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Kuopio, the Venice of the North, is in the middle of (K)nowhere

When you have to work remotely…

For me, a Hungarian scientists, it has been an unforgettable experience so far to live here in Kuopio with my family and work as an anatomist at the Institute of Biomedicine, University of Eastern Finland (UEF), since fall of 2016. At my institution, I am proud to help lay the foundation to how one should approach the human body. However, the thing that truly matters in the end is: how to teach anatomy in a way that is both efficient and fun? Not all content is equally important; not everything is worth teaching that is printed in a textbook. I try to show the students good examples of what is being discussed and teach them how to prioritize and use the precious little time they have available. All this is just so that they can achieve their best results. In recent years, the existence of two-way communication between the teachers and the students has gained more and more importance. Flipping Matters A Lot!

As a molecular morphologist, I chose to join Professor Kaarniranta's AMD research group because of its exceptionally important and diverse projects. It is a world-class team in the research of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness among people aged 65 and older. AMD is a complex disease influenced by a yet-to-be-wholly-understood mix of genetic and behavioural factors. Smoking, for example, increases the risk of developing the disease, while eating leafy greens and fish reduces it. More research is needed to understand the development of AMD and what defines its severity. Prof. Kaarniranta's team seeks to uncover and answer key questions related to age-related macular degeneration’s pathobiology in basic, translational, and clinical research, striving to find novel therapies and cures for AMD for the benefit of tomorrow.

I am genuinely passionate about education and AMD research, and can barely wait to start attacking problems that I encounter in the classroom - now in online education - or in science. This often means that I’ll be debating over methods and working through solutions while in the shower or over breakfast…
 

…Life between the home office and kitchen…

The mutation of a single virus on the other side of the world has transformed our life at every level. While this has raised huge issues, it has also challenged some of our preconceived notions and attitudes.

Kuopio, the Venice of the North, is in the middle of (K)nowhere. It is surrounded by gorgeous lakes and forests, making this city and its neighbourhood a haven for small and cosy restaurants. They promote the use of authentic flavours and the unique Savo culinary culture. The skilfully and imaginatively prepared dishes of these places and their use of local ingredients, such as the humble carrots and cabbages, is nothing to scoff at. Furthermore, the proteins don’t just come from steaks, as locally sourced freshwater fishes are cooked up aplenty! Ah, to bite down on the golden and crispy vendace bought from the market square or the Sampo restaurant, is to bring a symphony of flavours and textures to your mouth! Unfortunately, as the CV19 lockdown is still ongoing, there are precious few easy and safe options to taste the specialties of many of the local restaurants…

However, not everything is lost! Given the current circumstances of quarantine, we have been granted the chance to do some SCIENCE in our kitchens! Indeed, our family has taken this opportunity to learn how to bring a Finnish twist to our Hungarian home cuisine and vice versa. We have studied up on more Finnish recipes than ever before! In the past two months we have been travelling between our home office and the kitchen a lot, and the traffic has been intense indeed! Those kids need a lot more food than one might realise! I have now gotten used to cooking thanks to recipe books (both Finnish and Hungarian), friends’ notes, and blogs. Our family can now proudly enjoy straightforward, modern, and traditional foods, relying on domestic ingredients with a Mid-European twist.

Lots of people have contributed to the success of us surviving the remote work period due to CV19 at UEF, be it with their fantastic experience in IT usage, education, or research. Many have helped by providing relevant up-to-date guidelines and valuable insights into the CV19 situation, or just by keeping in contact and helping alleviate the negative effects of a lack of varied human contact.

I, from the bottom of my heart, wish to thank them all for everything they do!

Szabolcs “Szabi” Felszeghy


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