Taavi, Riikka and Katri are students from three different universities in Finland. They came to Antwerp in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme. All three completed practical trainings at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Taavi (Turku University of Applied Sciences) and Riikka (Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences) did traineeships in the field of rehabilitation sciences and physiotherapy.
Taavi: “I spent three months in Antwerp and did two practical traineeships. One in the field of sport physiotherapy in the University Hospital (UZA) and one in neurological physiotherapy in RevArte, the topnotch rehabilitation hospital situated right next to the UZA. All this practical experience will be very useful in my future career. After I graduate I would like to start a private practice and specialise in sport rehabilitation or pediatric rehabilitation.”
Riikka: “I worked with elderly people in Hof ter Schelde and also with people with neurological problems in the hospital AZ Monica. I found it really easy to communicate with the staff and supervisors because everyone spoke English. On the contrary, most of the patients only understood Dutch. This made it quite a challenge for me to explain the exercises. I have become an expert in communication by gestures!”
Parkour and other ways to make new friends
Taavi: “I did not really experience a culture shock. However, I found it mind-boggling to see that alcohol is sold literally everywhere. Even in hospitals and retirement homes! Did I explore the city? Yes, by doing parkour, my new hobby since I arrived in Antwerp. Together with some friends I jumped, vaulted and climbed around Het Steen, the Meir, Park Spoor Noord and many other public places.”
Riikka: “I find Antwerp a fascinating city. I regularly discovered new shops, statues or buildings in streets that I walked down each day. Big parks such as Middelheim and Rivierenhof are the perfect havens to escape from the daily hassles. Because I did fulltime traineeships it was not so easy to meet new people, but fortunately enough there is ESN Antwerp. For the first time in my life I participated in a real cantus during the ESN Introduction Weekend!”.
Our advices to future exchange students? Start looking for accommodation well in advance, try to learn Dutch before you come to Antwerp and definitely attend the Orientation Days!
Katri Holappa (University of Helsinki) did advanced lab work in the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology
In 2009 I spent a semester at the Plantijn Hogeschool for my Bachelor. The connections I made back then helped me to fix a traineeship position in the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology of the UAntwerp. During the past six months I worked in this lab determining the genetic regulation involved in bacterial biofilm formation, which is the topic of my Master's thesis.
What I particularly liked about the lab was the international context: I was literally surrounded by researchers from all over the world! I am not too sure about my plans after I graduate. I am thinking about starting a PhD in the field of microbiology, but I can also see myself teaching at my home university.
You know what is funny? Before the semester started I got to know two girls online via the ESN Antwerp Facebook page and we randomly decided to meet in town. They, an environmental scientist from Estonia and a political scientist from the States, turned out to become my two best friends. I lived in Wilrijk, together with a bunch of other international students and staff from the University. The upside of Wilrijk is that is is close to the Drie Eiken Campus. The downside is that you are further away from the hustle and bustle of town.
I highly recommend everyone to do a practical traineeship abroad. It is an unforgettable experience and it looks really good on your CV!