Aalto University – Vinayak Suthar

515 Views, Posted on: July 12, 2017

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It has been over one month in my stay in Finland and so far it feels like a dream come true.

Living in a country where the sun doesn’t actually set is kind of amazing and beautiful in it’s own way and here I am writing this internship blog at 11 PM  with the sun still shining bright in the sky.

How did I end up here ?

I had done my second year internship in Business Development at Mirafra Technologies in Bangalore which was a great learning experience but at the same time made me realize that it was not the place where I belonged. So at the beginning of my third-year, I decided that I wanted to explore core civil engineering . I started working on a project in the field of Building Information Modelling (BIM) under Prof. Venkata Santosh Kumar Delhi. While working on this project, I developed a great interest in this field so I expressed my desire to work and explore more of this field to my professor. He recommended me for the CIMO funded project which is a DiDaCTiC Collaboration between Aalto University – IIT Bombay. I had a discussion with professor from Aalto University  about his ongoing research projects and internship programme and BIM summer school. Eventually, things ended up well and I received my invitation letter and the stipend was also quite good.

Visa Procedure:

I had talked to my seniors who had done their internship at Aalto University, so I had an idea in the beginning itself about  the necessary formalities and the documents required for the application for Schengen Visa. But things didn’t end up as good as expected because Finland had recently changed its immigration laws for foreign students and it had stated that one needed to have a residence permit to do an internship in Finland. Oh boy! getting the residence permit was a really lengthy and costly task and all of this was happening in the middle of end-semester examinations. After a long process of sending mails to convince the Finnish Embassy they eventually agreed that  I didn’t  need residence permit for the internship.

The story begins –

I had a connecting flight to Helsinki via Moscow. The feeling of cold wind blowing  right at my face as I stepped out of the aeroplane was a breathtaking experience. Aalto University is situated in Espoo region which is a 15 minutes ride from Helsinki city. I stay in a hostel along with three other colleagues which is at a 10 minutes walking distance from my work place. The university campus has a lot of student lunch restaurants which are very cheap and offer pretty good european cuisines if you are a non-vegetarian. Being a vegetarian, surviving here is not easy, I have to manage my dinner all by myself. Earlier my experience with cooking was limited to only a few dishes but here I am exploring my “inner chef” and my experiments with new dishes, every other night, turn out well actually. I would suggest to start learning some basic cooking skills especially to vegetarians because it saves a lot of money. Also the time spent with friends while making food is memorable.

Jogging during the midnight with the sun still shining along the shores of the Baltic sea and cold winds blowing right at your face was a memorable experience.

Life and Culture in Finland:

I was lucky enough to attend a short course on “Get To Know Finland” which aimed at giving foreign students an overview about Finnish history, culture, lifestyle, art, music, movies etc.

From what I have experienced till now, Finnish people, though generally very silent are helpful in nature. English is the third language after Finnish and Swedish here, so I sometimes face a little language barrier . Sauna is an integral part of the finnish lifestyle. Apart from that Finland is a beautiful country with lakes, sea and wilderness all around.

Internship Experience:

Working under my project supervisor has been a great learning experience for me. We are working on project in a foreign country, that aims to change and make an impact on the lives of rural peoples in India in a positive way. Our research work revolves around the modular construction and advancement in the existing technologies.

I got an opportunity to be a part of BIM Summer School where professors, students and professionals working in industries from all over the world gather for a 7 day learning programme. There were several software workshops on softwares like Tekla, ArchiCAD, Rhino and Grasshopper. This summer school gave me a chance to interact and talk with people from different companies working in the field of construction. What’s amazing is that the technologies I had studied while working on my previous project are being implemented in real-time projects which  Indian construction industries lack so far.

Till now, my project work is going good and I hope that we deliver something worthwhile which can have a positive impact on society and is able to transform the way we look at static structures.

Travel Diaries:

Having a Schengen Visa opens up a lot of travel destinations for you.

The first place on the list was Stockholm and to reach there we took an overnight cruise from Helsinki. That was my first ever experience on a giant metal beast (cruise). Stockholm is a sister city of Helsinki but has a great historical significance with a lot of amazing and crazy museums.   

After that I visited Turku, which is the old capital of Finland. Situated along the banks of a cana, Turku is a beautiful city with old buildings on one side and modern houses and offices on the other side. There I had the opportunity to see a Navy ship from inside which had been one of the things in my bucket list.

Afterwards, I went to Tallinn which is a fairly tale city in Estonia (again, a cruise ride from Helsinki). The skyview of the whole city from the top of the cathedral was wonderful and incredible.

Most European cities have a great public transport network, so if you wish to visit any city in Europe, it is better to check the feasibility of a public transport pass.

Travel destinations in Europe are numerous and sharing about all these here might be boring to you but one of the experiences I would like to mention is the trek in Nuuksio National Park which is situated 40 km away from the city.

Swimming in the coldwater lake surrounded by mountains and wilderness after a long trek was literally astonishing and an experience of a lifetime for me. I would suggest that if you know swimming, there are a lot of great places where you can experience this.

Few last words…

I am taking a lot of memories and experience from this place. I don’t know whether the knowledge that I have gained here would help me in the future but it feels good to be a part of something which can make an impact on society. I have met some really interesting people during this journey of mine and have made very good friends.


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