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. Continue reading The Finland experience – Exchange Maastricht to Kuopio

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. Continue reading Holidays are not always happy days…

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. Continue reading Welcome To Finland

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. Continue reading Joensuu through the eyes of a Moroccan

An abundance of first times

No, not the first times you are thinking of! Yeah, I just assumed what you would be thinking of while reading that title (which I agonized over choosing), but I’m talking about a whole set of first times that would be insignificant to most. I believe in treasuring each and every moment, feeling and landscape, and that is why my list of first times is endless.

As someone who came by almost two weeks after the official start of the semester, I must admit it was pretty hectic putting everything into order, getting a grasp of the situation, late-registering for the courses, buying furniture and dealing with a cold weather. Well, most would laugh at 0°C being considered cold weather but hey, you can’t blame a Moroccan for experiencing a temperature shock away from the 15°C they left back home! Continue reading An abundance of first times

A return to Finland

I really appreciate the SAT project giving me the opportunity to return Finland, the fairy tale country in my heart.

In this land, I enjoyed the magic power from the great nature. The sun seems never fully set in cool and comfortable summer, while winter comes, thick snow gleams white and the sun seems never raise. What impressed me most was sauna in the Finnish summer cottage, it was really special and could purify both body and mind.

In Finland, environmental protection deeply roots in national consciousness, and I learned a lot when I was there. I also visited many museums which helped me understand Finnish history and culture better. What’s more, I met a number of new friends there and have built deep relationship with some of them. Continue reading A return to Finland

Personal growth through new experiences and diverse ways of learning

I received a unique opportunity to do master studies at Burapha University in Thailand for six months, under the Erasmus Mundus Swap and Transfer project (SAT), which became a life-changing experience for me. During my student exchange, I concluded minor studies from a new academic discipline, which gave me a chance to learn new methodologies and therefore significantly expand my own academic understanding. I also received new wonderful friends and gained many educating experiences, just by openly observing all the new things that were suddenly around me.

We tend to focus on the measurable hard skills that one gains during international mobility, but I would say that the invisible soft skills that one learns are equally – or even more important, than the amount of completed credit points. These soft skills can include achieving a better cultural awareness and tolerance towards new things, understanding various kinds of cross-cultural communication styles and for example endurance in achieving what you wish.  Beforehand I could not imagine how difficult it could be to for example buy a fresh, delicious mango or pineapple from a fruit seller, when you do not have a common language. However, people are people everywhere and by taking a bit of time, we can interact with each other, wherever we are. Continue reading Personal growth through new experiences and diverse ways of learning

A time with microplastic, daphnia and winter in Finland

My name is Napaporn Leadprathom (Meaw). I come from Burapha University Thailand, the small tropical country in Asia. I got post doc research scholarship from Erasmus Mundus action 2 (SWAP and Transfer project) to do the research about microplastic in freshwater ecosystem for 6 months. I’m interested in microplastic because it’s a pollutant with emerging concern and there are many gaps in research about microplastic. I have done many surveys on microplastic in Thai coastal area, but in here I focus on microplastic testing with aquatic animal in laboratory.

I lived in University of Eastern Finland Joensuu Campus from Dec 2015-May 2016. During that time, I tried to feed daphnia with fiber microplastic and observe the uptake and depuration behavior of daphnia. In Aquatic Ecotoxicology lab, it is very easy to do the test with daphnia, because the facility is well preparation. So that it is very convenient to do the thing as I plan, even if I did not have an experience with daphnia before.


I and my colleagues from Aquatic Ecotoxicology lab in University of Eastern Finland Joensuu Campus

Continue reading A time with microplastic, daphnia and winter in Finland

Lapland: Land of Miracles

My March highlight was a very long trip to the land of dancing auroras, snowy horizons and Sami culture: Lapland! And here is why you should definitely, definitelyyyy visit that magical region.  🙂

Lapland is a region that spreads through three countries, namely Norway, Finland and Sweden. I only visited the Finnish part and took a glimpse on the Norwegian one. However, visiting just a part of it was enough to leave me in an “awe”. Lapland is a real heaven. Beauty can be found wherever and whenever the eyes wonder.  Sceneries of endless forests coated in unpolluted white snow, coupled with beautiful reflections of the dim sunlight or curtains of Northern Lights are enough to make anyone forget about the miseries of the world.

I mean look at this view #nofilter (and not a great camera either)!

If you’re not convinced yet, let me take you on a tour of my trip…then maybe you will consider it very seriously 🙂 Continue reading Lapland: Land of Miracles