Hey! Greetings from Næstved!
Well actually I am already home in Finland but let me tell you about my stay in Denmark anyway.
First of all, something about the city I called home for some months. Næstved’s history stretches back to the early Iron Age. There are shopping streets with cute little stores and a square in the centre where the market is held, and where you can buy flowers and fresh ingredients. Nearby there is a small fishing town of Karrebæksminde that is a seaside holiday location with a camp site, restaurants and cafés. If I had to describe Næstved in one word, that would be cozy. For a countryside girl like me the city was just perfect place to live in.
What was I doing in Denmark? I’m studying Biomedical Laboratory Science. It is still rather under-recognized, “hidden” health profession. Biomedical Laboratory Scientist can work in primary or special health care, private laboratories or medical and biomedical research institutions and animal laboratories for example. Professional duties may include the identification of normal and abnormal cells (chemistry & hematology) and tissues (pathology), the assurance of safe transfusion of blood products (immunology) and cultivation and identification of bacteria and viruses (microbiology). The important part of the work is the validation of equipment and methods.
I went to Denmark to deepen my knowledge in some special fields. The fields chosen for me were clinical chemistry, clinical immunology and pathology. The studies I had in there were a combination of practical training in clinical laboratories, lecturing and independent learning. Finding the subject for my advanced studies was a little bit problematic. My training days were all quite different but the advanced studies should be performed in a same workstation and the theory should also be concentrated on some specific field of study. Luckily my supervisors were willing to make compromises as much as possible. With their help and with my own willpower I was able to get a subject that pleases me and is very fascinating.
At the clinical chemistry I took blood samples and electrocardiograms and learned to use different kinds of blood analyzers. Some of the equipment was already familiar to me because I had been in a clinical chemistry laboratory before. However there can be never too much repeating when you are still a student. At the immunology I got to see the whole blood donation process, participate in fractioning of blood and do some blood grouping and virus analysis of blood. At the pathology laboratory I did several different things and I was able to visit every workstation. I couldn’t find any major differences between Danish and Finnish laboratory practice. Working hours are the same and the importance of preanalytical factors and the quality system is just as it is in Finland. There are always some things that are not the same, even in the same country or inside a region. I did notice that the working environment was friendlier and somehow lighter than in Finland but that is a behavioral trait, not just a feature in a laboratory. The relationship between co-workers and supervisors seemed to be good so it felt nice to go to “work” every day and the environment’s working spirit motivated me to learn more and to challenge myself.
Ready for the weekend
What did I do during my spare time?
I was living together with another Finnish biomedical laboratory science student. Our apartment was quite small and we didn’t have a television or a radio in there. So we did something else. We were maintaining rather healthy life. Making healthy dishes and exercising nearly every day. There was a beautiful forest just around the corner so it was easy and pleasant to go out to get some fresh air. We got rental bikes from school and explored the city we were living in and also the landscape outside the city. Biking is an excellent way to get to know your surroundings but maintaining your favourite activity also helps you to bring balance and routine to your daily life. To me, biking made new spaces feel a little more familiar and welcoming.
We did a lot of travelling across the country. We did some research and got a bucket list of places that we absolutely had to explore. Copenhagen was special to us. It felt like we were there nearly every weekend. There we did some very tourist things like conquering some towers, seeing The Little Mermaid, visiting freetown Christiania and going to very beautiful parks and cemeteries. Historical landmarks and nature places were our thing. Also visiting cafes was a must thing to do wherever we went. We got to enjoy the food and also observe local people around us.
Communication with the Danes contains humor and goodwill or at least it felt like that. The laboratory staff was interested in what we are doing in our spare time and some of them invited us to their home or to a café or to see movies with them. That is why it felt safe and natural to live in Næstved.
My time in Denmark was a fascinating experience. I went to abroad to get international experience and that I got. I also made some good friends and saw amazing places.