Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:23
Tandem studies – live and learn
Text: Aleksi Ahlakorpi Photo: Milan Kolarovic
Tandem studies is a form of studying where a Finnish student and an exchange student meet on their free time and study together a foreign language – by talking to each other.
In Oulu Tandem studies are co-operation between University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences. This year eight pairs were formed. Each of them with one Finnish student and one student from a German speaking country.
Terho Valkonen from Finland and his pair, Jörg Hoogestraat from Germany took part in Tandem studies in spring 2009.
Terho had been studying German already for eight years so he had pretty good basis to start with, but still he considers this as a very good opportunity to learn German in a different way.
– This was almost the first time that I actually spoke German. In school courses you only learn how to read or write, Terho explains.
Different way of studying
Tandem studies took the guys away from their regular studying environment. They were given freedom to choose the studying place they preferred. The main way of studying was talking to each other in German, so Terho and Jörg went bowling, plaid billiard, badminton and table tennis together. Both guys think this was a really welcome change to the normal studies.
– I liked this very much. It's a great way to study and at the same time do something fun that you normally do in the free time. And I think it's easier for me to talk German now, Terho says.
– Normally when you're in the dormitory or in the school, you spend your time only with other exchange students. Most people don't get to know the city. It was quite nice, Jörg tells.
He also liked the experience of learning something while doing something fun. Terho agrees and adds that he also saw some new places where he had never been in Oulu, like the Hukka Sports Centre. Also bowling was quite a new experience for him.
– I also learnt that he likes to win challenges, Jörg says and both guys burst into laughter.
Besides meetings in the free time, studies consisted of group meetings at the University. Jörg and Terho met each other seven times in free time and had four group meetings. In the latter ones all the pairs were given material to discuss about. Topics of those meetings were: feast days, superstition and expressions, customs, like should you give a tip in restaurants, and differences between cultures.
Not so different at all
– There are not so many differences between Finnish and German cultures. Maybe that was also something new to me because I expected that there would have been a lot more differences, Terho says.
– The Finnish culture is mostly similar to German. I think that it applies for most of the European countries. Maybe in Italy it's bit different. People are louder and show more emotions there. But Germans and Finns are quite similar in their behaviour, Jörg concludes.
In the end both of the guys suggest the Tandem studies to anyone with even a little interest for studying in a different, fun and useful way.
– For each person who has the possibility to do the Tandem studies, do it!
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