A Study Trip to Dresden and Wildau/Berlin October 2019

Sprachen und Werbekampagnen in der Zeit der Digitalisierung
Karelia study trip blog to Dresden and Wildau/Berlin 16.10. – 26.10.2019
Supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) 

This autumn the annual study trip to Germany was organised in October and 11 students and German teacher Kaija Sankila participated in a special programme called Sprachen und Werbekampagnen in der Zeit der Digitalisierung.

This programme was prepared and organised together with colleagues from our partner universities: professor Rainer Stollhoff, who coordinated the programme, and German lecturer Daniela Schultz from TH-Wildau and Renate Rudat, foreign language teacher at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Education at HTW-Dresden. Furthermore, the international offices of both institutions were very welcoming to us, and our group enjoyed great hospitability during our stay.

Our programme started in week 42 in Dresden where we visited our partner university Hochschule für Technic and Wirtschaft (HTW Dresden) at the central campus in Friedrich-List-Platz.

The second part of the study trip took place in week 43 in Berlin and Brandenburg at our long-time partner university Technische Hochschule Wildau (TH-Wildau).

This year we delved into topics round languages, communication and digitalisation in workshops together with German teachers and students. We familiarised ourselves with machine learning and automated translation services, among other things, and learned a lot.

In the following, you will gain some insights and authentic experiences directly from the study trip participants.

Wednesday 16.10.

Hi, my name is Ville, and I’ll have the honor to kick off our travel blog. We are a group of students from different fields of studies from Karelia University of Applied Sciences, and we are travelling to Germany for a study excursion.

The long-awaited day is finally here, and our journey to Germany, to Dresden via Berlin to be more precise, started. We met with the most of our group before our flight in rainy Helsinki, while some of us were already enjoying the beautiful Berlin. Our flight departed from Helsinki-Vantaa airport at 11:25 and we arrived in Berlin Tegel airport at 12:25 local time. From the crowded Tegel airport we took off by a bus, switching to a local train (S-Bahn) and finally stopped for a break at the Berlin Südkreuz train station.

From the train station we took a bus towards our destination of the first week in Germany, Dresden. The bus ride was a lengthy two and a half hours, in a well-equipped bus.

After the bus rides, we met up with our group members, that had chosen a different transportation method. We checked in to our residence, A&O hostel Dresden, and parted to our rooms to unpack our bags and relax for a moment.

Later on in the evening, our groups had dinner, and some of the students sat down for a drink at a SkyBar on the top floor of our hostel.
– Ville


Thursday 17.10.

Today we had our first whole day in Dresden, and it was great.

In the morning we went to visit HTW Dresden and we were introduced to German Business. After the introduction we had a lunch at Mensa. Our partner university had made solid preparations for our visit and booked us a private space to eat in.

After the lunch we went to visit Dresden city marketing department where we got a clear presentation about Dresden as a city and information about the areas surrounding Dresden. They also presented a brief look into Dresden’s history and their plans for the future. They told us that in the near future they have plans to put more efforts into marketing in Scandinavia and Nordic Countries. The visit at Dresden City Marketing Department was organized well and the presentation was professional. We were also offered the famous German Apfelschorle which is a mix of apple juice and sparkling water.








After the marketing department we travelled to Volkswagen manufacturer where we were introduced to manufacturing processes of a VW Golf electric car. After the tour we had a chance to explore and inspect the future innovations which were interesting especially self-driving cars. The manufacturing process itself was interesting to follow since most of us had not seen car assembly process before. I was also amazed by how automatized the process itself is, and how silent it was inside the manufacturer.

Today’s activities and schedule were well made since it combined our whole groups interests into a compact package. I also got a word to my earpiece that there would be a techno party at Mensa tonight but since I was so tired, I decided that I just stay at the hostel. I am really looking forward to the program tomorrow. Gute Nacht.
– Miika

Friday 18.10.

Today our day started a bit later than yesterday. Mrs. Urban-Greatorex started a lecture and we discussed topics regarding intercultural communication. We defined the word “culture” and briefly discussed Hofstede and the iceberg method where the culture is divided to visible and invisible. Mrs. Urban-Greatorex told us how she had a group of international students and she ran an experiment with them. The task was simple, but it included a conflict. The students didn’t know that their behavior was being observed. After this experiment Mrs. Urban-Greatorex interviewed these students and asked how they felt during this process. Results based on these answers showed that cultures behave distinctively different.

Mrs. Urban-Greatorex gave us an exercise where we were divided into groups and our task was to read a short story and then organize 5 characters from bad to good. This task was quite hard but at the same time intriguing. While working on this task we found out that our answers were quite similar. I wonder how differently people from other cultures with different values would have ranked these characters.

After class we had a lunch break and then we had a campus tour around HTW. Two volunteer students showed us around the campus and told us in more detail where different faculties are located. We also got to see how HTW engineering research program is creating and testing a manufacturing robot. There was also a robot which was designed to assist in different tasks, and it could also play chess.

Then we had a tour in the library. Whole setting was peaceful and well organized. Frau Schäfer gave us a lot of information regarding their organizing systems and different study possibilities. There were many private rooms and big study halls for students to do their schoolwork and assignments.

Overall it was informative and interesting day. I think we all learned something new and I think we can all agree that HTW has a lot bigger campus than we have in Karelia.
– Mimmi







Saturday 19.10.

Today was the day that we visited Bad-Schandau, a town close to the Sächsische Schweiz National Park. We travelled by train from the Dresden Hauptbahnhof to Bad-Schandau, the scenery that we saw during the train ride was beautiful. We arrived at the Bad-Schandau railway station and took a ferry to the center of the town. Ms Gundula Strohbach, managing director of the Bad Schandau Kur- und Tourismus GmbH gave a presentation of the national park and the town and facts about tourism in Bad-Schandau.

After the presentation we went by bus to the national park where our group went on a hike. The hike trail was not the hardest one but neither the easiest. In the start of the hike we were given a chance to try a cold-water pool for our feet, it would help circulation in them during the hike. Our guide, Ms Renate Rudat showed us the correct way of walking around the pool and couple members of our group tried it and they said they enjoyed it. It took some endurance to make it to the top of the mountain, but it was worth it, the view from top was astounding.

After the hike we went to a restaurant near the national park to wait for our bus and to get some refreshments after the journey. We took a bus to the train station, where we boarded the train back to Dresden. The journey back to our hostel went nicely, everybody was tired after the hike. The weather was excellent for this kind of day, not too hot and it also did not rain, even though in the morning the weather did not look so pleasant.
– Aleksi





Sunday 20.10.

Sunday was quite a simple day, we didn’t have many group activities during this day, since most of the day was reserved for travelling and we didn’t have much time on top of that. On top of that, it was a Sunday and in Germany on Sunday most places are closed. After waking up and eating breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and mostly went our separate ways and went to enjoy what little time we had left in Dresden. We walked around town to see if there were any shops we had missed earlier and went to have lunch before the long bus trip back to Berlin. After lunch was time to look for the correct bus stop in the massive transportation hub that was Dresden Hauptbahnhof and get on board.

Finding the right platform wasn’t easy and, and some of us who had a different bus, missed their bus and had to get tickets for another one. After a long wait and some delays, we finally got on the bus and made our way from Dresden to Berlin.

When we finally arrived in Berlin, we had to figure out a route to the hostel. The Berlin transportation network is massive, but in the end, quite simple. We quickly figured out the best route to the hostel via S-bahn and hastily made our way there. Once we had taken our luggage to our rooms, we once again separated. Some went to see the light festival in the city center and some others went to have an evening walk the area around the hostel before turning ourselves in.
– Tino





Monday 21.10.

Monday was our first day at the Technical University of Applied Sciences in Wildau. The day began with a train trip to Wildau from Berlin. At the Wildau railway station Daniela Schultz was greeting us and she gave us a tour around the Wildau campus. She told us a lot about the history of the campus. We visited University library and there we were told about the history of the library building and some facts about the current library. At the library we also were able to test the library-robot called Wilma. One interesting fact from the library was that even though the it is open 24/7 there are only three books missing.

From the library we went to classroom where professor Rainer Stollhoff gave us an interesting lecture about machine learning in translations. He gave us a few good examples of neural network solutions and their development.

The evolution of translations from dictionaries to more advanced neuron network-based translations began from single Lookup-Tables. Next step was Statistical Phrase-Based Translations where the sentences were broken down with complex mathematical schemas. The year 2016 was a big year for Machine Translations because they went Neural. For translations it meant that translation quality took a big leap closer to human translation level. That meant that for example if the perfect translation score was 6, and the score for human translation was 5.6, computers jumped translation score of 5 to almost 5.5 at best in the easiest translatable languages.

Rainer told us about neurons and how computer neural networks function. By increasing the computational layers and changing the patterns of translation techniques, we have been able to increase the accuracy for correct translations. We also discussed the future of the machine translations and viewed the most current techniques of translations.

Next, we had a workshop about translations with German students for which we had collected some slogans and phrases from our trip to Dresden. Co-operation was nice and productive, and it seemed to us that all the students also had fun while translating the slogans.

After lunch we had another workshop where we refined our earlier blogposts and further tested the translation methods of our earlier lecture to translate them into German and Finnish. After the workshop we travelled back to Berlin to visit Reichstag building. We learned a lot new from the history of the building and Berlins history in general. For example, we learned about history of Reichstag building and we learned how the German parliament works nowadays.

The tour ended in the most beautiful sunset in our trip to German, so far.
– Petri & Matti-Pekka







Tuesday 22.10.

On Tuesday our group met Daniela Schultz and a few international students at a railway station in Nordbahnhof. Daniela explained us how the building of the Berlin Wall caused the closing of some of the railway stations on August 13, 1961. Inside the station of Nordbahnhof there was a historical exhibition about those ghost stations in Berlin. It was interesting to learn that many of the East Berlin stations along the lines that were going from West Berlin to East Berlin were no longer in use after 1961 and some of the stations completely disappeared from the cityscape.

From the Nordbahnhof station our group went to visit the Berlin Wall Memorial Visitor Center and we saw two short films which presented a more detailed picture about the history of the Berlin Wall. These films were very specific and explained also more about the security systems of the Berlin Wall. I felt touched when the film showed Berlin Wall coming down in November 1989 and relatives and friends were reunited again.

After the short films in the Berlin Wall Memorial Visitor Center we walked to last remains of the Berlin Wall. It was interesting to see how high and heavily guarded the Wall had been. Near the remaining Berlin Wall there was an informative exhibition which explained, for example, how the fugitives who tried to escape in 1989 first had to get over the inner wall that sealed off the border strip on the GDR side.  After that they had to climb a signal fence that started an alarm in the watch towers when touched. After the patrol had been passed, they had to get over the final barrier which was nearly 3 meters high border wall.

After seeing the Berlin Wall, we continued our tour to the Chapel of Reconciliation that is standing on the grounds where the Reconciliation Church once stood. After the Wall was built in 1961, the Protestant Church of the Reconciliation Parish was standing within the death strip and it was inaccessible. In 1985, as the border grounds continued to be expanded, the East German government gave the order for the church to be blown up. After the German reunification, the church property was returned to the Reconciliation Parish with the condition that it would be used for religious purposes. It was interesting to notice that the walls of the new chapel were reconstructed from the pieces of the Church of Reconciliation.

The last stop for our tour was Berlin Wall Documentation Center that offered more information about the people who had died during the Berlin Wall in 1961 and 1989.  The exhibition offered a possibility to watch short videos and search detailed information about the people who had died while trying to escape. All in all, the day offered a lot of new knowledge about the history of the Berlin Wall to everyone in our group.
– Maria

Wednesday 23.10.

Our day began with a trip to Wildau University of Applied sciences. We headed to the Venture Innovation Lab (ViNN:lab) which is a makers place, for example, for developing prototypes. There we had a presentation about the ViNN:lab and its facilities and funktions. It is open only on Wednesdays from 9.00am until 07.00 and every first Saturday from 9.00 am until 4.00 pm. It is place where students, kids or anyone who wants, can make their own 3D print, 3D scan or use the laser cutter. There are also employees, who will guide you along the process. In the lab everyone can work with the modern technology and learn how to use it. I think it is very interesting and important to students that they can do some projects of their own. There are also different 3D projects in the lab, and we saw a big chicken bone to an exhibition and other different products like a chair and a table which are really big objects to make with a 3D printer.  On the terrace there was a Garden where the lab employees do different gardening experiments and try out different growing methods, such as self-watering pots and more light exposure to the plants. I hope they will succeed in their experiments. Then we had a workshop in the ViNN:lab where we brainstormed a suitable slogan for our study trip that was made for us by a laser cut and we were also given a laser cut key chain with our names as a souvenir.

Picture of ViNN Lab poster, Laser cutter and the huge chicken bone.

After the first lesson we had our lunch break. After lunch we continued with our presentations of Joensuu, presentation of Karelia UAS and lecturer from Karelia UAS had a presentation about automatic and human evaluation of translations. Later we continued German lessons with German teacher Daniela Schultz. There were students from different countries, who were studying in Wildau and they are learning German. We were working in pairs with one Finn and one exchange student and interviewed each other in German. Then we presented our pair to others. After that we had two groups and we thought about body parts in German and write them down for the paper. Lastly, we had an exercise where we answered to a perfect question yes or no and explained a bit the answer in perfect and of course in German. I think the exercise was innovating and of course it was good that we had a different kind of exercises so for at least for me it is easy to learn, and it was not boring to do that!






Karelia UAS presentation

Interview task

We had a good day at Wildau. In the evening we returned do Berlin and I think nearly everyone went somewhere to have dinner and then prepared for the next day’s adventures!
– Jenna

Thursday 24.10.

We began our day at 10 with a lecture on How to design a blog concept by Prof. Dr. Sandra Haas at the TH Wildau campus. The lecture consisted of designing a blog for company usage rather than for a private usage.

First of all, we discussed why do companies use blogs and how do they benefit from it. Then we moved on to defining what is a blog in precise and how are the target audience or segments defined. You can define corporate blogging as the use of blogs to further organizational goals. Followed by discussion on what different types of blogs do companies actually use: Internal communication, market communication and public relations.

Secondly, we learned that blogs have to offer values to the audience. The more value the company offers, the more likely their blog will be shared, commented and recommended. Also, the company has to decide on who is in charge of updating the blog and produce content to the blog. The content producer can be the institution, a group of employees or even one person, usually the CEO.

Last of all, we talked about the importance of the blog having a precise aim, such as a cognitive or an affective one. The decision of the aim defines the content and style of the blog. Additionally, we had a discussion on what characteristics does good content include. Good content is new and fresh, short and clear, relevant to the reader, tells about the topic and offers value and entertainment. Briefly, the blog content producer has to be aware what are the topics and what does the target audience value in the blog.

In the afternoon we had a guest lecturer from Bulgaria, Sergey Bartener. Mr. Bartener gave us a presentation of the “Angel Kanchev”, University of Ruse. He gave specific information on the eight faculties in the structure of the University: Agrarian and Industrial Faculty, Faculty of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering Electronics and Automation, Faculty of Transport, Faculty of Business and Management, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Education, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Public Health and Healthcare, two Branches of Ruse University in Silistra and Razgrad and a Bulgarian and Romanian Inter-university Europa Centre.

Additionally, later that day we had a German lesson by M.A. Daniela Schultz with the international students. First, we were divided into pairs and we discussed about our culture differences. Then, we did a task where we read information about Reichstag in German and did an A-B –task where we completed each other’s texts by filling the gaps as the other one read the text.  In the end of the lesson, with the same pair from another country, we prepared three questions to ask the rest of the group and then we had a questionnaire based on these questions.
– Heli & Ronja

Friday 25.10.

 In the morning we worked on our blogs and experimented with translating the original English text both into German and Finnish.

In the afternoon we visited the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the Museum of Natural History Berlin. The Museum of Natural History is located in the centre of Berlin. Both nearby underground and tram stops are named after the museum – “Naturkundemuseum”. Therefore, it was easy to find the way there. In the museum, we discovered over a million years’ worth of zoological exibits. They offered an exciting insight into the natural world and we were able to follow the development of life on planet Earth and discover how different forms of life has evolved during the past millions of years.

The museum has a very impressive exhibition on dinosaurs and the Jura era. They have the world’s largest dinosaur skeleton, a 13.27 metre tall Bachiosaurus. As well as a special exhibition – “Tristan – Berlin bares teeth” on the Tristan Otto species, the gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The skeleton of Tristan Otto is 66 million years old and 12 metres tall. The skull of T-Rex alone measures 1,5 metres with enormous teeth. Tristan’s skull is also one of the best-preserved of its kind worldwide. Overall, 50 of the 55 skull bones were found. Some of them were found in several fragments, while others were already naturally fused.

Also, attached to the skull, there were the massive teeth. As it is known, T-Rex had the strongest bite of all time. It’s set of teeth was adapted to its purpose. On the inside of Tristan’s teeth, serrations can be seen. Each of these teeth was driven into its prey with a force of 5 tons. In order to withstand the pressure, the teeth have reinforcing ridges at the back and are bent backwards, so that they couldn’t snap easily. In addition, the predatory dinosaur’s set of teeth would renew continuously. Similar to sharks, new teeth kept growing so that behind each tooth, there was a row of new teeth in different stages of development.

We heard that Tristan’s name also had a real story behind it. In 1902, Barnum Brown found the remains of an unknown predatory dinosaur in Montana. Three years later, his colleague Henry Fairfield Osborn gave it its scientific name “King of the terrifying lizards” – Tyrannosaurus Rex.







In the early evening we self-studied a bit more about automatic translation, went through our notes once more and started to finalise our blog texts for this day and the day before. Later that evening we had time to visit the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. It is a 1316 metres long section of the Berlin wall and it is seen as the international memorial for freedom. The actual border at this point was the river Spree and the gallery is located on the so-called “hinterland mauer”, which closed the border to the West Berlin. The art painted on the Wall was amazing.
– Heli & Ronja

Saturday 26.10.

Time for departures and good-byes. After 11-days’ shared experiences and working together, meeting new people, seeing and learning so much, there is always a feeling of sadness when leaving. But the memory remains. Thank you all for making this possible!









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