International students' blog – LTH

Engineering, Architecture and Industrial Design students write about life at the Faculty of Engineering LTH

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LTH student guilds and nollning

Hi there! I already mentioned in my last post that Lund is home to many student traditions old and new. The foundation of the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University in the 1960s led to a whole plethora of new traditions to be created as the so-called student guilds (“sektioner” in Swedish) entered the playing field. There are eleven different guilds for the each of the different fields of engineering studied at LTH (plus one for doctoral students). The Water Resources Engineering master’s students are part of the environmental engineering guild (Ekosystemteknik), which has a turquoise W as its logo.

The guilds have many different functions within the university (many of which are bureaucratic), such as representing the students of different departments within LTH in the student union, but they are also and more importantly responsible for many social events on campus. The biggest of which is the annual “nollning” or “novisch” period at the beginning of the fall term starting in September. During the nollning period, which lasts for three to seven weeks depending on the department, the older students introduce the new students to the university and campus life by organizing many activities including games, dinners, and parties. The W-guild’s nollning is quite spread out over the first study period, which means that exams start only two to three weeks after the end of the introductory period with the guild. The nollning is an engineering student tradition that revolves around a number of games and activities where students of different departments compete against each other. Even though the nollning is mostly designed for first year bachelor’s students, exchange students and international master’s students are most welcome to join the different activities at the beginning of their time in Lund. I can say from personal experience that it is a lot of fun to learn about the student culture at LTH and meet your new class mates as well as other students in the environmental engineering field in this setting.


Here is an example of the different games that new students (like yourselves) have a chance to compete in during the nollning. During regattan (the name of this tournament) groups of several students will build a boat/floating object over the course of two weeks and then fight each other on the Sjön Sjøn lake on campus to find out, which engineering team managed to construct the most durable boat. (Here it’s the A, M, and I guilds boats preparing for battle)

The most iconic characteristic of the guilds are their unicolored onesies. Each of the eleven different guilds has a different color corresponding to their respective field of study, which for my case was turquoise. I have heard that this is an engineering tradition that is quite common in other Scandinavian universities as well. This feature sets the engineering students apart from students of other faculties, who are regularly confused by all the engineers in overall suits running around the engineering campus and the town at the beginning of the semester and during other events throughout the year.

12 November, 2019

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International Genetically Engineered Machine – Annual Science Competition for STEM students!

Every year thousands of STEM students try to use synthetic biology tools to develop a product that will move us one step closer to accomplishment of 2030 sustainable development goals. The projects areas of interest are Food & Nutrition, Diagnostics, Environment, Manufacturing, Therapeutics, Energy and Software. If anyone is especially creative and cannot find the right category there is also a New Application track for all projects that do not fit in the boundaries of all other categories.

This year iGEM Lund competed in Food and Nutrition track. We tried to engineer a probiotic bacteria E. coli Nissle 1917 so that it can accumulate toxic metals in our gut before they are accumulated in our body. The presence of toxic metals in drinkable water and food is usually a problem in developing countries but even in countries such as Sweden and United States the levels of toxic metals in drinkable water are high enough to reach significant accumulation levels in our bodies. If you are interested in this year’s project please visit our website.

I am happy to announce that this year’s team was awarded a gold medal for our efforts! I must say that I enjoyed the iGEM journey from the start to the beginning. I met so many people, got to travel to new places and got a lot of satisfaction during the iGEM conference in Boston where we could present our work. I am grateful to LTH for providing us with possibility to be part of that competition!

Lund University is a fresher in this competition as we participated only 3 times. The first project of iGEM Lund in 2017 focused on development of biosensor that can detect presence of microplastic particles in water. In 2018, the LU team decided to compete in the Manufacturing track and decided to improve an industrial level production of proteins.

From next year on the iGEM competition will be held as a part of Curse in Synthetic Biology (KBKF10) that is worth 15 credits. For more information visit the course webpage here.

It is important to note that this competition is directed to all engineering students and not only biotechnologists. It is so because there is a need for webpage and graphics designers, people interested in mathematical modeling and engineers excited about the design of various devices or their prototypes that can be applied in field of life sciences and also many more engineering fields depending on the nature of the project.

10 November, 2019

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Climbing community at SKK, Lund

Climbing adventure

Lund is home to, in my opinion, one of the warmest and most welcoming community run climbing gyms! Skånes Klätterklubb or SKK for short is located https://skaneskk.se/information/findus  in Östra Torn. At first you may be underwhelmed by the well loved gear, rather dirty walls, sometimes confusing routes and fairly small size. But SKK became like a second home for me during my time living in Lund. Here you will still find a variety of top roping, lead climbs and bouldering as well as welcoming smiles from familiar faces.

SKK Lund

At SKK I made many friends who I collaborated with over problems on the wall, relished in new routes being set and cheered each other on, learning ‘snyggt’ in the process. I felt a part of a safe and cosy space that felt miles away from the harsh winter evenings outside. SKK is also a pretty affordable option when compared with Malmö’s Klättercentret – though this gym is considerably nicer and one of the newest KC gyms – and I believe an SKK entrance is only 40kr (compared to 140kr at KC). Great if you’re new to climbing and just want to check it out!

Klättercentret Malmö

And then of course, before it gets too cold outside there are also the many options to explore thanks to nature! There are the boulders of Kjugekull, beautiful pink granite cliffs of Kullaberg (a personal favourite), an old quarry Valje Stenbrott or Soffabacken.

Kullaberg

In the Summer if you’re feeling adventurous there is also week-long climbing trip to the stunning islands of Åland that will satiate any climber with a rotation between bouldering, sauna, lake swims and campfires.

Åland bouldering adventure

Climbing has offered me a sense of community, fun indoor exercise for winter (I’d take climbing over running on a treadmill any day) and a great source of adventure while pushing myself to – literal – new heights. Over the past year living in Lund climbing trips were also always accompanied by lovely hikes, great humans, delicious fikas and beautiful scenery: the perfect weekend escape!

Cliffs of Kullaberg

I won’t pretend to be any kind of expert on the aforementioned places but please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me if you have some questions and I will do my best to answer them 🙂

Hejdå
Isabella

 

 

7 November, 2019

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National Aquarium Denmark–Den Blå Plane

I want to introduce you the trip to Copenhagen. As a city so close to Denmark, it takes only 150kr to take the train to the neighboring country. This is a good deal, so travel to Copenhagen in the beautiful autumn! Traveling between Copenhagen and Lund is an easy and direct journey, after the building of the Øresund Bridge. From Lund to Copenhagen airport is about 30 minutes by train.

This blog is mainly about a place called ” the blue planet” (National Aquarium Denmark) which is close to Copenhagen Airport. As Northern Europe’s largest and most state-of-the-art aquarium, situated just a few metres from the Øresund, Den Blå Planet has excellent potential to contribute to a better understanding of the secrets of the sea. And I think it’s not only perfect for school children but still works quite well for adults. It’s a wonderful place to release your pressure. The aquarium’s experts therefore collaborate with both Danish and international scientists. The National Aquarium Denmark is also deeply committed to the fight against plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

    

4 November, 2019

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Colorful autumn

The exam week finally ends! Hope everything goes well:)


I just checked the weather forecast and found that all the next week will be rainy. To be honest, the weather has a big impact on the mood, so I would like to take photos when it’s sunny, and when the weather is bad, you can have a look and enjoy the memory about the sunshine. Among all seasons, I prefer autumn—-blue sky, white clouds, colorful leaves…. I hope these photos will bring you a good mood~
Let’s say welcome to November together!

   

3 November, 2019

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Student life The city of Lund

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Supplemental Instruction as Collaborative Learning Platform

Collaborative learning

Knowledge is not only power, but it is also a responsibility

This quote above illustrates how I experience the education system in Sweden. Some people might think that “being the best” by competing with others is the main purpose of education. However, what I learn in Sweden, particularly Lund University, is the opposite. In my first year, as an international student in Food Technology and Nutrition, I got an opportunity to join an extra (voluntary) session called Supplemental Instruction or SI. So, what SI is?

SI session for Food Chemistry and Nutrition course (group discussion)

Supplemental Instruction is a tutoring and learning platform that focuses on collaboration, study group, and interaction for assisting students in undertaking “difficult” courses. Additionally, SI targets courses with a minimum 30% rate of students that drop, withdraw, or fail. Through 2×45-minute SI sessions, students are provided with course-specific learning and study strategies, note-taking and test-taking skills, as well as the opportunity for structured study time with peers.

As my experience being a part of SI participant last year in Food Chemistry and Nutrition course, I could conclude three key rules during the SI session. First, there is no teacher or student roles in the class. Everyone as the SI participant is an active learner as peers that have the opportunity to express your idea, explain the group discussion result, share your notes, and give any comment or feedback. Second, knowledge is your peers. Since the SI session is assisted and facilitated by SI-leader, there will be no one act as the teacher. Usually, the SI topics will be given both by participants (by request) and by SI-leader. After that, participants will be divided into smaller group discussions (4 – 5 people) to solve the problems or topics within the group. In the end, each group will deliver and share their findings. It’s also followed by open group discussion and Q&A. That is why the source of the knowledge is coming from your peers and partners because everyone’s knowledge will equip one each other. The last key point from the SI session is flexibility! There is no strict rule on how the SI session must be designated. The center of SI must be given from, to, by the participants. Exam exercises, group discussion, mock quiz, Fika (Swedish typical coffee break), games are typical SI activities (it can be modified as well!).

Presenting result of group discussion

In the second year of my master’s degree here, I decided to apply SI-leader position for the same course. After the application and selection process, as SI-leader will get a chance to join 2-day mandatory training and workshop. For the duty, I have to assist 7 SI sessions weekly together with my partner. Additionally, there will be three supervision meetings with our SI coach from Lund University. We also need to plan the learning methods including the topics and demonstrate an effective study strategy for the participants. During the session, we guide and facilitate collaborative group studies sessions. 

Personally, not only my hard skills in Food Science, but also my soft skills like communication, public speaking, problem-solving, and management are improved. One more interesting thing, being SI-leader is a “paid” life-learning position! Last but not least, study skills, problem solving, recall and review, organization, and big picture are highlights from Supplemental Instruction as a collaborative learning platform. 

 

2 November, 2019

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Bringing a piece of Mexico to Sweden

One of the hardest things of being away from your country is missing all the traditions you grew up with. Specially if those traditions involve yummy treats which… let’s be real… all Mexican traditions do!

Decorated skulls are placed at the altars to conmemorate our loved ones

If you are into Disney-Pixar movies, then you have provably seen “Coco”, it is a movie in which, for once, Disney has managed to portray Mexican culture very accurately and beautifully.

The movie is based on the Mexican tradition “Día de los Muertos” or Day of the Death. Creepy as it sounds, it is actually a very sweet period during which Mexican families build altars to remember the people who have passed away. The altars include our loved ones’ favorite food as well as several other very colorful elements.

Dia de los Muertos dates back to the Indigenous people of Mexico and Central America

During Día de los Muertos, on November the 2nd, Mexicans also eat special treats like sugar and chocolate skulls, traditional Mexican hot chocolate (unlike any other hot chocolate out there… believe me) and Pan del Muerto or Day of the death bread.

Of course, no Swedish place sells Pan del Muerto. So, ever since last year I’ve made it my mission to bake at least one batch of these pastries each season. Before coming to Sweden, I had no idea how to make it (you can find it in every store in Mexico for very cheap prices!) but now I am even teaching other people how to make it!

Fresh out of the oven!

Last year, I got together with people from my batch and we tried making it for the very first time! It took us more than 4 hours! When we finished it, we enjoyed it while watching the Coco movie! The evening was a great success and will be repeated this year!

This year, I also got together with a Mexican friend and his Swedish family to bake the bread. As a big plus, he brought traditional Mexican hot chocolate (it’s like blocks of gold to us!) and we enjoyed a traditional Pan del Muerto family dinner together!

How good does that look!?

Even though these events are not exactly like how we would celebrate in Mexico, they still bring me closer to my heritage and allow me to share Mexican traditions with people from all around the world.

1 November, 2019

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The choice is yours!

Tjena from the SUDes family! I hope most of you are mid-way through your application procedures and I know how tough it is to choose from a list of very good universities all around the world. I have had a hard time too during the process but luckily for me, I got selected into a program which I wanted the most for my urban studies as I wanted a process oriented course as an urban design student and hence I find this to be exciting as well as challenging given the design tasks need to be solved sustainably.

To tell you why Sustainable Urban Design at Lund University feels exciting to me is the way the course is structured to give you new tools of design and new information on a periodic basis. In our 1st semester, we had started with the urban design at city scale. Pretty good scale to start with the course and consider new methodologies and strategies so that we could get an understanding of how to start on an urban design.  It was followed by the regional scale design in the 2nd semester, which is a bit larger where we needed to consider larger actors and parameters that affect our design process. Currently in our third semester, we went on a global scale collaborating with the students from China. Our design site is located in China where we focused on global issues of development following the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

We also completed a fun workshop with our Chinese counterparts last week. We formed groups and discussed new ideas and strategies and sharing the knowledge while being at two different parts of the world. The brainstorming sessions were exciting to me personally and I feel really satisfied to be taking this course as an urban design student. Thus our 3rd semester is ongoing with the 4th and final one concluding with the masters thesis.

I hope you get inspiration to try and achieve what you seek and would definitely say that you will never regret making Lund University a part of your journey. Please feel free to ask me any questions that you might have and you are always welcome to comment here or send me a mail at ambassador_sud@lth.lu.se. Hope to see you at Lund next autumn! Till then, hej då! 🙂

 

31 October, 2019

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Study Trip to Malmö

View from the roof of ''Malmö Live'' towards the ''Turning Torso''

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, we have a course ‘’Building Integrated Solar Energy Systems’’ and I wrote about one laboratory session we had. For this post, I wanted to write about the study trip we had in this course.

We started out tour with ‘’Green Roof Institute’’ in the morning (more information on this website: https://greenroof.se/en/). We first had an informative presentation about green roofs and eco-city Augustenborg in Malmö and then we took a tour on the green roof of the institute building.

A part of the roof of ”Green Roof Institute”

There are many different applications of green roofs here and they basically use this space as an experimental area. Wide variety of plants and herbs grow on different soil conditions and drainage materials. So, it was quite interesting to see these systems in real life.

Then we continued our trip with eco-city Augustenborg, a residential neighbourhood, near the institute. This is a calm neighbourhood constructed between 1948 and 1952. Back in the time, it was very modern with good reputation and social activities. Now it can be considered old but the implementation of local disposal of rainwater prevented this neighbourhood from massive flood that happened in Malmö some years ago.

The next stop was the ‘’Greenhouse’’ in Augustenborg which is the highest residential building in the neighbourhood. This building is well known with its balconies for agriculture and one who moves into this building has to sign a contract that he/she will have plantation in the balcony.

”Greenhouse” in Augustenborg

The last stop of our trip was Malmö Live, the concert house in Malmö. Here we looked at the heating and ventilation systems of the building as well as the PV installation on the roof. The roof we’ve been to is the one on the 5th floor and it is covered with PV modules.

PV installation on the roof of ”Malmö Live”

We also had a chance to look inside the big concert hall in the building.

Malmö Live Concert Hall

All in all, it was quite interesting and informative study trip for me. And who knows, maybe those of you who are interested in these subjects will end up here in EEBD and have the same experience as I had.

29 October, 2019

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Studying Architecture in Lund, Sweden

 

There are many elements of the Swedish education system that might come as a surprise to new-comers and that upon reflection I’ve noticed I might take for granted. Being located in such a progressive part of the world as Scandinavia creates both a unique and novel learning environment. I will elaborate further below on some of the potential positive and negatives of these, from my own inevitably biased perspective.

 

Pass / fail grading

This one is a big one. On the plus side you have the beautiful cultivation of collaboration among peers. The utopian notion that no one is out to better the other, but rather to help the collective. This is also closer to what professional life is like, in my opinion – problem solving towards common goals – therefore could be viewed as better preparation for life post studies. Another perspective however, from my observations, is that this tends to also create a certain level of apathy. Without competing, even with oneself to get better grades, students can lack incentive and thus motivation to progress in their skillset.

A-building presentation hall during a graduation ceremony

 

Self-led teaching

Perhaps just in contrast to prior studies at other universities I would ascribe the Swedish system for education with a more self-led approach, where students are expected to be a lot more autonomous. Be prepared to self-initiate and self-motivate at least a fair portion of your studies. You will be encouraged to put into your education what you wish to get out of it, which if you take the initiative can be incredibly explorative and rewarding. This said your professors and tutors are always completely engaged when you have their time. One very noteworthy positive would also be that Swedish professors are generally very humble and approachable. On many occasions I have shown up at their office and been welcomed for a chat about my project or administration matters. You’re also more than likely invited to call them by their first name.

 

F I K A

Probably everyone’s favourite part of the Swedish education system are the very regular fika breaks! You can count on every Swede taking a break mid-morning, mid-afternoon and promptly leaving the studio at 5pm. A work-life balance like you’ve never seen at any other architecture school! Leave your all-nighters to your bachelor and immerse yourself in time-management and well-deserved breaks. On this note it is important to be prepared that these breaks extend to precious model-making time in the workshops.

The best part is that come presentation day these fika breaks are catered with kanelbullar, carrot cake, fruit, sandwiches and of course, much needed, coffee! Sugar and caffeine delivered right to the sleep deprived, crit-hazed humans! Perfection.

Mid-crit presentation fika

 

Niceties during critique

This will be novel to some and perhaps commonplace for others. But I have actually found this to be a reoccurring discussion topic with fellow international students. Feedback is always, no matter how potentially just-pulled-together-the-night-before it may be, met with a ‘thank you so much for your presentation’ and a strew of positive remarks that might leave you hunting for the constructive criticism you may require to drive your project forward. Of course this is not always the case as I have heard of and experienced first hand a plethora of critical and constructive guest critics.

 

 

Desk & locker

Each student gets their very own motorized stand up / sit down desk complete with desk lamp and desk drawer. In your studio you will also find your own locker. Just bring a lock to claim your locker and a pen to write your name on your desk on your first day in the studio.

 

Crisp fall mornings at the drawing table

 

There are pros and cons for studying at any given educational institution in any country. I encourage anyone already in the Swedish system to reflect on some of the very many benefits such as the unique work-life balance and novel self-led learning environment. I also encourage anyone thinking of applying to Lund to consider these potential positive and negative attributes in line with your own aspirations. Personally, Lund has nourished a depth of self-motivation in my education, self-confidence in my abilities and curiosity in seeking out a more explorative approach.

 

Like always, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you might have 🙂
Isabella

  

 

 

29 October, 2019

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Lund University- The Place for Sustainable Urban Design Study!

Hello again everyone! Hope you have started to apply for the masters programs at various universities starting next autumn. The application procedures for Lund University has already opened for admissions next year and I, being a second year masters student at Sustainable Urban Design, can surely say that studying here is an opportunity for a lifetime. 

As you have already found out through internet research and also looking at various kinds of projects, that, Sweden is one of the pioneers in sustainable design solving methods for cities and urban areas. I, myself, before coming to Lund, had been looking upon revitalization projects in some cities of Sweden such as Stockholm, Malmö & Gothenberg for example, and was amazed to see the different strategies that they have tried to implement in order to bring about a holistic and resilient design for the areas.

shared semi-private courtyard design

One of the main strategies that I believe, is common for all the cities throughout the world, is making a pedestrian friendly urban design, which I have strongly found in Malmö, in the harbour area called ‘Bo 01’.

the western harbour boardwalk

We had a study trip to this area as part of the ‘Urban Quality & Urban Form’ course. It is an urban revitalization project where there was the commercial harbour area by the sea previously. With the need for more modular container oriented space for the harbour, it was shifted to another area leaving behind a hotspot for residential and mixed-use development. The area now boasts of a magnificent boardwalk and pedestrian urban realm. The design of various housing typologies have been carried out keeping in mind the human scale as well as semi-public and private spaces.

the serene inner canal network as a design element

We also got the chance to visit Gothenberg city recently, as part of our Urban Process course. Some of the projects that we saw made me realise the essence of long term planning and why & how we can do it within a city. One of the striking part of the process is the way of the municipality’s interaction with the citizens. There is a model of the whole city in 1:400 scale, kept in the city hall so that the people of the city can come and review the new development areas and also have their say towards the planning process.

the 1:400 scale model of the whole city

 

Gothenberg city as the floor in the municipality building for dialogues

 

I believe as an urban design student, realization about the whole process of sustainable urban design and its impact on the surroundings over time, is crucial and this course has taught me a lot about the thinking process and how to approach a given design site. I would thus encourage all of you who are enthusiastic about learning more about urban design, to join this exciting course and be a part of Lund University!

24 October, 2019

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Things that surprised me upon arrival to Sweden…

1. Common washing machines

If you live in a block of flats, you will have to share your washing machine! At first, I was surprised that people share their washing machines in basement but now I think that it is not a bad idea at all. Just remember to book them in advance!

2. Diet

The first thing that I noticed about people in Sweden was that most of them seem to be vegan or at least vegetarian. Now, I know this life-style does not apply to all Swedes but still there are more vegan people than in any of the countries I have so far lived or visited.

3. Students opposing students

Me and my international friends were quite shocked when the teacher told us that we have to be the “opposition” to another group preparing a presentation. It is very common in Sweden that students read and correct other students report, essay or prepare questions for other group’s presentation.

4. Lunch

I quickly noticed that bringing your own lunch in Sweden is very common and now I can say that I am not surprised since the cafeterias on the campus can be quite expensive and maybe not suit for poor students pocket 😀

5. Systembolaget: plan your party in advance!

I knew that alcohol is expensive in Sweden but I was surprised that high percentage alcohol is sold only in special stores called Systembolaget. These stores have generally close at 18 on the workdays, at 15 on Saturday and are completely closed on Sunday. So plan your parties in advance!

6. Not many classes

There are usually not that many lectures and they are not compulsory. Most of the time, the same applies to the laboratory classes. Usually labs are just a few days in a study period per subject. The relatively low workload is due to the fact that you just have two classes in a study period.
In my previous university we had on average six to seven subjects at once, and then 7 exams in the examination period :O So I appreciate the study system here!

7. Without personal number, it is hard...

You need personal number to open a bank account, go to the gym, use a public library etc. Even the visit at doctor’s is easier with a personal number. So I would recommend getting one as soon as you arrive 🙂

8. Not possible to pay in cash

In many shops, bars or restaurants you will be declined cash. For instance, the cafeterias or the stationary shop on campus. So prepare accordingly with a good debit card or open a Swedish bank account and get SWISH.

9. Swedish floors

For instance in my house basement is labelled as floor 1 and the ground floor as floor 2. Confusing? Right. I live on a second floor but it is labelled as 4th floor…
However, that system is not constant and each building has its own floor labeling system what makes it even more confusing 😀

10. Pizza

So there is a pizza with banana and curry! Also, they serve pizza with sauerkraut…
I would recommend to try those at least once to see if you like the local flavour 😀
There are also some other pizzas, for example with kebab or pine apple but I think those are already known internationally.

22 October, 2019

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