So let’s start the journey. I am guessing you are familiar with forests from the area where you live, so picture a nice evergreen forest, or big old trees with colouring autumnal leaves – how would you describe it? Maybe beautiful and lush? Now imagine different types of forest ecosystems – boreal forests, oak forests, a quite beech forest, alpine meadows, the very famous Black forest, Mediterranean forest, or plain flooded forest; getting there? How about berries, truffles, mushrooms, deer, moose, reindeer, beautiful lakes, lots of snow, bitter cold mornings, northern lights, Santa Claus, only six hours daylight, or sauna followed by ice swimming? Or awesome experiences like biking in – 27°C degree Celsius, sharing international potlucks, being a real tourist, backpacking, setting foot on the Great Wall of China, cruising through 6 different European forests in a month being guided by professional experts in the field of forestry? Getting pretty interesting right? – I hope have woken up your imagination by now! Just to spice it up a little bit more, add Europe’s well-known forestry universities and well-recognised researchers, experts plus twelve awesome people to my story. They are from all around the world with different cultural background, forestry experience and personalities; now picture that you are going to spend two amazing years with them, and the group grows together almost as a family in Europe’s most forested country. Well, I think all this sounded as a fairy-tale or more like a dream – well trust me it was how the whole journey felt.
That was how my journey began. I was over the moon when I got accepted to the programme – is the feeling of your hard work being pay of and a start of a new journey which could be something thrilling and unexpected.
The study programme it was extremely well organised and planned, we got lots of help, guidance and support from the consortium universities from the beginning till the end. It contained lectures, seminars, practical excursion lost of field trips, all the normal curriculum activities which most universities offer during a study programme. But it had something in plus, such as new innovative courses, new study methods, e-learning programs etc. which let us to use and see the latest technology used in forestry and in research-field. We had the opportunity to meet researchers, foresters, engineers, PhD students who shared the result of their work, knowledge, methods and ideas with us. It is something new, which gives a good insight into a different type of paths you could follow after the programme, or for some of us it has given the bases for further studies.
International group of students
For me it was quite interesting the fact that each member of the group shared a different field of interest and background, that is why we could learn from each other so much. I share the view that this was the best way to fully understand each other’s point of view and have lovely discussions about certain topics problems or issues. We had such controversial, multitudinous views – one wanted to save the rainforests while the other person saw the economic opportunities in managing plantation forests in Brazil. Throughout the study programme I got better ideas and opinions, I saw the problems from a different angle than before while I was able criticize and argue my point of views and understand my colleagues or professors point of view as well. In general this has made me better not only academically, but it changed my personality as well. I believe this has tested all my limits not only by the cold harsh weather. By the end of the programme I got so much out of it – met all these awesome people, made long lasting friendships. And I built up a nice network of forestry students from different parts of the world, not to mention that is has broadened my skills, view of forestry in general, in addition I got something from each member of the group, such us compassion, love for your work, positive attitude, motivation or you name it. Not to mention the fact, that I travelled so much that my friends and family couldn’t decide whether I am studying or travelling.
Tips for the new students
For new students, I would like to mention, that obviously it is not going to be fairy-tale – there will be ups and downs on your journey, but you will get through with your head hold high by the end with your diplomas in your hand. There will be, exams, essays, you need to meet deadlines and maybe struggle with advanced statistics, but you will have the right people around to help you out if needed. Most of us tend to describe our experience really ‘rosy”- but of course we had to put some hard work to it in order to meet the deadlines and graduate in time.
I am very proud to be part of the MSc EF family. It was a privilege and I cannot recommend highly enough for new applicants including girls or ladies – human perception is that this profession is not for ladies – but I hold a different view – yes is it and can be, just fight for it!
These two years will fly by amazingly fast. You would not even realise how lucky you are to be among the group members. Every time when I hear about one the group member or if someone just randomly mentions the programme, my heart leaps and all the lovely memories come alive. Funnily I still catch myself mentioning my experience from Finland or France. With other words I start my sentence “when I lived in Finland – well, I think an Erasmus alumni can fully understand the meaning of the sentence.
Miss Zsuzsanna Peter graduated in 2014 in MSc in European Forestry from the University of Eastern Finland and AgroParisTech France- and is currently working as a forest engineer at the Romanian State Forest Institute Enterprise- ROMSILVA.