Adventures at Language Campus Boot Camp on November 16th, 2017

Julkaistu: 30.11.2017 | Text: Milja Seppälä, Photos: Päivi Iikkanen, Tuire Oittinen

The traditional Postgraduate Boot Camp for doctoral students and postdocs of the Department of language and communication studies and Language Campus was held on Thursday, Noverber 16th at Vesalan leirikeskus. The theme for this year was “Identifying your academic skills and expertise”. The weather was lovely and wintery as everyone packed themselves into various vehicles at 9:00 and headed to where the action was to take place. Rarely has there been a car full of women with the principle topic of conversation being (electric) cars. But it happened. I was there.

Vesala welcomed us with morning coffee and breakfast, during which the participants could discreetly gaze around to see who was who and what was what. The beautiful weather and wintery landscape were jointly complimented.

At 10:00 it was time to get down to business. Leena Sivula from R&I Services talked to us about “Building an academic career: Identifying your strengths and development needs”, focusing on topics such as different funding sources, what to include in a CV and project portfolio, and what Research and innovation services (RIS) actually are there for. Much appreciated! After her speech, Leena divided us into groups of 4 and told us we were to create a scientist, giving her/him a background, career, skills, development needs, etc. Let’s get to it then! After some lively sketching and outlining, each group presented their outcome to the others. We got to meet Olivia Octopus (far-reaching but a bit clingy), Krista from Estonia (suspiciously perfect), Jenni Tuomi (and her smile!), and one unnamed researcher with ethics and community on her mind. We wish them all the best in their academic endeavours!

After an ample lunch it was time for Learning café at 13:00. It was group work again, this time everyone rotating on each of the four tables to ponder upon each of the four themes. The first theme was “best/worst conference experiences”, the main points of which were probably choosing your conferences wisely – big/small/focus – and networking. The second theme was “planning your academic career”, which brought up notions such as effective networking (again), popularizing your research, and anxiety management (how to not give a shit). Theme three was “group mentoring for PhD students”, to which the brainstorming brought up ideas of a PhD café, an introductory leaflet/booklet for the newcomers, and a mentor/tutor system with ECTS, among other things. Theme four, “work-life balance”, resulted in ideas of personalizing your workspace, taking your holidays (sounds so easy, doesn’t it!), finding a hobby, and making work enjoyable. As a final statement, there was eager agreement on the necessity of events such as Boot Camp – after all, all work and no play makes anyone a dull scientist…


Before facing the wilderness of the Finnish outdoors, there was time for coffee and buns the size of our faces (and no, no-one was hungry yet). And off we ventured, into the dreamy landscape of snowy trees, nearly frozen water and twilight, and for a little while the silent lakeside was filled with invigorating conversations and the soft sounds of researchers’ feet on the forest trail.


To be honest, the little hike was not nearly sufficient for digesting all the food we’d eaten by that time, but luckily there was still time for sauna before the dinner. With only one man holding the fort on men’s side, women were more active in keeping the traditions alive; after all, if there is a lake by the sauna, you just have to go swimming, don’t you?!

At 17:30 it was time for the grande finale – the dinner (in case anyone managed to get hungry). The main course was Karelian stew – extremely tasty, according to the devout silence around the table. Of course, it could also be that everyone was just exhausted after a full day of un-reseacher-like socializing. Be it as it may, Vesala treated us well. Perhaps we’ll return again next year! (On the way back: car full of women, the topic of conversation, again, (electric) cars. I kid you not.)