All posts by Henri Heikkilä

Greetings from Sapporo

This year I had an internship in the city of Sapporo, Japan in Hokkaido University’s department of engineering. There I mainly did laboratory works with my pair and reported on the findings we did. I didn’t participate in any lectures, but I did participate on weekly meetings with our professor to update our situation and seminars in which each week somebody announced their progress to the members of the laboratory.

The main thing what I actually did was studying the materials related to the next laboratory work and then making a lot of experiments. Then after that was handling the data in excel and reporting it to the professor.

Arrival to Japan happened in late spring just in time for the late cherry blossoms of northern Japan. It was an historical time to be in the country since I was there just when the emperor retired, and a new era, Reiwa, began. To celebrate there was a festival in the local park, where I went. It was timed to group of national holidays called golden week, which was extended this year.

In my spare time I visited neighbouring and went to eat local food towns with some new friends from my laboratory. One such trip was to the town of Otaru with a bicycle. It was an interesting trip and, on our way back I definitely noticed I need more exercise. The place is famous for its seafood, historically remarkable city centre and beautiful landscapes.

 

We also visited the town of Furano in central Hokkaido to see the lavender fields they have there, also there was a place where everyone could try their hands at pottery. I went also to couple of mountains around Sapporo. Mount Moiwa is said to have one of top five, night landscapes in Japan.

One great thing about Hokkaido University is that the University has clubs that arrange meetings and different events where locals and international students can meet. There were barbeques, cooking sessions, one museum tour and many other things. There are also all kinds of event for the whole school. There was a sports day, and a festival, where the main street of the campus was filled with different stands and all kinds of events like mini concerts and dance competitions. This and my other activities made it so that it doesn’t get boring!

Studying there was different at least for me. I wasn’t a normal student so I can’t compare the lectures given there to the Finnish ones. But for the working culture around the laboratory and maybe little in general is something I can compare.

It was very common to work late. The seminars where I did attend started generally at 5 pm. Sometimes there were still people in the student room of our laboratory working at 9 or 10 pm. It was not a rarity to go out eating after the day. I discussed about the working culture in Japan and apparently it is common in the working world that you go out to drink most days with your boss and co-workers after work. This way you can bond with them, but you miss a lot of time in home compared to Finland.

People are also much more company loyal and don’t really change their workplace that often. But companies also take good care of their employees. This is what I heard at least. However, my work in the laboratory was very independent. I needed decide by myself when and how to do the tasks that were given. In Finland we have some courses that are relatively independent but nowhere close to that level.