In first post about my school I showed you the campus and the what TTU has to offer to its students. This time, maybe you would like to learn something about actual studying and the courses I am taking here. First thing first. It is not very easy to get here subjects that would have equivalent course at home. By that I mean that every course I take here is accepted as voluntary course with it’s credit points but it doesn’t help me anyway with the compulsory courses at my home faculty.
With that in mind I wanted to get mostly courses that would be interesting and fun to take for me. It was quite difficult to figure that out, because we didn’t have any description of what were the courses going to be about. I did mostly succeeded in the end after few changes during the first week. There are two courses that I am taking and unfortunately I am quite unhappy with.
What didn't work for me?
First one is Human factors engineering which doesn’t have any classes at all. The teacher recorded the lectures couple years ago and now just let us listen them at home and come for a test at the end of the semester. Unfortunately the recordings are really boring and making me fall asleep. To me this kind of topic should be much more hands on than just listening and struggling not to sleep. At least I hope it won’t be difficult to pass the exam.
The other one is Machine learning. It’s not necessary bad course, but definitely doesn’t fit my expectations. I would blame that on the non existing course description in advance. If you are from some data science field and you want to program your own machine learning algorithms then it’s fine. On the other side, if you are like me, coming from front end design field and want to learn some basics of the topic and learn how to use and set up machine learning tools, than it’s definitely not for you. Unfortunately I figured that too late when we got the first home assignment in the middle of the semester.
Now let’s move to the better stuff, right? I already mentioned it was difficult to know the content of the courses from the names and here is an example of that. My favorite course now Image processing would be some hard core mathematical transformations combined with machine learning at my university. Luckily for me, it means image processing in Photoshop here. It’s really nice course taking you through all the basic tool and how to use them to make photo manipulations. It’s really fun and if you like I might do a post about my final project from there. Let me know.
Another good course is Creative problem solving, which makes us try and practice different approaches to solving problems, generating possible solutions and evaluating them. So far my most favorite lecture was, when we were discussing the problems and possible solutions to transportation and traffic in Tallinn. As you will see in the future post about the city, it really needs solving.
Except technical courses focused on your field you can choose from quite wide range of language courses. I didn’t want to push it too far with many languages at the same time but still doing Erasmus and not trying to learn at least basics of the local language seemed to be stupid so I signed up for Estonian language and culture course.
It’s mainly the basics of the language, with a little excursions to the Estonian culture and geography. The language is quite different compared to pretty much every other in Europe. The only similar being Finnish and Hungarian. Unfortunately the course has only one lesson per week so the progress is really slow. My friend took a course before the semester in Tartu and they got much further in couple weeks of intensive studying than we will in entire semester.
Utilizing the opportunity to study languages here, I signed up for French as well. I tried to study it on my own before, but especially in the beginnings, it’s nice to have teacher to help you with grammar and pronunciation. Really nice, that the teacher is French. And I am finally seeing some progress in my ability to use it. Combined with self learning online it’s really great.
How I feel about studying here
All together the courses are quite good, but there are few things that I am a bit disappointed about. First is obviously the lack of course description available in advance. This way it’s really difficult to pick subjects that will fit your interests or you field. The second thing is more personal as i wanted to experience different and possibly better approach to schooling. It didn’t happen. The teaching works here pretty much the same as at home. Maybe they have less practices in some cases. One difference would be longer semester which has 16 weeks here compared to our 13. On the other side not all courses last the entire semester.
To sum it up I would say that I probably had too high expectations from the Erasmus. At least on the academic side of things. If you come here, you will probably not be very surprised by the schooling methods. It’s pretty traditional lecture based system. At least most of it. But to end with something positive, it’s still great experience and an opportunity to learn new stuff that’s not available at home uni or that I wouldn’t have time to study at home. And of course there is the benefit of meeting all the other crazy students that left the comfort of their home and came to study in Estonia. Despite some disappointment I would still recommend the experience to everyone.
Speaking of weather the winter sort of came back before I posted this article so I decided to add here one more picture showing you how can also the weather look like 29.4. in Estonia. Me and my new friend from Canada went for a short walk around the city and we could barely keep upright at the city viewpoints because of the wind. What came with the wind you can see. With that being said, until next time over and out.