Friends Never Say Goodbye

I’ve got to admit that all those happy memories I’ve had with those lovely people I met in France suddenly popped up when I was watching Friends the Reunion the other day. Thanks to them, I’ve enjoyed my study year in France to the fullest.

 Picnic time

It’s still hard to believe that almost one year has gone since my arrival here, as I still remember the day when I showed up at the Nancy train station with my heavy luggages. I had no idea at the time of what the coming year would be like. However, time has proved that it has been absolutely amazing! Not only have it helped me start my future career in academia, but also it connected me with friends coming from various backgrounds. Many of them helped enrich my French cultural experience from a particularly local perspective.

 Playing Mahjong

For example, we organised French cheese and wine tasting event and I’d highly recommend this experience to future EF students. We often played different board games over shared dinners. Sometimes, we had weekend retreats into the the Vosges Mountains. Last weekend, it was my very pleasure to be invited to a friend’s hometown in the Alps. Of course, the list goes on. We live, laugh and we love – simplicity brings the happiest moments!

 Unforgettable time in the Alps

 Look, it’s Mount Blanc!

 “Come closer next time ;)”, says Mount Blanc

Like all the good things, it’s sad when coming to an end… Yet I know there would be more trips on which we can go together soon, mais ne partez sans moi!

 

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)

On Fernweh and Farewells

As a compulsive “Google-er” I once found myself searching for untranslatable German words on the internet. The results showed websites which repetitively listed top 15 German words that apparently do not have direct English counterparts. Upon skimming through the articles, I recognized the term “fernweh,” an old personal favorite word that I previously used as a title for my long-forgotten photography blog from centuries ago. Fernweh (/ˈfɛrnweː/) literally means “far-woe” or the longing to go to distant places. In essence, it is the opposite of the feeling of homesickness.

With everything that’s going on, I’m pretty sure that most of us are yearning for a perfect getaway to escape and take a break as soon as we’ve safely conquered this pandemic. Since we can’t grab our suitcases and set sail to Neverland at the moment, we will try to bid farewell to our fernweh feelings for the meantime by exploring the best of Vienna in this post. I hope you’ll have fun tagging along as much as I have enjoyed putting up my final entry for this blog. Los, auf!

faQ: WHERE IS VIENNA?

Map of Austria

Before we dive into our main agenda, let’s first address the number one FAQ that I get from most people (aka my fellow Asian friends). In the place where I’m from, not everyone is entirely familiar with Vienna (or Austria in general), as compared to its more famous neighboring European cities such as Paris, Barcelona, or Rome. Vienna is the capital city of Austria which is a pre-dominantly mountainous and land-locked country surrounded by Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland. Aside from being the Wine Capital, it is globally known as the “City of Music.” Lots of renowned music virtuosos like Mozart, Beethoven, Straus, and even the Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, have significantly lived and worked in Vienna for much of their careers.

Vienna as seen from the Schönbrunn Palace

ICONIC LANDMARKS

If you’ve seen Richard Linklater’s romantic-drama film, Before Sunrise (1995), then I guess you’re off to a good start. The entire movie was shot in Vienna, and it featured some of the most iconic landmarks of the city like the Viennese Prater.  Much like Céline and Jesse in the film, my MSc EF cohorts and I also adore taking strolls around many other famous spots in the city such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Palace, and the Vienna State Opera, just to name a few.

Stephansplatz

Donauinsel / Danube River

Rathausplatz – Burgtheater

Maria-Theresien-Platz

Hietzing

MUSEUMS

If you’re a fellow museum buff, I bet you’ll easily fall in love with Vienna. When I moved here back in September 2020, the first advice that I received from my friends was to avail the Bundesmuseen-Card promo from the federal ministry. Interestingly, the Bundesmuseen-Card lets you visit eight major museums in Vienna for only 19 EUR instead of 60 EUR (not a paid ad lol!). Needless to say, I basically spent my first two weeks in the city by paying a visit to almost all of the best classic and contemporary museums and libraries in Austria. (Talk about a very cultured and classy way to welcome its visitors, am I right?)

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Albertina Museum

Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss at the Belvedere Palace

*Pro tip: Be sure not to miss out Albertina, Belvedere and the Leopold Museum if you’re a fan of Klimt, van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Schiele!

PARKS AND GREEN SPACES

Aside from the operas, cafés, and museums, one of the greatest things about Vienna is its abundance of green spaces and public parks. When we received our final task for the field course of the Programme, my batchmates and I happily went to most of the accessible forests, hiking areas, and gardens of the city and incorporated those mini adventures into our very own field assignments.

Lainzer Tiergarten

Schönbrunn Palace

From our experience, we can confidently say that spring is the best season to visit Vienna, considering the weather and more importantly, the views! Starting from late March, different species of colorful flowers and other ornamental plants can be seen blossoming in almost every corner of the city. It’s definitely something that one should never miss out #WhenInVienna.

Setagaya Park

Rathaus Park

As I wrap up this post (and similarly, as we cap off our 2-year Programme), I’ve come to a realization that from this point on, Vienna will forever be on the list of places that I would consistently long to visit again as soon as I’m back home and unable to shake off this feeling of fernweh. Truth be told, I never really understood all the fuss about this city when I first arrived here. I only learned to appreciate it when I finally got around the lyrics of Billy Joel’s Vienna and the story behind the song. Indeed, it is really all about slowing down (you crazy child…) and finding the stillness from within. So for now, maybe I won’t say, “Auf wiedersehen!” (Farewell!) to Vienna, but only and always, “Bis später,” or “Until then!” :’)


Aine Parlade is a forester from the Philippines. She is currently a second-year student at BOKU University in Vienna, Austria as part of MSc European Forestry Batch 2019-2021. Should you have any queries or comments about the post, you may reach her via aineparlade@gmail.com.

*Art and images are owned by the author.

MSc EF Experience: Studies under COVID-19 conditions

Hello! I am Lauma and in my last blog post, I have decided to address how COVID-19 influenced my studies.

I know that the past year has been complicated for everyone and most people including me do not want to hear the words pandemic and COVID-19 ever again. However, the hard truth is that it still here and we do not know when it is going away. Therefore, I thought it might be important for new students to get a glimpse of how the international study program has been like in the current conditions, especially the modifications COVID-19 has made.

The hardest hit for all of us, I think was when the field course was canceled. UEF and consortium came up with a solution, instead of moving everything to self-studies, as an addition to it, they wanted to organize small field trips in the spring of 2021 for us. The idea was really good and interesting, unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation did not improve and our small trips were not possible either. Nevertheless, to get a glimpse of the forest conditions in other countries we needed to make a field assignment, where we visited a forest or park (depending on COVID-19 limitations) and explained it. After all, it was really nice to see where my colleagues and friends were and what they were doing. Some of us even made videos, it was really nice to virtually visit carbon measurement plots near Freiburg, parks in Nancy and Vienna, and see harvesting operations in Romania. These are only some of the topic examples, of assignments my colleagues made. It was my first time filming and editing a video, if I am completely honest, there were times when I cursed it, but in the end, I loved, the process and the result (if you want to see it, check out our Facebook page).

An important part of our studies is an internship. In our case, it took place in the first summer of the pandemic, traveling and moving between countries in most cases were possible but very complicated, and therefore, some plans had to be modified. For example, some of my classmates had to change from a face-to-face internship to the completely remote one, or the first month was remote and the second was presential. Some people had to find a new internship option, however, the university helped with all of the necessary changes. In my case, I wanted to have a practical experience in Spain, therefore, it was not possible to move it online. I am very thankful to my supervisor who still accepted me in those conditions. Apart from slight changes in the dates, for me, everything went as planned.

Furthermore, in my opinion, one of the most important questions is the question, how moving online influenced study quality. When the pandemic started, I was very concerned about it. At the very beginning, I think it was hard for both, students and professors. However, with time passing and experience developing things got so much better. Most of the online studies I experienced at the University of Lleida and I can say that they know how to handle things. I enjoyed studying here and education-wise I do not think I have lost anything. Of course, I missed face-to-face interaction, leaving my house, and not needing to cook for myself three times a day but otherwise, my education did not suffer. It was even possible for us to participate in some field trips, which I think for forestry students are crucial. I always learn things better through practical experience and, therefore, I appreciate our coordinators trying to help us to have it as much as possible. More about my internship and second-year experience can be found in my previous blog posts.

Finally, I want to address something that was concerning for many of us. Thesis. For me it was a complicated topic even before COVID-19, I was worried about picking a topic already in my first year in Joensuu, what if something more interesting comes up and then I was worried, what if I end up without a topic. Therefore, when the pandemic was added to this equation I was extremely worried. However, it was not as bad as I imagined. For me, it is quite hard to approach professors I have never met or talked to face-to-face, and before asking to be my supervisors I like to get to know them a bit. COVID-19 made things more complicated exactly from this point of view. I had decided to do my thesis at the University of Lleida and from the very beginning, it was hard to get a grasp of possible topics and professors. Regardless, all of that I had support and I managed to find an interesting topic and good supervisors, who are willing to help me whenever I need it. In addition, there is also something good that COVID-19 has brought – flexibility. We have learned to do things remotely, therefore, for writing my thesis I was able to move back to Barcelona, some of my friends even moved back to Finland. Currently, we can be wherever we feel most comfortable.

I hope this post helped to get a glimpse of my studies in the international program under COVID-19 conditions. I have attached some pictures to show you how beautiful Spain is and that I am not completely missing out on seeing it. In case, you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my personal email: lauma.elza@gmail.com

Excursion to two marteloscopes near Freiburg city

 

This week’s blog post will take you to two marteloscopes. Do you know what that is? Any guesses? We take a definition from a technical paper published by the EFI (Schuck et at., 2015):

”Marteloscopes are 1-hectare large, rectangular forest sites where all trees are numbered, mapped and recorded. In combination with a software tool, they are used for silvicultural training.”

The MSc European Forestry students Rayhanur Rahman and Lucas Moura de Abreu visited two marteloscopes near Freiburg during the course “Close-to-nature forest management”, offered by the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, one of the universities of the MSc EF consortium and where they are doing their second year of the programme.

Now, we will take you through a visit to these sites. We hope you have a good time and a glimpse of some forest types around Freiburg!

The first marteloscope is located in Mooswald, a public forest that belongs to the city of Freiburg and is located along the west side of the city. It’s a flat area with a shallow water table, at an elevation of around 230 m.a.s.l.

The main species in the marteloscope are the common oak (Quercus robur L.), red oak (Quercus rubra L.), black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.), European or common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.) and common or black alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn.). There are also less abundant species like the sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus L.), of which you can see a detail of the leaves on the picture below:

All the trees in the marteloscope above 7 cm dbh are numbered, as you can see below:

A tablet is the tool used to visualize the trees in the stand. Tree species are symbolized by different colors and dbh by the different circle sizes, as you can see in the picture below. With the map, a pretty good grasp of the spatial horizontal distribution of the trees can be easily obtained. If you select a tree, information is displayed with both its economic value (already accounting for harvesting, i.e., the price for which the forest owner would sell the wood at the road) and its ecological value, which is based on tree microhabitats (more details in the technical paper at the end of the post).

The overstory of this stand is mainly composed of common oak. Some of those trees have a stem with very high quality for veneer production. Others have damages from a wood production perspective (e.g. cavities, bark wounds, broken crown), which from a biodiversity perspective on the other hand create microhabitats and consequently a high habitat value (see pictures below for one example of each). Other trees can present both of those values at a high level – they are then called “conflict” trees and represent a trade-off between wood production and biodiversity goals. The decisions of harvesting or retaining each tree on the stand can be simulated on the tablet. Finally, a report is generated with the outcomes of the different simulated scenarios.

The second site is the Roßkopf marteloscope, located at an altitude of around 420 m.a.s.l. Located on a slope as opposed to the first area, the species composition also differs greatly. Here, the stand is dominated by three species: European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) and Pseudostuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco.

The regeneration is dominated by silver fir, as you can see in the picture below: 

Despite its abundant regeneration, the site is considered not very suitable for silver fir, due to its relatively low elevation (the native range for the species would be above ~600 m.a.s.l.), which suffers very much from drought stress when it achieves older ages and larger diameters. In fact, many individuals fitting that description were found dead in the stand. The species can still be managed at this site, according to Dr. Thomas Asbeck, who supervised the visit, but measures such as using a smaller target diameter for the species (e.g. 45 – 50 cm) need to be adopted. 

The species with highest economic value in the stand is Douglas-fir. The trees of this species are pruned in this site, with dbh achieving 105 cm and a tree value of €1,000 or more at the road side (see picture below).

 

As a conclusion, the MSc EF students found marteloscopes a very useful tool for understanding and visualizing better the effects of silvicultural prescriptions on a stand.

References

Schuck, A., Kraus, D., Krumm, F., Schmitt, H., 2015. Integrate+ Marteloscopes – calibrating silvicultural decision making. Integrate+ Technical Paper No 1. 12 p.

 

Lucas Moura de Abreu is a forest engineer from Brazil. He’s doing his second year of the MSc EF in the University of Freiburg, Germany. You can reach him at lucas2708@gmail.com.

 

My second year MSc EF experience

Hello, I am Amina and today I will be sharing my experience studying at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, BOKU, Vienna, Austria.

As you may know, one of the benefits of this program is that not only you get to complete a master’s degree in forestry, but it also allows us to experience and study at two universities in two different EU countries. During our first year in this program all students will get the chance to study at the University of Eastern Finland, UEF Joensuu Finland. But our second year we get to decide where to study from five different universities in five countries.

Personally, having to choose between universities which are considered to be among the top universities in our field was not an easy decision. I carefully weighed my options based on presented facts, but I must admit that my decision was tiny bit biased, as I always wanted to study at BOKU. However, I decided on BOKU not only because of this, but also because of the variety of courses that are offered in various aspects of forestry and choosing the courses based on your interests. Moreover, the other benefit of studying at BOKU is that I get to live (in my humble opinion) in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The first semester started in October with hybrid approach of mixing online and in person classes, but the situation required to move everything online. Fortunately, before this move, we had an opportunity to take a weeklong field trip in Austrian mountains which was an amazing start for the academic year. Even though, the classes were held online the quality of lectures and availability of professors was beyond expectations. We might have lost in terms of person-to-person contact but the knowledge and opportunities to learn were still there.

   

In the first semester, I also started to work on my thesis in the genetics lab at the Institute of Forest Pathology, Forest Entomology and Forest Protection. The work required me to visit the lab daily and work on DNA extraction, PCR preparation and preparing my samples to be sent for sequencing. I can say that I had some kind of normal university experience with meeting supervisors and lab technician in the lab while I worked there (but still ensuring that I adhered to the mask wearing & social distancing requirements). I was very lucky to have Martin and Christian as my supervisors, and Susanne as the lab technician as they were always there to answer any questions and doubts and reassure me that all will be well, even though the work progressed in unexpectedly slow way. I am almost at the end of my lab work right now, but I will miss going to the lab and having all those wonderful people around me.


The pandemic has limited my ability to discover places in Austria but nonetheless living in Vienna alone is a beautiful experience. Vienna is a cosmopolitan city that is enriched with history, art, and culture. Just walking in the city gives you an impression of walking in a huge museum. The architecture is astonishing, and it slightly reminds me of Austro-Hungarian buildings back home in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which made the city feel closer to home. As some restrictions were lifted, I was able to visit few of many museums and walk daily in beautiful parks of Vienna.

Lastly, I can say that I have had an amazing experience studying at BOKU and living in Vienna. There were difficult moments, but the good outweighs less good and my time here, as well as my complete MSc EF experience, I will always cherish and remember with a big smile on my face. 😊

I hope I helped you in getting an overview of my personal experience of life in Vienna and a glimpse of my student life at BOKU. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via derlic2106(at)live.com. 😊

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).

Building a new lifestyle during the pandemic

Hello everyone, it’s Shaohui Zhang from France again this week. I bet since the outbreak of the unfortunate Covid-19 pandemic, every individuals have to have started adapting their lifestyles so as to compromise on the restrictions imposed by the situation. Of course, sometimes I also feel a wee bit moody and reluctant to working from home and no being able to enjoy my life in France to the fullest; but for most of the time, I have remained content by building a new lifestyle.

First of all, the university was forced to close hence no more contact teaching. Luckily, in France, the second semester is more like an longer version of ‘Applied period’, during which time, you get to choose an internship with the topic that interests you the most. Thanks to this special trait of the second year study in France, I do not feel like much of my time has been wasted. On the contrary, I have more free time to focus on the particular track of forestry, i.e. remote sensing and Lidar, and continue to build up my coding skills in R. Working from home is not much of an issue to me as my supervisor is in close contact with me on a daily basis. For example, we built an R project in which we can freely exchange our code scripts whenever I run into a problem. My supervisor will then correct my codes with some additional comments that explain my bugs.

 Place Stanislas, Nancy

Outside work, I am in a colocation with my French friend. Luckily we both are studying forestry, which gives us many things in common. We both are big foodies; as a result, we often cook together and share. Interesting cultural exchange right? That is why I would suggest that, if you are going to live abroad for some time, living with people from other countries is an amazing experience!

Nancy Cathedral,  Nancy

Lastly, it is almost two years since I left home. How time flies! Living abroad certainly means feeling homesick from time to time. At some point, you start craving for having some friends who share the same language as well as for the food from your local regions. In Nancy, there is a middle-sized Chinese community and several Asian markets. In my case, these things have been a cherry on top of my second year in France. Nancy is pretty, like I have said so many times. Attached some photos taken a few days earlier when it was warm and sunny.

Just a street I like much 😛

Wish more bright times (sunny or not, definitely a time without Covid-19) coming soon!

 

MSc EF Expierence: Studies at the University of Lleida

Hello! I am Lauma Elza Miezīte MSc European Forestry second-year student from Latvia and now is the time for me to tell you about my studies at my second-year university – the University of Lleida (UdL).

I remember the time when I had to make a decision about which will be my second-year university, I was confused, worried, and not sure what would be the best option. Now I can say that I am happy with my choice, University of Lleida has met my expectations, I am happy and thankful for the chance to be here.

This study year started with the hope of face-to-face classes and fieldtrips. However, we managed to have only some field trips and some classes before things were moved online. I am not the biggest fan of online classes, therefore, from the very beginning I was worried, how is it going to be? Right now, I can say that the University of Lleida knows how to move online and still keep things good and interesting. Of course, I missed seeing my professors and colleagues to have this usual type of communication but I think in the end we all had to adapt to current conditions.

 

One of the main reasons why I choose UdL was their diversity of courses; I felt that I can really adjust my courses to my interests. My background is not in forestry but in environmental science; therefore I was thrilled that I could choose some courses that were related not only pure forestry but also to environmental science. In UdL teaching approach is very individual. I felt that professors cared about us and tried to explain everything in the best way and I felt comfortable asking questions. I think here I have experienced the freest communication with professors. I enjoyed that most of my courses had a practical approach. I learn things better through practical assignments. In the last semester, I had various great practical assignments, starting from analyzing land-use changes near a city in Kazakhstan, learning to plan a drone flight to modelling forest dynamics and many more. I really enjoyed the last one because it usually had a quite free approach, the professor gave us a model and main guidelines but we could choose what exactly we want to do. For example, what forest management to apply and when. The Autumn semester was very intense, but worth it, at least for me. I learned a lot, changed my perspective on things; and in addition, my interests changed a bit too.

Thankfully, before the Covid-19 situation worsened we were able to participate in a few field trips. The first one was to the Pyrenees mountains. This was my first in those mountains, I was really impressed and enjoyed what I saw. We also went on some trips to familiarize ourselves with traditional landscapes and how they are changing. One of the reasons why I came to study in Spain was curiosity, I wanted to get familiar with completely different landscapes that I am used to. One of our trips was a bike trip, in addition to great landscapes I really enjoyed seeing local goods on our way. For example, I had never before seen olive and almond trees with fruits. A funny moment was when we discovered Strawberry trees (yes, you heard me right… it is called a Strawberry tree) and their fruits. I tried them for the first time in my life and absolutely loved them. We might have gotten a bit stuck near those trees and at one point professor started to wonder where were we.

Apart from my studies, I wanted to talk about my life in Lleida. When I moved to Lleida I had already lived in Catalonia (Spain) for 3 months, therefore, things were not completely new to me. I was familiar with some local culture and lifestyle. However, I get to experience new climatic conditions. I am coming from a country with proper winter, this was going to be my first year without it. At first, till maybe mid-November I was completely enjoying it. No need for winter jackets and big boots seemed perfect. But then Christmas time came, seeing Christmas lights in trees with leaves just felt wrong and I ended up missing winter. Never before I thought, I would say that.

In addition, I still had some problems with language, but with help of my friends and some support from the university, I could manage everything. In university, I also took a basic Spanish language course, and now I can proudly say that I can survive daily life situations with my knowledge. Finding an apartment in Lleida was a bit more difficult than in Barcelona. I would definitely recommend to start looking at least 2 months before. If in Barcelona it took me 3 or 4 days in Lleida it was around 2 weeks. Some of my friends from the program had some problems and had to find a room in a few days, it was possible but quite hard and standards had to be lowered.

To sum up, I can say that so far I have had a great experience in Spain and the University of Lleida. I have enjoyed my time here and learned a lot. Of course, not everything was fun and easy. For university, we had to work quite a lot and with the Covid-19 situation, things were quite complicated. There were moments when we were not allowed to leave Lleida, sometimes I struggled missing my friends, family, or just somebody to speak in my language. Once in a while I missed the landscapes I am used to. However, in the end, I think it is part of what studying abroad means. Overall, I am really happy with this master’s program and how it has changed my life.

I hope this post helped to get a glimpse of my studies at the University of Lleida. I have attached some pictures of nature and us. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my personal email: lauma.elza@gmail.com. 🙂

 

Winter Semester in Germany

 

At the moment of writing this post the number of infections of coronavirus in Germany is rising again. The winter semester is coming to an end and most of it has been in lockdown.

Despite of this the students in Germany were able to experience first-hand some of the issues that were studied in the courses. For instance the University of Freiburg offers a course together with the Agro-Paris tech, other university of the consortium. The course is about the forest practices in France and Germany, with an special focus in the Black forest and the Vosgues (In the French side) the problems what are arise and how they are addressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Black Forest is a forested mountain range in Southwestern Germany, it covers around 600.000 Ha from which 65 % are forests.

As it is already known, a very actual issue that the Black forest faces is the climate change, these last years the droughts in central Europe became more frequent and more intense and the forest species struggle to adapt and in some cases they die, at the university of Freiburg silvicultural approaches to adapt forests to climate change are studied, among the the mixing of forest species and the use of better adapted provenances.

When hiking around the Black forests, which is all around Freiburg we were able to see by ourselves this situation, so we can learn forestry without the need of presencial classes.

#Written by Gerardo Rodas

MSc European Forestry, University of Freiburg