Ein Semester in Finnland

Exchange Semester Report

Johannes Handl-Weber,

Johannes Handl-Weber is studying “Engineering and Production Management” on a dual degree programme at FH JOANNEUM. He is currently completing an exchange semester at the EU4DUAL partner university Savonia UAS and has already grown fond of the Finnish way of life, as he reports in this blog.

The beginning of my exchange semester in Kuopio, Finland, felt not only like the start of a new chapter in my academic journey, but also like a personal adventure. When I arrived at the airport the outside temperature felt down to -35 °C. I was not prepared for this temperature! The first few days in the new environment until I started studying were very exciting. As a mechanical engineering student, I was excited by the outlook of courses like FEM Simulation, which allowed me to play with simulations that mimic real engineering problems, and Manufacturing Systems Development, which opened my eyes to the complicated world of modern manufacturing. Each course, whether it was the fundamentals of materials management, the strategic interaction of procurement and purchasing management, get to handle on organized chaos with project management tools, or the intricacies of business-to business marketing, added new layers to my understanding of engineering and business. It wasn't just about the books and lectures; it was the hands-on projects and teamwork that really brought the lessons home to me. I would like to emphasize the diverse nationalities of the different students. At the end of the day, human co-operation between different views and nationalities is very important nowadays. But what made my time in Finland unforgettable was not limited to the classroom. It was the Finnish way of life that hooked me.

Fun in the snow. Picture: private

I found joy in the finish sports of cross-country skiing through snow-covered forests. Ice skating became a weekend ritual, gliding across frozen lakes under the crisp winter sun. And then there was ice fishing - an exercise in patience and silence while waiting for a catch under the ice. The sauna culture here is something completely different - it is more than just a place to warm up on cold days. It's a place of relaxation, a space where conversation flows as freely as the “löyly” (hot steam). In those moments when I'm sitting with friends in the heat, the conversations are a more sensitive and personal. When I reflect on my semester in Kuopio, the mix of academic growth and personal experiences stands out the most. I learnt so much, not only about mechanical engineering, but also about life in a broader sense - about how important the moment is, how important community is and how beautiful nature is. Finland has given me memories that I will carry with me forever, a broader perspective and a fuller heart. It was an incredible journey that shaped me in ways I still don't fully understand.

Johannes spent his semester abroad at Savonia UAS. It is one of nine European universities that together form the EU4DUAL university alliance. One of its aims is to promote the mobility of students and teachers within the European Union.

Northern lights. Picture: private
Northern lights. Picture: private