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by guest blogger Todd Moore

While Norway and Sweden make up Scandinavia, throwing Finland into the mix creates the Nordic countries of Northern Europe.  But when you think about Finland or the Nordic countries in general, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Saunas? A colder climate?  A new language?  Unless you’re a paper engineer, I bet that paper isn’t one of the topics you listed in your head.  In fact, NC State partners with JAMK and TAMK in Finland to perform part of an exchange program in which students go over to Finland for a semester to take classes there toward our paper degree while exploring the new locale; students that complete a year abroad, going to Germany the semester after studying in Finland, are able to earn another degree from Europe.

The Paper Science and Engineering program at NC State has another reason for visiting Finland this year.  Every other year, a group of students and faculty members visit a foreign country to learn about the paper industry and its impact in such a different environment.  As part of our Paper International Experience (aka PIE), the student body and faculty have decided to make Finland the destination of our trip in 2015.

finl-MMAP-mdRecently, we have been going through the planning required to go on this trip.  Our first step was to decide where we wanted to go.  Dr. Byrd gave us two options of where we could try to visit: France or Finland.  Finland was the winner of the miniature debate, and with a destination chosen, the first step was made toward travelling outside of the country.  We initially had two meetings to make a couple of necessary assertions before any planning could be made, namely the ability of each student to go, which required the students to obtain passports to leave, the cost of the trip, and any potential Finnish contact that could be made.

The cost to send students overseas this year roughly came to $3000, which would cover transportation, rooming, and breakfast and dinner, as well as a couple other expenses.  We sought to bring this down about half through fundraising, so collectively we made a list of potential donors from companies, individuals connected to the paper program at NC State (both past donors and new donors), and past PIE trip alums (also both past donors and new donors) to determine who we could reach out to for support.  Each student signed up for one company contact and three other individuals (any combination of past alums/individuals).

So far, while we are still in the midst of fundraising, it is going well, and the students are very excited to be going!  If you have given already, we THANK YOU!  If not, there is a drop down link on our CNR giving website for this trip.  Stay tuned for more on trip planning and fundraising and check out past trips on our PIE website.  We know you will want to tune in to our daily blogs while we are abroad.  We hope it will be easier to manage these uploads than when we were in China!