Andrés from Spain
How did you find out about Lund University and this programme?
“I did my Bachelor’s in biology in Spain. I finished in 2015 and after that, I focused on getting some experience in different jobs. I then decided to continue my studies and go more in-depth within plant biology, which is my main interest in biology. I decided to enrol in a Master’s programme. I checked different universities and I thought this was a really nice programme with a lot of possibilities.”
What did you like about the programme at Lund that made you choose it?
“I checked the courses when I was applying, and I found that they were all new content to me. In other universities, some of the content overlapped with courses from my Bachelor’s. Also, all the departments at Lund have a focus on climate change, which I’m very interested in. This concept of nature and way of thinking about conservation and applying it to every field is one of the main things in Sweden in general, which I think is really good.”
What has been your favourite course so far in the programme?
“The last one about plant function, but maybe I will say that again after my current course. It included plant physiology, how plants really work, how they relate to the environment, how they photosynthesise, all the metabolism etc. There was a lot of lab work, but it was very interesting.”
Do you typically have a lot of lab work or practical work in your courses?
“Lab work is an important part of most of the courses. Some of them also include fieldwork where you take samples and then work with them in the lab. In that way, you’re able to apply all the theory you’ve learned, which is really good.”
What is your long-term career goal?
“I really want to continue with research. I will probably apply for a PhD, but I’m not sure in which field. Within plant biology, we have a lot of choices, including whether we want to focus more on production or conservation or evolution.”
Do you feel that you get a lot of networking opportunities or information within the programme?
“That’s actually another one of the great reasons to come to Sweden. I have found there are a lot more opportunities to continue on, especially with research. I’ve been asking professors and the student advisors, who are really helpful as well, about PhD opportunities or even summer jobs. If you want to try someplace first, you can start with an internship and if you like it, you can continue with a PhD. So far, they’ve been really helpful with providing a lot of information.”
How is the teaching style and the relationship with the professors compared to what you’re used to in your home country?
“I like it. It’s quite different. You focus on your own work here and the professor guides this work. You have a lot of seminars where you first have to read at home and answer some questions. You then work together with the group to solve the questions and the professor will help you if you have any problems. I find this very positive because it gives you some autonomy in your education.”
What makes plant biology differ from the other biology specialisations?
“Plants are the basis for all ecosystems. This Master’s programme focuses on them more, so you can understand how they contribute to the ecosystems and what their relation is to climate change as well, that is how they store carbon etc. It also focuses, if you want to take this path, on production and crops. That’s a very hot topic right now because of climate change; since conditions are changing, you need to adapt your crops to the new climate conditions. You can choose to study plant conservation as well. In the end, all living forms are dependent on plants, even humans.”
Why do you think prospective students should choose the Master's in Plant Biology?
“I would recommend this programme if they’re interested in this ecosystem approach and how ecosystems work. This programme is a nice opportunity to go more in-depth in that field. There are not many students taking it. This year we’re actually only three students. I guess animal biology is more interesting in the beginning because animals move, but if you go in-depth into plant science it’s amazing! All the things that they do and how they relate to the environment without having a brain or a nervous system – it’s very interesting. A lot of people think they’re very simple but they’re definitely not.”
What’s it like to be an international student at Lund?
“It’s very nice because there’s a lot of student life and people from many different countries. It’s always really positive to have different cultures together and to get to know people from other parts of the world. You can have different experiences and try different food. I love food. I live in a corridor and we always have dinner together, so there’s always a lot of different foods there, which is really nice.”
What do you think about the city of Lund and the Skåne area?
“I like it a lot. I’m from Madrid and I lived in Madrid for most of my life. It’s a really big city, which is positive in some ways, but I wanted to move to a smaller place. Lund is a perfect size for me. You still have hospitals and theatres and all the services you need in a city, but it’s small, so you can get anywhere by bike. I use my bike to get everywhere. It only takes 30 minutes to cross the city from one side to the opposite, which I like a lot. If you like hiking, you have nature reserves really close to Lund. That’s very positive to me. I’ve been visiting some places around Skåne as well, some national parks. I was kind of scared about winter, but I liked it even when it was snowing.”
Has anything surprised you about Sweden?
"The people, in a good way. I was actually expecting them to be more difficult to talk with and get familiar and confident with. I was greatly surprised when I actually got some Swedish friends really fast. I’m living with some Swedish people and they are very open. I also love this ‘fika’ culture! I find it a very important part of daily life. It is about using your time for different things, don’t just focus on work all the time. As this is a student city, there are a lot of events, ‘sittnings’, workshops and other things if you’re interested. I find Swedish people very active with sports and all kinds of activities they do.”
Do you have any more advice for prospective students?
“Just come here! I like the city. The Master’s is very interesting, and the opportunities you have for the future are greater here than in other places.”