacher: planning and organising a study trip is rather a lengthy process, and learning takes place in many ways along the way, from learning how to book flights to finding your way around and using the public transport and experiencing something you wouldn’t maybe include in your programme if you were a tourist. All in all, I sincerely hope this will encourage students to reconsider their options for internationalisation in one form or another. There are many students who have done an exchange semester upon inspiration of the past study trips. Next application period for the study trip takes place in March/April 2019.

Coming up soon: My study trip experience

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