Daily Archive: 17 maaliskuun, 2016

When in Graz

My journey began when I first arrived to Vienna International Airport, where I took a train to city of Graz. I was amazed by everything at that time after almost 4 months away from Europe, I was coming back my home town for summer holiday and family visit.

I had some help from local people with some information, and luckily one of them was sitting next to me on the trip to Graz. I could ask him everything that I wondered about Austria and Graz in particular. The trip took me around 3 hours to get to final destination, Graz Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station in city of Graz. It was easy to buy an Austrian phone sim card, so that I could call my tutor, who was helping me picking up my room key and taking me there. I didn’t know that I lived so close to the railway station, just 5 minute walk, which meant I could jump to any tram and explore the city easily as much as I could.

Orientation Week

Finally the orientation week came; it was a huge happiness for me to meet some Finnish fellow students from Oulu and another one from Vaasa. We formed a group of 5 and made a lot of new friends from different continents, it took us few days to go through all the registrations and procedures but it was extremely helpful though. The school’s system was quite different from Oulu’s, maybe complicated but necessary.

The first impression on the orientation week was about food, we all agreed that food was delicious, and impressive. Everyone was fully charged for the first tour of the Orientation week – Schloss Eggenberg – World Heritage since 1999 by UNESCO. Surprisingly, the castle was just 15-20 minute walk from FH Joanneum. Everyone was so excited to see it. All i remembered that all of us as exchange students were amazed and stunned by its beauty and majesty. We barely listened to the tour guide, I heard a lot of WOWs and saw people taking photos. We were been leading through all the chambers in the castle, and admired how beautiful the castle was. One thing for sure was everyone was so happy and pleased to be there.  

When in Graz

  Schloss Eggenberg

On the next trip, we were all eager to take part in the Zotter chocolate factory trip. Actually, it was a heavy rainy day and we had to cancel another tour to do hiking to the zoo, and we went straight to Zotter chocolate factory. It was about 45 minutes by bus, and we came to the famous chocolate factory not only in Styria but in Austria as well.

All of us were excited and ready to experience and try out some chocolate, but it took a while for the registration and they offered us some chocolate sample and dried grasshoppers. I myself used to try this back then, but for all of other students, they were shocked and surprised to this new thing. It must be a hard memory for them to eat grasshoppers.

We were all allowed to come inside the factory, try some raw cacao beans and not disappointed to find out how chocolate was made from Cacao beans. That was the first time in my life I found out that there were so many kinds of chocolate and I ate so much chocolate for a day, not only me did that though. 

When in Graz

Pic 2. Chocolate fountain  

When in Graz

The Styrian Armory Museum

The final tour in my orientation week was the Styrian Armoury museum. Located right in the city centre of Graz, the museum is 5 a storey-building, is the world’s largest historic armoury and attracts visitors from all over the world. It holds approximately 32,000 pieces of weaponry, tools, suits of armour for battle and ones for parades.

We all were excited to put on some suits of armour, and eventually the tour guide allowed and encouraged some of us to do so. None of us had seen anything like this before, we all were surprised by what we saw during the tour.  

When in Graz

  Pic 3. Museum

 FH Joanneum

Eventually, I came to my new school and met new friends. I was nervous, and excited at the same time. I received so much help from all the teachers, and fellow students. It was always the same when you came to another country and people kept asking you same questions like “Why do you come here?” “How much you like Graz/ Austria?” – And I really enjoyed answering all the questions and of course the questions about where I come from, and where I study, about Oulu, Finland…

People were friendly and helpful, but the school was tough though. I was working way harder to catch up with all the knowledge I missed from the previous semester that full-time students were already been taught. Everyone treated me as a full-time student in the school, no exception, no excuses. The good thing was all knowledge I studied back then was really detailed, deep and professional which was useful for my future.

Unfortunately, not all the courses were in English, just a few of them. I only had to go with what they offered; somehow those courses were out of my knowledge and ability. In the beginning, I was expecting some Erasmus students just like me at school, but actually there were only 3 exchange students and I had a common course with a Spanish guy from Valencia who was really nice and encountering exactly the same problems like I was dealing. 


When in Graz

FH Joanneum


When in Graz

 View from the school

Explore the city

Unlike Finland, most of the shops will be closed on Sundays in Austria and I was lucky to know about that from a local friend. The good thing living in a shared apartment was you could meet people from different countries, and I was blessed to meet and make friends with wonderful friends from Czech Republic, Croatia, Italia, and Austria.  

When in Graz

I had really good time and moments exploring the city with them to such famous places in the city like the Clock tower (Schlossberg), the big church (Mariatrost) or even some students’ parties and events where I found out local people loved to celebrate on Wednesdays as much as on Fridays. I might say I had the best time in my student life back then.

I was so happy that I met nice and good friends in Graz, exchange students and local students as well; we had been around the city experiencing Austrian food, drinks, and culture. I also had a chance to take a trip back to Vienna, the capital, when I had the Christmas holiday. I once again experienced something different; the city is huge, beautiful as I expected. I was like a child in a big city, but it was worthy for all of that after all.

Sharing knowledge and exchanging culture were always the best part of friend making and learning process. Growing up and keeping all the best memory of my journey to Austrian as an exchange student would be unforgettable.

Student Phuong Nguyen, BIT3SN




First Impressions of Some Erasmus Students

Erasmus day 15: still alive. We have got all our bones still attached to our body, haven’t killed anyone by bicycling over them. So far so good. The life of the Erasmus students during their first days in a new city are quite a special experience: here are our first thoughts on Oulu (developed by getting lost almost 5 times a day).

The city seems to have the right dimensions to let you discover new corners quite frequently but it is also built in a pretty simple way, once you get the hang of it reaching places gets quite intuitive: the places that people could use more frequently to give you indications- such as the market Kauppahalli, the Toripolliisi or the city library- are easy to find (trust someone who gets lost even when going home).

We must admit we were a little sceptical about the “bicycling everywhere” theme that is so popular around here but we have to say it turned out very practical, all places are very well connected and are easy to reach by bike.

Something that caught our eyes and really stood out was the impressive amount of services, discounts and offers that are provided to students here, not only on an academic level but also as far as it concerns activities, sports, parties and shops. It is an extremely valid service since here the cost of life is significantly higher than in a lot of other countries, we all were astonished my the price of vegetables and fruit (just to make an example we once found a celery that was priced 1,50 euro). And  here we come to a sensitive topic: food. Bear in mind that we are Italian so we may be a little too picky about it, but being honest this  was what impressed us the least (in terms of local eating). But maybe it is just a matter of time and we will change our mind, however we do have to make a mention about the university restaurants: 0.88 cents for real good food (yes, we were blown away by the price tag as well,).

When we arrived here, we were enthusiastic to see everything covered in snow. In Italy it almost never snows, so now everything seems like magic to us here:  when we are cycling to go somewhere, we cross the wonderful white woods and the image in front of our eyes seems a cartoon… it is like becoming children again!

We won’t hide that we miss our Italian sun and the green landscape of Italian Spring, but this experience is a great opportunity to open our minds and our hearts (while freezing our noses).

Valentina Bugnotti,
Anna Favaretto,
Stefania Gastaldon 
Erasmus students from Italy

Oulu oh mine
Please be good to us
All will be fine