Nature blog

Biochemistry students semester at Tallinn University

Meet Jana Molz! She is studying Biochemistry at the Ulm University and she decided to study a semester abroad. We asked Jana about her course at the School of Natural Sciences and Health and her overall Erasmus experience at Tallinn University.

Jana in Pärnu Estonia


- Jana in our at our molecular science laboratory.

When and why did you decide to come to Tallinn University?

I am currently finishing my third year of studying Biochemistry at Ulm University, Germany.

I decided to come to Tallinn University because I liked the offer of courses. There were some courses I could only attend in Tallinn but not in Ulm, so doing an Erasmus was a good chance for me to deepen my interests. In addition to that, Tallinn was a good chance for me to get to know a new country: Estonia. I applied for my studies in Tallinn at the beginning of January 2019.

How did you end up taking a course at the School of Natural Sciences and Health?

I ended up taking courses at the School of Natural Sciences and Health, because I am studying life science, therefore it was in my interest to attend courses at this school. The courses I took were well structured and I learned new interesting things, such as in the master course regulation of gene expression and bioinformatics.

"It was nice to meet all these kind and friendly people, who work in the lab and welcomed me warmly."

- Erasmus student Jana Molz.

The first time I was in the laboratory at Tallinn University, I was very delighted about the well-equipped and modern premises. Further, it was nice to meet all these kind and friendly people, who work in the lab and welcomed me warmly. Because of that, it was sad to leave the laboratory, but I also learned a lot of new things. I think the most important experience I had was how to handle mistakes and fails. The last experiment I did in the lab was the enzyme activity test, but that was nothing special anymore for me because we did this experiment already very often beforehand.

Please explain your topic "Fermentation optimization of different carrageenan degrading marine bacteria" to a fellow student who does not know anything about biochemistry.

I think what a bacterium is, is clear. So, I worked with some bacteria, which originally come from the Baltic sea. These Bacteria can produce enzymes, which can degrade substrates. In my case, these enzymes have been carageenases and the substrates are carrageenan. How can you imagine that? The enzyme you can imagine like a scissor which can cut a paper, and the paper equals the substrate. And the bacterium produces these ‘scissors’ because it cannot use the paper. After all, it is too large, but with the scissor, the paper can be cut into snippets, which can be used by the cell.

 And my task was to find the optimal ‘food’ composition, temperature and time where the bacteria produce the highest number of enzymes. 

Jana Molz with friends exploring Rummu, Estonia.

"In my opinion, an Erasmus is worth it, and it will be an experience you will never forget! Go for it!"

- Erasmus student Jana Molz.

How important is for an Erasmus student to have a supervisor?

My supervisor was Md Musa Howlader (Analytical Biochemistry PhD student). I was well-disposed towards Musa and we had a very friendly relationship. I think it was very important for me to have a supervisor in the lab because, so I always had someone to put my questions to. In my opinion, having a supervisor in the lab is very important especially in the beginning.

What kind of new knowledge did you get from intense work in a laboratory?

I learned how to cultivate microorganisms, extract enzymes and test enzyme activity, determine optimal fermentation conditions for enzyme production, plan and organize different experiments and the usage of different devices. Music during a long lab day makes this lab day to a better lab day!

Please describe your Erasmus experience in Tallinn University.

I enjoyed being a student at Tallinn University, but sometimes the courses have been a bit difficult, because I am in my bachelor's but mostly all the courses, I attended, have been master courses. In addition to that, I had one course which was half in Estonian and half in English, which made it even more complicated for me. But all in all, I was satisfied with being an Erasmus student at the modern Tallinn University. I was very glad for the very good organized welcoming week for Erasmus students, because it helped a lot to get all the necessary information about Estonia and Tallinn University. I liked the beautiful building of the university and I also enjoyed the small classes I had most of the time.

Where you able to see more of Estonia during your free time?

Luckily, I had the chance to see more of Estonia during my free time. For example, I traveled to Pärnu, Tartu, Haapsalu, and Saaremaa! Each of these trips was amazing! Estonia has a lot of beautiful places.

Erasmus STUDENT JANA MOLZ and friend AT Pirita, Estonia.

I would recommend Tallinn University to my friends because I liked to study there. I liked that there have been very small courses and there was always consideration shown to questions or personal requests.

What would you say to a student who is thinking of going with Erasmus abroad?

I think that everybody who can go abroad with Erasmus should grasp at the chance! I think that it is normal to have doubts before going abroad because this means to go into the unknown. BUT I think that nobody must be scared cause there will be quite a lot of events and opportunities to make friends. Besides, always remember that English isn’t the mother tongue of most of the Erasmus students. So, don’t worry if your English isn’t perfect yet cause your language skills will improve! And in another country, there will also be a lot of nice and open-minded people, which can help you with eventually appearing problems and difficulties. In my opinion, an Erasmus is worth it, and it will be an experience you will never forget! Go for it!