Beatriz Vega, Licentiate in Chemistry from Uruguay recalls her internship in Finland

My name is Beatriz Vega. I was born in Paysandú, Uruguay, I am a Licentiate in Chemistry graduated from the Universidad de la República (UdelaR) in Uruguay. In 2009, I arrived in Finland for a 6 months internship and I can’t believe that more than years have passed since that! I have been working at the Fibre and Cellulose Technology Laboratory, which is led by Prof. Fardim, in Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU) in the city of Turku. My trip was possible thanks to the efforts of Prof. Mantero and Assoc. Prof. Menéndez and the financial support from ex-Botnia, ÅAU, and the Comisión Sectorial para la Investigación Científica (CSIC).

The possibility to come to Finland was a unique opportunity for me. I wanted to learn new knowledge at work, learn about Finnish culture, and enjoy the time with my family living in the Nordic country. I remember very clearly the day I arrived in Finland. My trip had started from Montevideo at +34 °C and my brother and his family received me with -11 °C in Helsinki.

I feel so grateful with all the experiences along these years. I have learned a lot at work, and met beautiful people who made me feel very appreciated and made me more confident person. The life in Finland had helped me to think outside the bottle and broaden my view.

In Finland, winters are long and winter-days are very dark, and that was not pleasant for me sometimes. However, I have learned that there is plus and minus in every country. In the case of Finland, hard weather conditions are compensated by many times by positive things. For example, I believe I am accurate in saying that “peace and harmony” are the hallmarks of the country. It is easy and safe to move everywhere by bike or public transportation, peak up your own berries or mushrooms in the middle of the forest, see the Northern lights, and join so many activities surrounded by awesome nature. In Finland, you can label personal-expensive-important items with your phone number or email address, and you will recover most of them if missed (this fact made my day so many times!). Excellent education level for everyone is another fact to be highlighted as very positive from Finland, and it is beautiful to see how much Fins care about education, especially for kids.

At the reception at Kalastajatorppa

I am currently working in the US for a short period during this summer, as a Visitor Scholar at the Forest Products Development Center, in Auburn University, Alabama. I will be back in Finland at the beginning of October to defend my thesis. In addition, and thanks to the prize awarded during the Innovation Catalyst Competition organized by Åbo Akademi the last July, I will have the opportunity to work in a short project which aim is to develop a glucose indicator system. After that period ends, I am not totally sure about my future home, but I am sure I will try to stay connected in one way or another to this amazing country.

Written by Beatriz Vega.