Uusi ryhmä on valittu!

Uusi huikea porukka on valittu viettämään ikimuistoinen kesä 2019 Torontossa!

Eilen pääsimme viettämään ensimmäistä get-togetheria vanhan ja tulevan hallituksen kesken ja tutustumaan toisiimme herkkujen äärellä. Vanha ryhmä myös intoutui melkoiselle nostalgiatripille kertoillessaan kokemuksiaan menneiltä vuosilta… Toivottavasti muistimme myös kertoa kaikki oleellisimmat asiat tulevaan kesän suunnitteluun liittyen!

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Kaledonistien perinteitä jatkaa tulevat neljä vuotta (kuvassa vasemmalta oikealle):

Markus Nevalainen (Aalto-yliopisto)
Janina Vikman (Helsingin yliopisto)
Noora Tanska (Aalto-yliopisto)
Milja von Lerber (Helsingin yliopisto)
Annika Rönnblad (Hanken/Helsingin yliopisto) sekä
Henri Klaavu (Aalto-yliopisto).

Alla vielä muutama fiilistelykuva illasta. Onnea uudelle ryhmälle!


Tutustumisillan tarjoilut - salaattipöytä


Kategoriat: Kesän 2019 valmistelu |

Uusi logo, uudet kujeet

On kulunut lähes neljä vuotta siitä, kun näin Aalto-yliopiston viikkomailissa ilmoituksen Kaledonisteista. Ilmoitus kysyi, haluanko kesätöihin Kanadaan. Vastasin innoissani kyllä, hain ja nyt noin neljä vuotta myöhemmin meidän ryhmällämme on edessä viimeiset kuukaudet Kaledonistit ry:n hallituksessa. Ensisijaisena tavoitteenamme on varmistaa perinteikkään vaihdon jatkuminen taas seuraavat neljä vuotta. Uuden Kaledonisti-ryhmän haku alkaakin toden teolla huomenna, maanantaina 3.9.2018. Kesällä 2019 uusi ryhmä lähtee vuorostaan seikkailulle Torontoon ja me siirrymme alumneiksi ihailemaan heidän työtään ja tukemaan heidän toimintaansa. Kautemme loppumisen kunniaksi ja uuden ryhmän työskentelyn edistämiseksi loimme Kaledonistit ry:lle uuden logon.

Uudella logolla haluamme viestiä yhteydestä Kanadaan häivyttämättä yhdistyksen perinteikästä Kaledonistit-nimeä. Halusimme tuoda visuaalisen ilmeen tähän päivään sekä luoda muun muassa sosiaalisessa mediassa hyvin toimivan pienemmän version logosta. Toivomme, että uusi logo lisää yhdistyksen tunnistettavuutta sekä inspiroi yhtenäiseen visuaaliseen ilmeeseen kaikenlaisessa viestinnässä sosiaalisesta mediasta paperisiin alumnikirjeisiin.

Odotamme jo innolla uuden ryhmän tapaamista! Sitä ennen on kuitenkin hyvä laittaa haku auki ja etsiä paras ryhmä jatkamaan toimintaamme. Kaledonistit ry:n haku on auki 3.9.-30.9.2018. Lisätietoja hausta huomenna!


// Riikka




Kategoriat: Yleistä löpinää |

Summer memories

Hello there!

The days are getting darker and Helsinki even got the first snow a few weeks ago! That’s why we thought it’s a good time to share some memories from the summer. As you can read from the stories, the summer was a success and both us Finns and the Canadian group had a blast! All this was possible due to the jobs we managed to get, so a huge thank you for all the employers and everyone who helped in the process! It is amazing to see that employers see the great value in our exchange program even during these quite challenging economic times. Thank you!

And now let’s hear the memories!

“The memories from this summer are endless. From the road trip and saunas, to driving a boat on the Baltic, to drinking wine in public parks, the summer was wonderful. I’d like to explain why I enjoyed my commute to work: (Who would think?!) In the Greater Toronto Area, I commute 30-45 km daily by car; therefore my commute in Helsinki was much different. I walked for 5 minutes to the metro, breathing in the crisp Baltic Sea air. I rode 23 minutes on the metro to Kamppi; enjoying the aboveground Helsinki scenery – passing two bodies of water and lush trees. (The metro did not have a single delay all summer, whereas the Toronto subway is notorious for consistent delays.) Helsinki transit has it figured out! From Kamppi I rode a short tram to Töölö, then walked 8-9 minutes to my office. I loved the sights and sounds everyday. I loved all the beautiful dogs walking in Töölö. I enjoyed eavesdropping on Finnish conversations even though I could only pick out words. I loved the everyday routine of life in Helsinki!”

Felicia's summer memory

“My favorite memory from Finland this summer was our time at Philip’s cottage, during the last few days of the road trip. We had only all been together for one week, but as we were sitting around the dinner table eating, drinking and exchanging stories, it truly felt like we had become a family. It was the perfect start to an amazing summer, and even though we got to spend several other wonderful evenings with the Finns throughout the summer, it was all our memories from the road trip, and that incredible feeling of belonging, while at the cottage, that will stay with me forever.”

Jaimi's summer photo

“I have many lovely memories from this summer in Finland and would divide them into two broad categories. First, all the times that we were able to get together as a group. From the road trips to our regular dinners at our apartment, I think we were lucky to have such a great group of Finns and Canadians. Several of us went to a cottage in the archipelago on my final weekend in August and had a really perfect evening swim and sauna, and that stands out the most for me looking back. Second, I also really enjoyed the time I got to spend on my own, walking through the city or the forest, or finding a park to read in on a sunny day.”

Jasmine's summer photo

“There aren’t enough words to possibly describe my best memories from this past summer in Finland. From the beginning, Finland exceeded my expectations, and there are moments from parts like the road trip that will always jump out to me as special. From wandering around Tampere experiencing our first not-fully-dark midnight, to watching the sun come up at 3:30am walking home from the bar on my birthday in Turku, and our first experience in a Finnish sauna on the Åland Islands, my first 10 days in Finland were amazing. The rest of the summer had it’s special moments too; a weekend boat trip to Örö island with Kasper, Amy and Forth was one of the highlights, as well as the stay at Phillips’ family’s cottage off the coast of Kasnäs. The afternoons spent lying by the sea and evenings watching the sunset were unlike anything back home, and I’d be lying if I said the archipelago hasn’t taken a piece of my heart.”

Kennedy's summer memories

“Some of the most exciting experiences I had while participating in the Hart House Finnish Exchange happened while working as a marketing trainee with OP Financial Group, Finland’s largest financial services company. I was placed in the reinsurance unit, which deals with many organizations across Europe and Asia and, because of the international nature of the work, I had the opportunity to sit in on conferences and meetings with businesspeople from many different countries. Since I study public policy, this was an unprecedented experience that gave me the chance to discuss global issues with the people behind some of the world’s largest re/insurance companies. I addition to my work, I had an incredible time getting to know my Canadian and Finnish peers on an eight-day road trip at the beginning of the exchange. From Turku to Åland, we visited places I never thought I’d have the chance to see.”

Lisa's summer photo

“I had so many amazing Finland memories, it’s hard to pick one. I have watched the vet pull two struggling calves out of a pregnant cow in a research barn 120km away from Helsinki. I’ve felt the early morning mist on my face as I biked to work along the Loimijoki river. I had my first taste of cottage life with a great group of friends, and experienced a quintessential Finnish life with my host family in Jokioinen. Working at Luonnonvarakeskus in a small town of 5,000 people allowed me to interact with international colleagues from all over Europe, while living in the beautiful countryside. I like learning languages, and I found it fun to learn an entirely different set of pronunciations and words. Even now, I find myself sometimes saying “kiitos” instead of “thanks”! In short, I enjoyed every aspect of Finland. Thanks for having me!”

Tian's summer photo

Kategoriat: Yleistä löpinää |

Jokioinen Scenery

Hei folks!

I’m Tian, the last of the Canadians in Finland this summer. I’m living in the lovely countryside in a beautiful town called Jokioinen (literally River Village), working at the Luonnonvarakeskus (Luke for short) – Natural Resources of Finland. I’ll tell you about my job later, but first! Let me show you my crib for the past 2.5 months!

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Jokioinen Backyard

The house

Jokioinen is quite small, so I’m actually staying at a fellow researcher’s house. They have a 5 acre backyard where they plant fruit trees and veggies, alongside beautiful flowerbeds that double as nests for local birds. What surprised me the most is the in-house sauna!  I knew coming into Finland that there’s a sauna for everyone, but “knowing” and “experiencing” are two very different things. I can’t imagine taking a shower now, without the warmth of a sauna after!


Jokioinen is named after Loimijoki, the river that runs from a lake near Forssa, through the centre of Jokioinen, all the way out to the west coast of Finland. It goes from my house all the way to my work place, so theoretically I could take a boat to work and save myself the 10 minute bike ride, but exercise is good for me. I think.

Speaking of work, I’m a research trainee at Luke. I worked on two very exciting projects, which I will explain in excruciating detail because scientific communication is important and I think they’re super cool.


Project #1: MicroRNA from cow milk exosomes!

Before the weird words turn you off from reading further, just bear with me. Do you drink milk? How about yogurt? Can’t live without cheese right, whether it’s on pizza, in a sandwich, or just by itself? Then you have also ingested milk exosomes. Don’t worry, they’re not harmful (we think)! Exosomes are very tiny envelopes full of information that your cells release to each other. It’s one of the ways your cells communicate with each other, and MicroRNAs are the “information” packets within the exosome envelopes.

MicroRNAs are very, very, tiny instructions that can influence your genetic expression. They can turn off genes that tells the cell to grow, which is great for  stopping cancerous tumours from becoming larger. They can also promote cell growth by inhibiting the genetic inhibitors. It all depends on what microRNA it is, and where it’s being sent to. Since the exosome has to travel between hazardous environments to reach their targets (your body is very dangerous to random stuff), they are made to be tough and unbreakable so that their precious cargo remains safe until they reach the destination.

Now you may wonder, what does this have to do with milk? Exosomes mainly function as cell-to-cell communication, but recently it has been speculated to also have animal-to-animal functions. In particular, from a mother cow to its baby, after birth. Milk is foremost a nutritious substance meant to encourage the calf’s growth, and exosomes containing intact microRNAs have been found in milk and related dairy products. The implication is that the mother is helping the baby with regulating its gene expression. Of course, the “how” of the process is still being hotly debated. Are the exosomal dairy microRNAs truly functional in regulating gene expression in calves in the amount that they regularly consume? We don’t know, and that’s what I set out to find out. I had the job to confirm that we can extract exosomes from frozen raw milk, and then extract microRNA from those exosomes for further processing.

Obviously the research is still in its infancy, but the implications of it could be huge. Are there specific cells that uptake dairy exosomes in calves? Which genes does the miRNA inhibit, why, and to what function? More importantly, does this genetic regulation extend to humans? If so, to what effect? Positive? Negative? WHO KNOWS, NOT ME.
Side note: Is it safe to consume dairy products right now? Yes, I don’t see why not. Humankind is so reliant on the cattle-human relationship that we evolved new ways of withstanding lactose intolerance, we’ll be fine consuming a tiny bit of milk a day.

tl;dr: I did basic lab work to extract miRNA from milk.


Project #2: Global Network for the Development and Maintenance of Nutrition-related Strategies for Mitigation of Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Ruminant Livestock

This project has a ridiculously long name that I didn’t even learn of until my last day of work. The general gist of it is much simpler: how to keep a cow making the same amount of milk, while eating the same (or less) amount of food, but fart less?

See, cows have this funny process where they ferment the food they eat in an additional organ called the rumen. The rumen contains lots of beneficial bacteria that helps the cow digest its food and make it into product, like milk or meat. Unfortunately, the large amount of greenhouse gases (i.e. farts) the cows produce are often a by-product of the bacteria. Some bacteria combos work better than other bacteria combos in the food:product:waste(farting gas) ratio, so we’re trying to figure out how we can make cows have the identical rumen bacteria community for maximum efficiency ratio. Since the rumen gets colonised by bacteria quite early on in a calf’s life, we needed newborns to be a blank slate. As in all scientific experiments, one must have control groups. It’s quite difficult to control bacterial exposure in a non-sterile environment like a barn + placenta, so the best control is having a twin being exposed to the same thing.

In other words, I helped multiple cows give birth to twin babies. Then I feed one of them bacteria from a cow with a good efficiency ratio, and identify bacteria by extracting DNA from their poop (and other stuff).

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Meet Ontario and Okanada

The birthing process for this pair of twins was relatively easy. I arrived at 6am on the second day of my barn shift, fed the already-born calves, cleaned cow pens, and lounged around the coffee room.

Okanada, looking at my phone like it's her newest chew toy

Around 9:45 somebody noticed something coming out of the cow and called the rest of us over. 9:55am, the first calf’s head + upper limbs came through. 3o minutes later, her sister plops right out as well. All in all, very smooth, zero stress, easy birth. I got the firstborn’s birth on tape, and I got to name the twins, so they’re quite special in my eyes.

It’ll be a long time before we know the results of this study. For one thing, calculating the dairy output of these calves would require waiting for them to mature (1-2 years), be pregnant (9.5 months), and give birth. For the male calves, once they mature we’ll be looking at their weight and how much gas they output for the amount they eat. In the meantime, there’s the 3x/week focal samples and oral swabs to be collected and analysed, as well as blood samples once a week. Not to mention the 4x/day feedings that gets pretty complicated once the number of calves reached 12 in the barn, with many on separate diet plans. Lots of things to do both at the barn and the lab, even after I’m gone! Here’s a link about the project, if you’re interested.

In all, I’ve had an amazing experience in the countryside. I love my job, plus I got to reconnect with nature, get a handle on animal handling, and sauna almost every day. I’ve always thought of myself as a city girl, but this summer has taught me that I can definitely enjoy the quiet, quaint, country life. Just give me a sauna and a garden, and I’ll be set. Thanks Finland, and I hope to see you again!

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The Animal Genetics Team

Shout out to the animal genetics team, for taking a chance on a random international student who’s only experience with live animals are tiny mice and pet cats!

Bonus picture of a goat from a park run by Luke

Bonus 2: happy little piglet from the same park run by Luke







Kategoriat: Summer 2017 in Finland |

Stand-Up Paddle boarding

Finnish alumna Venla arranged a SUP excursion for us last week. Once we figured out what on earth “SUP” was, we anticipated the outing with cautious optimism.

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We arrived at Töölönlahti after work, bracing ourselves to get wet, cold, and embarrassed. The lovely folks at SUP Finland fit us with paddles and strapped our ankles to the paddle boards, one by one.

Learning to balance and to avoid paddling into the reeds (and each other) proved to be as comical as expected. But after five or ten minutes, we set off down the lake towards the railway bridge.

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We paddled all the way through to Hakaniemmi and back. Aside from being a killer work out, it was a great way to see the city from a different perspective – who knew that the E75 was so beautiful from below? (Trust me.)

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We all loved the experience. You might even catch some of us taking these out for a spin in the Toronto harbour this fall.

Most importantly, after we were back on dry land, we met up with (almost) the rest of the group for wine and a delicious dinner. I think the kids call this being #blessed.

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- Jasmine

Kategoriat: Summer 2017 in Finland |