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, , 22.06.2016 – 30.09.2016

Maa: Alankomaat
Vaihtoaika: 22.06.2016 – 30.09.2016
Vaihto-ohjelma: Erasmus-harjoittelu
Lähettävä yksikkö: laitosta ei määritelty

Yaeko Masuchi, VU Amsterdam University in the Netherlands (The Green care farm, Fledderushoeve in Diever, the Netherlands)

Before starting the application I collected the information how to apply for this Erasmus internship. The Erasmus manager, the previous graduate students who had the opportunity and professors gave me plenty of useful information and advice. I also attended the informative session Tampere University organized. Then I started to contact the host university. After several times of exchanging email, the professor at the host university suggested talking in Skype. We discussed the topics and more details how to research. However, this professor turned down just before my departure without clarifies the reason. I got panic indeed. With useful advice and support from ERASMUS manager and Tampere University International coordinator, I could find another host professor. Because this happening I postponed one month to start, travel insurance, accommodation contract, and travel air ticket.

Searching for the actual workplace was not easy. My work placement plan was focused on the experience of working at Green care farm for elderly with dementia; it was the quite selection of a limited range. First I contacted with the Netherlands’ Health and Social ministry. They gave me the website of the lists of Green care farms, and then I was suggested to contact the possible workplaces by myself. I don’t speak Dutch, so I asked a Dutch exchange student in Tampere University to make the application letter for work during this summer in Dutch. I applied for 26 places and many of them rejected due to the lack of Dutch language skill. Luckily, one of the Green care farm owners offered me to try. We discussed the detail in Skype a few times. Dutch owner asked plenty of detailed questions on health insurance, travel condition, and fee, the accommodation, my plan of work placement and my family.

The international coordinator at Tampere University suggested keeping the professor at VU Amsterdam University as the host and making a report through from this professor for Erasmus work placement even though finally that Green care farm owner accepted me to work the Erasmus period. They don’t know each other, of course, but I introduced them. The owner agreed that officially the professor at VU Amsterdam University professor charged as the host though I work at their farm.

After I arrived in the Netherlands, actually the owner was very helpful even though she refused to pay the salary. She defined this work as the volunteering work experience. However, she helped me to find the cheap accommodation through from her networking and rented her bicycle for commuting to the workplace. The rental in the Netherlands is expensive, but I got a room for 400 euros a month 10 km away from the workplace. The work hour was 8:30 am to 5:30 pm 4 days a week, but I can take a break with further notice at least 3 weeks before. The lunch was provided and also sometimes she offered the dinner. The foods in the Netherland cost less than in Finland. My budget for the monthly living cost was 600 euros, and fairly I managed. Besides my work, I planned to visit other Green care farms and meet the organization and the researchers as many as possible. Train ticket in the Netherlands was expensive and due to the limited accommodation the hotel or hostel prices was much more than in Finland. These travels cost much more than I expected.

Staff at the workplace were friendly and helpful even though there was a language barrier. Some of them actually wanted to speak with me in English for their English development. I was with the activities staff all the time to work and they organized practically and helpfully me to adjust the task, which mainly being with the elderly with dementia. Those elderly were quite different types of people, who are originally local and the retired moved into the area after then. They were different age groups (55-92 years), different educational backgrounds (No school education to Graduate school or Medical school), different income (limited basic pension to good savings), and different interests. But somehow I got adjusted among this community. It may be that Dutch people are open and Dutch culture has interacted worldwide historically. People are interested in knowing other culture quite well and very talkative. They are frank as well. This three months experience at the green care farm and visiting many care organizations enhanced my research project at Tampere University quite well. These gave me the further insight of thinking on the Master thesis project.