Having a connecting flight, I had already been traveling for several hours when I heard an announcement that we would be landing soon to Belgrade. After looking out from the airplane window I could easily recognise the land being different beneath us. Everywhere the landscape was totally flat and covered by fields. Then for my own surprise I realised that the amazingly clear and sunny weather opened a line of sight to a lonely mountain covered by trees. Next to the mountain lies a city that would become my home for the next six months: Novi Sad.
As a biologist, exploring tropical rainforests have been my dream as far as I can remember. So, when I heard about a university in the very lap of the great Amazon rainforest, I knew I had to go. As it happened, my University of Eastern Finland (UEF) had a two-way exchange scheme with Universidad Regional Amazónica Ikiam (or just IKIAM for short) with funding from the Erasmus+ program. As I was in my 6th year and nearing my graduation, this was my last chance to go on an exchange. Continue reading “Amazon, a biologists’ paradise”
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. Continue reading “Colorful South Korea”
– “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. Continue reading “Under the Carolina blue sky”
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”
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.
- 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.
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. Continue reading “9 reasons Why You Should Do Your Exchange in Morocco”
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 woolen 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. Continue reading “A story of a Finn learning to let go”