That was admittedly my first thought when I realised that the planned morning swim I had signed up for as part of my Staff Week would not take place in a heated swimming pool at all, but in a mostly frozen lake.
But first things first. In March, I took the opportunity as a scientific researcher (Institute of Energy, Transport and Environmental Management) to go abroad for a staff week and chose the beautiful city of Tampere in wintry Finland. The theme of the week at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) was "(Re)Connecting professional Networks".
(Re)Connecting meant for me to connect with my new acquaintances as well as with Finnish culture. This happened especially during the sauna evening, which of course is a must during a visit to Finland. And the aforementioned morning swim in the frozen lake also had something very connecting for everyone involved, because you have to be slightly crazy to venture into the lake at a water temperature of about 3 ° Celsius. Much less daring, but all the more interesting for it, was the city tour, which had to take place on the bus due to bad weather conditions. The absolute highlight of the week was definitely when the cloud cover suddenly opened up on the last evening and we were able to admire the Northern Lights.
The tough ones after the morning swim
In addition to the social events, there was of course also plenty of professional input. From presentations on Punk Pedagogy to Sustainability and Joy to Megatrends 2023, there was something for everybody. The different approaches of the individual lecturers to teaching were particularly interesting. Among other things, we also focused on clear communication in the classroom.
The labs were also professionally set up, and I had the opportunity to visit the lab for mathematics and physics, as well as the paper lab. There I also took the opportunity to make my own paper with waste products from beer production.
Papermaking for beginners
There was plenty of opportunity to network with the almost 500 participants from various countries. Already on the first day, we were able to exchange professional ideas with colleagues from various educational institutions during speed networking. In the evening, there was also enough time for private exchanges over the delicacies prepared by the students in the Catering Studio. In the course of the week, we were able to extend our network from Brazil to Austria and Australia. This also enabled us to quickly clarify the difference between "Austria" and "Australia" (the former have "Kulimuhs"=cows, the latter have kangaroos). In addition, the Foreign Minister of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, did us the honour and gave his assessment of the current situation regarding the war in Ukraine and climate change.
Worldwide network: Austria and Australia
Spending time abroad, even just a week, can be enormously enriching. The important thing is to dare to do something and be open to new things. I have to say that I had my doubts about ice swimming, but I'm proud that I just did it and that I've gained another wonderful memory. I'm taking home lots of new ideas, great experiences and a well connected professional network that spans almost the entire world.