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Voices from LUMES Students

Testimonials from LUMES Students

Flavia Speiski Dos Santos from Brazil and Diana Norena from Colombia

What did you do before LUMES?

Flavia and Diana
Flavia: After graduating from Pontifical Catholic University Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I completed a one year “specialization” in Environmental Management and a one year “specialization” in International relations; I then applied to LUMES and here I am!

Diana: I have a BA in Biology from Tolima University in Colombia. After graduation I worked for a year at the University with a project, trying to see if the peptides from beans had antimicrobial activity. In addition to this, I also worked for a governmental institution in Tolima, writing an action plan for the management of the Biodiversity.

Why did you want to come to Lund, Sweden and study Environmental Studies and Sustainability?

Diana: I wanted to learn what the rest of the world is thinking about these issues; I also liked the interdisciplinary approach of LUMES. Further, I was also looking for scholarships, and that is how I got to know about the Swedish Institute.

Flavia: I studied international relations so I am used to the international perspective, but I felt I was missing the environmental perspective.  I first heard about Sweden during my undergraduate studies when I wrote about climate change and climate change research. As I wanted to continue my studies I was looking for Environmental programmes in Europe, and more specifically in Sweden, as it is known for its environmental management and sustainability work.

What were your expectations of the programme and your life in Lund, and have they been met so far?
Flavia and Diana: Yes! The programme definitely has an international and interdisciplinary perspective, we’re a very mixed group of students from all over the world and all have different backgrounds.  We learn a lot from each other! We’re discussing different ideas all the time and you understand that problems as well as possible solutions differ and depend on the context and many factors. It is very enriching and a good challenge; it forces you to understand that a thing that you thought was a truth isn’t necessarily a truth if you look at it from another point of view.

The biggest difference is the weather and the lack of light! For us Latin Americans it is really weird that the sun doesn’t rise at 6 AM and when it is rainy and dark we feel sleepy. It is good that we have class every day so we have to get up and do things!

Flavia: I’m from Rio, which is a big city and people are always out! Lund is small and most shops close early, around 7 PM, which is a challenge for me. I really like that people are friendly and helpful, if you ask someone for directions, they are always happy to assist and show you were you to go.

Diana: I like that even though Lund is a small city you see and talk to people from all over the world! I agree with Flavia, people here are very helpful and they all speak English!

Flavia: Another really good thing is that Lund and Sweden feels like a safe place. It is almost like a dream, you can walk around in the middle of the night feeling safe. And last but not least, a very different thing from what we are used to is the “dress-up parties”, parties always have a theme and you have to dress up! It is funny, you see all these people in the streets, wearing different costumes! Haha!

How is the teaching culture at LUMES?
Flavia: The teachers here are more open here compared to home, they talk directly to you, and they listen to you! They all treat you as equals.

Diana: You can feel that the teachers like to share the knowledge, they don’t want to keep it for themselves, they want to share it with you and they do all they can to help you to understand and learn. Having a Natural science background I have struggled to understand some of the social science concepts, but the teacher is really trying to help me to understand.

What do you think that you will do after LUMES?
Flavia: I’m not sure, but maybe I would like to do a PhD. I know that I don’t want to go back to Brazil, so I may try to do a Ph.D. in the U.S., or look for work somewhere in Europe.

Diana: I want to keep on studying, but I don’t know if I want to do a Ph.D. I want to know lots of things about a lot, environment and society, it is all related and I would like to know more! Maybe I’ll do another master in something different, to broaden my perspective even more. I do want to go back to Colombia, and contribute to change, but that’s for later, I think I need to learn more before I go back.

Tim Tannhof
Tim Tannhof from Germany

What did you do before you started LUMES?
I was working at a sustainability consultancy agency in Berlin, Germany. Before that I studied at Stenden University (Leeuwarden, The Netherlands), from which I hold a BBA degree in International Hospitality Management.

Why did you want to come to Lund, Sweden and study Environmental Studies and Sustainability?
I was looking for Sustainability Masters all over Europe on the Internet and found LUMES. Shortly after that, I coincidentally met a previous LUMES student in Germany who strongly recommended the programme to me and I decided to visit to Lund and LUMES to get an impression of it. When I visited, I met the Director of Studies, current students and also participated in class. I really liked the personal atmosphere and felt super welcome, so I decided to apply! Barry Ness, who was the Director of Studies when I visited, recommended me to read the following articles:
Jerneck, A., et al. (2010) Structuring sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 6(1), 69–82.
Kates, R.W., et al. (2001) Sustainability Science. Science, 292(5517), 641-642. 

I found them very interesting and would definitely recommend to read them if you want to get an idea what sustainability science is all about.

What were your expectations on the programme and your life in Lund and have they been met so far?
I was expecting an interdisciplinary programme, but was also, since my background is in social sciences, a little bit worried about the natural science part. Fortunately it is a good balance between natural and social sciences. Having visited Lund before I knew how the city looked. It is pretty and full of old and quite impressing university buildings and students are everywhere! It is really a student city, which has its pros and cons. But if you feel that you need a break from the student life, the nations and the university, you can easily go to Malmö or Copenhagen.

The best thing so far has been the three day field trip to Breanäs (part of the Earth Systems Science course). Less than two weeks into the programme we, this big group of students and teachers, went to a beautiful house in the Swedish countryside. Not only did we learn a lot, but we also gained a group spirit that we could not have gotten in the class room.

A thing that I did not know about Swedes was how much they like to dress up for parties! There is no party without a theme. You always have to think about how to dress up on a budget. Not spending too much on funny costumes is definitely something that encourages your creativity!

What do you think about the teachers?
I think they are really motivated! They all have very unique ways of teaching and you really see that they know their topic; they are definitely specialists in their subjects. I think they take us very serious and at the same time challenge us: They give us their knowledge and our task is to merge it into something new. I can see that they think that we, the students, are important and we can even participate in research projects etc.

What do you think you will do after LUMES?
I could see myself working at one of my former employers, but I also think my studies here are a really good opportunity to try something different. I can imagine myself working for a NGO or company or even doing a PhD. Sweden is a great country, so I wouldn’t mind staying in Sweden!

Sophia Schuff from the USA
Sophia Schuff

What did you do before you started LUMES?
I was a student at Portland state university in Oregon, USA. I was studying architecture and community development.

Why did you want to come to Lund, Sweden and study Environmental Studies and Sustainability?
I studied abroad in my junior year of university at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. This was an incredible experience for me and I absolutely fell in love with Scandinavia. I also felt a large pull toward the Scandinavian understanding and use of sustainability as applied to work and studies. The final factor for me was that my boyfriend lives in Malmö and I wanted to study in Sweden to be close to him. 

What were your expectations on the programme and your life in Lund and have they been met so far?
I expected that the program would help harness an understanding of sustainability that I could apply to my previous studies in architecture  and community  development. I had expected a more hands on  approach  than we have however. The program is much more conceptual than I had expected. I do have a knowledge of sustainability that I did not have previously though.

How is the teaching culture?
The professors are very helpful and knowledgeable. The LUMES professors put an incredible amount of time and care into their courses which makes the program experience very enjoyable. Of course, some professors are involved in research and unable to give enough time to their teaching.

What do you think has been the best with LUMES and your life in Lund?
I would definitely say the best part of LUMES is the people who share the course with me. We are all so diverse and knowledgeable in many fields. This creates not only a wonderful working environment but lasting friendships that one could not find elsewhere.

What do you think that you will do after LUMES?
My hopes are to work for the public sector in Malmö or Lund on community development and urban planning. I am working on learning Swedish so that I will have a better chance of working in Sweden!

Vitaliy Soloviy
Vitaliy Soloviy from Ukraine

What did you do before you started LUMES?
I worked at a NGO, promoting sustainable lifestyles, also for some time – on developing the Green Campus movement. Meanwhile, I studied management at the Institute for Ecological Economics at the Ukrainian National Forestry University, where I also focused on ecological economics, sustainability governance and environmental sociology.

Why did you want to come to Lund, Sweden and study Environmental Studies and Sustainability?
My friends told me about LUMES and after talking to my research supervisors, some previous LUMES students, reading more about the programme on the website and checking out some of the masters theses (available online) I decided to apply!

What were your expectations on the programme and have they been met so far?
Someone said that the less you expect the more you get. I was imagining an international classroom, loads of readings and a warm atmosphere. I certainly got what I was expecting and much more! There are lots of opportunities here – to learn, engage in different activities and perform cutting-edge research. I like attending, for example, PhD defenses, events organized by LUCSUS, the Swedish Institute, LUSIC (Lund University Social Innovation Center), Hållbart universitet (Lund University’s environmental student organization) and Ett Grönare Lund (a local democracy and urban gardening project). A couple of weeks ago I was at a great lecture by Dan O’Neill from the University of Leeds on a conference about Green Jobs (it turned out to be about steady state economy). A lot is organized by students (e.g. yesterday my classmate Lucian hosted a Fair Trade dinner with presentations, discussion and live music.

How are the professors?
I’m now finishing the second course of the first semester and so far I really like them. Each is a unique personality with an ocean of life experience and good sense of humor. Turaj Faran encourages us to dig deep into social theories and organizes a film club, including discussions at a Pub. Kim Nicholas made cool experiments with grading, debates and peer-reviewing, and cooked delicious vegan cookies for us! Both of them used diverse teaching techniques, invite guest lecturers for in-depth presentation of certain topics, they are both very responsive to student initiatives. Amanda, the programme coordinator, is doing a great job keeping it all together.

What do you think has been the best with LUMES and your life in Lund, so far?
I really like the culture of generosity, openness and mutual experiential and spiritual enrichment at LUMES. The programme is intense, but there are some opportunities to relax, for example, I play guitar in the LUMES band, we often cook in food families, and study in groups for exams. 
I really appreciate the ancient charm of Lund, and how student-friendly it is in every possible way. Lund University does a lot to make student life as cosy as possible: welcoming weeks, Swedish dinners, IKEA trips, free excursions to Kulturen (the museum). I also like the opportunities for outdoor activities, (recommend hiking in Soderasens National Park!) and traveling – Stockholm and Gothenburg are few hours by train away, not mentioning Copenhagen, which is about 40 minutes.

What do you think that you will do after LUMES?
I want to live a descent and meaningful life. Right now I’m interested in developing meta-narratives that would foster transition towards post-growth society and adaptive governance models supporting them. I’m also curious to discover ways of interacting with people that nurture the art of being and reverence for life – might turn into organizing some performances and festival-conferences.

Emily Norford from the USA
Emily Norford

What did you do before you started LUMES?
I was working as a project coordinator for an international environmental think tank in Washington, DC. Before that I studied at Connecticut College, from which I hold a BA degree in Environmental Studies and French.
I initially hoped to enroll in LUMES immediately after my undergraduate studies, but am grateful that I ended up gaining valuable work experience in between!

Why did you want to come to Lund, Sweden and study Environmental Studies and Sustainability?
I wanted to study in Sweden because it has a reputation for being an environmentally progressive country. I also wanted the experience of being an international student. As part of my bachelor’s studies I spent a semester abroad in Geneva, but was somewhat isolated in a small program of American students. This time I wanted to be integrated with students from all over the world, in order to gain a global perspective on environmental issues.

What were your expectations on the programme and your life in Lund and have they been met so far?
I was expecting a very global experience and an international atmosphere, where I could engage with people from other countries and see what it is like to be a minority – this has been interesting and rewarding, and is what I have liked the most. The programme is very interdisciplinary, and we’re exploring environmental challenges from all different angles. I’m looking forward to our sustainability science course and some of the elective courses in our second year.

I had not visited Sweden before I started LUMES. Overall I’m feeling very welcome and everyone speaks excellent English, but Swedish signage reminds me that I have a new language to learn! I’m from the east coast of the USA, so to me the culture here isn’t all that different from what I am used to. I like that a more sustainable behavior is the norm.

How is the teaching culture?
The one thing that has been most different from what I am used to is that here we have one course at a time, and it meets every day for 6-8 weeks – very different from my undergraduate experience. There is a culture of learning from our peers and being collaborative rather than competitive. The teachers really try to place themselves with the group and strongly encourage class participation.

What do you think that you will do after LUMES?
From the day we arrived, we have been exposed to different ways of viewing and approaching a variety of important environmental issues – there are many possibilities to explore, and I am still trying to determine what most attracts me. I see myself working to address global environmental challenges, perhaps focusing on sustainable/climate-resilient urbanization. I previously assumed my career would involve working for NGOs, but now I am also considering the impact I could make through other types of organizations.

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