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

Old dog learning new tricks

So your postdoctoral research is over – years ago, and you feel that you still want to learn new directions to your research. Well, longish research visits do not have to be past life – it might be time to a new visit to foreign university! That was just what happened to me. I decided to get new skills in chemical ecology, and decided to get it from the University of California Berkeley, just a side of San Francisco. Fulbright Finland has just perfect grant option for this kind of trips: Fulbright Finland grant for research collaboration. The funding is aimed for visits from one week to three months. For me five weeks was possible, and luckily, I got the grant. Continue reading Old dog learning new tricks

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. Continue reading A proper winter

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. Continue reading Research ethics in practice during fieldwork and in research collaboration