With another few weeks in, I once again dared to pick up the pen. It’s time to let you get to know some of my other new experiences, including some particularly uncomfortable ones. First however, I’d like to turn my attention to rather more official matters. Since this is an exchange made possible by two schools I would like to give a shout out to those whom have given me this opportunity. This second blog will mainly be focused on my studies to give some insight in that as well.
After I arrived in Tarvaala, the hometown of the biocampus, I almost immediately started my classes. On the second day, while still settling in, my first classes started. My coming two and a halve months would be filled with three major courses and one individual project which was supervised by Mari Hakkarainen. Mari was also my basic coach during my stay and she welcomed me very kindly on the first day. It was nice to know I had my own coach who I could direct my most pressing matters to and, if I would encounter issues, who could then point me in the right direction necessary.
To continue, this individual course would run alongside the other three and I could basically make my own schedule. I did however, have some clear exercises that she would like me to finish and report back to her. When we set up this individual project or, theme studies, I told her my personal interests and thus we created a mutual agreed project. Naturally, with enough educational subjects but also with plenty of self-exploring and learning in very new surroundings. My main interest was to learn about the Finnish forestry business and use of biomass materials in a large number of different ways. Mari gave me plenty of opportunity to do so.
The other three courses were called: Natural resources and sustainable use of water, Bioenergy Use in the Rural Areas and Innovations in Bioeconomy. ‘Natural resources and sustainable use of water’ would mainly focus on the use of one of the most present resources in Finland, water. With over 188.000 lakes it has a serious need for attention in the country. Beside just the lakes, it would also be a lot about wastewater treatment and agricultural runoff of nutrients such as fertilized phosphorous and nitrogen. Secondly, ‘Bioenergy Use in the Rural Areas’ was going to be about the Finnish way of utilizing their other large natural resources, wood and peat. How do farms heat their businesses in rural areas and how are these resources also used in order to fight off fossil fuel need for heating cities and industrial areas. Lastly, ‘Innovations in Bioeconomy’ will largely be about the future bringing new opportunities for sustainable businesses. One project is already very interesting, pure brainstorming with a group of students on possibilities and how to elaborate them.
Well to end this blog with a bit more fun I’d like to tell you the story on how I went ice swimming for the first time. It’s a rather unpleasant and uncomfortable experience if you have never done it before. During my first week in Saarijarvi I met a very nice girl Saara and a friend of hers Santtu. They invited me to a kettlebell practice which I gladly accepted, not knowing what else this was going to bring me. The practice was completely new to me, never before had I used a kettlebell and it was intriguingly exhausting. Outside in the falling snow, for over an hour, I bend my body in ways I could have never imagined. When we were finally done we went to her place where we had some food and pleasant conversation. This is when the subject of ice swimming came up. Somehow they persuaded me to get ready for it by putting on my workout shorts under my jeans. We walked to the only ice-free place in the area, an area kept ice-free by the municipality, and started to undress. I slowly entered the water, which actually already had a thin layer of ice over it again, and felt the intense cold striking my limbs. The cold hurt hella bad and when my balls hit the water it was like starting up a pinball machine. I swam a small circle before climbing back up the stairs where I could dry myself off and put my cloths back on. That’s when you realize why people do this horrendous activity, it’s a fantastic feeling to start warming up again. In the weeks following I would do this many more times and I’ll tell you another story on this sometime later.