Sweden never stops amazing me with the beauty of its nature; I’ve already said it once and again and again. Add that to the very convenient Allemansrätten (a law that allows you to camp almost anywhere), sprinkle a long weekend in the middle of it, and there you go: the idea to go hiking for the first time was born!
Me being an absolute beginner made things interesting on a few counts: First of all, we had to decide on a path that was attractive but not too long. Pilgrimsleden came to be the chosen one, a 56 km trail that circles around a sizable portion of small lakes. The trail also happened to be close to Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden and third largest in Europe. Then came the matter of equipment: I already had some reliable shoes, but none of the things that would allow me to sleep in the wilderness. Since I knew that your loyal student ambassador Raghu had also camped for the first time in Sweden, I took his kindness and borrowed a sleeping bag and mat from him.
The adventure was awfully fun, I was taught the details of how to make a fire, participated in the momentary panic that comes with losing sight of the track, gained a few scratches here and there, but only one fall – which makes me quite proud. What I found surprising is that even if everything looks similar on the map (lake, rock, forest, rock, forest, lake), once you were actually walking you could see how much the landscapes varied along the trail. We came across high points watching over hundreds of pines, forests that were very thick and therefore very dark, long lakes with pristine water, small muddy ones, villages, streams, and sadly, many areas where forestry had gotten rid of a big amount of trees.
My final observation is that, presumably due to hunger and fatigue, during this trip I had the most delicious apple of my life. I figured that it was all a perfect balance between hard work and small pleasures.
The trip was abruptly ended by the realization that the nights were too cold for the kind of equipment we had. Nonetheless I would repeat the experience, of course with a little bit more preparation. If you get the chance, definitely try to make your own hiking trip in Sweden!
All pictures by P. Cegielski
Last week I got the opportunity to visit Holland, luckily my trip was during the same time as Holland would celebrate the Kings day and also the tulip gardens would be in full blossom. So understandably there was a lot to see and explore and thus began my quest.
Amsterdam despite being famous for many other reasons, is also famous for being the city of canals. Owing to this fact the city has a unique layout and feel to it; a rather pleasant mixture of modern infrastructure and lifestyle merged with old appearance and facades.
In Amsterdam we got to discovered a rather unheard but fascinating place; museum of florescent art. A couple had collected natural samples, while travelling to different parts of the world, of rocks that glow under UV light. They had also set up some artificial florescent structures and narrated the rather intriguing history about the use of florescent materials over the years.
The next aim was to bike to Keukenhof to see the mesmerizing tulip fields and the flower garden there. It is open only 8 weeks a year and has around 800,000 visitors during that time. We biked around and hour to reach Keukenhof and instantly realised it was worth the effort. This years theme was Van Gough, so there were exhibitions depicting his work and also a small area where his portrait was made out of flowers.
The last leg of the trip was experiencing the Kings day celebrations. The entire city comes to a still and the roads get deluged with people, music and festive activities. A wave of orange color swept the city as there were celebrations, laughs and joy all around.
Towards the end of March, I got the opportunity to travel with the rest of my fellow V section students to the historic and beautiful city of Prague. The V section organises a trip to a different country every year. The price is discounted to facilitate the students and encourage them to sign up for it.
This was my first time travelling with the V section, and I am very glad I made that choice. The arrangements were well organised and the accommodation was comfortable. We traveled on a bus to Prague, passing through Denmark and Germany and stayed in a hotel which was situated in the heart of the city. The bus ride was a long 18 hours, but the experience was definitely worth it. We were seventy students in total, and two students shared a room. We reached Prague at around mid-day and then settled into the hotel.
There was a sittning organised on the first night, that was laced by some fancy food and some typical Chalmers traditions. The evening then unrolled as all students set out to explore the city. The weather the first night was not the best, but it stopped none from taking a stroll around the town and enjoy the mesmerizing views.
The next morning we had a guided walking tour of Prague where we got interesting insights into the history of the city and also the background behind many of the breath taking structures in the city. Top of the list was the Charles Bridge, which was deluged with tourists. It is the oldest stone arc bridge in the world and stands testament to many monumental events in the past.
We also walked across the astronomical clock and were able to take some bird-eye shots of the city from the top of that tower. Next in the list was the artistically crafted dancing house, that simple signifies what innovative thinking and a progressive mind-set accomplish. An absolute must visit is the castle in Prague, because that is where you would find the classic Prague feel; narrow roads and alleys, paving way through brightly painted huts oozing a sense of originality.
The city is small but filled with things to see and experiences to crave for. We went to a church, located an hours train ride from Prague that had a skeleton architecture inside. First time that I saw something like that and I was totally bamboozled.
On the last night of the trip we were treated to a boat tour of the city, which also including a buffet on the boat. It was a a relaxing evening, where everyone got a chance to see the city from another perspective and need less to say it was yet another spectacle to cherish. Hope you liked the pictures, and plan to visit Prague if you have not already done that!
Part of the fun of taking courses in Chalmers is that it is very unlikely that you will only attend bland lectures without any additional learning resources. Many courses include one or more study visits that allow you to see in live action what you were learning over the passing of the trimester. In the same manner, during the course you might find out about conferences or additional lectures. And if you’re lucky enough, you might stumble upon the gift that keeps on giving, meaning having a teacher that will continue to send you information relevant to the course in case it spikes your interest.
I was lucky to find one of those teachers through the Sustainable Transportation course. Apart from the fact that the course was wonderfully organized, full with diverse lectures about the environmental impact of transport and plenty of expert speakers, we also got a teacher that was very concerned about students getting the most out of the course. So even a few months afterwards, this teacher extended the invitation for students to volunteer in the VREF Conference About Urban Freight, which took place in Chalmers’ Lindholmen Campus. Some of us had the chance to help out with practical tasks during the conference. As a reward, we received some extra cash (which is always good as a student) and the chance to listen to the conferences and be able to mingle with authorities, companies and academia who work with urban freight. An all-winning situation! At Chalmers, the learning doesn’t stop when the course ends.
If you wish to read what was discussed during the conference, feel free to browse here.
A few weeks ago I made a post about my first interview in Swedish. The number of international students interested in Chalmers has been on the rise of late so therefore my expereince, I feel, can help find answer to the two most common questions among the international community at Chalmers; is it possible to work here after studies and can one learn enough Swedish in two years to do so? I would therefore continue to the second half of my story.
I got called for a second interview at Traifkverket Stockholm office. I reached there a night before, since I needed to be at their office at eigth in the morning. The day was divided into three sessions; two written tests, a presenation about ”An event that changed my life” and an interview. The day kicked off with a small presentation by Trafikverket about the recruitment process and the prospects of working with them. We were 15 students in total, and were split into two groups.
The first test was a rather simple personality test where you were supposed to rank eigth things-in descending order-that can describe you as a person. But each thing should be described in no more than a couple of words Then eigth things that other people think are your personality traits. It was a rather fruitful excercise which drives you in a mode of self analysis, like you would have never experienced before. It is tough to evaluate yourself and come up with adequate words to describe your own personality. This test was followed by a logical test. Now, this is where things got tough for me; the Swedish language in that test was very advanced for me and I felt so disappointed sitting there. I remember saying to myself ” I took a seven hour bus ride for this disastrous test, I am not going to make it !!!”. Well, I did not have much of a choice so I tried my best and answered as much as I could. There were 5 different texts, and after each text there were questions, which were supposed to test your analytical and logical thinking pattern.
Then came the presentation. Perhaps the most inspisring part of the day was when each candidate was given a small tutorial about how can they make the presentation more impactful and personal. I found that very useful and many tips would stick with me for life. The four minute presentation went smooth, I felt I was in a good flow of speaking Swedish. The flow just carried on and I managed the post-presentation question answer session pretty well I tought. The questions were related to my personal life, and my goals for the future.
The last part of the day was another interview, where your performance from all the different tests you had done during the recruitment process were discussed. There were five 5 tests in total, and no surprise I scored terrible in the last one. But, this is where I tought I was treated fairly and I felt I was competing on a level playing field; the person doing the interview skipped this test in my evaluation, since he felt that it was not designed as a language test so it dose not reflect my competence in Swedish language and is thus to no avail. This was a confidence booster for me. I was very tired by then and was not as energetic as I was in the first interview. But I think I managed to express my ideas. The questions were again related to personal life, but were meant to dig in deeper into how I am as a person. Surprsingly, I was asked what the strengths and weaknesses of my dad were! Totally caught me off guard there, I did actually laughed for a moment and continued to answer!
Now, I await a final repsonse from Trafikverket. Wether I make the cut or not is not the most important aspect at this point. I think the experience has been very exciting and something that would help me evolve as a person and hopefully contribute in handling interviews successfully in the future! Lets hope for the best! Sorry, but I was so nervous I forgot to take pictures so there are not any in this post! 🙂
Hillary Mutungi is currently pursuing his Masters studies at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Before coming to Sweden, Hillary worked for fbwgroup, one of the European Engineering Consulting firm with bases in UK, Netherlands, and Africa. This week I had an interview with him at Campus to find out why he decided to come to Sweden and particularly Chalmers for his Master’s studies. I also had a chance to ask him his experiences since arriving at Chalmers and his memorable moments so far at the University. Below is what he told me.
Introduce yourself and what are you studying at Chalmers?
My name is Hillary Mutungi from Uganda. I am 27 years old and currently studying a master’s programme in Structural Engineering and Building Technology at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Football is one of my hobbies.
Of all places, what was your key formula for choosing Sweden and particularly Chalmers?
Sweden has a lot of reputation for its contribution to the world’s technology and research, and this caught my attention first. I also admired the confidence with which my colleagues spoke about Sweden’s education system. Of all Universities in Europe, Chalmers’ well-assembled programme schedule and content attracted me most. I couldn’t help but chose it over the others. I admit that it was never about the eventual city of Gothenburg that most of my colleagues keep praising. It was all about my education and life at Chalmers University; it’s programme content and how well I believe the University suited my future ambitions.
Now that you are here, do you feel you made the right choice coming to Chalmers?
I feel more excited and satisfied at Chalmers. The program is offering me more than what I expected, and I feel each day at Chalmers is a fresh spark in my future. A student-friendly school, with every aspect designed to enhance learning and making friends, all in one.
What has been your best moment since arriving here?
My best moment so far at Chalmers is when the undergraduate students from the Architecture, Civil and Environmental Departments presented their bridge competition. The young ambitious students challenged my guts with their creativity and precision. That day, I remember saying to myself, I am proud to be at Chalmers.
What is your next plan after studies at Chalmers?
I plan to pursue a Ph.D. relevant to structural engineering. I also hope to play a pivotal role in my country’s developmental goals especially in the engineering sector, as God continues to fan the flames of my ambitions. The Swedish Institute has made it all possible for me to study comfortably at Chalmers, and forever I will be grateful.
If you were to meet someone planning to come and study at Chalmers, what would be your winning message to the candidate?
My message to anyone looking for a technological university to belong to should come to Chalmers. There is everything that suits your academic needs, and everything to compliment your learning no matter what program you choose to pursue
Maria Lindholm tar nu över som centrumföreståndare för forskningscentrumet Northern LEAD efter Dan Andersson som styrt skutan sedan starten 2008. Fler samarbeten inom och utanför centrumet samt vidgade vyer står närmast på agendan för centrumet när Maria får bestämma.
Hej Maria, vad innebär din nya roll?
– Det håller jag just nu på att försöka lista ut! Det är en riktigt rolig utmaning att ta sig an och jag ser fram emot det kommande året som innebär en utvecklingsperiod för centrumet. Det finns många forskare inom Northern LEAD och mitt jobb som centrumföreståndare handlar bland annat om att hitta möjligheter till samarbeten dem emellan samt att försöka hitta potentiella synergier. Men det handlar till exempel också om att se till att arbetet inom de olika plattformarna fungerar bra och att upprätthålla en gemensam forskningsagenda inom centrumet.
Vad ser du mest fram mot med ditt nya uppdrag?
– Jag ser verkligen fram emot att lära känna hela nätverket med fantastiska forskare som finns inom Northern LEAD och att tillsammans med dem jobba fram ett bra förslag på hur verksamheten kan utvecklas under året för att kunna fortsätta och bli ännu bättre än vad den redan är.
Hur ska Northern LEAD utvecklas under ditt ledarskap?
– Jag hoppas på att kunna skapa fler samarbeten inom Northern LEAD. Dels med fler institutioner och avdelningar som på olika sätt har koppling till vår logistikforskning, dels mellan forskare inom Northern LEAD. Jag vill gärna hjälpa till att bygga upp ytterligare någon plattform inom nya områden där forskare med olika inriktningar kan samlas kring en fråga, på samma sätt som det går till inom exempelvis Transportinköpspanelen och Urban Freight Platform. Jag hoppas också på att kunna sprida positiv energi samt glädje i samarbete och utmaningar!
Vilka utmaningar och viktiga fokusområden ser du?
– Den största utmaningen består i att lyckas med informationsspridning och informationsdelning. Att alla forskare inom Northern LEAD ska känna att det finns en nytta och en möjlighet att dela med sig av information och på så sätt även lyckas med att hitta möjliga nya samarbeten. Forskning sker ju såklart huvudsakligen inom det egna specifika intresseområdet och det gäller att få fler forskare att lyfta blicken och se vad vidgade vyer kan ge för utveckling.
Vilket område forskar du själv på?
– Jag disputerade för ett par år sedan på avdelningen för logistik och transport på Chalmers. Mitt forskningsområde var och är Godstransporter i städer, framförallt med fokus på hur kommuner kan jobba med godstransporter för att på sikt gå mot en mer hållbar stad. Detta har nu utvecklats till att mer och mer fokusera på olika samarbeten mellan intressenter, så kallade godsnätverk. Det är ett verkligt spännande område och det gör också att jag får möjlighet att träffa och diskutera just gods i städer med väldigt många olika typer av aktörer. Jag är även ordförande för godsnätverket i Göteborg, som Trafikkontoret är värd för. Sedan jag disputerade har jag framförallt arbetat med Transporteffektivitet inom Closer vid Lindholmen Science Park – även där handlar arbetet mycket om samarbeten och nätverkande.
Och privat då, vem är Maria Lindholm?
– Förutom yrkesmässigt inom transportområdet, driver jag också ett aktivt jord- och skogsbruk utanför Alingsås, tillsammans med min man och min pappa. Jag och min man har tre pojkar som nu är 5, 6 och 8 år gamla. Tiden som jag inte är på jobbet i Göteborg, spenderar jag helst hemma på gården eller i skogen tillsammans med familjen – eller för mig själv. Det är ett fantastiskt sätt att samla tankarna och bygga upp energi, att vara ute i skogen.
Foto: Oscar Mattsson