Harjoittelussa Rotterdamin merimieskirkolla

Exchange destination: Netherlands
Duration of the exchange: 24.2-30.5.2019 Three months
Field of study: Social services

General information about the destination

Netherlands reminds me of Great Britain in many levels, it has similar climate, architecture, it is monarchy and taps has cold and warm water separated.

The time I went to Netherland was beginning of spring both sides of + 10 degrees. Flowers started to blossom after couple weeks of my arrival, what I missed during my stay was the lack of forests and hand difficulties to find gluten free food. That was the biggest problem I came across several times.

Tulips are the main import from Netherlands and it shows, you can see tulips everywhere in parks, sidewalks and sold in marketplaces and shops. I made a visit to Keukenhof, which is famous about their variety of tulips.


My studies were at Finnish Seamen’s mission in Rotterdam and occasionally in Brussels. My main task was to assess the need of families and reach out for them. Together we started to have during events planned activities for children and handing out questionnaires for parents to fill up. Online questionnaires was sent to different group to reach as many people as possible for this.

In Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe, many ships comes through it and so does Finnish ships. Seamen’s mission duty is to reach out for these ships in Rotterdam’s port. I went to container ships to meet seafarers and bringing them to land. To have access to harbour is highly controlled, first you need to inform online to system your desire to visit a ship, at the gate of port is passport check-up and you have to wear heavy-duty boots, safety vest or jacket and helmet to have access in boat.

One of the most excited experiences were the visit to 400m long container ship. It could hold up to 21 000 containers, and most of the work is automized. Learning the world of seafarers have been interesting and undertesting how we get our goods in shops.

I travelled once or twice a month to Brussels for family and youth meet ups. In family meet ups I usually played with the children, talked with parents and gave them time to be by themselves. Sometimes other parents needed the chat with me and were eager to talk with me after family meet up.  With youth was a bit different, I held a small information about social media and what kind of pictures to post in there, youth camp with 13 to 20 years is demanding. At the same time, it was wonderful to see how Finnish living abroad are strongly connected to Finland.

Over all the placement gave me new perspectives and understanding how organization works, how to raise funding and what guides your decisions about activities being planned. Some days were chilled and other days were hectic. Learning how to work with different age groups, being critical of myself and reflective.

Free time

In my free time I usually spend time with other people living in our building. Most of workers and every volunteer lives in the building owned by Seamen’s mission. My supervisor at workplace said “ we l live like in a ships, we live and work at the same place, but we are just anchored”. Together we made day trips places like delft, Keukenhof and beach.

In Netherlands every week is at least one market in marketplace, there you could buy fresh ingredients for cheaper than other places. This was popular among us and we waited to go markets weekly. Sometimes we would have over flow on same ingredients and made food together out of them.

Because it was a short flight away from Finland, I had visitors at least once a month. I spend time to go around Rotterdam and Netherlands. But I must admit, I did not have too much free time to travel around.

Practical arrangements

Need to take care in advance:

  • Passport or other identification is valid, inside European Union is free movement
  • European health insurance card
  • Insurances; expanded health insurance, travelling insurance
  • Paperwork with school and Erasmus+ agreement completed
  • Flight tickets/ticket
  • Agree with the placement/person in contact on your time of arrival and starting date.
  • Agree on the possibility of being picked up from airport, train station or using public transport to get to your apartment.
  • Get to know location of your new home and how you get there in advance (public transport, cab or are you being picked up etc.)
  • Learn about the country and culture you are going to stay and couple phrases to be able to survive from daily routines