Our REHA experience: project-life can lead to unexpected situations!


Our project team consists of three French exchange students, Maïlys Pessegue, Mathilde Jannet and Justine Michelon, and one Finnish student, Ona Vassallo. Later we got a Korean exchange student, Soobin Choi, to join us.

Our project assignment came from a private waste management company. The assignment was to collect and analyse data from packaged inbound material, and waste flows of two healthcare units. The client company wanted us to recognise the current practices and bottlenecks of material flow, as well as overall analysis of areas of improvement on their waste management.

During the spring, situation with the project changed rapidly. Because this project required a lot of fieldwork in the healthcare buildings and the pandemic of corona virus happened, we had to stop and freeze the project. It will be continued later, but not by this project team. The next team will hopefully continue from where we ended.

Group of students offered different and new techniques for each other

Unfortunately we did not get to do much actual work before shutdown, but we had great plans and recorded it all on Microsoft Teams -website. There is an approved project plan, and we had prepared to visit the medical sites by coming up with interview and data collection templates, which have been tested to work. All in all, we did good work and had many plans for this project, and the whole team was very motivated to make the clients happy. Here’s a couple of excerpts from the experiences of the students from the project team;

“Research Hatchery on Circular Economy was a new and innovative way of learning for me. It was my first time learning by doing, through a project involving a real demand and company. And it was, to my mind, effective and engaging. I was very enthusiastic to reach our goal together and make sure we accomplish our assignments in a good mood. I applied what I was taught at home about project management, learnt a lot about dealing with different schedules, communication in a team and with a client, dealing with unexpected events and the working life in general. We didn’t have time to deepen our knowledge in waste management, but I retain, that planning, taking care of every detail and personalizing the observation are important ways to collect data and analyse companies’ waste management.”

– Maïlys Pessegue, a French exchange student

“Although we couldn’t make it, I could learn a lot of things in preparing for this project. I can now view waste management from various perspectives, aligning my opinions with the members from various countries. I could also see that waste management and circular economy are very interesting fields. Although the project was cancelled in the middle so I couldn’t study in depth, it was a very beneficial experience for me to learn how to manage waste in Finland.

Additionally, I could learn about risk management. I dealt with the risk management plan. but it was hard to know exactly what kind of unexpected situation to prepare for. Then the most unpredictable situation came. From this experience, I realized that when we plan something, we must consider the worst possible situation. Even when all visits are cancelled, and the client stops the project. Of course, the corona virus is the worst of all. However unexpected situations always happen, and I thought that I should be prepared for them every single time.

It’s a pity that we can’t continue with such a nice project because of the circumstances that we can’t control. But I’m sure that this experience will help me when a similar situation comes up later.”

– Soobin Choi, Korean exchange student

“This project has given me a lot. Having completed a first year into health studies, as well as an internship at the company Veolia; recycling and recovery of waste in France; I felt in my element on this subject. The circular economy is today a primordial issue within each company, including in the life of each individual, so taking part in these courses seemed essential to me in my school career.

I’ve found this way of teaching very rewarding. To be able to be in control of the project and to learn while doing the work is very interesting. It allows us to gain self-confidence and maturity. Also, working in a group allows us to learn how to communicate with other team members and to know how to listen.”

– Mathilde Justine, a French exchange student.

“This was not my first project from Turku university of applied sciences, but it was my first project with an international project team. The exchange students brought different and new techniques of doing things, which was very fresh. There were some language barriers, but all in all we found ways to overcome that. The fact that everyone understood English was crucial and the need for Finnish was not there. This was the first time for the clients as well to be involved in a university of applied science project and so far, everything was going smoothly. However, there are always things that are out of our control and such a thing happened for us. This has surely been a learning moment for our project team, and I hope that the ones that follow us in this project will use the materials that we worked on so hard.”

– Ona Vassallo, Finnish student.