Category Archives: Coming to Finland as a Student

Blog post from international students who are or have been studying, visiting, or working at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF).

Magnificent Finland Experience

I am Sherihan Salaheldin Abdelhamid an Assistant Lecturer of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Pharos University, Alexandria, Egypt. I came to Finland as an Erasmus exchange PhD student and this was the first time for me and my son who is 1 years old to visit Finland. I enjoyed everything here starting from my apartment, the beautiful nature surrounding us everywhere and the weather although it is sometime very cold.

I also liked the daycare so much as they really did great effort for taking care of my son so I would like to thank all of them.

A land of hidden gems

Before coming to Finland, I’ve had a few conversations about what’s it like there in the far north. People’s opinion were different  and I came to a conclusion that I’ll either hate it or love it. And I was right.

To be honest, for the first few weeks, the dark, wind, cold and the process of getting used to a new culture left me a bit depressed and thinking about home. For someone coming from much warmer regions it is a natural thing I suppose. As time went by I started to become more and more comfortable with the visuals and life pace here. Continue reading A land of hidden gems

Hyvää, Kaisa!

If you happen to be in Joensuu during the spring term, and if it happens to be a year in which the IBU Worldcup takes place in Finland, experiencing the cheerful atmosphere of a Biathlon race in Kontiolahti is an entry on everyone’s bucket list you cannot miss. Even if you are not a big fan of sports, the happy atmosphere is a great event to attend and watching the race in the snowy, Finnish forest against the backdrop of beautiful Lake Höytiäinen is surely something I will not forget.

If you are familiar with the gripping sport you will know where this blog entry is heading. If not, let me back up.

Biathlon is a combination of fast-paced cross-country skiing and precise shooting. Depending on the discipline the athletes are racing along the 2-4km long rounds 3 or 5 times and in between stop to aim their small-bore rifles at targets with a diameter as small as 115-45 millimeters (standing or lying down while shooting) and in a distance of 50 meters. Being able to hold your hand as steady as it is necessary to successfully do this after the challenging tracks (including steep climbs like the famous Kontiolahti ‘wall climb’) is a true mystery to me and fuels the fascination for this extravagant sport. Continue reading Hyvää, Kaisa!

Where did the time go?

When I started my trainee position at UEF’s Development Services, I was asked to write some texts for this blog, too, and share my experiences. Happily, I agreed. “Yes,” I though, “this will be a great thing. I will write something soon, for sure!” Here I am, five weeks later, finally writing these lines and wondering: Where did the time go?!

It went to meeting many new people every day during the first weeks, to getting to know the work and tasks, to learning the Finish language, and to experiencing (and falling in love with) the beautiful Finnish nature and culture. I don’t mean to be repetitive, but the Finnish friendliness and the beauty of Finland’s nature really cannot be stressed enough.

My days at work at the office are filled with laughter and friendly faces in the corridors – and, of course, the very enjoyable, regular coffee breaks. I am given both: guidance with what I have to do and responsibility to do things by myself which makes me feel very welcome, valued, and supported at all times. Another thing I strongly feel is gratitude for this opportunity to spend the next four months here in this new and exciting working environment.

Well, only 3 more left.

Continue reading Where did the time go?

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!! Continue reading Nothing gets lost in Finland !

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.

Continue reading EXPANDING MY HORIZONS

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. Continue reading From Eastern Serbia to the Eastern Finland

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

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