What Rike says about the Master's in Biology, Aquatic Ecology
Rike Weber from Germany
How did you find out about Lund University?
“I took a Bachelor’s in biochemistry in my home country Germany and I switched to ecology for my Master’s. I started my Master’s degree in Germany, but I didn’t like it that much, so I looked for something else. I was always really interested in ecology and environmental issues outside of uni, so I was looking for something related to that to study. I actually started at Lund with an Erasmus exchange last year. I hadn’t started the programme yet; I was just looking for something else and there happened to be a cooperation between my uni in Jena and Lund. They have a lot of ecology courses here. I wasn’t sure back then if I wanted to do aquatic ecology, but I took a lot of aquatic ecology courses and it came to me that I really like being in water. I also do water sports. In the end, I quit my Master’s in Germany and decided to stay here.”
What has been the best thing so far about the programme?
“I really like that you have 8–10 weeks focused on one subject, so you can really dive into it. You don’t have to do 101 things at a time and have ten exams at the end. I think the courses are all really well structured. All the professors I’ve had were very enthusiastic and really wanted us to learn something. They gave a lot of feedback, which I wasn’t used to from Germany. I’ve learned a lot from it. The grades were not the main focus; it’s more about doing it and learning it. I’ve really liked it.”
What has been your favourite course so far?
“They were all really nice, but ecotoxicology was my favourite. I first took the normal ecotoxicology and then the applied ecotoxicology. I really liked the way you got all the basics in the first course and then you could apply it and do literature research projects and applied projects in the second course.”
Do you typically have a lot of lab work or field work in most your courses?
“It depends on the course, but yes! In the beginning there was one week where we went to a research station close to a bunch of lakes. I’m doing my thesis now, and I went to Denmark twice for three days and got fish samples. It’s a quite good balance of field work, lab work, writing and research.”
What are you focusing your thesis on?
“It’s about the migration of roach, which is quite a common fish here. The question is why some go from the lake into the stream and some don’t, so how they partially migrate. Right now, I’m taking blood samples from the fish and studying them.”
How is the teaching style and the relationship with the professors compared to what you’re used to in your home country?
“All the professors and PhD students are involved and they are really trying to transfer their knowledge to you and help you. I’ve always felt I can just email someone if I have a question. I feel really comfortable. There’s always a lot of work, but I’ve never felt really stressed out. That’s so different from what I experienced in Germany.”
Why do you think prospective students should choose the Aquatic Biology programme?
“Aquatic ecosystems are super interesting because we can’t live in them, so we can’t connect with them in the same way we do with other ecosystems. When you study aquatic biology, you start to connect with how everything works in the ecosystems underwater. I think there’s a lot of different courses to choose from, so you don’t have to do everything in aquatic biology. If you’re also interested in conservation biology or something else, you can take courses in that as well. It’s really open, so you can pursue your interests.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I considered a PhD, but I don’t think I want to do that. I really like doing studies, but I think academia is a quite narrow and special way to go. I want to apply the knowledge I have now, also concerning how climate change and environmental change affect us and ecosystems out there. I want to pass on that knowledge to people who aren’t into ecology or environmental sciences. I don’t yet know if I’ll do that through journalism or in some other way, but I want to bring out the knowledge somehow, because I think there’s a big gap between academia, the science community and the general public outside of the science bubble.”
What’s it like to be an international student at Lund?
“I think it’s really good. Everything is in English so that’s super nice on the one side, but on the other side you don’t learn much Swedish because it’s not needed. I can really recommend Lund for international students. There’s a very active student life. It also has Malmö and Copenhagen really close by, so you get to see a lot.”
Do you have any favourite places to go around Lund or outside of Lund?
“I live a bit outside of Lund, in Knästorp, and that’s one of my favourite places. It’s really nice to get out of the city a bit. We also went to Småland with a small boat once, and there are lots of lakes and woods there. There’s a lot of ecology and nature out there, which is nice. I’ve been once with a class and once with friends.”
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities in Lund?
“I am part of Food Sharing in Lund. I was also in the environmental committee of Wermlands Nation, and I was a ‘förmän’ (foreman) there last semester too. I’m also involved in a lot of activism around Lund, for example Extinction Rebellion. We’re trying to build it up around Lund.”
What have been the highlights of your time in Lund so far?
“I just got to know so many amazing people that have influenced the way I think. My most recent highlight is that I’ve moved to the countryside and I really enjoy that now. It really feels like a community. In general, I feel like I’ve had two years now where I didn’t feel pressured or stressed about uni. So, I’ve been able to get involved and do things on the side and that’s been really cool. There was actually a festival on permaculture outside of Lund. I helped organise that and that was definitely a highlight.”
Do you have any advice for prospective students coming to Lund?
“I think it’s super nice if you want to get to know people and get started, help out in nations and all the student organisations. Try a sport! That really helped me. Also try to learn a bit of Swedish.”