Moi (hello)! Approaching the end of my stay in Joensuu a lot faster than I would like to, it is time to recap and tell you about all the great experiences I have made in Suomi (Finland) during the past four months. And while I must admit that my language skills in Finnish are still embarrassingly small, there are some nice, beautiful and curious little words that I would like to share with you.
At the moment, my favorite Finnish word must be kesä: summer! After months of cold and icy, yet exceptionally beautiful winter-wonderland-weather, the temperatures have turned around and Finland has put on it’s pretty green summer dress. Within only a few days the ice melted off the lakes, the piles of snow disappeared (there were trucks helping with that), and the leaves started to grow. And yes, in Finish there is a unique word for the first, tiny, bright green leaves, and it’s adorable: hiirenkorva (literally: mouse ears). Walking in metsä (forest) and among the koivut (birches) now feels like a completely different world. Sometimes I can’t believe that it is only a few weeks ago that it was talvi (winter), and I was in those very same forests pursuing murtomaahiihto (cross-country-skiing) – one of the great Finnish hobbies I had never done before and came to love so quickly. Continue reading My favorite Finnish words. An incomplete guide to my perfect time in Joensuu
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?
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
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
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
Thanks to the Erasmus+ program, we have the opportunity to spend three and a half months in Joensuu. The decision to come here was like a challenge to us, having on mind cold Finnish winter, but the desire to experience something new was stronger than anything. So we packed our suitcases and head over to Joensuu.
And now, during these two months of our stay here we find Joensuu as a perfect city for living and studying. The university is offering us the opportunity to be included in various activities such as sport activities, social events, music events, trips, etc. This exchange helped us a lot to meet new friends, discover new places, to enjoy the beauties of the city and in fact it helped us to discover ourselves. Studying at the University helped us to make new friends from all over the world and now after two months we are like a small family and Latolankatu is like our second home. One of the things for which we are grateful is that this journey brought us unforgettable memories. Continue reading Erasmus in Joensuu
Four months went by and it’s June already, which means that my traineeship at the International Office in Joensuu is over. Every student who went to study or work abroad will agree that it is an unforgettable experience. Here are my reasons why the stay in Joensuu was the best thing I could do during my last semester at university.
- People at the office
As I later found out, my task at the university administration department was to stir up the waters a bit and bring some element of internationalisation into the offices. Haha… I think that everybody coped with my presence and my non-existent Finnish quite well. All the people that I met in the corridors or offices at the UEF were very kind, helpful and open-minded. And even though all of them were far above me in knowledge and experience, everyone treated me as their equal. The people I worked with were patiently answering all my questions and helped me boost my confidence, which is the best thing anyone can do for you. Continue reading 6 Reasons Why the Erasmus+ Traineeship in Joensuu Was The Best Decision
Just when I thought that my last visit to Finland was the best ever, there happens another one, which outshines all those before! My fifth time in this amazing country, again to Joensuu, has really been special in so many ways. We, international relations officers, or as my colleague Kirsi nicely puts it – international coordinators, have a special gift (and duty!) to connect the peoples, education and cultures, and itchy feet ready to move on. Thanks to the long-standing friendship, trust and collaboration between the University of Novi Sad and University of Eastern Finland, we earned our Erasmus Plus KA1 mobility project, which gave me the wings to fly to UEF Joensuu Campus.
Seven days only seem enough to get the job done, but it always turns out that you could use more. This time too… Many meetings, many visits to various departments, schools, talking to colleagues and UEF students, getting to know how the UEF system works – all squeezed into tight schedule. However, the pieces of the UEF puzzle fell nicely into place and I am now able to recognize the solid structure, the purposefully shaped activities, the major challenges and strategic solutions, the striving, the innovative ideas, the potential, all topped off with amazing enthusiasm that my colleagues radiate. Buzzing international spirit is present all around the campus and I have to admit that I was a bit envious for those 900 incoming students that study at UEF. No doubt, this speaks in favour of the high quality education and services available. We share similar problems, we recognize the same values, but the solutions are different and there is plenty of room to learn from each other. I think I caught a glimpse of the wonderfully simple modus operandi of the UEF – no wasting – neither the people, nor the time, nor skills, but rather using them to the benefit of all. It really is a State of the Smart. 🙂 Continue reading Friends before funds