Colorful South Korea

Before

The things I had to take care of before exchange were applying to the university on the website of KNU, flying tickets, travel insurance, choosing courses and registering on time on the website. Everything was quite easy as I had support from University of Eastern Finland as well and I got good advices from the both sides, my home university and KNU.

I started searching every possible information about the country and its culture. Even there is a lot of videos and blogs about South Korea and about living there, I felt like this country is still quite unknown for us. I was very curious and excited about going there for 4 months as the experience is always different if you live in the country than only staying there as a tourist.

Campus, dormitory and studying

My university was Kyungpook National University in Daegu. Daegu is only one hour drive away from Busan. I liked Daegu since the beginning as it is interesting, more local than for example Seoul and it had all the facilities I needed.

From the very first day I was amazed by KNU campus. For me it felt more like a town, with huge area, shops, restaurants, multiple sport fields and even swimming pool in one of the buildings. On the campus we could find everything we needed and even more, areas for resting and hanging out with other students like parks for having a picnics or fountain to relax.

Picnic at the campus park are with mixed group of Korean and International students. We created a “club” for getting to know Korean culture and Korean students could practice English and get to know foreign cultures as well. We had meetings every second week and we had dinners and picnics together.

KNU provides a lot of sport facilities for the students at the campus area. Campus was open are, so everyone who liked to do some sports or spending time on campus area could enter it. Korea is one of the worlds’ safest countries, so this kind of trust is normal. Koreans are peaceful and very friendly people.

My dormitory building. Our rooms were shared with other person same gender. In this dormitory building, which is called “New dormitory” we had a bathroom inside the room. Other international dormitories, had bathrooms outside the room, shared ones. In this building we had laundry room, coffee shop, student restaurant, small kiosk, small gym and studying room. Basically everything we needed to survive the day even without going out of the dormitory.

In this building we had mixed international and Korean students. Funniest thing for us as foreign students was that rules were very strict and for example boys and girls had separated floors and even elevators. Cameras are everywhere so they could follow that students are not breaking the rules. Another rule was that entering all dormitories between 1 am and 5 am caused penalty pointes for all students who did it. Using the key during that time caused penalty points and certain amount of penalty points could cause ejection of the dormitory. However, none of the rules were causing any troubles to us as we understood that they are made to keep the dormitory quiet.

Our group of Korean language 1. Studying Korean language was fun as our teacher made us talk a lot. In addition to it we could read Korean already after two first weeks in Korea. Korean language course was one of the courses I chose to take. I wanted to learn some Korean to get more into Korean culture.

Every course required 70% of attendance. Lectures, assignments, midterm exam and final exam were included into every course. Courses were interesting and professors were excited about teaching. Quality of teaching was very good.  Korean students took part into same courses as us, so it was interesting to hear their opinions and how work life is in Korea. This is precious information we could share between international and Korean students.

Cultural life of Korea

As I named this “Colorful South Korea”, Korea has so many sides and amazing cultural things which make it very exiting country. Korean traditional villages, costumes, food and culture are very unique and made us feel sometimes like we are in some kind of fairytale.

In our free time our favorite things were of tasting different Korean dishes, singing karaoke (which became my hobby in Korea), hiking (Daegu is surrounded by mountains) and shopping. Shopping is part of Korean culture, Koreans buy a lot of clothes, cosmetics and they are always eating out. You can see Koreans with their coffee, bubble tea or fresh juices around every city or town buying things as they are spending time with their friends and boy/girlfriends like that. For my surprise it was also quite cheap to buy clothes and cosmetics in Korea.

Hiking at the Mountain Apsan in Daegu.

Eating and dining is probably the most important habit for Koreans. Eating together with friends and family is what Koreans do every day. Sometimes it was hard to find a restaurant where you could find a meal for one person.

Food was just amazing and it was also quite cheap for many of us as Europeans to eat in restaurants. Around 2000-7000 won, which is 1,5-6 euros, you can get a good meal. Of course Korean style of eating is sharing all the dishes with everyone in the table and that style is very nice as you can taste more at the same time. There is around 6 restaurants also on the campus area, where you can get a good meal as well for 2-3 euros.

Bibimpap at the university cafeteria. Bibimpap is one of the most traditional and famous dishes in Korea. In Korea all the meals are served with some side dishes, here soup and radish.

This is “Korean fried rice- restaurant”. One of my favorites of Korean dishes. In the middle of the table is a pan and you can fry all the fresh ingredients by yourself. It is a funny way of spending time with a family or friends. Side dishes are also included here as well.

Korean dumplings at the night market. Food markets are still part of Korean culture and people are really lining there for hours to get some very famous dishes.

Wearing Korean traditional Hanboks in Jeonju. This was an amazing opportunity and experience for us.

Cherry blossom at evening in Daegu. Cherry blossoms in Korea during April are amazing. Cherry blossom festivals are organized around the country and creating an environment for visitors by lightning and music. Different kind of festivals are arranged around Korea, it is part of Korean culture as well. In Europe we are used to the music festivals, but in Korea the range is more colorful. They have everything, starting from Tomato festivals to Lantern festivals.

Lantern Festival in Daegu on 23.4. Thousands of Lanterns were sent to the sky to make wishes of their “senders” come true.

One of the historical temples in town Gyeongju, which used to be capital of Korea before.

In this picture we are on the trip to traditional “Pot making festival”. It was organized by KNU. One of the best things we did were trips together. During this festival we could wear Korean traditional clothes “Hanbok”, eat traditional food, see traditional Korean tea ceremony and listen to performers.

Memories from Korea will stay forever. Studying at KNU gave me opportunity to get so many new friends, Korean and international. I know Korean culture much better and as a beginner in Korean language I have my motivation to continue learning language and probably return to South Korea again even to work. I am sure that I will visit Korea many times during my life as it feels like second home to me.

Mon échange Erasmus+ au Maroc

Fin 2015, quand on m’a sollicité pour demander si un séjour au Maroc pourrait m’intéresser, je me suis dit : « Pourquoi pas ? » L’année universitaire de 2015–2016 étant très chargée, il fallait seulement fixer, puis aménager un créneau un peu plus avancé dans le temps. Une autre chose à prendre en considération était l’emplacement du Ramadan, les activités dans une société musulmane telle que l’est celle du Maroc se transformant et se ralentissant lors de ce mois de jeûne. Le déplacement a finalement eu lieu du 15 au 22 mai 2017.

Mon séjour à Tétouan et à Tanger comme l’hôte de l’Université Abdelmalek Essaâdi a été marqué par la chaleur. Au niveau du climat, certes : le temps était comparable à l’été finlandais – mais avant tout la chaleur humaine. Le Maroc a su répondre à sa réputation d’un pays hospitalier et accueillant.

À mon arrivée, un des chauffeurs du campus de Tétouan m’a ramené de l’aéroport de Tanger à Tétouan à une heure de route à travers des paysages montagneux. La ville se situe coincée à l’extrémité ouest du massif du Rif. On m’avait pris une chambre dans un bel établissement hôtelier à la lisière de la ville.

Le lendemain, la première journée entière de la visite, le Professeur Ahmed EL MOUSSAOUI, vice-président de l’Université Abdelmalek Essaâdi chargé de la recherche scientifique et de la coopération Internationale est venu me chercher à l’hôtel pour me ramener au bâtiment de la Présidence, qui loge l’administration centrale ainsi qu’un amphithéâtre. Mme. Imane RAISSOUNI, chargée des relations anglophones, recherche scientifique et coopération internationale y a présenté l’établissement, qui encadre quelque 86 000 étudiants et 1 500 employés dont 950 enseignants chercheurs sur plusieurs campus dans le nord du pays, notamment à Tétouan (y compris  Martil), Tanger et Larache. Après l’arrivée du thé (à la menthe et sucré, selon l’habitude du pays) et des petits gâteaux, c’était à mon tour de donner une présentation générale sur UEF. Le président en personne, le Professeur Houdaifa AMEZIANE s’est introduit, et on a pu échanger, aussi bien des idées que des cadeaux. Il m’a chargé de transmettre à la direction de l’UEF son souhait de voir renouveler la convention bilatérale qui touche à son terme. Sur ma question, le Président a affirmé que la commande du français n’est pas indispensable pour un séjour d’échange à l’UAE.

La Présidence

Deuxème de gauche : M. El Moussaoui, au milieu : M. Ameziane, et à son cöté Mme Raissouni.

Après notre rencontre, M. EL MOUSSAOUI m’a accompagné pour un tour guidé sur le campus. En route, nous avons vu Kamal Eddine EL KADIRI, directeur de l’École Nationale des Sciences Appliquées, qui nous a fait voir ses beaux locaux.

Vu la forte montée des effectifs due à la croissance de la population, il y avait une activité de construction et d’aménagement importante aux deux campus de Tétouan et de Martil. Comme clôture de la journée du travail, j’ai été invité – comme chaque jour à Tétouan – à déjeuner avec les collègues. Un moment de partage et de discussions fructueux accompagné des délices de la cuisine marocaine.

Le jour suivant, Madame RAISSOUNI est venue me chercher à l’hôtel pour me ramener à la Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines à Martil, une petite ville au bord de la mer à 10 km de Tétouan. Mon hôte, Le Professeur Mohammed Saâd ZEMMOURI, Doyen de la Faculté m’a fait visiter les locaux, y inclus la bibliothèque, abritant plus de 100 000 volumes dont le catalogue est en voie de numérisation. Et voilà la surprise des retrouvailles ! On a découvert que j’avais croisé Mme Ouafae GORTFI au même colloque sur Le Clézio il y a une douzaine d’années, et que nous avions publié dans les mêmes actes.


Le campus à Tétouan

À cause du temps de préparation des examens de fin d’année (qui avaient déjà commencé en partie), il y avait moins d’étudiants que d’habitude sur place. Mes hôtes se sont inutilement excusés du faible effectif : lors de mes deux interventions, la salle était pleine et la discussion vive. Après, nous nous sommes retrouvés à table, plusieurs enseignants-chercheurs des domaines de la langue et de la littérature, dans une discussion engagée, où nous avons tous exprimé le désir de former des projets en commun.

Jeudi, le chauffeur est venu me chercher pour me déplacer à l’École Supérieure Roi Fahd de Traduction à Tanger, où le Directeur Nouredine CHAMLALI nous attendait avec son équipe. C’était avec un intérêt particulier que je m’y suis rendu, pour voir l’établissement de mes trois étudiants en échange marocains.


L’École Supérieure Roi Fahd de Traduction

Ma présentation sur l’UEF a suscité beaucoup d’intérêt et les questions très précises des étudiants ont dévoilé une véritable réflexion sur les modalités pour succéder aux camarades actuellement en Finlande.

Après un tour guidé par le chef d’établissement dans les locaux modernes et bien équipés, notre entretien s’est poursuivi au repas.

Vendredi, on m’a invité à la cérémonie de clôture du projet Tempus CREMAR, destiné à ravager le terrain pour l’implantation du système LMD au Maroc, dans le but de faciliter encore la mobilité estudiantine vers l’Europe. Après, on a pris le couscous du vendredi, de légère inspiration du Ramadan, qui était en passe de commencer.

M. EL MOUSSAOUI a sollicité un de ses doctorants de me faire voir l’ancienne Médina, puis, le soir, il nous a ramenés en voiture pour une balade sur la promenade au bord de la mer, la Corniche de Martil.

Samedi, le chauffeur m’a ramené à Chefchauen dans les montagnes, à une heure de route sinueuse à travers des paysages majestueux. Nous avons visité la célèbre source ainsi que l’ancienne Médina, avec ses portes et murs bleus caractéristiques de cette ville autrefois interdite aux chrétiens.


Chefchauen

Le lendemain, le chauffeur m’a amené à Tanger, où le chauffeur mis à ma disposition par M. CHAMLALI m’a fait voir les principaux sites de cette ville mythique – le bord des mers : l’Atlantique d’un côté et la Méditerranée de l’autre, ainsi que la Grotte d’Hercule. Tanger a paru une ville internationale et moderne, en forte croissance.

Une ruelle dans l’ancienne médina de Tétouan

Le voyage a fini comme il a débuté : tôt le matin, le chauffeur m’attendait à l’entrée de l’hôtel pour me déposer à l’aéroport, avec des souhaits chaleureux de retrouvailles un jour, inshallah.

L’expérience de la semaine passée au Maroc est inoubliable. Un dépaysement en pair avec des rencontres humaines et des nouvelles connaissances dont je vais garder le souvenir dans mon cœur.

 

Fredrik Westerlund

Nothing gets lost in Finland !

My story with losing things and finding them back only started in Finland , At first, I thought it was my luck, but then I figured out that it had nothing to do with my luck but it’s rather something about Finland itself. Let’s go back to the beginning of the story, January 7th, my airplane from Paris to Helsinki was late, so I had to run between the terminals in order to catch up the next flight to Joensuu , Fingers crossed , I made it to the airplane on time!! The Finnish sky welcomed me in the best possible way, I will never forget that night flight , especially that moment when I was trying to sleep and the pilot asked all the passengers to look at right sided windows. To my surprise, I saw those amazing green sky lights , it was the first and only time I saw the AURORA lights !! well, the flight was short , then I arrived to the smallest airport I have never seen, but I was expecting it, on the other hand the thing I was not expecting was to not find my suitcase, I felt terribly lost , and someone told me not to worry because my previous flight was late , so my suitcase will probably be sent with the next flight!! But how can I not worry about it!! How can I even sleep tonight with the idea that all I have may be lost in Paris , Helsinki or somewhere else!!

There was another passenger who by chance took the same flight with me from Paris , and she was happy not to find her suitcases , I remember her words very well: “thank God , my heavy suitcases didn’t make it to Joensuu, at least I won’t carry them home , they will bring them to my house directly” at that time I really couldn’t believe that, I had no choice but filling a lost luggage form and going home trying to sleep after a long day, I had all kind of scenarios in my head where all I could think about was my suitcase! On the following day, it was -25 degrees and I decided to go to the airport and check if my suitcase arrived with the morning flight. The next surprise was that the airport was CLOSED! I have never seen an airport that closes, I desperately paid the taxi back and went to the closest market to wait for it to open. I completely lost hope in finding it but decided to go back again , and Yes ! I found it! The agent said that they brought it to my house but they did not find me there! So by far Finland has the best airline customer service I have never seen before!! The next things I lost and found back were keys, swimming suit , and jacket. Those things were not as important as my suitcase but they demonstrate how secure Finland really is !

 

Under the Carolina blue sky

– “I’m so delighted to see you!

– “Welcome home! 

– “Enjoy your stay in North Carolina!”

 

These were the first words I heard after arriving at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, USA. An elderly man was standing beside the passport control and greeting passengers with a welcoming smile on his face. Even though I was exhausted after my 16-hour journey, I couldn’t but smile to the all-American way the man was greeting us. Smiling is contagious as they say.

But let’s back-up a bit. My name is Antti, and I’m a 5th year Master of Pharmacy student at the University of Eastern Finland. One day — now over 1,5 years ago — I was scrolling through the list of different research projects the UEF School of Pharmacy offers for its students. The last listing caught my eye: Biopharmacy project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Eshelman School of Pharmacy. I had played with the idea of doing my practical work abroad, and this seemed like a one-of-a-kind opportunity. Without knowing anything about the University and very little about North Carolina I decided to apply. Now it’s safe to say I’m glad I did!

Spring was already in full swing when I arrived in Chapel Hill last February. Flowers were blooming, and the sun was shining from the crystal blue sky — or as the locals call it: Carolina blue! The first meal I had was, of course, a double cheese hamburger with french-fries. Having hamburgers/fast food for lunch every day hasn’t become a habit, fortunately.

The town of Chapel Hill isn’t really that big in its own right, but what makes it breath and thrive are the students. There are almost              30 000 students at UNC! Tar Heel is the nickname applied to the students and athletic teams of UNC. College sports (especially basketball) is very popular here. Michael Jordan, for example, started his basketball career at UNC. It was amazing to witness the excitement when the Tar Heel men’s basketball team won the national NCAA basketball tournament of 2017! The whole town went crazy! Students flocked the main streets of Chapel Hill and celebrated throughout the night. Local stores sell basically anything with the words “National Champions 2017” on it: T-shirts, sweaters, caps, fridge magnets, flashlights, binders, pencils…

I’m working at the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics together with Melina Malinen (yes, a Finn), who is a post-doctoral research associate at the laboratory. Other lab members include PhD students and other post-docs around the world. The days might sometimes be long and exhausting but the supportive atmosphere and great team spirit encourages me to push forward. My thesis focuses on bile acid transporters which are proteins found all over the human body. Their role is to transport molecules, such as bile acids, across biological membranes. The Eshelman School of Pharmacy is a pioneer institution in transporter research and is ranked as #1 among the US schools of pharmacy.

There’s still so much to see, learn, and experience in Chapel Hill. I have learned not just about my field of study, but how to socialize and be more confident. Americans give great emphasis on good social skills and how you present yourself. Without the ERASMUS+ Global Mobility program my trip wouldn’t have been possible. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity.

EXPANDING MY HORIZONS

Not so long ago, on 1st of February I arrived in a friendly and snowy Joensuu. From the very begining of my Erasmus exchange mobility, I had complete understanding for coming a bit late. I missed student orientation program but, as soon as I arrived, I met Mrs. Kirsi. She was, and still is, so helpful and kind. She has even organized few meetings which we really enjoyed. Mrs. Kirsi has introduced us to Finnish culture, amenities and food. It is really nice to know that someone cares about how are you settling down and how is everything going for you. I especially enjoyed snow shoe hiking. It was such a nice afternoon walk which ended up with sitting around the fire and having dinner. Later, my friends and I continued gathering in the woods around the fire close to the lake making the food…

Altogether, all of the people working at the UEF were so helpful and I really did not have any problem with registering and finding the information. I was also amused with different teaching system, with very equipped classrooms and communicative teachers. That is the experience which students can only get if they go on an exchange.

Since that I study Biochemistry, the opportunity to work in a research group was indescribable experience! I have learned so much from patient workpeople. Numerous techniques, modern instruments and responsibility to plan my own time and research. As a souvenir I will bring my written reports and pictures from photo shooting that I did for the University website.

All in all, those have been four interesting months. There are many new friends, few trips, beautiful nature and different study methods that I have experienced and that I will keep in my mind. I am going back home with new ideas, going home enriched with new experiences and different perspective of world.

I am looking forward to be Student Tutor to someone who is planning to come in Novi Sad, Serbia, and to do my best as a host for the people that made my stay here so interesting and worth.

Mirjana Mundzic

From Eastern Serbia to the Eastern Finland

It has been four months since we came in Joensuu and we realized that the decision to apply for the student exchange programme was the best thing that was happened to us. We believe that every student who had such an opportunity to participate in this program share the same opinion. Here’s why: Our first encounter with Finland was enchanting. We were met with the whiteness of Finland, the northern lights, and beautiful landscape. Low temperatures were not something new for us because we come from a country that is rich in mountainous areas with very harsh winters. We chose to travel by train so that we could have a better experience. Already during the first meeting with our tutor at the train station, we felt Finnish hospitality and kindness. The entire process of adaptation has progressed quite easily thanks to a very good organization of faculty, professional skills, and kindness of university staff, who is always ready to help.

Foreign people often complain and have difficulty because many consumer products are in the Finnish language, for us, it was not a problem thanks to the Finnish language course. Courses, lectures and interactive methods in which teachers organize lectures were very interesting, especially field work and group work with international students. During field work we had the opportunity to meet new friends, to gain some new knowledge about Finnish culture and customs. Especially, it was interesting to make fire and prepare Finnish food in forestry log cabin, walking on a frozen lake, a tour of the beautiful forest, and snow hiking as part of non-compulsory activities. Our professors from the Technical faculty in Bor had the opportunity to hold a lecture at UEF on some of the courses. During these lectures, they were able to become familiar with the concept of the implementation of teaching methods in Finland.

We visited the production facility John Deer, which is one of the leading companies in the production of equipment for Forestry and where we had the opportunity to meet with their way of doing business. Also, we have in plan to visit one more company that operates in Joensuu – UPM – Kymmene Corporation.

Strong impression on us left Finland architecture which abounds with fairy-tale elements. Joensuu is a perfect place for living and studying. Have a rich cultural and social life and many places that can create unforgettable moments. The kindness of the Finnish nation and a quality education system have created a significant experience. We hope to have the opportunity to visit this magical land again.

Nähdään, moikka!

Jelena Zdravković, Milena Arsić and Momir Popović

The Finland experience – Exchange Maastricht to Kuopio

It was a sunny afternoon somewhere towards the end of august in Amsterdam, being approximately twenty-two degrees and thus quite okay for a Dutch smelling-the-end-of-summer-day. Nonetheless, I found myself wearing my ultra-hot ski-jacket, winter boots and 2 layers of clothes as I entered the airport of Schiphol, holding my backpack firmly to my chest. The content of it: my warmest sweaters and trousers, carefully selected pictures of family and friends, a Lonely Planet that I bought only one day ago and, last but not least, some Vitamin D supplements.

You could have guessed it by now: I was standing at the beginning of my Erasmus semester, land of destination, FINLAND!

A couple months back I decided to do my Minor in Biomedical Sciences in this beautiful, but relatively undiscovered part of Scandinavia, at the University of Eastern Finland, or UEF. I remember navigating through UEF’s website for the first time and stumbling on their headliner: ‘University of Eastern Finland: In the middle of (k)nowhere!’. Serving as background of the website were some pictures of mirror-looking lakes, stunning landscapes with countless-tree-containing forests, more lakes and more trees. It was therefore not wrongly placed that the campus I wound end up, was defined by the UEF as their ‘Lakeside Campus’, located in Finland’s beautiful lake district, Kuopio.

So back towards the end of August, as I arrived at the campus in Kuopio and feeling like a total newbie, knowing or recognizing nobody or nothing around me. I would be living in my new home with approximately 100 fellow Erasmus students in a street with a name that none of us could pronounce accurately during our first weeks as finish residents (Juontotie. Red).We were housed in buildings that looked like the architect had known at forehand who the inhabitants would be, containing only the most basic equipment one needs to feel as close to home for four months. However, perfect for us ‘temporary tenants’ and reliable looking to help achieve our one and only goal:

To survive the finish winter.

Soon after the semester had started, I applied as a member at ESN KISA and at the Student Union (although it was brought as if compulsory). At the end, I think it really helped in meeting so many people in such a short period of time. I believe that during the first days as an Erasmus student, you should just try to get in touch with as many people around you as possible. Go to social events and to the introduction activities, ignoring their sometimes ‘lame-looking’ names. For me, it made me feel at home very soon and showed me that ultimately, everyone left their hometowns with the same purpose: To make new friends, to get to know Finland and other cultures and most of all, to get the most out of their Erasmus period as possible.

During my Minor in Kuopio, I followed courses at the Faculty of Public Health and Nutrition, being a part of the School of Medicine in Kuopio. I participated in courses like ‘Public Health in Humanitarian Crises’, ‘Infectious Disease Epidemiology’ and ‘Culture, Health and Illness’. The content of the courses was sometimes overlapping, but that was of no problem, since Public Health as a science is very interdisciplinary and I could therefore acquire knowledge within these different subfields. As a third year Biomedical Sciences student, I found it very interesting to learn so much about a total different field within life sciences as a whole. Studying Public Health made me realize that there are so many forces influencing ‘health’ and ‘disease’ which should always be taken into account when performing good (biomedical) research. I now realize that my time in Finland gave me more insight in what I want to accomplish with my study and in which direction I would want to go with my Masters.

Off course, the times I will remember the most of my stay in Finland are all the travelling I did with both my new Erasmus-friends as with people visiting from back home. From the St. Petersburg and Lapland trips organized by ESN to the weekends away visiting National Parks and making camp fires in the middle of the forests. From discovering the southern parts of Finland by car heading from cottage to cottage to spending way too much money on delicious finish mega healthy food in Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. As I saw more from Finland, its country side, cities and its neighboring countries, it truly felt like I got transformed into a Scandinavian resident. And, as my time in Finland passed, I felt more and more comfortable with the finish way of living. I recall just arriving in Finland and being blown away by both the magnitude of the country and the calmness of the people. Everything was so silent here! Finish cities have this perfectly organized infrastructure and give you a feeling of inner rest as soon as you arrive. I fully embraced this calm ambiance and realized how tensed I had been during the last months of my study in the Netherlands.

Looking back, I think this first feeling is one of the reasons I felt in love with Scandinavia the moment I got off the plane. I think I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity of this amazing experience and will always think back with a smile on my Finland experience. Now, fully adjusted to Dutch life again with all its tensed people and hectic cities, I hope I will keep this Scandinavian love with me as long as I walk on this globe, hoping I will soon return to this beautiful part of it..

Winne van Woerden

Holidays are not always happy days…

Preface

As an anatomist-morphologist, during my everyday research, I often become inspired by the unique and characteristic colors and shapes of microscopic structures and I have been dealing with photography – as a bobby, mainly nature photography – for more than a decades. I believe that fastidious nature photography does not merely require (and for me, this is indeed not a prerequisite) state-of-the-art technique (images show below taken with SMART phone); what it really requires is much patience to inspire shapes, compositions, lights and shadows that albeit may have been seen by others, yet have not been analyzed in detail. The title of my present blog is “ With the power of images… “. Images shown below were transient moments at Bükk, Hungary extended by the camera of my Samsung phone, when I visited my parents. The dramatic effect of well-chosen moments after a blizzard swept may give rise to novel feelings and thoughts even in you about the catastrophe has happened in in Central Europe including Hungary, as well.

 

With the power of images…

In the middle of last week, a blizzard swept around by nearly 80 km/h northerly winds also hit the region of Hungary’s northern mountain range (map). As a result of this huge mid-April!! snowfall that had not been seen for decades, gales tore up tree trunks by the roots, and made many of the public roads and forest paths impassable, blocked access to settlements for days. Living in our digital reality, you have certainly encountered a lot of news reports and images from day to day here in Finland, and been flooded with information in relation to the disaster situation in Central Europe, but might not in the Bükk Mountains, but apart from the local inhabitants and participants of rescue operations there have been just of few of us who have experienced the physical reality of storm damage, and felt that the catastrophe sights of the Bükk Mountains burnt into our memories forever.

For a few days, the enormous amount of wood knocked to the ground had a drastic influence on the lives of the residents of the settlements concerned, because due to the frequent interruption of telephone communication they were barred from the external world, why the lack of water and electricity supply made their everyday existence extremely difficult. While after 72 hours of forced isolation Hollóstető, Bükkszentkereszt and Répáshuta have become accessible – though with difficulties – again, power generators have been installed to resume electricity and water supply, but in the areas under nature conservation the dramatic disappearance of forest areas can never be fully recovered. With the presented pictures, I have the intention to be one of the first to show images of this destruction to you on these pages of UEF.

On the other hand, the photos also reflect the professional and careful work performed in joint effort by the inexhaustible “wood cutters” of the disaster management authority and the local inhabitants, as from early dawn until late in the evening, and even at night we could hear the clamour of machines as they were chopping up, towing the immense tree trunks that had fell on the asphalt strips. As an outcome of their exemplary, coordinated and perseverant work, these tree trunks threatening lives and carrying the risk of accidents could be removed, the blockaded roads were partly opened, and a kind of normal life returned to the barricaded small settlements of the Bükk region. Consequently, on the somewhat cleared forest roads, under navigation provided by the police, with my family I could leave the area stricken by the disaster last weekend, and return to Kuopio, UEF, to my place of work here.

Finally, the sight of the fate of the forest brought Albert Wass’ thoughts to my mind: “Why are you so helpless then, to start your life all over again?” You may agree that while the enormous damage caused to the forest, forest management and individuals is undoubted, and in many of us it can potentially evoke the notion of “destruction”, but over time some of the countless trees that fell – in certain phases of rotting – will have an extremely important role in shaping biodiversity.

 

 

Welcome To Finland

First of all, I have to admit that I knew no more of Finland than it was a country of lakes, there was Lapland, from where Santa Claus came, then Kalevala, Alvar Aalto, Sibelius, Merimekko and obviously NOKIA – and probably polar light can be added, which is said to be sent to the Earth by the spirits of the dead according to the local legends. Well, if someone wants to become acquainted with this country in more details, and hit the road without becoming deterred by the short, freezing cold days and long, gloomy nights, Finland is probably one of the perfect destinations even during winter. In addition to the features mentioned above, one can experience the feeling of the genuine, untouched wilderness for the pacification of the mind: Lapland in the north and the central part of Finland, i.e. the region of thousands of lakes, or the islands of South Finland with a multitude of picturesque faces enchanting visitors in the winter. This is the youngest northern country, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its independence this year, and is becoming broadly known for its gradually growing “intellectual import” in addition to her natural endowments. Hundreds of internationally recognized researchers arrive at the universities of Finland from all corners of the world for shorter and longer study periods. I have also been given the opportunity to conduct research here at University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio campus, and experience the Scandinavian lifestyle with my loved family. Probably, owing to the conscious educational policy, which has been consistently followed for decades now, by today the country has found its national identity, and in spite of the sometimes arctic environment and the limited resources she has been able to create a high standard of living and welfare society from the 1990s for her population. By presenting my own photos, I want to give an insight to the honourable readers into a novel and very interesting facet of this lifestyle. Namely, just recently the first world ice arts championships have been staged in a cave system originally designed for underground cross-country skiing (Vesileppis) at the small town of Leppävirt (see on the map) of some 17 thousand inhabitants. The international professional jury selected 12 of all the projects submitted from all over the world, and requested the artists associated with these best creations – including a Hungarian pair of creators – and eventually coming to the town to physically realize their works. The ice-carving masters were cutting, chiseling and sometimes even scraping the amorphous ice in an area covering three football fields on two different floors, 20 meters under the ground, defying the permanent, controlled temperature of –5 °C, for nearly a week to eventually bring their marvelous creations into life. While the ice sculpture of the Hungarian pair was not awarded, they also added to the unforgettable experience that the thousands of visitors could have. If you want to see some other creations, just visit this website: www.icecave.fi

Szabolcs Felszeghy DDS, Phd (Habil)

UEF, Institute of Dentistry / Biomedicine

 

 

Joensuu through the eyes of a Moroccan

 

Coming to Joensuu was one of the best changes I had in my life. As a nature lover, I found here what I had been missing for a long time; the lakes, the river, the trees everywhere. Joensuu was such a contrast with our busy Moroccan cities where concrete left no space for green that the only thing I could do was to admire and enjoy. For a human being used to warmth and hot weather, seeing -13 degrees on a weather board was scary yet refreshing; however, on windy days, I wished I had another layer of skin. Nevertheless, on other days and despite the cold, walks through the forest in sunny days were enough to take my breath away; the whiteness of snow embracing the roots of each tree and reflecting sunlight onto my eyes was enough to clear my thoughts.

In Joensuu, the simplicity and peacefulness of nature only complements the goodness of the people. People with whom I have shared some of the most amazing events in my life; I went fire camping in the wilderness with Juri Pesonen (thank you Juri) and snowshoeing with other international students through the forest and on the frozen lake thanks to Kirsi Karjalainen, who also thought of bringing Moroccan sausages for us to enjoy over fire!

The opportunity of coming to UEF as an exchange student was not only a chance to meet people from all over the world, but also to enjoy other activities such as the International Dinner and the International Music Evening with ESN Joensuu, and most importantly, to experience and profit from a different educational system. In the end, I can only say that I wish I can come back another time and have the chance to go through this experience all over again.

Kawtar Ennaji