Dong Yang: Falling in love with Finland and functional polymers

In the autumn of 2015, I arrived in Finland to do my PhD at the University of Helsinki as an international student, supported by the China Scholarship Council. Walking out of the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport after a nine-hour flight, the fresh air, clean streets and different styles of architecture implied that I was standing on a remote, strange country.

Soon, anxiety and stress were eased by the view of beautiful nature and the kind, friendly Finnish people. Finland has a large forest cover rate and ten thousand lakes. Wherever you are, a complete and attractive scenery is always in front of you, making you feel like you are in a fairy tale.  Finns are the most adorable people in the world and they never hesitate to offer their help. I still remember the help I got when I was lost on my way home.

After I started my studies at the Department of Chemistry, the high quality of education left a deep impression on me. The teachers here are definitely experts on what they are teaching. Not only are they patient, but they are also enthusiastic. They would adjust their teaching strategies according to the feedback from students. So overall, the teachers here are trying their best to help us students.

Working in the lab has been such an amazing experience that you could hardly have anywhere else. It provides us with a whole set of instruments to be utilized in our research projects. These include NMR, light scattering and asymmetrical flow field flow fractionation instruments, as well as a rheometer. It is rare to find such a variety of instruments in one lab. Moreover, researchers in our lab come from different countries:  Russia, Germany, Hungary, Spain, India and Bengal. It is wonderful to work in such an international and multicultural group. You can always find interesting topics to discuss and hear interesting stories.

My current research started with the syntheses of functional polymers and now I am concentrating on their thermosensitive behavior in water, as well as on their applications in catalysis.

After one year of studies at the University of Helsinki, my English and academic knowledge both have improved significantly. Studying in Finland is the best decision I have ever made. Currently I am enjoying every moment in this country. I hope one day in the future I can tell stories about my time here to my family and friends in China.

Orginally published @ Chemistry News!