Category Archives: Natural Resources and the Environment

Forestry

Greetings from the pink city, Toulouse, France.

I had first planned to do my practical training here, in Finland. But the Corona situation complicated everything, especially for a foreign student.

Picture: Town of Toulouse

But getting an internship in my hometown (Toulouse) was far from being a bad thing. I could see my family every day, which is most enjoyable since I am leaving in Finland permanently for 7 years now. On top of this working in a research centre that I have been wanted to work at for a long time, made me very motivated.

 

 

Pyrénées Mountains

I was not leaving in the countryside of Toulouse, in a village called Deyme, which is in my opinion much better than the crowded centre of Toulouse. I have spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains nearby and just walking around with my dog. I enjoyed going to neighbours and friends houses for lovely diner and talks.

 

I was working at the INRAE research centre, in the Laboratory for Plant-Microbe-Environment Interactions.

The research center, INRAE, Toulouse

Working in France and in Finland has been quite the same experience for me so far. Besides the language difference, all places I have been working at had a relaxed atmosphere. Even the coffee consumption is quite even in both countries!  The main difference may be the way we interact with our supervisors/boss, the hierarchy in France is usually well marked (behaviour and speech) even if this tends to change little by little or depending on the companies.

 

All in all, it was a great internship, where I learned a lot, and I spent a wonderful time with my family. I might do it again if I have the opportunity!

 

Greetings from Codolet, France

I had planned to do my practical training abroad, but the pandemic made me do it at home, in France, which in the end was not that bad. I had the chance to work on a site I had always wanted to visit when I was a kid as it was very close to my village.

So I started working on the nuclear site of Marcoule for Veolia Water. There were in charge of the wastewater, rainwater, drinkable water and distilled water treatment and monitoring for the whole site. The training lasted 2 months and a half and my mission was to summarize all the penalties Veolia could face and all the actions they will have to fulfil if the get the tender. I also got to go on field to do some sampling and learn about the water cycle of the site. (Map of Marcoule, areva)

 

 

I was living with my in the city were I grew up as a kid and saw how much it has  changed since the last time I had been there. It gave me the opportunity to get in touch with my family as I do not see then that often due to my studies and it was extremely pleasant. I also got to see my colleagues from the daycare center and the kids I had worked with for so many summers. (Lake of Codolet, Codolet.fr)

 

My work schedule allowed me to have a lot of free time, and even days off due to the annual closing of the sites. Thanks to that, I travelled to the mountains with a friend and got to see stunning landscapes, we had to hike for a whole to get to the top and to see the 7 wonderful lakes, but it was completely worth it. Obviously as there were lakes, I had to take a swim in one of them, after a long walk I recommend to try it, the cold water gave me my energy, my legs and my feet back for the end of the hike.

Results of the hike in the mountains. (Author)

It was a very good experience and I absolutely do not regret doing my Practical Training in my hometown !

Greetings from the Innsbruck

I was an exchange student at The Innsbruck University of Applied Sciences in Austria last summer in 2019. It was different the entire semester than anyone might have predicted. The semester began normally, and everything went well like we had the orientation first. After about a month, however, the atmosphere of the university started melting for me and began to effectiveness in my study at the same time. Shortly afterward, our university getting to know new people and places is an exciting experience that broadens one’s horizon like nothing else. I look forward to welcoming me and sincerely my stay in Innsbruck was a pleasant and rewarding one.

White and Brown Concrete Buildings Near Green Trees and Mountains Under White Clouds

The choice to remain for the entire period in Austria was perfect. Especially during tough times, I got to see and learn a great deal. The constraints relaxed towards the final moment, and we were able to fly a little again. During my exchange, I also had the opportunity to visit Germany, and we even traveled a lot to Switzerland. Until the end, my school remained interactive, but it was well planned, and I had no issues with it.

People Riding Bicycle on Road Near Buildings

My exchange, overall, was an incredible experience that I’ll definitely remember for a long time of my life. I’ve accumulated a wealth of experiences and made new friends, so I can definitely suggest exchange studies to anyone, and I can advise The Innsbruck University if you’re thinking of going to Austria. There’s a little bit of everything in town, a wide and beautiful alp, and plenty of shops and small street. Spring is generally short, with winter frequently merging seamlessly around Easter time into summer, and days between July and August averaging around 25 ° C. Also, it has everything that the mountains should offer, from sport climbing to running, and from mountain biking to hiking.

Stars, Milkyway, Space, Night, Astronomy

Summer in Cyprus

It was the beginning of June 2020 when I returned back to Cyprus and was very lucky because at the last minute I found a practical training place that could offer me some experience and get more familiar with my field of study. I started working for a nonprofit organization as a content writer making research and publishing articles on different topics that are related to sustainability on the organization’s website. I was disappointed that I had to work only online but that was my only option due to Coronavirus. I wrote several articles at the beginning and after some time, my supervisor asked me if I could help the organization to become more popular and try to spread our ideology of sustainability and using sustainable products. From that point, I found out my love for business and marketing that are extremely important in modern life, and since then they have been my main interests in addition to my studies.

 

Despite the fact that my practical training was not as I expected, life, in general, was really nice. Warm temperatures allowed me to do so many outdoor activities. Rackets on the beach was every day in our schedule with my friends, chilling in the lovely beaches of Ayia Napa and at night for a beer at some really nice bars in Protaras. Snorkeling and exploring the wildness of the Mediterranean sea was an unforgettable experience and also day trips to mountains and to the small waterfalls that are only one and half hour from the coast are extremely nice. Because I come from Cyprus and have lived there for several years, I was familiar with the Country and culture, nonetheless, every time I go I get myself doing different activities and never getting bored.  It’s a great destination for exchange students that love sun, beaches, adventures and definitely I recommend it!

 

Greetings from the Netherlands!

I did spend my exchange in Breda, which is a small city in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant.  I studied at  Avans University of Applied Sciences and joined the minor in Environmental Geography. The first period of my studies was quite intense, but then I got used to it.

In my free time, I travelled a lot around the Netherlands and travelled to Germany. During my stay, I also made friends and spend time with them, we went together to events and explored the city of Breda.

The church in the centre of Breda

Life in the Netherlands is quite like life in Finland, the prices of groceries and housing are almost the same. One big difference is the bicycle traffic and the number of bikes – it is crazy! But it is the easiest and fastest way to travel around the city.

Big plans to being back home

I had planned my practical training experience for almost a year. I had everything prepared-found an amazing work place in Vienna, Austria, singed the agreement, had a place to live for the summer, made plans where to travel during the weekends and then a world pandemic happened and my plans took another turn. The company stated they would be working remotely and so my practical training there was postponed. I was disappointed that my hard work to organize the internship in the best way possible was ruined.

 

Anyway, I had to act accordingly, so I started looking for a new place. Ironically, I found one 20 minutes away from my home town in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The interview went well and had the opportunity to start immediately. Naturally the first few days were a bit odd, but I still felt like I was at the right place.

My practical training took place in a very hospitable company called Eco Resolve LTD. It is a consultancy company and expert in environmental management with expertise in many spheres including environmental impact assessment, safety work conditions and grassing and planting. The training was in total 2 month during which I had to get used to the atmosphere, to the work habits, had to process a big amount of information and work on tasks assigned to me. One would think that two month is a very short period to get used to a new work environment and I could not agree more but this was a summer experience I will remember for life.

 

 

Every day I was crossing the most beautiful part of Plovdiv, the heart of the city-the Old town. With its paved streets, lovely old houses and street artist preparing for their busy days it made my days start with a big smile and blissful heart.  *

 

 

At work I was reading a lot of documents containing vocabulary I hardly knew but I was absorbing every word and luckily there were my friendly colleagues who were helping me with everything they could. Some days were different to the others. We were not spending all the days in the office buried in documentation but also going on-site to talk with the clients and the views on the way to the sites were stunning. *

In my free time I was traveling with friends to the seaside, hiking in the mountains, attending festivals and other cultural events.

Open sky cinema and a festival in Plovdiv. *

Hiking sites in the Rhodopes.*

I can say I am could not be happier how my “failed” summer developed. The countless new friendships and connections, memorable events and valuable knowledge made this experience one in a lifetime.

*All photos taken by author

Unforgettable Scotland

I began the first half of my 3rd study year in Scotland, at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Getting settled there was easy as I was able to receive a room in Caledonian Court, right across the street from the university itself. The location was great, right next to GCU and the city center which meant I was walking distance from everything I needed. I had a little over one week to get my bearings before the modules (courses) began, during which we had the Welcome Week and many fun activities.

The biggest surprise for me, nature wise, was the lack of parks and green areas near the city. To get to a park you had to walk for at least half an hour, and they were very well maintained compared to the raggedy forests I’m accustomed to in Finland. I’m used to having a forest only a few minutes’ walk away from home in Finland. It took some time to get used to the lack of forests or parks nearby, as I like to go for walks in the forest to de-stress and spend time.

About my studies in GCU

Compared with Finland the study culture is very different in Scotland. In TAMK I am used to mainly group work but in Scotland the emphasis was on independent work, meaning a lot of studying at home and doing all assignments individually. The focus was on theoretical learning without much practical application of knowledge.

In TAMK I am used to having smaller assignments due every now and then, but at GCU the way the assignments were spread out through the semester was very different; there were typically only one or two really big assignments for each module, and many were due at the end of the semester. Two of my modules had exams in January but I was (luckily) able to do both of them in Finland.

In total I did three modules during my stay in Glasgow, each worth 10 ECTS. I had lessons 3 days a week which left me with a lot of spare time to cook, go to the gym (located on the university campus), visit museums and landmarks in Glasgow and go on trips to see the country.

Spare time

Scotland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. The mountains were enormous, and in the autumn they were covered in dead ferns that coloured the mountain sides in a deep hazel. The most beautiful place I visited was Isle of Skye where small white houses dotted the countryside. It was probably the windiest place I have ever been to! Overall, the weather wasn’t as poor as I thought it would be, so I wasn’t as bothered by it when it was windy or rainy.

I spent a lot of my spare time with my 7 flatmates who were all exchange students like myself. We went on many day trips together; some were guided tours and others we organised ourselves. Those trips were what made my exchange in Scotland truly memorable. Some trips we organised with my flatmates were visiting Pollock Country Park to see the highland cows, visiting Edinburgh (only an hour bus ride away from Glasgow) and going to the Enchanted Forest. We also climbed Goat Fell Mountain which was one of the best days of my life!

I loved my exchange in Scotland, the friends I made, the unforgettable memories and I can’t wait to go back to there!

Greetings from South Korea

South Korea is an amazing place to visit!

There is a lot to see and do, but the university system is really different compared to Finland!

I have to say that even though I had an amazing experience in Seoul I also had a lot of challenges. The enrolling system in Konkuk University is really hard to deal with: who is fastest to enroll ( and im talking about seconds) will get in the courses and since there is no spots reserved for exchange students you will have to deal with a lot of competition! Once you get in the course you might still find difficulties: some korean teachers ( all the teachers of the engineering field) kindly asked to me to leave the class. I ended up not being able to take courses of my major because even though the classes were supposed to be in english the teachers were asking foreigner students to leave so that they could teach in korean.

The other challenge i found was related to the food: i’m vegan and here in Korea being vegan or vegeterian is a real challenge. This is the reason why I had to move out of the dormitory so that I could cook my own food!

Once I moved out and the enrolling period was done I finally had time to enjoy Seoul! There is a lot of opportunities for cultural activities and hikes!

 

Hello from Seoul!

Hello everyone, I am an exchange student for one semester in Seoul, South Korea. I want to start with saying that it has been a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to be a part of the exchange program and witness the traditions, culture and beauty of an exotic country such as South Korea. I must say I have also encounter some issues as well, such as the unavailability of sufficient courses in English in my field (Energy and Environmental Engineering).  In my spare time I have visited many traditional sight seeings and temples. South Korea also has fantastic outdoor traditional markets where local elderly ladies provide various Korean dishes and delicacies. If I had to compare Finland’s education system to South Korea’s i must say that they differ in many aspects. Here students go under tremendous social pressure to excel in academics having minimal free time for other activities than studying. In Finland I would say the education system is more balanced with work and spare time. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed my time here and experienced many unforgettable memories!

Best Regards, Ikaros.

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.