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
Almost 2pm, I am writing this entry just in front of a window with a magnificent view of a snowy day. Magnificent for me since I am not used to this type of event. My name is José and I come from Tena, Ecuador, a place in the middle of nowhere in the Amazon Region and this is my experience with Erasmus+ Mobility and Training Program.
My time of the mobility has ended, I applied for an Erasmus+ Mobility and Training funding in order to visit UEF, Joensuu Campus, to learn from the best. I am currently working as a lecturer at a 3 ½ years old University located in the “middle of nowhere”, 8 km away from Tena City in Ecuador, Ikiam Regional Amazonic University (www.ikiam.edu.ec). Ikiam University fosters delivering top-quality free education to Ecuadorian students (why not, international student in the future) in natural sciences. At the moment, Ikiam University is putting a lot of effort into creating co-operation networks at both, national and international level.
Even though my visit was short (12 days) I have learned a lot from Finland, how it is like to live here, a bit of its culture, its values and its educational system.
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
Fin 2015, quand on m’a sollicité pour demander si un séjour au Maroc pourrait m’intéresser, je me suis dit : « Pourquoi pas ? » L’année universitaire de 2015–2016 étant très chargée, il fallait seulement fixer, puis aménager un créneau un peu plus avancé dans le temps. Une autre chose à prendre en considération était l’emplacement du Ramadan, les activités dans une société musulmane telle que l’est celle du Maroc se transformant et se ralentissant lors de ce mois de jeûne. Le déplacement a finalement eu lieu du 15 au 22 mai 2017.
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
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
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
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
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
Let me start this off with a short story of my first ever minutes in Finland. Flying through Riga in late August, and after waiting at the airport for a connection flight, at roughly 30°C, of course in full winter clothing, as carrying the jacket and heavy boots was only possible in this way do to the luggage capacity, I got to my flight to Helsinki. Right next to my seat on the not-so-crowded plane was a Finnish pilot, presumably just tagging along this Latvian plain to Helsinki. Slowly we moved from a beautiful sunny day to a dark and cloudy land, and while landing, the flight attendant told the Finnish pilot: ‘Oh, nice summer you have here’, with a big smile on his face. And so went my first shock in Finland, naturally being a temperature shock. But luckily everything kept getting better and better every day since that. Continue reading A Finnish adventure