The Autumn Semester in a nutshell (MSc European Forestry Batch ’20-’22)

The title says it all! This entry is about the experiences of our batch for the Autumn Semester – from getting accepted to the programme and ending the first semester for the first year. The semester started and ended online, so you’ll see here how it all went, including our struggles and success. Happy reading!


Getting accepted into the MSc EF programme

You would be lying if you said that getting accepted into an international university (with a scholarship, if you’re super lucky) didn’t make you cry in both excitement and fear. I believe this is everyone’s reaction when they got that “email” from the program coordinator. Fortunately for you, reader, some students from the batch shared their experiences!

“Hi, I’m Luigui Ramírez from Bogotá (Colombia), currently living in Joensuu. I have been working as a forest engineer since 2017, and last year I decided to apply in MSc European forestry program under the Erasmus Mundus. Although it was a long process, with a lot of paperwork, it became an opportunity to broaden my knowledge as well as my experience in a place totally opposite to my country. When I received the letter of acceptance, a lot of emotions arose, the emotion of something so unexpected and at the same time so unknown comes with happiness and nostalgia for starting a new and very important stage in my life.”

“Hello, I am Marcel Jagnow, one of Brazil’s representatives in the ’20-’22 batch of MSc EF. I have always heard so many great things about the multicultural character of the program and its forward-looking, which kept echoing in my mind after I graduated. After years of working in the international lumber trade, I decided to pursue an international career at a broader level and the MSc EF was the perfect fit. There are no words to express how I felt when I received the e-mail approval right before the deadline, but I knew that I was being given the biggest opportunity of my life up to that moment.”

“Hi, I am Fellice Catelo, first year student of MSc EF at the UEF. I have started my autumn semester here in my home country, the Philippines, through online classes and self-study. Let me sum up and tell you my experience. Applying for this program was one thing, but getting accepted in it, during a pandemic (which we did not expect) was on another level. Ever felt that moment where you were up all night, wondering, of all the things you want to do, which will you do first? I was more than happy because it was the sign I was waiting for. With everything that has been going on, this was my silver-lining.”

It sure gives you that different kind of feels when you receive an opportunity like this one!


The first online semester

We all have expectations of how the semester could push through during this pandemic and, it was definitely online. Not everyone got the chance to travel and start their semester in Joensuu, hence it was a challenge to deal with the time zones and schedules of meetings. Some students from the batch started immediately in Joensuu, then a bunch started in their home countries and later on continued in Joensuu, and then, there were a few who had the entire semester in their countries. Again, you’ll see how it was for us through the different testimonials!

“I am amazed at the diversity of backgrounds and nationalities within our group and the enriching discussions that emerge from it. Of course, we feel sorry for not being able to go to all the outdoor activities that were planned and interact with our classmates and professors. However, I would rather face this as a chance to reinvent ourselves, which I believe we all have done well.” –Marcel

“Starting the semester in my country was quite a challenge, and the biggest one was undoubtedly the difference in timetables, in addition to the fact that I was still working from home which made for long days behind the computer.  In spite of this, the organization of the contents, and the quality of the information surprised me, and opened up the expectations of what I was going to start living once I moved to Finland. We know that one of the axes in our career is the practical part, and although the demonstrations and field work were suspended during the pandemic, it is understandable and I am sure that there will always be an opportunity to experience what was missing in this semester.” –Luigui

“Starting the classes online wasn’t so bad but, it wasn’t as good either. Learning by yourself, studying on your own accord, and not being able to communicate, personally, with your classmate was a major challenge for a sociable person like me. To top that, the forestry course is essentially full of outdoor activities and operations and it was sad to have missed it because of the situation. Nonetheless, I have my hopes high up as I became friends with some of my classmates and looking forward to meeting them personally very soon.” –Fellice

It is incredible how you can meet amazing people from different countries of the world and it’ll be a spectacular moment when we can all share this wonderful race together. In hopes of being in a better situation next year, this semester was all it was and we believe we have learned quite a lot. We all have made it  as we ended this semester, happily and peacefully.

To end this post, here are some random photos to give you a glimpse of how we have been doing! (P.S. There are bonus pictures of UEF Library and EFI Facilities!)


This post has been written and developed by Fellice Catelo. Photos were by Luigui Ramirez and Marcel Jagnow. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us (fcatelo@uef.fi/lramirez@uef.fi/mkrukjag@uef.fi).

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