A proper winter

One of the worst things during my childhood was the disappointment over mild and wet winters. Living and growing up in Serbia, I had the opportunity to sometimes experience days with heavy snow, but they were not as good as the ones from the early-December Coca Cola commercials. Learning that my application was accepted and that I will spend my next semester as a student of University of Eastern Finland, I was really happy to prove to myself that true winters do exist. And Finland did not disappoint me. The very first seconds I spent here were an argument good enough: exiting the airport door, every person I saw that night, including me, exhaled the shivering “WHUUH!” . . . and those were our first words here. I had the honor my first day in Finland to be a shiny -27o C one. Arriving in Joensuu from Helsinki, I wanted to take pictures of everything, but the low temperature drained my phone battery. It bothered me for a while, but it showed me that the walks to the University can be much more interesting if you just enjoy a nice sunny day, not with your head buried in your phone.

And the thing is, snow and ice look amazing on Joensuu. A simple walk through the forest and over the frozen lake can leave you speechless. One of my most beautiful experiences was actually getting lost in the forest at night…in the middle of the town, and I’m not even joking.

There is a widespread image about Finns being asocial and introvert, and I’d say this is a half-truth. In one hand, some of the most hospitable and energetic people I met here are actually locals. I have already been invited to numerous house parties even though I didn’t know the hosts, and even an offer to play in a band. On the other hand, there really is a good number of introvert Finns, but if you spend some time with them, you can find out that there is a warm friendly personality beneath that heavy jacket and grumpy face.

Shout-out to Joni the Tutor!

Do stay tuned…

Nenad Radivojevic

Research ethics in practice during fieldwork and in research collaboration

Last autumn, I had the pleasure of doing fieldwork among lawyers in Montreal during my 3.5 months-long research visit at Teluq/University of Quebec. I went there as a postdoctoral researcher working on a grant so I used my own equipment (i.e. computer, mobile phone, recorder). While this research visit was a wonderful experience both professionally and personally, it was then when I fully realized how much responsibility in terms of the security of the research data and equipment I carry when working abroad and particularly when doing a fieldwork in a foreign country. This involves for example file encryption, protection of data connections, administration of access rights, processing and handling of confidential information as well as archiving and destroying of documents. I was encouraged by my colleagues to share some of my experiences as the issue might be relevant for other researchers who are planning a mobility period.

Research ethics during fieldwork

In my own fieldwork, the issue of handling of confidential information and research data, file encryption and protection of data connections became particularly relevant. Firstly, the fieldwork involved interviewing some people who knew each other and who sometimes recommended each other to me for an interview (i.e. snowball sampling). While the interviewees can contact each other to discuss the interview, I had to be particularly careful not to confirm or deny the interviewees’ inquiries whether I have met their colleagues. Otherwise, I would violate the issue of confidentiality. Secondly, as almost all my interviews were face-to-face interviews, the fieldwork involved from me the frequent travels around the city. During these travels, the interview recordings had to be well protected. In practice, it meant that as soon as an interview was over, I had to hurry back to my office to transfer the interview recording from a recorder to the computer where it was encrypted and backed up. Thirdly, each time after the interview recording was transferred to the computer, I needed to delete the interview recording and to overwrite it with random data to prevent the recovery of the original data (i.e. interview recording). Fourthly, I needed to make sure that the data at my computer is well protected in case of losing a computer. Thus, I have kept the data in an encrypted file container, which is password protected. This way, the data have been firstly protected by the encryption of the whole disc and additionally the data have been protected by the second password that opens the encrypted container on my hard disc in which I keep the interview data. Finally, when working, I paid attention to the protection of data connections and thus I either avoided the usage of not trusted Internet connections (e.g. in cafes, hotels, Airbnb, airports) or I used VPN.

Research ethics in research collaboration

Research ethics is also relevant issue when we think about research collaboration, specifically with researchers from other disciplines. During my research visit, I had a pleasure to meet the researchers from a range of disciplines who are studying the legal profession in Canada, which is a very popular research subject there. During those meetings, we discussed the opportunities for future collaboration such as, for example, joint publications and sharing of research data. During some of those discussions our different views on research ethics became salient. For example, I was asked to share my data with another researcher who was interested in my study and in interviewing lawyers. In exchange, s/he offered me a possibility to have more interviews conducted by her/his student and have my interviews transcribed by her/his student(s). Yet, as a researcher working on a grant (at that time) I promised to my Canadian informants in the informed consent form and during the interviews that no-one else but me will have access to the interview recordings (besides possibly a transcriber with whom the proper agreement on confidentiality will be made) as well as to the interview transcriptions before they are fully anonymized. For some interviewees, this information played a crucial role in their consent to the participation in the study. The full anonymization of interviews involves cleaning of interviews from all the information that can lead to the identification of the interviewees. This may include (1) name, email address, address, nationality, ethnicity, age (2) name of the workplace and employment history, (3) family status and information on family members, (4) educational background, and (5) any other pieces of information that need to be encrypted and stored separately from the transcriptions of the interviews. Depending on the research, the deletion of personal data can sometimes not be enough to protect the interviewees’ identity. Interviews may contain some information that may indirectly lead to the identification of interviewees and thus, the interview data must be handled in a very careful manner. This is also why, I could not take a risk to let any Canadian law student to transcribe the interviews with Montreal lawyers as due to sharing of the same cultural and professional context, they could be able to identify the interviewees more easily than anyone else outside of the Canadian legal field. It would have been also against of my promise made to my Canadian interviewees in the informed consent form and during interviews to make the interview data available to my Canadian colleague during duration of my project. Such form of data sharing was not included in the planning of research and thus, the interviewees were not informed about it when they agreed to participate in the study. Yet, when my project is completed, the research data may be considered for storage for example in the Finnish Social Science Data Archive FSD for a long-term preservation and further use.

Finally, during my research visit and fieldwork, I learned that it is not only important to know and to apply the principles of research ethics in practice, but also to be able to explain them in an understandable way to the research subjects and potential collaborators. Yet, despite of our (researchers) assurance of ethical research practice, the interviewees may still deny the participation or the recording of the interview, which we need to respect and be prepared for. We also need to be able to resist collaboration requests that may violate the ethical promises we made to our research subjects.

Marta Choroszewicz
Postdoctoral researcher in sociology
Department of Social Sciences, Joensuu Campus.

 

 

9 reasons Why You Should Do Your Exchange in Morocco

I am Katja Kivivainio and I spent a semester in Morocco in The University of Al Akhawayn in Ifrane, which is an American style university in Morocco. I was originally planning to go to Germany or South-Korea…However, life works in mysterious ways and I ended up to Morocco, and this turned out to be one of my best decisions ever.  So here are 9 reasons why spending a semester in Morocco was an amazing experience and why I would recommend it.

  1. New culture

Living in different continent has been an amazing opportunity to see how life in a totally different country. As you might know Morocco is a developing country which main religion is Islam. People are similar and different. There are great night clubs (although selling alcohol to Muslims is banned), but also getting married is one of the most important goals of young people.

  1. People

Moroccans are very friendly and hospitable. You are more than likely to be invited to a Moroccan family for dinner and of course you will also get a lot of new friends, both local and international.

  1. Travelling and New Experiences

Morocco is full of amazing cities and places. You can go surfing on the coast or go camel riding in Sahara or even visit ruins of ancient Roman city (as I have been doing), and all of this is very affordable.

  1. Prices

Eating out, travelling and shopping are way cheaper than in Europe. Great meal in a restaurant is somewhere between 3 to 5 euro. Also using taxis is very affordable, about 3 km taxi ride is approximately 1,20 euro.

  1. Food

Taginies, couscous, traditional mint tea, harschas…there is something for everyone.  So, if you like good food and new tastes I can recommend Morocco. But no worries if you are more into pizza and pasta those are available everywhere too.

  1. Shopping

Morocco is famous for its Argan oil products, leather goods, carpets and silver. Leather products are cheap, e.g. you can easily get a leather belt for 7 euro, and are made by local artisans. Also in bigger cities, you can find huge malls with all the European and American brands, but also some Moroccan brands, such as Marwa. Also, the mall is Casablanca is biggest one in North Africa and includes amusement park and two story high aquarium. Even if you are not into shopping that place is impressive.

  1. Safety

Morocco is quite safe and not overly conservative, although it is Arab Muslim country in Africa. Everywhere you go you can see soldiers and police officers with guns. Also Moroccan grandmas keep the young men and children under the control so for a foreigner this is one of the safest countries in the region. Also, Morocco is politically stable so there is no huge threat of revolution or coups.

  1. Studying

You have an unique opportunity to study Africa and Middle-Eastern and their politics as also learn new things about Islamic culture. Which broadens your worldview but also may give you an advantage if you consider having an international career. You may also study Arabic or French and use them in everyday life.

  1. Weather

Even in December you can still go sunbathing and swimming. So, while it is snowing in Finland the sun is shining in Morocco. Although, in the Mountains you may get some snow.

But is there anything I did not like?

Yes, Morocco is still a developing country and there is a lot of inequality and poverty. Also, always having to hackle about whatever you are buying, excluding shopping in a mall, can be tiring. It also must be noted that food hygiene is not always as good as in Finland.

 

Katja Kivivainio

 

 

 

A Finnish adventure

Let me start this off with a short story of my first ever minutes in Finland. Flying through Riga in late August, and after waiting at the airport for a connection flight, at roughly 30°C, of course in full winter clothing, as carrying the jacket and heavy boots was only possible in this way do to the luggage capacity, I got to my flight to Helsinki. Right next to my seat on the not-so-crowded plane was a Finnish pilot, presumably just tagging along this Latvian plain to Helsinki. Slowly we moved from a beautiful sunny day to a dark and cloudy land, and while landing, the flight attendant told the Finnish pilot: ‘Oh, nice summer you have here’, with a big smile on his face. And so went my first shock in Finland, naturally being a temperature shock. But luckily everything kept getting better and better every day since that.

Spending some days in Helsinki and being introduced to the ‘Basics of Finland’ was an amazing experience, which set a good mood for moving in to my new home in Joensuu. The first days and weeks were filled with many wonderful things, most of all meeting new people, getting familiar with the new places and starting off this wonderful adventure! The not-so-wonderful things were just a couple of everyday struggles, like shopping for groceries, which are all, of course, in Finnish. It is a strange thing that in a country in which basically everyone speaks English, nothing is actually written in English. But in the long run, this only meant learning more of the language this way, so it turned out to be a very positive thing indeed.

The first months here were filled with adventure, as the title states! Forests, Lakes, National Parks, camping, hiking, and traveling to Russia and Sweden. Being here for 3 months, I experienced and traveled places that some people don’t do in a lifetime! I went through the three seasons in three months, seeing the summer turn into autumn, and quickly after to winter (although every Finnish person I met always say ‘this is no winter, just wait for the real one to come…’). Coming from a country that actually has seasons, it wasn’t really hard for me to get used to the cold weather,  but it is quite funny watching some friends from Brazil or Spain here trying to handle it!

But the greatest adventure of it all is not about the places, but the people! After just a short time being here, I recently made an amazing remark that now if I’m thinking of traveling basically anywhere in the world, I have not only an acquaintance, but a true friend waiting for me to come there with open hands! This is a wealth that many people fail to recognize enough. Furthermore, I got a wish to go to some countries and places I never thought of visiting before, as well as making the same kind of wish for other people to visit my country! And in a way, I truly feel that I have been the best Ambassador of Serbia and maybe all of Balkan countries in Finland, and I dare anyone to try and challenge my claim over this one!

Only half way through my first year in Finland, I already started feeling at home here, and am actually going by a nickname of Suomerbian at some social media etc. which is exactly how I feel right now! In the next days I’m about to experience the cold embrace of the far north in Lapland, but with a warm heart.

Moikka until next time,

Maksim Karanović – Suomerbian

A story of a Finn learning to let go

On a rather ordinary appearing day in September, I exit the terminal of Nikola Tesla airport, near Belgrade, Serbia. It is + 31 C, and I am wearing my hiking boots with woollen socks. A local friend has come to pick me up with his dad’s car. I scramble for a seatbelt that doesn’t exist, and mumble something about making a law about having seatbelts in cars, to which my friend cheerfully replies: ”Oh, it is a law”. As we drive to Novi Sad, in a car that is in Finnish standards un-drivable, through small villages with dirty unclothed children petting scruffy stray dogs, only one thought frantically blinks in my head: I will not survive here. The culture shock is evident.

Thankfully, when we arrive to Novi Sad, the environment is drastically different. Wide streets lined with colourful and unique buildings and people that look well of and seem friendly and warm, countless of restaurants and coffee places tucked away in small idyllic pedestrian streets, with huge terraces that have brightly coloured chairs. One would never believe, that two places so fundamentally different exist merely tens of kilometres away from each other.

Still, the culture gap remains huge. A certain disregard for rules and regulations as well as for deadlines and times, that is apparent in nearly everything here, remains shocking to this Finn, who considers herself law abiding, punctual and conscientious even in Finnish standards. In fact I have stopped using the word time all together, because in Serbia, specific times do not exist, only time frames, which are also merely for guidance. Although this kind of care freeness would probably be relaxing for some, for me it has meant a lack of security and stability, which especially at first was very unnerving and stressful. To say that this experience has made me come out of my comfort zone would be a gross understatement. In fact I feel more like I have been forcefully pushed into a rocket and sent speeding a 100 miles per second away from my comfort zone. However, a part of me thinks that maybe I needed this. Although I still think some structure is necessary and healthy to have in life, I am starting to notice that maybe I don’t have to plan everything: after all, so many unexpected things happen here every day, and I’ve survived them, and often times even enjoyed them.

Despite my difficulties, I don’t regret coming, because while this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it has also been one of the best. Although it would sound very mature and progressive to say things like “these challenges have enabled personal growth” or “experiencing life in such a different culture has manifested into great appreciation of things that I have taken for granted” and although these statements are completely true, I would be lying if I claimed that these things alone make me think that coming here was a good decision. Instead, the best part by far has been being a part of the community of exchange students here. Yes I am here in Novi Sad, but with my new friends, I am also in a mountain village in Italy, in the upbeat outskirts of Munich, my toes tucked into the warm sand of a beach in Greece. It is a cultural emersion that leaves you yearning for more. I truly believe that there is no other experience like going to an exchange. Even if you travel around and meet people, even if you stay in the big dorm rooms of hostels to socialize or have lots of international friends, it won’t be the same. You’ll never get a chance to meet so many people from your age group from so many places and form lasting friendships with them. There is an atmosphere of mutual acceptance, that fills you with confidence in the world, because you notice that no matter where people are from, at the end of the day, they are just the same as you are.

Among my international friends I am feeling more confident and more genuinely myself than perhaps ever before. My intense emotionality, passionate reactivity and surprising talkativeness, that in Finland gets me labelled as overemotional and unpredictable (in a bad way) are here described as interesting bubbliness, which people constantly enforce by openly saying how much they like my personality. This experience has made me realise just how much I’ve been holding myself back and toning myself down in Finland, and how big a relief it is when I can just open up and let it all go. And even though I am going to return to Finland, I don’t intend to return to my toned down self, even though my personality might sometimes be a bit too much for Finland.

My experience here will last for a while more and during that time I aim to breath in the world and breath out the fears and constraints within myself, because I know that the universe will carry me through and keep making this Erasmus+ experience a life changing one, in this beautiful city, among these beautiful people.

Sanni Färkkilä

Going on Exchange, the Best Decision I have ever made!

Wednesday 31 August 2016, 07:30 am, I descended from the bus coming from Helsinki to Joensuu. A young man about my age was standing outside the bus holding a paper with my name written on it. I immediately recognized him as my tutor, the Finnish student appointed by the university to help me get familiar with the place. A cool breeze swept away the remains of sleep from the last night on the bus as we crossed the bridge on the river Pielisjoki that crosses the town towards the nearby lake. Autumn is already here, creating beautiful landscapes from the colorful leaves of the trees distributed here and there in the calm city center.

After finishing all the formalities of registration in the university and showing me the important places that I need to know in the campus (the restaurants, the library, my faculty…), my tutor lead me home and showed me the place, the nearby supermarket and the bus stop where I can take the bus to the university.

The official start of the season in the UEF is the first day of September. the first week of the term is devoted to introducing the international students to life inside and outside the campus, and to the different aspects of the daily life in Finland and Joensuu in the first place.

The “get to know each other party” organized by the students’ union of the UEF was an opportunity for foreign students here, like me, to have new friends from different countries and continents, all coming to study in Joensuu, either as exchange students, like me, or as degree students… A new country, new friends, a new life, and a new experience in the farthest point I could ever reach northward…

The city of Joensuu is a small, beautiful city in the eastern part of Finland. It may seem quiet and boring for a foreigner, but, on the contrary of what it seems like from the first glance, it’s an active place, full of all kinds of activities that make of it a place where one can never feel bored, there is space for everybody here! Joensuu is surrounded with trees from all directions, the forest is sacred here! There are roads wherever one turns, one can safely wander as far as he wants, nothing to fear here. The river and the lake present amazing landscapes to the visitor in all seasons. The public library of Joensuu is the place where one finds all facilities for doing research, reading, or holding other social and cultural activities. However, the university library provides students with hundreds of thousands of books and other facilities that make one wonder if the place were a dream-land!

img_20160906_115629_2

Student exchange is not all about studying, these thousands of students who move each semester from one place to another could have stayed home and studied there otherwise; the humane aspect of Erasmus, getting to know new people, having new experiences, coexisting with different people, exchanging cultures, traditions, experiences, and information with the others are important aspects of going on exchange to a foreign country. In fact, the program itself was not randomly named after Erasmus, with some attention to this man’s contribution to the humanist movement and the European Renaissance. Out of the academic life and homework, the students union, Erasmus Students Network (ESN), and other organizations inside and outside the university create another life full of activities; trips, sports, and parties that bring together all kinds of people and get one to discover and experience new aspects of life in this beautiful spot on the planet.

Not very far from the city of Joensuu is Koli national park with fascinating landscapes from above hills overlooking vast lakes full of small islands spread above the calm waters of the lakes as far as the eye can see and surrounded by colorful forests in during the Fall time, and amazing vast white areas in winter, creating breath-taking tableaus created by nature.

With a university that thinks about the all aspects of the life and well-being of its students, student organizations, friends from all over the world, civil society associations, and the loving and helpful local people of Joensuu, homesickness, boredom, or despair seem to be the last feelings that one might experience in such a place that the less to be said about it is AMAZING. That’s why going on exchange was the best decision I have ever made!

To be followed,

Abdelbaar Mounadi Idrissi, Morocco_sra7465_2

Erasmus in Joensuu

Thanks to the Erasmus+ program, we have the opportunity to spend three and a half months in Joensuu. The decision to come here was like a challenge to us, having on mind cold Finnish winter, but the desire to experience something new was stronger than anything. So we packed our suitcases and head over to Joensuu.

And now, during these two months of our stay here we find Joensuu as a perfect city for living and studying. The university is offering us the opportunity to be included in various activities such as sport activities, social events, music events, trips, etc. This exchange helped us a lot to meet new friends, discover new places, to enjoy the beauties of the city and in fact it helped us to discover ourselves. Studying at the University helped us to make new friends from all over the world and now after two months we are like a small family and Latolankatu is like our second home. One of the things for which we are grateful is that this journey brought us unforgettable memories.

onthemove_marras

The first thing which comes to our minds is the visit of the National Park Koli which is full with beautiful landscapes and pleasant place for hiking. We heard a lot from Finns about their summer cottages and their habits of using saunas so we decide to organize a trip to the place called Lieksa, close to Joensuu, where we spend one weekend in a rented cottage. The idea was to experience the real life of Finns and try their receipt “sauna- lake- sauna“ and we have to say it is a crazy experience that we want to repeat again.
onthemove_kuva2 First snow in October was like a surprise for us. It was pleasant and at the same time unpleasant. It was a sign that winter is coming, and riding a bike will soon be a real challenge for us. We want to try skating on the frozen lake because we find it unusual for our conditions in Serbia where temperature is not so low.   onthemove3

One of the many things that we will never forget is the ESN trip to Saint Petersburg. We spent two amazing days on the cruise and three days in Russia with international students from all over the Finland searching for Russian adventure. J During the trip we visited Cathedrals, Museums, beautiful squares and tried their national food. One of the things we couldn`t miss is of course Russian night life.

Participation in this program is priceless and we would recommend it to all students, which have doubts about applying for exchange because the acquired knowledge and experience are unforgettable. And Finland is the perfect place for doing it! Moi moi 🙂

Ivana Velickovska and Maja Stanujkic

Bor, Serbia

6 Reasons Why the Erasmus+ Traineeship in Joensuu Was The Best Decision

Four months went by and it’s June already, which means that my traineeship at the International Office in Joensuu is over. Every student who went to study or work abroad will agree that it is an unforgettable experience. Here are my reasons why the stay in Joensuu was the best thing I could do during my last semester at university.

  1. People at the office

As I later found out, my task at the university administration department was to stir up the waters a bit and bring some element of internationalisation into the offices. Haha… I think that everybody coped with my presence and my non-existent Finnish quite well.  All the people that I met in the corridors or offices at the UEF were very kind, helpful and open-minded. And even though all of them were far above me in knowledge and experience, everyone treated me as their equal. The people I worked with were patiently answering all my questions and helped me boost my confidence, which is the best thing anyone can do for you.

onthemove-kirsi
Barbora with Senior Coordinator Kirsi Karjalainen, UEF.

2. People outside the office

One of the biggest advantages of doing an internship at university is the fact that you get work experience but can still stay in contact with other students and foreigners. Joensuu is not a big town but the amount of internationals is significant. And even if you are not the biggest party-goer in the world, after a few weeks, wherever you go, you will meet somebody you already know. In addition, I hadn’t become friends with so many natives on any of my previous stays abroad as I did here in Joensuu. Finns are really not that shy as they claim to be. 😀

  1. Work experience

This traineeship gave me a hands-on experience of the day-to-day work in an International Relations office, an experience that I would have never got back at home. I had an opportunity to learn various tasks, observe how things work and are done elsewhere, participate at various unforgettable events (SciFest!!!) and meet many inspiring and remarkable people of diverse backgrounds and professions. This traineeship also kind of ruined my future professional life, because my expectations of a potential employer are very high now and I will compare every job to this work experience.

onthemove-minchun
Barbora with International Relations Coordinator
Minchun Ryhänen.

4. Finnish traditions and lifestyle

I enjoyed Finnish winter, spring, as well as unexpectedly hot summer. I swam in icy water, went to sauna more times than in my previous 24 years, tried snowshoeing, went bird watching, listened to Finnish music from Jean Sibelius to Antti Tuisku, experienced Finnish Easter and Vappu, made lettu, ate mämmi, munkki, salmiakki and reindeer meat, drank sima and lehtikuohu, learnt that distance is relative and also to appreciate and see green leaves and grass where they are not. 🙂 I visited two schools and got the glimpse of the renowned Finnish education. I witnessed the Finnish sense of equality, justice and truthfulness in practise and wished it was more like that back at home. One Finnish habit that, however, better stay here is drinking milk with lunch. Ei, kiitos!

  1. Languages

This was probably the most intensive stay abroad, since I spoke my native language very rarely and had to speak English all the time. I had also several opportunities to speak French. In addition, everyone around me spoke Finnish, and believe me, it really sounds nice to foreign ears. As for my Finnish, let’s say that I understand when people are talking about food, in most cases I can tell if a given Finnish first name is male or female one, can use the expression ‘no niin’ in various situations and know some very useful Finnish administrative vocabulary.

  1. Relaxed atmosphere

Finns are very sporty people, so you start to be more active yourself. No school related issues, no stress at the office, woods, lakes and beaches everywhere you go and fresh air. Plus besides work you still have plenty of time to travel and discover new places. All this means that I feel as relaxed as I have ever been.

I don’t know if I end up working in the field of international relations, nevertheless, I will always encourage everybody to go abroad because it is an incredible experience and it will change you for the better. Anywhere you go, you will start to see things that you would like to transfer to your home country, but you will also start to appreciate more what you already have at home. In addition, I know from my own experience that true friendships and relationships that you had before Erasmus or even those which you made during Erasmus will last. There is nothing to lose, just to gain.

(Barbora Štivarová
trainee at the UEF Development Services

Erasmus+ North-South Visit to Agadir

In April 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting one of our partner universities, Ibn Zohr University in Agadir, Morocco, under the auspices of the ERASMUS+ Global Mobility Program. As the first UEF teacher participating in the Program, this visit provided many new experiences and enhanced my understanding of higher education in the region. It was even more pleasurable to visit the university and its new Ait Melloul campus as my host was Dr Kamal Sbiri, an UEF alumnus who is now Assistant Professor of English and the Director of the Charif Al Idrissi Research Center on Transnational Migration.

My visit consisted of a series of guest lectures on postcolonial hybridities with particular reference to Anglophone Arab literature and cultural theory. The topics were selected to stimulate the staff and students by introducing current perspectives and research trends. The issues of global mobility, migration, and cultural encounters are also central to the research profiles at both universities, which offers further collaboration opportunities. The lectures were well attended and they were followed with particularly lively discussions and questions from the floor. Issues of migration are central to contemporary Morocco, both because of traditional labour migration to Europe but also because the routes of contemporary sub-Saharan migration towards the North pass through the nation. Borders and border-crossings are then a part of everyday experience, evident in the number of forced migrants in towns like Agadir.

The new campus of the Ibn Zohr University in Ait Melloul has been in operation for two years, and it has proved to be attractive to students with its new approach to teaching and learning. It started with 700 students studying a number of subjects in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and is going through an expansion. The campus is located in inezhgane, some few miles outside the city center, near the airport, and its buildings are brandnew and well equipped for teaching. Morocco is in the process of expanding and updating its higher education, and many international providers have also noticed it as testified in the presence of private universities and other institutes. The interest in education was also evident in the activity of the Ait Melloul students I met and their eagerness tackle with the topics discussed.

Finally, it was a great pleasure to visit the Southern Moroccan city of Agadir, best known amongst the Nordics for its white beautiful beaches and surfing opportunities, and to enjoy the genuine hospitality of my hosts. And indeed it was a pleasure to taste the local delicacies, especially chicken tagine, in authentic surroundings. The successful visit will be followed with reciprocal UIZ teacher visits to UEF in the near future.

Blogi_onthemove_jopiJopi Nyman
Professor and Head of English at the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu.

 

Friends before funds

Just when I thought that my last visit to Finland was the best ever, there happens another one, which outshines all those before! My fifth time in this amazing country, again to Joensuu, has really been special in so many ways. We, international relations officers, or as my colleague Kirsi nicely puts it – international coordinators, have a special gift (and duty!) to connect the peoples, education and cultures, and itchy feet ready to move on. Thanks to the long-standing friendship, trust and collaboration between the University of Novi Sad and University of Eastern Finland, we earned our Erasmus Plus KA1 mobility project, which gave me the wings to fly to UEF Joensuu Campus.

Seven days only seem enough to get the job done, but it always turns out that you could use more. This time too… Many meetings, many visits to various departments, schools, talking to colleagues and UEF students, getting to know how the UEF system works – all squeezed into tight schedule. However, the pieces of the UEF puzzle fell nicely into place and I am now able to recognize the solid structure, the purposefully shaped activities, the major challenges and strategic solutions, the striving, the innovative ideas, the potential, all topped off with amazing enthusiasm that my colleagues radiate. Buzzing international spirit is present all around the campus and I have to admit that I was a bit envious for those 900 incoming students that study at UEF. No doubt, this speaks in favour of the high quality education and services available. We share similar problems, we recognize the same values, but the solutions are different and there is plenty of room to learn from each other. I think I caught a glimpse of the wonderfully simple modus operandi of the UEF – no wasting – neither the people, nor the time, nor skills, but rather using them to the benefit of all. It really is a State of the Smart. 🙂

My head is still buzzing with a beautifully melodic Finnish language and words still echoing in my ears… Sari, Kirsi, Minchun, Outi, Soili, hyvä, kyllä, Vappu, tervetuloa, kippis, kiitos, moi, and many more!

With my UEF gang it is always about friendship. Friends before funds motto makes it all easier and more enjoyable. Can’t thank them enough for the brilliant experience and can’t wait to welcome them soon – next stop Novi Sad!leidit lintutornilla

Gordana Vlahovic (on the right, Sari Kontunen-Soppela from the Dept. of Environmental and Biological Sciences, UEF, on the left.)

Erasmus Plus Coordinator from the University of Novi Sad Faculty of Sciences
IRO Staff mobility for training (visit to UEF Joensuu Campus 25.04. – 02.05.2016)