No goodbyes, just “see you soon”.

Ending the Spring semester in Joensuu.

Towards the end of April 2021, people have been preparing for the end of the semester as huge wave of deadlines and requirements came. It is safe to say that it was a busy month! So, I guess we better fast forward and talk about May 2021, instead!

Soooo.. Yay! We’re almost the end of the Spring Semester, which also means we are also done with the first year of the programme! With that, let’s see what the MSc EF students in Joensuu are up to!

May in Finland has been one of the colorful months we have experienced. We witnessed the shift from winter, to spring, to a bit of summer, then to winter (Yes, it snowed in the middle of May!), then to spring! Fortunately, I think Summer is really coming with the sun being present all the days!

Sunset in Joensuu City Center (taken towards the end of April)
Snow in Spring (taken in the 1st week of May)
Sunset by the lake (taken during the 2nd week of May)

A lot of activities have also been accessible to us since COVID-19 restrictions were slightly lifted. During the May Day or what they call “Vappu”, restaurants and bars were celebrating with us. There were some gatherings in the park and near the church during that weekend and everything was just colorful and a bit cold. Nonetheless, it was a fun experience.

Vappu Night!
Vappu Lunch with some friends

With the COVID-19 restrictions allowing gatherings and mini trips, our program coordinator Ms. Marjoriitta, organized an excursion in the arboretum of the university. It was an educational trip as we were introduced to the most common species of trees and plants present in Joensuu. It was short but fun!

 

 

 

MSc EF in the UEF Arboretum

Hey, it doesn’t end there.. After the excursion, we had a late lunch, and catching up chitchats with everyone, at the restaurant by the lake and near the harbour. We ended the day playing volleyball near the beach and swimming in the lake!

Lunch at Jokiasema Oy after the excursion.
Enjoying the lake with friends

May is also the last month we are all going to be in Finland (it was supposed to be in April but, COVID-19 happened ;’) ) so we are making the most of our last few days/weeks here. Most students are leaving for their respective Applied Period placements, then some will stay here in Joensuu.

First send off!

In another note, leaving Finland and starting anew in different countries is the beginning of a new journey for us, MSc EF students. In short, it’s not good bye, but see each other soon!

MSc European Forestry Batch ’20-’22 🙂

Photo credits: Johanna San Pedro (sanpedro@uef.fi) and Luigui Ramirez Parra <3

Written and edited by: Fellice Catelo (fcatelo@uef.fi), Luigui Ramirez Parra (lramirez@uef.fi), and Marcel Jagnow (mkrukjag@uef.fi)

Spring is… wait for it… coming!

Winter is almost over and our friends from MSc EF in Joensuu, Finland are doing some activities in preparation for Spring. Some went for bird watching, barbeque and ice fishing in last week and it was amazing. Making the most out of their time here through these kinds of activity, in a small group, is the best way they cope up with the current situation.

In past week, some students like Sara and Luigui joined with some Finn researcher on some bird watching and catching at Kuhasalo. This is where you feel that spring is almost here as you see birds gradually flying around. We even see it in our window flats randomly and it’s a nice thing to see!

Some of us decided to go on some barbeque (Karuna, Fellice, Johanna, Darius, and Pablo) last Sunday at Utraansari which is just a few kilometers away from their flats. I must say it is very convenient and cute. On another day this week, Pablo and Darius did some ice fishing in the same area. I bet you wouldn’t want to guess how much they caught but they sure did have a good time. They did it the Finnish way of fishing and it couldn’t get nicer!

With all the ice melting and the sun shining in most days, students are living the new normal of hanging out in small groups and thinking of different activities to ease the boredom this situation brought in Joensuu. It is a nice way also for bonding and getting to know each other now that they are also preparing for their applied period in the summer.

As for the online classes, visiting the university helped also in the situation. The students do their meetings in the university and do some schoolwork. But as international students, it is still better to have in-person classes and interact socially with classmates and other students. Though, we think this semester is slightly better than the Autumn because of the sun and people are getting used to it.

So, for now, I shall end this post praying everyone safe and surviving the “new normal”. Have a happy Spring season!

#MScEuropeanForestry #UEF #Finland

Prepared and written by: Fellice (fcatelo@uef.fi), Luigui (lramirez@uef.fi), Marcel (mkrukjag@uef.fi).

MSc European Forestry: Gaining experience through internships

Did you know that as you are completing the program, you can do internships at different institutions in Finland to gain more professional, relevant experience?

In applying for this programme, you are presented with the benefits, experiences and knowledge you could gain. This includes networks, international and professional work settings, quality education, relevant forestry experiences and more outdoor activities.

In this post, you will see how some of our batchmates were able to get some internships that will surely gain you the international work setting you just always imagine, and maybe some tips on student-work life!

Photo credits to Luigui Ramirez

First, we tackle internships at the European Forestry Institute. Two of our batchmates (Mahtuf Ihksan and Ajdin Starčević) were able to get into EFI as interns for different projects.

Mahtuf, who started his internship in Mid-October 2020 shared that his involvement is in researching the interface of governance and trade: trade risk and log export bans. His main tasks are creating governance composite index and map for 200 countries/territories worldwide derived from nine different indicators for the period of 2014-2019 and compiling grey and scientific literature on international log export bans.

As for Ajdin, he shared that among his tasks were updating data and graphics for a report on timber trade between China and six Voluntary Partnership Agreement countries. He also shared that he had to go through different databases and acquire trade data from those, which would later be organized, presented graphically, and interpreted textually.

I bet you’re wondering how they were able to joggle their time as they are full-time master students, as well. For Mahtuf, as overwhelming as it could be at the beginning, as he says, through time, he was able to adapt to the lifestyle and eventually, learn valuable experience. For Ajdin, he said that the internship gave him an overview of what the professional working life could look like after finishing this MSc program, which motivated him to study more in this lethargic online study period.

We all know wise and effective time management is the answer but it’s more than that as per Mahtuf and Ajdin. I think with the right motivation comes effective study habit that results to wise time management.

Now, we move on to another institution, the Arbonaut Oy Ltd.

(Photo credited from Arbonaut Oy Ltd.)

If you are not familiar, it’s one of the few companies in the world that can provide full-service covering every aspect of forest information collection and data management (Arbonaut Oy Ltd.) and one of our batchmates, Solo Remonatto Rizzi, was fortunate to get hired as an intern.

According to him, employees at Arbonaut are very comprehensive, respectful and flexible. He also shared that at first, there were no vacancies applicable for him. But then, after some weeks, he got a call and they offered him a trainee position.

As a trainee, he usually works with GIS tools, process and analyze the data.  His main function was processing geographical data using QGis, analyze the quality of the data and also help his supervisor in different activities of the project. With the conditions of his residence permit, he could work around 20 hours per week, and then attend lectures and exercises from the university. In general, he told us he could manage well both his studies and his responsibilities as an intern.


With the considerations of this pandemic situation, we asked them of their internship experience and how the institution managed their duties and responsibilities.

My internship is kind of combination between work in the office and work from home, but mostly I am working in the office. Meeting with my supervisor is usually done through online platforms and most of the EFI staff also prefer to work from home as well (so little interactions in the office). Overall I enjoy working with EFI until now and managed to finish my first work package at the end of last year. ” – Mahtuf 

“In general, I am more than satisfied with the experience because I had the opportunity to work at the EFI headquarters. The offices were open, and I could interact live with my supervisor and colleagues which was a breath of fresh air during the whole pandemic situation.” – Ajdin

“Without live teaching and the reduction on the interaction between professors and students, for me the internship contributed to communicate and be introduced to the forestry community in Joensuu. For me this experience was of great importance, since I could build a network and also learn complementary and important information about forestry in Finland.”Solo

If you’re wondering how they were able to know a vacancy, check the Arbonaut Ltd. and EFI bulletin and website and you’ll see that you might be one of the next interns they would want to have.


This post was written and developed by Fellice Catelo. If you have any inquiries, you can contact fdcatelo@uef.fi/lramirez@uef.fi/mkrukjag@student.uef.fi.

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).