It was a sunny afternoon somewhere towards the end of august in Amsterdam, being approximately twenty-two degrees and thus quite okay for a Dutch smelling-the-end-of-summer-day. Nonetheless, I found myself wearing my ultra-hot ski-jacket, winter boots and 2 layers of clothes as I entered the airport of Schiphol, holding my backpack firmly to my chest. The content of it: my warmest sweaters and trousers, carefully selected pictures of family and friends, a Lonely Planet that I bought only one day ago and, last but not least, some Vitamin D supplements.
You could have guessed it by now: I was standing at the beginning of my Erasmus semester, land of destination, FINLAND!
A couple months back I decided to do my Minor in Biomedical Sciences in this beautiful, but relatively undiscovered part of Scandinavia, at the University of Eastern Finland, or UEF. I remember navigating through UEF’s website for the first time and stumbling on their headliner: ‘University of Eastern Finland: In the middle of (k)nowhere!’. Serving as background of the website were some pictures of mirror-looking lakes, stunning landscapes with countless-tree-containing forests, more lakes and more trees. It was therefore not wrongly placed that the campus I wound end up, was defined by the UEF as their ‘Lakeside Campus’, located in Finland’s beautiful lake district, Kuopio. Continue reading “The Finland experience – Exchange Maastricht to Kuopio”
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?”