At JAMK we were warmly welcomed by Jari who introduced facilitating learning to us. Here we saw group learning in an appealing environment. One room even offered four different kinds of chairs choose able for the task (presentation, recreation, discovering…).
The average starting age of vocational teachers is higher than in Germany due to the necessary to work three till five years in free economy. On our last day we participated in a research conference where new challenges were discussed in the vocational systems in Great Britain, Finland and Netherlands.
Here we would like to share our experiences we collected during our stay in Finland. We thank all teachers we followed during this time! We enjoyed our stay a lot – this was possible due to your big support!
In three weeks we learned a lot about finnish culture, habits and history. Here I like to share some of my greatest insights with you:
Top 1: Low population density
Finland numbers some 5.4 million and has an average population density of 17 inhabitants per square kilometre. This makes it the third most sparsely populated country in Europe, after Iceland and Norway. Jyväskylä is with about 135 000 inhabitants the 7th largest city in Finland. When you visit Helsinki you will immediatley notice the difference to the german capital Berlin. Less people and cars, empty trams, more space and a way more relaxed way of life…
Top 2: Swedish language
From the late 12th century until 1809, Finland was part of Sweden, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status.
Consequently you can see Swedish language everywhere in Finland: Streetnames, products for your every-day life and Swedish is a cumpulsory subject in every school.
Top 3: Sauna
Do you know the only finnish word everybody knows? YES! It is SAUNA! The finnish sauna is a substantial part of Finnish culture. There are over five million inhabitants and over three million saunas in Finland. The average Fin likes to visit his sauna two or three times a week and it is very common to have your own at home.
Top 4: Frisbeegolf
If you ever happen to see a huge group of finnish people in the forest playing frisbee…frisbeegolf is a very popular sport here in Finland. Frisbee golf is a flying disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc to the target. In Jyväskylä you will find many nice places at the lake or near the skiing slope where you can play this game right next to a beautiful landscape.
On our second weekend in Finnland, we visited Tampere. This is a nice town, which was also called “The Manchester of Finland” due to the industry which was used to be here in former times. Durng the coffee with Rea, we talk and learn a lot about finnish education system and finnish history. After the coffee, Rea took us to a walk excursion around the city.
In the afternoon we visited the marketplace – the fish soup at the french market stand is a good choice for the lunch 🙂 – and the Tampere Cathedral (Tampereen tuomiokirkko), which is designed in the National Romantic style. The windiws are gorgeous!
On our way to Jyväskyla we stayed in Helsinki for our first finnish weekend. As we were very lucky to have a sunshiny day, we used it for a trip to the island Suomenlinna, which we can highly reccomend to visit.
On the rainy days you can visit the nice cafes enjoying a coffee and a cake or use it for practicing black-white photography 🙂
During our stay we had a chance to visit many different places in the ao consortium (for further information see the post “school experience”) . Sharing the room, we were able to speak about what we`ve just seen end experienced during the day. Our first impression: wow, they have many lakes here in Finland! And: Helsinki is a cute town (see also the Helsinki-Tampere post ;))!
We were able to discover the beauteful nature not only by passing by in the train Helsinki-Jyväskyla, but also (and actually primary) by staying at the Priimus residence hall. It is located on the lake side, so that we could enjoy the nauture every day, e.g. by biking to the school.
On the second sight we could say that the lunch time in Jyväskylä was probalby the earliest we ever experienced (starting already as early as 10.15 a.m.!), the bakery producty are really very delicious and the Puolukka (cranberries) are omnipresent!!
As Ice-hockey is the most popular sport in Finland you shouldn`t miss one of these exciting game in the Synergia-areena in Jyväskylä! What a great evening 🙂
Whenever you need a rest or are in the mood to chat with your friends about your latest experiences don’t miss to go to Miriams (http://www.miriams.fi/). Delicious cakes, great coffee, nice and friendly staff, cosy sofas 😉
You want to try out different kinds of sauna? You like to take a swim in a lovely setting? Don’t miss to go to the Spa Hotel Rantasipi then (http://www.rantasipi.fi/hotellit/laajavuori/)! And don’t forget about the reduced rate for students.
Three things you should think about before your departure to Jyväskylä 🙂
Don’t forget to bring a passport photo as you need one to get your student card which is necessary to get reduced rates for the busses, trains and admission fees…
Prepare yourself for severe weather conditions. Especially when you leave in October! Gloves, a hat, scarf, warm boots and a winter jacket are a must!
Using the bus is quite expensive in Jyväskylä. You should take into consideration to go by bike to your campus or to town. This is quite convenient as you get a bike by the ao and everything is closeby in Jyväskylä.
Here we would like to give information on our activities during our stay in Finland.
The lessons in the English department were quite interesting. I got an insight into the teaching methods, the way modern media can be integrated into modern English lessons and I met a lot of positive and motivated teachers.
The beautiful classroom furniture and arrangements underlined the fact that learning can be so much more than just sitting in a room in front of a teacher.
The students were often allowed to participate in the decisions about what they would like to learn and which exercises to do. This contributed to a very nice learning atmosphere in which students felt quite comfortable.
To sum up we felt very welcomed and we enjoyed a lot of support in any way. Many thanks to all the teachers for the cooperation and the possibility to participate in the lessons.
Our trip to Helsinki and Tallinn
On the Easter weekend we visited Helsinki and Tallinn. Wow! Helsinki is a must! A wonderful city with impressive buildings and places. We found fancy restaurants and had a really great time there.
Art and design
We visited different art and design museums in Finland. Especially we enjoyed the design museum in Helsinki. There we got fresh impressions about young Finnish fashion design.
Inspirations we take with us
During our stay we developed our professional skills further and had the possibility to expand our horizon into different directions. In the college, we were deeply impressed by the open learning areas: everywhere on the school corridors we saw colorful and nicely designed open areas/meeting points for students with couches and free internet access: excellent learning possibilities and inviting spaces! It must be nice to be a jao-student!
In general, we experienced the very open learning atmosphere in Finland. Students are rather trained and tought according to their individual needs and they are differently encouraged.
Finland is probably the first nation that designed classrooms like living rooms. With moveable chairs and tables in the classroom, it is possible to change the atmosphere within seconds. In the corners, curtains divide the classroom into separate areas for smaller learning groups.
All in all we had a wonderful time in Finland. We met a lot of friendly and interesting people and we saw amazing places and landscapes. We enjoyed traditional Finnish food and took part in Finnish holiday rituals.