Lucia is here!

Ever wondered why supermarkets are selling Saffron buns (popularly called ‘Lussekatter’) now and not always. It is because St Lucy’s Day is here. Come the 13th of December, Swedes celebrate Lucia with a special atmosphere where the lights are dimmed and the sound of the children singing. A person impersonating Lucia wears a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head. Each of her handmaidens carries a candle.

Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth. Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

I would highly recommend you to watch a Lucia performance in any of the cathedrals!

Student life/Swedish culture and traditions 0

Festive Mode On!!!!!!

Aaaand the countdown begins !! 
To everything !! 
To Christmas !!
To the end of a wonderful 2018 !!
To the beginning of the new 2019 !! 
It’s getting darker earlier every day, we just want to stay inside and be cozy with some hot tea and a movie, but university work is calling. 
We are currently working on a lab project in wireless communication in which we transmit an image over an audio channel. Pretty crazy if you think about it, 
but it’s very rewarding to see project results, especially if you can literally see them. #TheStruggleIsReal 
BUT hard work deserves some relaxation. 
Last week, some corridor mates and I gathered together and made a gingerbread house. I never made one before. 
It’s always fun to explore and share new cultures and traditions.
We bought some pre-made pepperkaka dough from ICA, rolled it out, cut and baked it.
We then proceeded to make some caramel sauce to assemble and keep it all together, all while listening to christmas songs. 
We put some lights in the house and decorated it with icing. 
Can you guess what building we built ??

Ginger Bread House

Answer: Lund University Library !!

Student life/Studies/Swedish culture and traditions 0

Exploring Finland! Or how to (not) seek the Northern Lights

Hi everyone! Today I am gonna write about a small trip I recently made to Finland. After study period 1 I certainly needed some vacations and me and my friends decided to travel to Finland. None of us have had watched the northern lights before, and therefore after some planning in advance we booked our tickets to Helsinki. We stayed for one day in the finnish capital and 3 nights in the wilderness sort of close to Rovaniemi, the capital of the finnish Lapland.

Overall, Helsinki is a small, cozy capital with slightly expensive prices, nice architecture and a bustling nightlife. I have to admit that I was quite surprised when I saw the city for the first time. Neither as big as I expected nor as dull as I thought it would be. It combines homogenous, soviet-like buildings in some areas and modern, nordic architecture; out of which I especially enjoyed the Church of the Rock (Temppeliaukio Rock Church). Hence, some people define Helsinki as a mixture between west and east.

The Church of the Rock in Helsinki

Helsinki’s most iconic cathedral

Outdoor pool and hot tube at a sauna in the city center of Helsinki

Christmas decorations in the city center

Random street in the city center

For 14 euros you can get a 24h ticket to travel through the whole Helsinki area from and to the airport by means of all modes of public transport, including the ferry to Suomenlinna fortress. (Definitely a must-go destination if you just have 24h there as I did. In a nutshell, I wish I had more days to explore Helsinki. If I have the money and time, I would definitely go back during summer to enjoy the nature there.

After Helsinki, we flew up north to Rovaniemi, “the official home of Santa Claus”. The Rovaniemi area is a good location to see the northern lights due to its latitude, nevertheless two factors have to be considered if you want to be successful at seeing the Northern lights: 1) Intensity of the lights, 2) A clear sky. Unfortunately, the weather was really overcast and the clouds didn’t allow us to see the northern lights. There are websites that tell you the probability of seeing the northern lights with a certain intensity in a given day, and we had high chances to watch them during our stay, but the clouds were there to ruin our expectations:( Despite this event, we had an awesome trip. Did lots of sauna (most finnish thing in the world), explored the stunning nature of the north of Finland and visited the village of Santa Claus, where you can meet Santa.

Winter wonderland in the north of Finland

The Arctic Polar Circle border in Santa Claus village

 

Ambassadors 2018/19/Student life 0

My thoughts on the courses (1) : Mandatory courses

Now that I am working on a project course (read more about it here ). I am officially done with coursework. It is a bittersweet time as the end draws near. In this post, I will give brief thoughts (my own thoughts) on the mandatory courses.

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) (7.5 points)

Definitely, my favourite course. At the time I couldn’t appreciate as I should have it because it was the first period being in Sweden. I enjoyed this course because of the kind of engineer I am. I am concerned with how best society can benefit from decisions that are made “at the top”. The main component of the course is a group assignment based on selecting a river basin as a case study and discussing the implementation (or lack of) integrated water resources management. Unlike the technical components of engineering, it is not based on a formula. IWRM is an ever-changing concept that requires the decision makers to be in tune with society.

Urban Waters (15 points)

This was the most eye-opening course for me. I had done the same course in my undergraduate but failed. When I realised it was the same, I got scared because I remember how I struggled. To my surprise, I did quite well. It was the way it was taught to me this time around that I was able to understand everything. I enjoyed learning about the urban water cycle and how wastewater is treated. My favourite topic was sludge treatment and the nitrification processes. It is amazing how well we have come to understand the microorganisms that we use in treatment systems.

Groundwater engineering (7.5 points)

Very well structured course with quite a holistic approach. The lecturers are well informed about groundwater and provide more than just what is expected in the course. It was my first time learning about groundwater in such detail. It has shaped my interest for groundwater and its conservation. The importance of geology in our water system is something that isn’t taught often as it should be.

When people think of the water crisis their mind thinks first to surface water. People aren’t aware that a large part of the characteristic of surface water is due to groundwater.

Hydromechanics (7.5 points)

The concepts of this course I had covered in my undergrad but it was good to do it again. There some additional information that I hadn’t covered previously. This was a good lesson for me. We will all be coming from different backgrounds, of course, some of the work you might have covered but don’t be discouraged.

 

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China Study trip Vol.1

Nadja’s post about the Urban Design Competition in China was so on point with everything everyone else was feeling the weeks prior to the trip in itself and then with what happened during those two weeks we were in Chengdu, China.

Dujiangyan’s City Center

For me, the opportunities the SUDes program offers its students during the study trips goes beyond being able to experience first hand very interesting areas or projects that are already built and in use; it has given the group a chance to become closer with each other and be a family. I have travelled with them more than what I had ever travelled with friends that I know since kindergarten.

Yes, I was one of those tourists while visiting Chengdu’s Panda Center and this is a cute friend I made there

This was my first time traveling to Asia in general and this was the farthest I had ever been from Monterrey. It took me around three days after arriving in Chengdu to understand that I was actually in China and not in another China Town somewhere else in the world, I guess that is how I can explain how foreign everything felt to me but at the same time the most interesting thing happened. In one of the days we had for sightseeing individually, while walking as much as I could with some friends, trying to see it all (and obviously failing hahaha) there was an area in particular close to the city center that reminded me so much of Mexico City – if you have ever been, imagine Reforma avenue and its surroundings –  that I almost felt right at home. It was a very interesting feeling, knowing that I was in previously unknown place but at the same time it was as if I had been there before, but of course without understanding one single word in Chinese.

Chengdu

Being in such atmosphere made everything, from taking a taxi to trying to understand what you were buying in a supermarket, so exciting and mentally challenging that after the two weeks I think it’s safe to say that we were all very exhausted.

I remember craving a simple avocado toast and couldn’t wait to come back to Lund, where salt and pepper are the only spices we use for cooking.

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The Worst Month in the North

In contrary to what I’ve said about October in the previous post, November has always been the worst for me (it’s not like I’ve been through a lot of November, as this is only my second one). Nothing to look up to, Christmas is still in around 50 days, the darkness and the coldness are depressing, and I feel most likely demotivated.

There are only 2 good things about November (according to me):

  • Exam was done and the exam results were out earlier or during the middle of the month. The good news is: I passed! (Hooooray!)
  • There is only 30 days in November instead of 31. 🙂

But still, thinking about it, time went away so fast that November is ending already. Not so much things happened in between, besides feeling lazy, lazy, lazy, and lazy. Being not so productive, it’s harder to wake up every morning since the sun was not coming out, feeling sleepy when it’s only 6 PM but totally dark outside, and yeah, not really motivating things.

An illustration of the overslept sun
(Taken from https://me.me/)

In order to prevent having depression and being even more not productive, I tried to always consume vitamin D, having meetings and little talks with friends, watch some fun rom-com series, take a 30-60 minutes walk everyday no matter what the weather condition is, and all the things that you think will motivate you better! Doing sports could be one thing to do as well.

Next month, the day will be even shorter, but still, Christmas is coming! Wooooohooooo! Really looking forward to it. 🙂

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Internship Q&A with DRMCCA Students (Part 3 – Gwen)

The second Q&A in the DRMCCA internship series is with Gwen, currently interning with the Regional Office of the Red Cross for the English-speaking Caribbean and Suriname of the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Read more about her work to better integrate ecosystem-based adaptation with community-based approaches in the Caribbean through the Resilient Islands by Design project.

What is your name, and where are you from? Can you say a little about your main interests within the field of DRMCCA?

My name is Gwenaëlle Delcourt Riestra, I’m Belgian and Spanish and started the DRMCCA master’s in 2017.

I am especially interested in DRMCCA in islands contexts and had prior experience in the South Pacific region (Vanuatu), but wanted to challenge myself and gain knowledge and experience in another region.

Where are you now and what are you doing on your internship? 

I am currently doing an internship with the Country Cluster Support Team/Regional office of the Red Cross for the English-speaking Caribbean and Suriname of the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) in Trinidad and Tobago.

I am coming to the end of three months interning with the Resilience Programme. I have been working on a variety of tasks, most of which related to a project called Resilient Islands by Design that is carried out in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and seeks to integrate ecosystem-based adaptation with community-based approaches in Jamaica, Grenada and the Dominican Republic.

What are your thoughts about your internship experience so far?

My experience has been valuable in so many ways it would be difficult to describe all of them, but overall, I think it’s not an exaggeration to say this internship has been truly life-changing. I’ve been putting into practice the learnings from my first year of the DRMCCA master’s programme and gaining insights into their practical application in the field. Something truly special has actually been to be given the chance to contribute to projects with new ideas which were valued by practitioners.

What’s been a valuable or memorable moment in your internship?

While based in Trinidad, I had the opportunity to travel to neighboring countries. In Grenada, I participated in a workshop for the creation of a mobile app for ecosystem based adaptation which reunited technical staff from the IFRC and The Nature Conservancy. In Barbados, I got the chance to complete a training on Preparedness for Effective Response (PER) at the Red Cross Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Reference Centre (CADRIM). The PER training covered the various ways National Societies can assess their emergency response systems and in turn, strengthen them, and provided practical insights into the challenges and opportunities to consider in building capacity for response efforts.

What’s proven challenging during your internship?

No matter how experienced of a traveler you are, relocating anywhere comes with at least a few challenges! I was lucky to be welcomed by colleagues with extensive experience and willing to share their knowledge and insights, never tired of answering the countless questions I ask them. I was also supported by Jenny as my supervisor from the division at Lund.

I truly recommend to anyone interested in doing an internship to pursue the possibility to do so! The only thing I would have liked to have known is how difficult and long of a process it can be to find an internship with meaningful tasks matching one’s interest. I started the search process pretty early on in December and only confirmed my place with the organization of my choice early August.

Is there anything you’d like to highlight about your experience so far, or any final words of advice you’d like prospective DRMCCA students to know?

An important consideration when choosing an organization with which to intern is whether you’d like to work with communities or would prefer an experience at a more regional level for example. Though based in the Caribbean, I am working in an office rather than in the field. However, this has provided me with a really thorough understanding of the way the IFRC and National Societies work together.

My advice is to define a specific interest you have, geographically and/or field of work and to not underestimate the time it might take to finalize everything. Another important factor in my opinion is to find a supervisor within the organization that you feel will be supportive and enjoy working with, it really makes a difference.

All this might sound like a lot of work, and to be honest, it likely will be; but most things worth having do not come easily, do they? It really is worth investing the time in finding an internship that will provide you with as much learning as possible.

As you may have guessed, my conclusion regarding the internship is it has been totally worth it. I am ready to get back to Lund with a head full of ideas, a heart full of joy and a thesis topic. I will miss the warmth of the Caribbean, by which I mean I will miss the amazing team I was lucky to work with at the CCST (Trinidad and Tobago) and CADRIM (Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Centre based in Barbados) – granted, the tropical weather perhaps a little also.

Thank you for everything. I hope to see you all again soon!

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Urban Design Competition in China

Architect students and SUDEs students have been particularly busy lately. Apart from our mid-crit stresses and other course examinations, we were offered a really unique and exciting opportunity.  The Sustainable Urban Dynamics course sponsored a two week study trip and workshop collaboration for us in Chengdu, China!

Workshop Participants

There were a lot of preparatory studies as part of the coursework, visas to apply for, vaccinations to take and VPNs to install. Excitement levels were high and all students were proactive in sharing advice and information prior to and during the trip. I had personally never travelled that far before. Many others also shared nerves about potential culture clashes, language barriers and collaboration challenges. However, once we reached Chengdu and were introduced to the Chinese students we were going to work with, our nervers settled. The first week was exploratory with a lot of sightseeing. We went on trips to Dujiangyan where the competition project was set, saw its temples and infamous irrigation system, had conferences with local speakers and were given time for independent exploration.

Dujiangyan

 

Hiking up Mount Qingcheng

View of Dujiangyan’s Irrigation System and Temples

The following week was intense. We woke up early, took the school bus to and from South Jiaotong University and spent majority of the time on hard work till after sunset.

LTH students kept close and supported each other throughout the trip. To me, these moments were equally memorable. It really brought everyone closer and that atmosphere still lingers on.

My Friend and Fellow Ambassador Theresa

I am so grateful for the experience and am amazed by the amount of insight it offered about China as a country and about the life of its people.

The Competition Winning Team

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Out of the box…

The most exciting thing for me studying at Lund University is the opportunity to earn credits on something besides the courses offered within the programme. This includes on-going research projects, internships and your own project.

This is what some of us have been doing during the Autumn semester, I find this is a good way to get into the swing of the anticipated thesis period. I will tell you about some of the alternatives myself and colleagues are doing.

Tshepiso Lehutjo: I am working on an Independent water recycling shower for Off-Grid communities. This is the basis of a social enterprise that I am trying to develop. I have found a spot in the university startup hub which guides me in terms of the business aspect. The scientific aspect of the shower is what I have integrated into my academic curriculum. This kind of opportunity is one that I didn’t anticipate coming to Lund.

Pooja Vijayaprakash: With the department of Water Resources Engineering, she is working on a project which assesses the reliability of precipitation data from the satellite. It has been found that data from the satellite is not accurate, particularly in snow regions. The research aims to ultimately apply suitable data correction so that data can be derived in places that may not have ground references available.

Tendai Madzaramba: Based in his hometown, Marondera in Zimbabwe, Tendai carried out a project to suggest suitable options that can be used to offset the sewer overload as well as the net deficit of 10ML/day in the water supply. As a result of excess wastewater generation beyond the installed sewer capacity, the sewers have burst causing significant pollution of water resources. A possible solution is onsite wastewater treatment that has the potential to generate close to 30ML of water per day in Marondera which can be reused for non-potable purposes. This will alleviate the freshwater demand and reduce sewage handled by the wastewater treatment plant.

Like with the main thesis, the project has to fall either under Engineering Geology, Water and Environmental Engineering or Water Resources Engineering. So think outside the box and get yourself an opportunity to work on something that will be unique for you.

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New Studyperiod – New Goals ;)

Another study period is over. Another step closer to the end of this journey, but not just yet.

After a rather difficult, few months, involving a lot of project submissions, reading and exams we jump into the second part of the fall semester. What’s on my agenda, you ask? Two courses and surviving Sweden’s beautiful but harsh winter.

I found that keeping myself busy with studies and staying in good company with gooood food is the best way to survive the cold months, but more of that in a later post maybe.

Trying to Decode Wireless Project.

It’s time to find a Master Thesis, where some students are working with the university and some prefer to find a company to collaborate with. Time to update that CV and write some Cover Letters! All engineering students know, next week is ARKAD, the largest Scandinavian career fair, in which students get the chance to meet representatives from 190 companies to pick their brains about internships, master thesis and even potential jobs. Even if you’re a first-year student it’s very interesting to learn about what’s new on the market. We know the huge amount of people and booths might be overwhelming at first, but tackling one by one, either alone or with a friend is a good way to go. Companies also give away fun goodies such as little puzzles, pens and notebooks, etc.

For more people interested visit https://www.arkadtlth.se/ ! The event will be held next week, 14th and 15th of November in the E-building, Studiecentrum and the MA Annex !

Happy Browsing !

Student life/Studies 0