Erasmus Experience

2nd Erasmus Experience- University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
Sibel Taşkın Şimşek 

During Kurban Bayram week, between October 14th and 18th, 2013, I participated in the Teaching Staff Mobility program and visited the University of Lapland (Rovaniemi, Finland) where I delivered sessions on “how to integrate free and user friendly Web 2.0 tools in teaching and learning” for master students as part of the Media Technologies course in the Faculty of Education. The host of this activity was the Faculty of Education at the University of Lapland.

Initial contact with the university had already been made via my colleagues, Zeynep Önel İskenderoğlu & Meral Güçeri. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their help and support here once again. This was followed up with a series of emails with the contact person at the host university in order to explore the possibility of a visit. Similar to our visit to Warsaw University in the spring semester of the previous academic year, I made plans together with my project partner Evrim (Uysal). However, due to other personal commitments, she could not make it and we decided that I would visit the University alone. This would be a more challenging task for me to complete and, prior to my visit I researched the university, its location and teaching areas. Once the teaching schedule and other details had been agreed, I started preparing the materials and related documents both for the institution and the students. Luckily - because it was a holiday period - I was not left all alone during my trip to Finland, as my husband and daughter decided to join me.

Since there was no direct flight to Rovaniemi, we first flew to Helsinki, stayed there for one night and went on to Rovaniemi on Sunday afternoon. We had some time to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and culture in Helsinki for one and a half days. It was warm and sunny during our stay in Helsinki and we were lucky to experience the annual fair called  “The Helsinki Baltic Herring Fair” where we had the chance to taste traditionally cooked  fish, different types of berries, marmalades and see clothes made from the island sheep’s wool as well as other handicrafts.

When we arrived in Rovaniemi, it was really surprising to see that it was the “official airport of Santa Claus” and everywhere was decorated with toys of Arctic animals, Santa and his reindeer. There was no snow on the first day of our visit but the weather was nevertheless really cold. On the second day, after watching the beautiful sunset over the river Kemioke, we were caught up in a snow storm. It was really difficult to walk around or see anything. Still, we enjoyed the snow covered view of the nature until the last day of our visit. 

On my first day at the university, I had a meeting with the international office coordinator first thing in the morning. While having a cup of coffee at the cafeteria, she gave me some brief info about the university, Finland & Rovaniemi and she helped me to make the necessary arrangements for my sessions. I gave five sessions to the same group of students throughout the week.  I was particularly impressed by the students’ eagerness to learn and apply the tips and tools presented in the sessions. Their high level of participation in the workshops I delivered was amazing. Even after the sessions were over I received mails regarding the final task, which was to choose one tool presented in one of the sessions and give feedback to the presenter. Here is a sample from one participant, who learned how to create glogster posters in the session:

The visit was well organized and I was made welcome throughout my stay. I also met with other colleagues from the University who had similar teaching interests in the Media Technologies department during lunch breaks. I highly recommend that other colleagues take up this opportunity of a staff exchange since it is a wonderful way to gain an insight into other educational systems.