Written by: Asst. Prof. Rolando P. Roncal Jr
I am Rolando P. Roncal Jr., Assistant Professor III and Chairman of the Nursing Program at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, College of Community Health and Allied Medical Sciences (DMMMSU CCHAMS), Agoo, La Union, Philippines. I am honored and very much privilege to have been awarded a grant through the Erasmus+ Global Mobility Programme, providing me with the opportunity to visit the University of Eastern Finland, Department of Nursing Science. This joint mobility program was developed by Professor Katri Vehviläinen-Julkunen and MSc Anndra Parviainen from Finnish side. I would like to thank also our honorable DMMMSU President Dr. Jaime Manuel Jr., Chancellor Dr. Joanne Rivera, former Dean Ofelia Valdehueza, and Dr. Antonio Ogbinar, who had their administrative visit in UEF Finland in 2019 to initiate the partnership between University of Eastern Finland and DMMMSU. Within this blog, I will elaborate on my personal and academic experiences during my visit to the beautiful Finland in October 2023.
My trip began with a 22-hour plane journey from Manila, Philippines, to Kuopio, Finland, on October 21, 2023. I had a very smooth travel and I reached Kuopio Airport at 17:25 on October 22, 2023. Stepping out of the airport, I was warmly welcome by Anndra Parviainen, UEF Univeristy Teacher, and Koupio greeted me with a temperature of -1 degree Celsius. Coming from a warm country, experiencing cold weather, snow, and the need for winter clothing was something I had always dreamed of. This, to me, seems like the opening chapter to a book filled with promising adventures and enriching experiences ahead.
At the beginning of my Erasmus+ programme, I received a cordial and gracious welcome and engaged in a meeting with Professor Tarja Kvist, during which she enthusiastically introduced the distinguished University of Eastern Finland. The presentation, albeit concise, provided comprehensive insights into the Kuopio and Joensuu Campuses of UEF. Professor Tarja’s informative discourse on UEF heightened my anticipation and excitement for the forthcoming activities. The conclusion of our meeting was marked by a delightful luncheon.
Additionally, I had the privilege to deliver a presentation with profound pride and enthusiasm about my home institution, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU). This afforded me the opportunity to familiarize the faculty members of the UEF Department of Nursing Science with the teaching and research domains of DMMMSU. The primary objective of this presentation is to cultivate potential avenues for research collaboration between UEF and DMMMSU in the future.
A noteworthy aspect of this whole journey for me was the significant privilege given to me as a guest lecturer in Professor Katri Vehviläinen–Julkunen’s “Evaluation of Nursing Knowledge” course and the opportunity to meet different beautiful people from different unit of UEF.
In my capacity as guest lecturer, I had the opportunity to present the meaning of nursing education in the Philippine context. I provided a brief overview of the prevailing conditions within the nursing profession and nursing education in the Philippines. Furthermore, I presented the current academic curriculum of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing at DMMMSU-CCHAMS.
This Erasmus+ visit gave me the possibility to experience world-class teaching facilities and meet great experts from multidisciplinary fields. I was able to participate in the course Principles of Nutrition which is taught by Senior University Lecturer, Arja Lyytinen, UEF Public Health Science and Clinical Nutrition Science. Another course that I enjoyed was the course Public Health in Humanitarian Crises, taught by Dr. Sohaib Khan and Prof. Jussi Kauhanen.
The most memorable experience was the hospital visit in Kuopio University Hospital where I had the chance to visit the Intensive Care Unit, Clinical Training Center, Neuro-Cardiac Surgery Unit, and Women’s Acute Center. Also, I had the opportunity to visit Savonia University of Applied Sciences’ state-of-the-art Simulation Center.
Engaging in a range of activities, including attending meetings, observing classes, and conducting on-site visits to various units and facilities, both within and outside the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), provided me with a rich and insightful experience. This exposure allowed me to witness firsthand the commendable practices embedded in education systems, inclusive decision-making procedures, a tranquil work environment, a harmonious balance between work and personal life, state-of-the-art facilities, and well-defined policies.
These experiences collectively instilled in me an optimistic perspective regarding the potential enhancements that could be made within the academic framework of our home institution. By integrating these positive elements into the fabric of our university system, I am hopeful that we can drive substantial progress in our continuous mission to deliver high-quality and world class educational experiences, ultimately benefiting our academic community and advancing further our institution’s overall educational standards.
On a personal note, this journey has surpassed academic and professional pursuits, finding its essence in meaningful connections with very remarkable and beautiful individuals. While learning activities were enriching, the genuine warmth and hospitality of highly professionals that I met defined the depth of this experience. Their humility, warmth and friendliness went beyond professional roles, creating camaraderie, enhancing the journey educationally, and contributing a profound personal significance.
Through these connections, I believe this whole Erasmus+ Staff Mobility journey became a tapestry of shared experiences, fostering belongingness and creating a truly impactful and memorable overall experience. I hope to see and visit again the happiest country and the beautiful people of beautiful Finland.