Monthly archives: January 2013

There’s a first time for everything

What’s your first memory? I remember going to watch The Jungle Book with one of my older sisters. I loved Mowgli and Baloo and that song, the Bare Necessities! Ah the Bare Necessities! Such a feel good song! The car drive home was so nice, I felt like a little girl with no worries…how life has changed! There are so many things in life to worry about but so many things to embrace, especially when it’s your first time for something :)

Last Saturday I was invited out to Norrviken, this is just a short train ride out of Stockholm central! You might be wondering, why did you travel out to Norrviken? Well, of course, when in Sweden, do as the Swedes do…in my case, learn how to stand upright on ice skates and move in one smooth motion forward! Well, that was the aim…I was invited to Norrviken to try out ice skating and not just any ice skating but long ice skating! My friend Anneliese lives in the area and had been out on the local frozen lake with long skates which is exactly as it sounds, skating with longer ice skates, that you actually fasten onto a pair of boots yourself!

Ice, ice, ice, ice, nice! Photo: Oscar Eriksson.

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Tunnelbana

A room with a view…with tube tracks in the foreground.

It’s 7.53am, will I make the 8.04, I’m not sure, I still need to find a pair of socks, warm socks and wrap myself in a big jacket and scarf and must not forget gloves! Oh and I almost forgot lunch there, phew…I guess I won’t make the 8.04 but hopefully the 8.09, but I don’t want to wear my glasses so I better put them in a glasses case and so again, I have to open my very cool and very retro purple rucksack (or käppsack as I like to call it, another one of my random Swedish words, which turns out is a very old word that hardly anyone, but me, uses). And there goes the chance of making the 8.09, so 8.14 it is, MUST.NOT.BE.LATE…..So on go the leather knee high boots, essential in the snow and ice and I step out…ipod out, ear plugs in, let’s dash. Outside the cold hits me like a train, at high speed, its freezing, but oh so fresh! If I wasn’t awake 40 minutes ago I certainly am now, the air enters my nose, I can’t breath, don’t want to breath, it’s so cold! Brrrr! I jump over the slippery icey part of the path, scurry along the side walk  dodge the air from other walkers, green man, yes, cross the road, gloves off, hand in pocket, tube pass out and I’m through the gates.

The tunnelbana (tube) rumbles closer, the glimmer of the headlights lets me know, is it an old tube or new tube…I prefer the old ones. When I step in, I think, I wonder, who used to use these tubes, I doubt that the old tubes are that old, but I just like thinking that they were used during a time when every other passenger was looking outside or reading a newspaper not fervently on their mobile phone or donning headphones of every size, shape and colour.

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Back to School

My second semester as a master’s student in Sweden has officially started as of yesterday. I am enrolled in three courses this quarter: Human Response to Sound and Vibration, which relates psychology to sound and human perception, Technical Acoustics II, which covers analytical and numerical methods for solving sound and vibration problems, and Room Acoustics, which analyzes the behavior of sound in rooms of varying shapes and applications.

While all of these classes will be interesting and useful in their own right, I am most looking forward to Room Acoustics for a couple of reasons. Firstly, one of the reasons I chose to study in Sweden was to have the opportunity to take a course that covered this material in-depth. There are only a handful of schools worldwide that offer a comprehensive class on this topic, so Chalmers was very appealing to me in that regard. Furthermore, this particular class also has a large design element since it is taught in collaboration with the Architecture school at Chalmers. The Sound & Vibration students will serve as acoustic consultants to the Architecture students for a theoretical opera house to be designed for an international competition. I will try to post a few status updates as the project progresses over the following months.

Yes, talking about the future is often exciting, but I believe it is equally important to reflect on the past. As I think back on my first semester, I am left with many positive impressions from the academic culture at Chalmers. The three words listed below (with subsequent explanations) are representative of some of my most noteworthy feelings towards the educational system in place here.

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future + me = unpredictable but optimistic

Happy New Year!

Where my 2013 began... Photo by: Oscar Eriksson.

Where my 2013 began. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.

How are you all? A good Christmas and New Year I hope! I had a great few weeks and am now raring to go! Ready for whatever this year throws at me…well most things…though I don’t want to think that we’re half way through the year and that the future I’d rather not think about is creeping up ever closer!

A few nights ago, I was still at home in England, lying in my bed, thoughts rushing through my head, what will I do tomorrow, what must I get done before next week, which weekends do I have free this month…what will happen this year? For me, it’s a million dollar question which I really wish I knew the answer to! I know that many of you have applied or are thinking of applying for a Master’s and that the deadline for applications is drawing in! I wish I could impart some real wisdom, but as my future is as always unpredictable, instead I’ll use this blog to give you some pause for thought. (Please note the information here is merely based on my experience and opinion and by no means fact!)

To me, the Master’s in Global Health is not a means to an end, it is a path to gaining further knowledge. The Master’s is not merely a number of modules followed by a period of thesis research and writing, it is much much more. The Master’s programme is not only global in content it is global in the people it attracts! For me, the students are a wealth of knowledge, everything they say and do is influenced by their culture! And I love this! Crucially, for each student the future is somewhat different…

Returning home
For some, the future will be a return to their homeland, possibly returning to their previous job or seeking a new job taking with them, a newfound insight into global health.

Maybe I will return to England, the green pastures that I call home. Photo: Naieya Madhvani.

Working in Stockholm
Some will possibly stay in Sweden and carve out a new life here. Stockholm, for me, is already like a home away from home, it certainly helps that I have a great network of friends that I can call family but I do feel that within weeks you really feel like the city has become your home. During the year, the KI organise numerous career evenings with people from different backgrounds explaining their road from being a Karolinska student to now working for a company that they really enjoy! My advice here is to be confident and talk to these people, they are an invaluable source of information.

Photo taken in the outskirts of Stockholm, I’m looking onwards and upwards. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.

PhD
For others, it will be grasping any chance to do a PhD. This is a well known option, with many previous students taking this route, it is my understanding that this pathway is somewhat unpredictable, though a definite possibility with a little perserverance. There are a number of ways by which to obtain a PhD position…the take home message here is that a PhD is an option and taking an active approach is better than sitting back and hoping the door will just open.

How about being unpredictable?
Of course, there are many other options, options which I cannot predict! As I’ve mentioned before I don’t know what the future holds for me! I’d describe myself as a person who likes to plan ahead, so this feeling of unpredictability slightly unnerves me but I’ve started making plans, which is the first step! The second step is closing in on the plans and deciding on something that will make the future more concrete. It is impossible to say what the future will hold but I’m optimistic that it will be something I will be passionate about and will in some way encompass what I have learnt from this year.

A poem I noticed on a wall whilst travelling in New Zealand. It reminds me, that wherever I go, I will call that place home. Photo: Naieya Madhvani.

Winter Holiday in Stockholm

First off, I would like to introduce myself as a new blogger for Sweden.se. I am an American studying a Masters in Toxicology at Karolinska Institute. Hopefully more than that you can learn about me from my blog posts :)

Today I would like to talk about my holiday vacation in Stockholm. Unlike most of my classmates I stayed in town to enjoy the city like the Swedes do. The Jul celebration (Christmas) here was done a little differently than it would have gone in the US. I arrived at my family’s house here around 3:00 and spent time with everyone until the Disney Christmas special came on. This is the first Jul tradition celebrated here. This hour long special takes clips from several Disney movies (usually the songs), dubs it over into Swedish, and puts it all together. The younger kids sit and laugh throughout it while the adults talk about if they are alright that they changed the special this year. Ok, that last part is not a yearly tradition, but I’m sure there is always something to talk about. After that, everyone sits down at the dinner table and get’s ready for the meal. This is the second tradition. The common food items include: salmon with dill, potatoes, meatballs, sausage, and to drink there is glögg, julmust, or beer. Then comes the third tradition. Everyone gathers around the tree to open presents. Once everyone has dispersed to enjoy what they have gotten the night is concluded.

Jul Dinner – Photo by: Kazem Behbahani

 

The first and third tradition are different that what is custom in the US. There is not one single Christmas special that everyone watches. There are several that people can choose from to watch, if any. Also, kids are supposed to wait until Christmas morning to open the presents. Santa Claus plays a bigger role in the US. He comes by Christmas eve to drop off presents from everyone so if the kids don’t sleep well at night they might scare him off and he might not give them their presents. Even though there might be Santa Claus imagery in Sweden, it doesn’t seem like kids are led to believe that story which I found interesting.

A few days after Christmas I had to get ready for New Years. This was very similar to the US. Then again it is difficult to mess up staying up and enjoying fireworks. I had dinner at a friends apartment. With several people showing up, we introduced ourselves and got to know each other as best that we could before dinner. Once we finished eating, we split up into groups and took a quiz of some of the major events of the past year. We didn’t know there was going to be a small prize but it was fun to see how passionate people got into it. We were half an hour to the new year. We all bundled up and headed out to a local hill where you could see most of Stockholm. Because there is not as much legal trouble buying fireworks in Sweden as there is in the States, once New Years came you could see fireworks going up all over the city. In this way I enjoy New Years here than back home. We spent almost an hour looking at the show over Stockholm. People from our group then split up and went either home or to different parties.

Now it’s time to switch gears back to school. Hopefully this term is as fun as the last one!