Lukas Wohnhas: Estonian University of Life Sciences - Estonia

Last changed: 15 March 2021

Although the selection of courses available to exchange students in agricultural sciences is rather limited, this exchange was a great opportunity for me to broaden my curriculum by taking courses of the different fields of studies offered at EMÜ which were not directly related to my own subject.

The support and administration by the very competent international office at EMÜ was outstanding and helpful, resolving any question or problem that occurred. I particularly enjoyed using the sports facilities on campus, while also attending fun events happening in Tartu and exploring magical and beautiful places in Estonia. The greatest experience was to spend much time with other students of various nationalities, which not only resulted in strong friendships, but also facilitated my personal development.

Why did you want to do an exchange?

I wanted to experience a different culture and academic context. I think the Erasmus program is a great opportunity to live in a foreign country for a longer period. While I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, there were people from the university that were guiding me through the process and offering help when it got difficult, which makes it easy to deal with a new environment even if it is the first time abroad. I think that it is something different to travel to another country for holidays than to live and study in a foreign country. As such I wanted to experience every-day live, with all its banalities. Dealing with local authorities, going shopping for food, taking public transport, etc. will likely be different from what I was used to and provide insight into a different culture. At the same time, it will teach me something about myself, challenge my habits and assumptions and provide me with the opportunity to learn about my preferences.

Which courses did you take?

Course name and, if possible, code. Some information about the course, if you enjoyed it, if it was taught in a different language than English. We also appreciate it if you say something about how you experienced the education and university overall from an academic perspective.


Social entrepreneurship in the Baltic States

This intensive online course was offered in collaboration with the BOVA university network. During the course of a week, this interactive course offered much to learn about social entrepreneurship in the Baltics. The final assignment was the creation of a group work based business plan for a social business. While the course was very intense with high workload for a week, the experience was well worth it and I can recommend this course for everyone interested in social entrepreneurship.


General course in field crop husbandry (1. part)

This course offered basic information about field crops in Estonia, focusing on pasture and arable crops. In addition to the lectures, this course offered the opportunity to attend practical sessions about plant classification. While basic at heart, the course offers a solid introduction for everyone interested about agricultural production in Estonia.


Physical education

The aim of this course is to inform and encourage students to take part in physical activities on campus. As physical activity is an important aspect of caring for one’s health and with beneficial effects on academic performance, I consider this course a great addition to the curriculum. Students can choose between ball sports and group activities and need to keep a diary with reflections on workouts. Even though this course is not directly related to my field of study, it was a great way to stay in shape and try some new sport activities. I totally recommend it!


Special course in vegetable production

Main topic of the course was to introduce the most important vegetable crops grown in Estonia. The elaboration on the different crops was detailed and it provided insight into the different growing techniques and conditions in Estonia. Overall, this course provides perspectives of agriculture and horticulture, making relevant for students interested in either subject.


Global Changes in ecosystems and their impact on the use of natural resources

Providing a global perspective, yet detailing local ecological principles and challenges, is at the core of this course. The topics are mainly prepared and presented by students, providing the opportunity to really engage in a topic of one’s chose at great depth. I found this course very interesting and vibrant. Besides the discussion of highly relevant themes, the course gives guidance and opportunity to improve presentation skills. Indeed, I saw some of the best presentations by fellow students during my whole studies in this course.


Protection and sustainable use of soils

Perhaps the most scientific of all courses on this list, this course is excellent in conveying central topics and issues in soil sciences. The best part of the course was the combination of theoretical teaching, field work and laboratory work. I could greatly increase my knowledge about soil, and develop a critical perspective on field and lab methodology used in soil sciences.


Game hunting

The course does not only focus on game hunting, but also game management. Thus it offers a critical perspective on conflicts between hunters, animals, and wider society. Estonian game species are presented generally and some issues related to specific species are discussed in more detail. The highlight of the course was the participation in a moose hunt, giving the opportunity to see hunting in practice and getting in touch with Estonian nature.


Forest disturbance dynamics

The main forest disturbance agents are presented in this course. Students are encouraged to connect the topics to their own field of study and develop a hypothesis for potential research. Perhaps too basic for forestry students, without necessitating any previous background knowledge about forests, this course is great for students of various other fields that are interested in the topic.

What was the student life like outside of your courses?

As already mentioned in the section about the courses I took, the physical education course provided an excellent opportunity to use the sports facilities on campus, like courts for ball games or the gym. Besides that, there are a disc-golf park, outdoor gym, and ski tracks (in winter) right next to the campus. I particularly enjoyed weekly volleyball sessions with other exchange students, as well as going for runs along the Emajõgi river.

The international office at EMÜ organised events throughout the semester. This included movie nights in the local theatre, museum visits, and outdoor activities, such as canoeing. It is my advice to take part in these events and I particularly enjoyed the canoe trip.

In daily life, I really liked the experience of living in the student dormitory right on campus. Sharing a living space with other students makes it easy to socialise, like having meals together and playing games.

What was your best experience during your exchange?

My best experience during my exchange was to explore the Estonian culture and nature. Large parts of Estonia are covered by forests, which are great for long walks and for collecting berries and mushrooms. The Estonian State Forest Management Centre (RMK) does not only manage and maintain forest, but also provides information about recreational opportunities. This means that there is an abundance of forest huts which are free and can be used to stay overnight out in nature when using the numerous hiking trails that are available in bogs or forests all over Estonia.

What was the biggest challenge during your exchange?

Luckily, for most part of 2020, the covid-19 virus did not spread as rapidly in Estonia as it did in other countries. This meant that in the beginning of the semester life was relatively normal and restrictions marginal. At first, the courses were held as usual in the classroom. However, as the semester progressed, courses switched to online classes. This transition was somewhat challenging, but it helped to share this experience with other students.

Advice for future exchange students


Name: Lukas Wohnhas

Exchange at: Estonian University of Life Sciences / Eesti Maaülikool (EMÜ) Program at SLU: Agroecology, MSc

Period of exchange: Autumn 2020