“I decided to apply, as I saw it as a great opportunity to broaden my horizons professionally”
Even though Camila didn’t plan to apply for a Master’s programme, the opportunity to study European Forestry on the internationally-renowned Erasmus Mundus programme was so interesting that she couldn’t let it pass. During her time in Finland she has achieved a lot and overcome the difficulties in adjusting to a whole new living environment. Eventually, finding the right area of specialisation in GIS and remote sensing took her to a dream internship placement, which turned into a part-time job – and now we are happy to say that she’s here to stay!
Brazil native Camila wasn’t going to apply to Master’s programmes. Absolutely not.
She wanted to find a job and get settled in her own country since she had already spent an 18-month study period in Canada during her Bachelor’s program.
However, a message from a friend turned this scenario upside down – and Camila found herself on the website of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s programme in European Forestry (EF), coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland.
–I’d just graduated as a forest engineer, but finding the perfect job wasn’t easy, as the economic situation in my country was hard. Then my friend told me, ‘You should apply to this EF programme. You are a forester, you speak English…’ So when I read about the programme, the scholarship scheme and the possibility to gain a double Master’s degree – one from Finland and one from the partnering university – I decided to apply, as I saw it as a great opportunity to broaden my horizons professionally.
So Camila applied and got accepted. In terms of practical arrangements, everything started falling into place, and again she found herself moving to a new country.
–When you just follow the steps, you will get everything organised: visa, housing and the rest. I got to know a few other Brazilians who also joined the programme, so we were in contact and organised things together.
At the beginning, some of the courses felt a little easy for her, because she already had a background in forest engineering. But when she found the topic that she really wanted to focus on, the studies got more fascinating than ever.
–When we proceeded to GIS (geographic information system) and remote sensing courses, I was thrilled! I liked those courses and the teaching style of professor Lauri Korhonen a lot. My knowledge in GIS and remote sensing increased tremendously and it was a major thing for me, because this is exactly what I wanted to work with.
Camila’s passion for applying technology in the field of forestry led her to further exciting opportunities. Even before applying for the programme, Camila had been checking out a firm listed as one of the partnering companies on the EF website.
–I had the idea of Arbonaut at the back of my mind all the time during the studies, so when we were finding placements for the mandatory applied period, I wanted to go there. It’s a Finnish technology company focused on forest resources management and there’s a lot of international people there, so it’s an ideal working environment for me.
Camila finished her internship there and, again, everything fell into place when she got to continue there as an employee.
–I’m super happy about the variety of projects I get to work on. My skills in remote sensing and GIS are really improving every day, and most importantly, I have so much fun in my job!
UPS AND DOWNS
Even though Camila was happy about the acceptance to the programme, she had some concerns about life so far north.
–Of course, I was a bit worried about the coldness and darkness and the cultural differences, coming from a warm region and being a very outgoing person. However, I was happy to realise that I had come to a safe and very forest-oriented country, where I can walk around anywhere as a woman and just admire the amount of forests everywhere feeling safe.
In practice, student life in eastern Finland is really convenient.
–I like cycling and you can reach pretty much any place with a bike in Joensuu. Almost everyone speaks English, so you can ask anyone for any help. The houses are good, the internet is good – everything works, so you don’t have to worry about anything regarding this matter.
During her time in Finland, she has learned to adjust to the differences.
–I’m from the warm region of Brazil where it’s all about going to places and being together, so at first I felt that there’s not that much to do here. But when you have a group of friends, you will surely find things to do and have lots of fun. We’ve arranged get-togethers at our homes, travelled to nearby towns or enjoyed nature and national parks such as Kolovesi and Patvinsuo.
The global pandemic situation has understandably caused some stress to all of us, including Camila, but now things seem to be settling down and the future is looking bright.
–The nature of the EF programme is mobile so I was going to go to Spain next to continue my studies. However, due to the pandemic I thought that it’s better to stay in Finland where the virus situation is more calm. I am completing courses in Spain remotely now. Sadly, because of the pandemic, the field trip to all the five different European universities in the consortium didn’t happen, which is something that I think many EF students enjoy the most.
Even though graduation is still a few months away, Camila feels the programme has already changed her life.
–I got to do the internship that I wanted to do, so as an international and professional experience this has been excellent. Now my plan is to stay and continue working and studying here in Joensuu. Of course I miss my home country and the tropical environment there, but at the moment I value having a job that I really like and will help me grow as a forester. Besides, I also really like the snow!