Category: Waleed

The magic of Holland!


 

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.

 

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Amsterda: Rightly called the city of canals

 

 

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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.

 

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Florescent painting

 

Some florescent art

Some florescent art

 

Rocks that naturally glow under UV light

Rocks that naturally glow under UV light

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.

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Saw an innocent by-stander while cycling to Keukenhof

 

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Van Goughs portrait made out of tulips

 

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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.

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A view of a street deluged with people

 

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Parties on the boat is a norm on the Kings day

 

 

 

Visit to Prague!


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.

Hotel room in Prague

Hotel room in Prague

Out on our first stroll

Out on our first stroll

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.

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Charles Bridge in the background

 

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 astronomical clock

The astronomical clock

Birds-eye view of the city

Birds-eye view of the city

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.

At the Bone Church: A chandelier made of bones

At the Bone Church: A chandelier made of bones

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!

Typical old-European touch in the streets of Prague

Typical old-European touch in the streets of Prague

In front of the dancing house

In front of the dancing house

An interior made of ice. Did not find the Iron throne so, took an Ice throne instead.

An interior made of ice. Did not find the Iron throne so, took an Ice throne instead.

Almost there!


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.

 

Trafikverket office in Stockholm

Trafikverket office in Stockholm

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! 🙂

First job interview in Swedish


The prospect of starting to work after graduation can both be stressful and exciting. The last few weeks have been such a mixture of contrasting emotions because it was  during this time that I got my first job interview in Sweden, as a ”projektingenjör” in Trafikverket. Not only was this my first interview in Sweden, it was the first ever in Swedish language.

It was a worthwhile and memorable experience. I read and asked around a bit of how interviews work in Sweden and got considerable input from friends and acquaintances. I prepared some questions that are generally expected in such situations, for example, analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. The challenge was not so much as to what I should speak about, it was to express my ideas in a clear manner in Swedish. I browsed through all the notes I had made over the last year or so in my Swedish classes, and tried to cram in in as much vocabulary as possible in to my head. Lastly, I did a few practice drills in front of the washroom mirror and was all set to face the music.

Trafikverket is reponsible for development and maintenance of road and railways all over Sweden

Trafikverket is reponsible for development and maintenance of road and railways all over Sweden

 

The interview afternoon kicked off with a presentation about the company which also focused on the future prospects for new employees and what they expect to get from a newly graduated student.The interview it self had all that I had expected. Pleasant and friendly personnel, with questions related to my personality and aims in life.  It was comforting to see how every single person at Trafikverket was appreciative of what ever Swedish I could speak and gave me time and space to think before I could formulate a reply.

Interviews can take a toll on nerves at times

Interviews can take a toll on nerves at times

There was also a simple logic test which every candidate should do. Out of 180 candidates who appeared that day, 45 were to go through to the next stage.

Luckily, I made the cut and have been called to the final set of interviews in Stockholm. Every candidate would have to do a small presentation about himself/herself, do an interview and write another logic test. I can already feel butterflies in my stomach. All the hard work and energy put into learning the language can possibly pay off now. It is an uphill task but nonetheless exciting. Will come back in my next blog with my story from Stockholm!

GöteborgsVarvet


This week, I would like to get the attention of my readers to an extravaganza that Göteborg hosts every year. It is the world’s largest half-marathon and is called GöteborgsVarvet. In comparison to the city I come from, Göteborg is very small but the fact that this city hosts something as big and as celebrated as this marathon speaks volumes about the active and spirited live style here.

The map

The map

As one can judge from the name of the event, the race is a standard 21 km long. There are around 64,000 participants and over 200,000 spectators each year. It will be held on the on 23rd May this year; this itself is a huge catch of the event, summers in Sweden are in full flow around that time which makes outdoor activities twice as fun. Huge crowds and bands are seen by the sidelines trying to cheer and buck up the budding participants. I myself was standing by the side lines last year, cheering up a friend who participated. This year I decided to step up my game, and participate myself. If you feel like part of being this memorable event, then sign up and join in on the fun!

 

Avenyn: would never see it like that other times of the year

Avenyn: would never see it like that other times of the year

One, two, three and off we go!

One, two, three and off we go!

Each participant is handed out a medal as a souvenir at the end of the run. The most inspiring aspect,  by some stretch is that people of all age groups are a part of this marathon. I felt very spirited when I saw people thrice my age crossing the finishing line last year! Commendable indeed! So if you think you can not do it then think again!

Doing your Master Thesis at Chalmers


The task of writing your Master Thesis is both an exciting and a daunting one. It is xciting since it is possibly your first interaction with actual and pratical implementation of class room knowledge. The fact that you can exploit your knowledge to learn and to create something new is very inspiring. But at the same time, the possibility to excel brings with itself challenges and hardships and so one has to remain steady through the phase of Master thesis to make it through with flying colors.

I would strongly recommend all students to burn the midnight oil in searching for a thesis with a company. Especially international students who are aspiring to stay in Sweden would not find a better chance to get a taste of Swedish work culture and possibly create a place as an employee at the company they do their thesis for. This is a unique luxury in Sweden, where companies are very eager to hand out students thesis projects, in a bid to attract promising talent and also to find smart solutions to problems in different projects. Use the oppurutnity you get at the career fares like VARM and CHARM, to get contacts and then follow up with queries about Master thesis and other interests that you might have.

Coffe machines

Coffe machines

The kitchen for staff is also open to students writing their master thesis

The kitchen for staff is also open to students writing their master thesis

My office!

My office!

I am currently pursuing my thesis with the Department of Civil and Enviornmental engineering. The topic I am working on is something of keen interest to me and is therefore fun to work on. You can do your thesis individually or as a group of two; being in a group though is preferred by the administration. Each group has a supervisor and an examiner to guide you through. As a requirement to complete your thesis you must oppose one other thesis project and also attent the thesis seminar of two other projects. The process might seem a bit intricate but there is continous support from faculty and department, ensuring you are always taken care off.

While working with the department, we have been alotted an office which we share with another group. We are provided with a computer that has all the relevant softwares that we will need and ofcourse we are entitled to free coffee. So far things have been falling into place, courtesy some fine guidance by both the department and our supervisors. Prior to the start of the thesis we had an introductory lecture about rules, regulations and things to take particular care about like time managment and plagirism. As a support for students, three workshops will be held before the end of term, with each workshop being an interactive session helping students to outline what exactly will they do at each stage of their thesis. I have already been to one workshop and found it mighty effective.

First workshop: help us thinking clearly about our action plan for master thesis

First workshop: help us thinking clearly about our action plan for master thesis

Hope that serves as a useful overview of what you would be doing soon!

 

Finally it snows!


For all the new students that joined Chalmers in Spring 2015, the last weekend was the first instance they saw some real snowfall in Gothenburg. Since my arrival in this city, the winters have been relatively warmer than they generally are. There have not been nearly as low temperatures and as much snow as one would expect from a Scandinavian country. But nonetheless, each time it has snowed it has meant heaps of joy for me. So understandably, I did not let the awesome weather last week slip by without doing anything!

I went out for a stroll in the city that was carpeted in a glowing layer of snow! What a refreshing sight and it is just mesmerising to be walking around with snowflakes falling from the sky.

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I walked down to an open area, which is a popular picnic spot otherwise, and started the rather fruitful excercise of making the first snowman ever in my life!

Meet my buddy; Mr. Snowman turned out pretty well

Meet my buddy; Mr. Snowman turned out pretty well

Another first: snow angel!

Another first: snow angel!

The following day turned out to be even more incredible. Bright sun shine glittered off from the clean soft snow all over the city. This time around I walked down to Botaniska, and hiked up to a hill top. Me and a friend took some fika with us, to give the afternoon a more traditional Swedish touch. We sat there for almost an hour, soaking the sun which is a rarity in Sweden at this time of the year, and did some chit-chat about our lives and narrating some funny incidents to each other. Memorable indeed!

 

Fika to add some more flavor to the day!

Fika to add some more flavor to the day!

Sunshine!

Sunshine!

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I am sure for those of you who were outdoors, you can relate to my excitement and fascination with the glory of the weather last weekend. For those who missed it, do not forget to be outdoors next time; it is certainly one of the best memories and feelings you will take back with you from Sweden!