– What is really useful is the fact that you can resit exams several times, and the highest score is recorded, no matter whether it is the first or last result. That was good for me, because I knew that I wanted to apply for PhD studies and the grades really mattered.
However, some practical things in Finland required some adaptation.
– I hear people complain about the coldness and darkness, but actually for me, the hardest part was the summer when it was light all day and night long. Therefore, on the second year I bought a heavy curtain to be able to sleep, she laughs.
For Wen, living in Joensuu – a small city in Chinese standards – wasn’t an issue, but quite the opposite.
– There are so many activities in Joensuu that you’ll definitely find things to do. I really like music so I went to music events with friends, and of course, we went to the Ilosaarirock festival that is a huge music event organised annually in Joensuu. I even did voluntary work for the festival and that way I felt that I really was a part of the event. Besides that, we experimented with ice fishing and other Finnish activities. It was lots of fun.
PhD – and further
Wen came up with the topic for her thesis when she was doing a practical training at the Karelia University of Applied Sciences, also located in Joensuu.
– My thesis concerned using nanocellulose in wood adhesives to reinforce it, instead of traditional fillers such as glass and silicone, and it was accepted with the highest possible grade.
Writing the Master’s thesis sparked Wen’s interest for further studies, and she decided to apply to PhD. She found a suitable position in the neighbouring country, Sweden.
In retrospect, Wen is thankful for all the learning she gained in the Wood Materials Science programme.
– Of course, the diploma helped me to get the PhD position in Sweden. The programme taught me a lot as the focus is on biomass chemistry and forest bioeconomy, compared to the more mechanical aspects of wood that I learned in my Bachelor’s.
Besides wood materials theory, Wen has benefited from other skills that she learnt in the programme.
– Besides absorbing a lot of theory, I value the practical courses related to study methods and such. I remember good courses on how to search for literature or how to use for instance the Matlab tool that were of great use for me.
She remembers the staff at UEF with warm thoughts.
– I took many courses from Antti Haapala, who was the supervisor for my thesis. I learned a lot from him. I also remember that Petri Kärenlampi’s courses that were insightful, and of course, the coordinator Pauliina Karvinen, who helped a lot with every possible practical problem.
Most importantly, Wen’s interest in wood materials only grew – and continues to do so.
– I still think wood is cool, and I really enjoy that I can contribute to novel solutions that can increase the use of wood as a sustainable material.