Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Few Days

Jonathan Fink
It has been quite a journey to Oulu, Finland, taking 3 flights for a total of 12 hours of flying, and 20 hours total not including the 7 hour time difference. Nevertheless, it has been an incredible couple of days as we have been introduced to a very different culture and environment.

The five of us here are staying in an apartment complex just walking distance away from the university itself. Jeff and Burim and on the first floor, I am on the second floor with Alex, and Ashleigh is on the eighth floor.

One of the first differences many of us noticed upon arrival is the astoundingly high number of trees here in Oulu.  We are basically located in the middle of a forest, and it is Finnish policy to minimize the number of trees cut down and cut down only the trees absolutely necessary for the project.

Other interesting aspects:
1) They enjoy reindeer meat and pineapple. Especially on pizza.
2) Coffee is an integral part of Finnish culture. There are practically mandated coffee breaks at 9AM and 2PM at our lab at the university. (And the coffee is delicious!)
3) The elevator doors swing out like a car door, and it almost appears as if the doors move down as you travel up the elevator; it is one continuous door that scrolls as you rise up the floors.
4) In terms of travel, people bike everywhere. Typical places will have 10 or more bikes located outside, sometimes locked but often unlocked.
5) Downtown Oulu, interestingly enough called Center City, looks nothing like a major city in the States. It has cobblestone walkways and does not have very many cars. Instead it is extremely green and has just a couple thousand people.

In terms of research, Ashleigh and I are working in the Environmental Engineering lab at the Mass and Heat Transfer Process Laboratory. She will probably write about her specific project, but mine is titled Catalytic Oxidation of Chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds. This week I am reading papers on the subject,next week I will start preparation of experiments, and then the following week I will be running the tests.  Currently, Ashleigh and I both share an office equipped with computers to conduct research online.

Overall, it has been a great week with many new experiences, and many more to come!

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