Here I Am!

Here I Am!

Here I am, August 2016, just one year after moving to Tampere to study. Far is the day when I decided moving from a small flat in the cold Glasgow to a regular size flat in the freezing Tampere. Of course I had my doubts, many to be honest. I had two more options; I could’ve studied in England or in Holland. But you know, I had a feeling about Tampere, it seemed the right place to go.

Luckily for me I was right again; even though during the first day in Tampere I wasn’t sure about my decision. The city was small and quiet and the people spoke a language that sounded like Hungarian to me. The university looked tiny and there were not many people on the corridors. Suddenly I remembered what my old grandma told me before leaving: “That place is too eastern and too cold…and people are also cold”. Was I wrong? Did I make a bad choice? I went to bed and decided giving Tampere a chance, after all I had already paid the flat rent already.

Things changed suddenly during the orientation week. During my first visit to the international office at SIS, the staff was so welcoming. And that is one of the best things in the University of Tampere (also in TUT), staff is always keen to help new coming students, if you have any problem don’t hesitate to ask them for help. They solve all my problems with a smile in their face. My grandma was wrong; there weren’t cold people, at least at the university.

That tiny university ended up being great. There were many activities to do, I joined Unipoli, where I met most of my friends. I discovered Oasis in Pinni B; every university should have their own Oasis. I ate in all the restaurant and cafeterias, they turned out to be more than 5. I tell you, Tampere University facilities are great, even though at first they are a bit confusing, I am still struggling to figure how the room coding works.

Moreover, the educative system gives lot of freedom to the student, so learning is amazing. One of the reasons I chose the University of Tampere was the Finnish educational system, and it didn’t let me down. At first, it was difficult to get used to that level of freedom, however at the end it paid off. Just, don’t forget to work daily and meet the deadlines, they are so strict. UTA supports group work, and it was amazing for my learning process. Using the university tools was also confusing; moodle, nettiopsu, tenttit… they were new for me but in few days you get used to them.

So, UTA was great and I’ve become a proud student, but what about that small city? Well, during the first week, I walked around the city for hours, and you know what, it wasn’t that small, and it wasn’t quiet either. Tampere is a student city, and therefore there are plenty of activities for students, lots of thing to do, lots of fun. I didn’t expect to find that amount of museums in Tampere.

At the end of the month, I felt that Tampere was a great city to live and UTA was the best university to study. There was just one thing: the language. Then I decided to learn Suomi, and I recommend you to do the same, it’s the best way to understand Finnish culture and to meet people in Tampere.

Now, after one year, I can tell you that living in Tampere has been a great experience so far, I met very interesting people, enjoyed many activities and I found out that, even though the weather is tough, there are countless things to do in the city. Moreover, at the same time, I’ve learnt more than I expected during my first academic year. So, Kiitos University of Tampere for selecting me!!

Why HTI?

As a psychologist I’ve always been interested in the difficult relationship between technology and human beings. Like many other people, in my life I have struggled using all kind of machines, all kinds of technology. As a result, interactive technology became an interest to me. When I found the HTI master’s program offered by UTA I couldn’t resist to apply. Now, more than a year after being accepted, I can tell the decision was one of the best I have made in my life.

But, why is it so? What makes the last year so special? The quick answers would be that I learnt a lot of useful things that I improved my portfolio and that I developed great skills. However, there is much more beyond the obvious, a whole experience of self-learning and joy.

The HTI master program showed to me that I could create really cool products being a part of multidisciplinary team. Most of the courses I enrolled in included teamwork and some of them real product development. Thanks to that, some classmates and I created a very cool multi-touch application that we are about to present now in the Mindtrek conference. Our product is the combination of a great idea, great design and creative programming; also evaluation and user testing of course.

The project was the icing on the cake, the result of a great learning process followed by motivating challenges posed by the Master’s Staff. We could apply the skills that we developed during the year, and it turn out that we did very well. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to learn that much during this year; nor could I imagine how useful the master was going to be.

Moreover, during the year, I found out how cool was virtual reality; so I decided to learn more about it. I spent hours reading about VR, watching documentaries… I wanted to be updated, learn from the last development in the field. I joined the right courses and developed the right skills. Hence now I am working as game designer and interaction designer for a VR company, working in projects for companies such as SIEMENS, ATOS or the Spanish public administration. Courses such as usability evaluations methods, multimodal interaction and interaction techniques have been very useful during the first steps of my work.

Now, one year after starting the HTI program at UTA is difficult to write about the experience. It is difficult because there are many cool experiences to share and limited space to do so. This year was amazing because I could, not just learn and gain new skills, but because I could put them into practice. This year was awesome because I have become an interactive technology and UX professional.

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