Experiencing Finland

Another month is over and I am already in the middle of my stay at the UEF. As everyone who has been on an exchange knows, the time flies so quickly because you see, try and experience something new every day. So these are my experiences from my everyday Joensuu life from the past month in brief:

In Czech we have a saying ‘to buy a hare in a sack’ to express when we unintentionally buy something we did not really want to buy. That is how my first visits to a grocery store in Finland felt like. Or maybe like buying a bag full of Kinder Surprise Eggs. You had never exactly known what was inside those packages until you opened them at home. Thankfully, after two months, grocery shopping is no longer such an adventure.

Another thing, I decided to get a bike so that I would be able to explore Joensuu more. But first, it was necessary to fix a few glitches on the bike. So I went to a repair shop and started to explain what I needed, but the repairman did not speak English. When he found out that I would not be able to express myself that well in Finnish, he pointed to the door and we went out where I tried to show him what the problem was. Alright, everything understood. Then came time to use my limited Finnish vocabulary. He started pointing at the opening hours on the shop door. I figured he meant the repair would take one week. Maanatai? – Joo. Just to be sure. Last thing: money. I could not remember how to say How much? However, thanks to my visit to the North Karelian Museum, I will never forget the word raha (money), so I used this one instead. For the non-Finnish readers of this blog – the word raha originally meant the fur of squirrel, which served as a payment instrument in Finland in the remote past. Anyway, the repairman stated the sum and our deal was concluded with a small ‘discussion’ on whether the mentioned price is for the repair of one wheel (yksi pyörä) or one bike (yksi pyörä). Continue reading Experiencing Finland

The return to Joensuu

When I grabbed my box of souvenirs from Finland from under my bed in my room in Novi Sad to take out my old student card, I felt a warm stream of excitement going through my body. Is it really happening? Am I really going back to Finland and Joensuu, the place in which I spent the most exciting year of studies and the place I love so deeply? Yes! Oh, what a great feeling it was!

Hello, everyone! My name is Tihomir. I’m a Master’s student of Ecology at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. Right now I am on the Erasmus+ exchange semester in Joensuu. I have already been here in the whole academic year 2013/2014 by the exchange programme Campus Europae of the European University Foundation. The preparations for the two exchange periods were fairly similar, but the feelings before coming to Joensuu were very different. The first time I was a bit scared not knowing what to expect, but I quickly got to know the town and the friendly people. It was such a great year: I met so many new people from around the world, learned a fair bit of Finnish language, gained new skills, participated in many interesting events and traveled to unusual destinations. The exchange period had a big impact on me. So, naturally you can expect how excited I was to hear that few Erasmus+ places have been opened in Joensuu for the spring semester of 2016. This time I was eager to go and relive all those memories from the past. Continue reading The return to Joensuu

Working at the UEF

The phrase On the Move sums up quite well my university studies. During those five years, I enjoyed studying at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic, and I am thankful that I was also able to discover other places and use every opportunity to travel and study abroad. Nearing the end of my studies, I thought it would be good to experience what it is like to work abroad, too. And what a better country in which to do this than Finland, right?

So it happened that one late January afternoon I landed in Joensuu (a town whose name was not familiar even to my friends who had spent some time in Finland in the past) and moved to a house which is not typically Finnish according to my flatmates. To me it looks Finnish enough – there is a lot of wood, a sauna and Moomin towel in the bathroom.

The first weekend in Joensuu, I decided to attend an event called Surviving winter in Finland organised by a local organisation for international students. Luckily, I came to Finland after the (for me) unimaginable period of -30˚, but some surviving tips could still come in handy. The event also included a truly Finnish experience – a sauna and swimming in a lake. After a few attempts I ended up in the icy water, something nobody who knows me and my sensitivity to cold well could believe. The reactions of international students to this experience in turn provided entertainment for the Finns present, so everybody had fun. And fortunately, I did not get pneumonia before my work placement even begun, so it counts as a success. Continue reading Working at the UEF

Face to face with Joensuu

It’s been three weeks since we got off that train in Joensuu and felt the ‘’welcoming’’ touch of -30°C on our skins. Looking at the notice board in Finnish language we wondered how on earth we are supposed to survive in this land of ice and strange words. We all shared the same fear: Are we going to be able to do this? Fortunately, it didn’t take us long to leave our doubts and suspicions behind and put ourselves out there. Unlike the temperature, every place we visited and every person we met seem warm and pleasant.  We fell in love with the magical white city and everything about it.

The University, which is why we came here in the first place, was a story for itself: modern and big, yet cozy and warm, full of so many colleague students with the same expectations. We looked at each other and thought: This is going to be so much fun! From that moment on, it has been just more and more interesting. We have met a lot of people with different backgrounds, and heard their stories. Our courses started, and we got so enthusiastic for learning in a new environment, and improving ourselves! Finding out all the possibilities that we have, gave us the will to get up every morning, put on three pair of socks, and go into new victories! Continue reading Face to face with Joensuu

Why in Ohio?

“I actually changed my college. I left my first one and came here. Ohio University is a better place. Here, people are friendly. This is more like at home.”

    –  Alexis, second-year student, Social and Communication studies

Ohio University has been ranked first in the nation for overall student satisfaction, based on a survey ranking more than 600 colleges and universities in the U.S. Ohio University has enthusiastically worked for a student community that feels like home. This is confirmed by several family-engaging activities, such as parents’ and siblings’ weekends, during the semester as well as Bobcats athletic events on campus.

Ohio University is located in the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio. Its historical and astonishingly naturally beautiful campus makes students’ stay very comfortable. Walking the brick walkways of the very hilly and tree-lined campus makes students and faculty feel like they’re staying at a small college rather than a large university. Meanwhile, the distances are short, and the campus is very compact. Campus routes are busy, when more than 23,000 students head to their classes. Continue reading Why in Ohio?

Why on the Move?

One of the key objectives of the Finnish universities is to reach a high international level in rankings. Several indicators for achieving this status have been determined, but clearly the main door is opened with the help of impactful and scientifically relevant collaboration. This sounds like an easy problem to be solved. Academics travel to conferences and meet colleagues, and they have good access to virtual communication. They have plenty of opportunities to join international research groups. However, all researchers are not on the top in this sense. We may need to work more and especially work more with our international collaborators.  Again, an easy task! Let’s go abroad!

Currently, several associations provide a variety of possibilities to apply for research scholarships for longer and shorter periods, but faculties nevertheless suffer from low staff mobility rates. I do not know the reasons behind this accurately, but I would like to shortly review the advantages and to encourage all academics to get on the move!

Colleagues often claim that there is an increasing number of digital tools to keep in touch with fellows abroad, and to work with shared documents across the world. This is correct and evidently makes our work easier. However, alongside the vital research needs, to become an international researcher, we need a wide and strong network of contacts having a good understanding of cultural and local priorities. By obtaining a good understanding of the academic and everyday life of our collaborators, we may strengthen our status as persons to be taken seriously. In addition, as important as how many fellows we know in different countries, is how well we are known within academic communities. Becoming actively visible in several ways is a significant part of our international growth, for every one of us! Continue reading Why on the Move?

On the move… and college sports in the USA

Now, for a Finn with some enthusiasm of sports in general, participating college sports is an experience. My great hosts here in Nebraska took me to a college football game in Lincoln of the Huskers (GO BIG RED!) and ice hockey game of UNO Mavericks (GO MAVERICKS!). What makes the games here so unbelievable is the crowd and settings. In the Huskers’ football game we had about 90000 people in the Memorial Stadium and the new Mavericks’ Baxter arena fits almost 8000 people in it. In addition to that, these games have other side activities going on, e.g. a huge band in the Huskers game. So, if you are on the move in the US, go to these college sports games! Continue reading On the move… and college sports in the USA

On the move…literally!

I have great honor to start writing here at the UEF On the move blog. However, I believe I won’t be the only one as there are many UEFians On the move around the world. My blog posts deals about research collaboration trip to the US, Nebraska, to cities called Lincoln and Omaha. In these two cities two universities exist: University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). This trip would not have been possible without funding. I had a great honor to receive a Fulbright Research Collaboration Grant  from the Finnish Fulbright Center (FBC) on May 2015. In addition, this trip would not have been possible without the help of my home institution UEF and very kind letters of invitation from UNO and UNL faculty members. Thank you!

My journey to UNL and UNO begins at October 23 and ends at Novemeber 14 2015. My main idea of blogging (this is the situation at the moment, but this idea might evolve) is to share information of research collaboration and provide tips/idea for collaboration. In addition, I will do my best to write about the US culture (and differences to Finnish one), and everything else interesting I’ll experience during my trip. To keep my promise of sharing information, here are some good tips for those planning research collaboration trip somewhere: Continue reading On the move…literally!