What Floriane says about the Master's in Chemistry, Synthetic and Analytical Chemistry
Floriane from Switzerland
How did you find out about Lund University?
“I wanted to do an exchange, so during the third year of my Bachelor’s I looked at all the universities you can apply to. I knew I wanted to go to a Scandinavian country. I checked a few universities and the Lund University website looked really cool. There was a lot of information about the student life and that’s very different from what we have in Switzerland. I decided to go here and I really liked it, so I stayed for my Master’s as well.”
Why did you choose this programme?
“Chemistry is something I’ve always wanted to do. I used to tell my parents that I wanted to be a chemist and they always made fun of me. They said: "wait until you see what it’s like", but it turned out I really love it. This programme is called Master’s in Chemistry and it includes a bit of everything. I’m doing a specialisation in organic chemistry. I like that the Master’s is not that specific because you can do a lot and see lots of different things.”
Do you get a lot of time in the lab and doing hands-on practical work?
“Yes, we do. I really like this and I’m having a lot of fun. This year I’m doing my Master’s project, so I’m basically in the lab all the time, during a whole year. I really enjoy it!”
What are you doing for your Master’s project?
“My project is about galectins and the synthesis of specific inhibitors for those proteins as potential drug leads. Concretely I synthesise new molecules and test them on different types of galectins to measure their affinity and selectivity in order to make better inhibitors.”
What do you think of the programme so far?
“I really like the courses here, and the fact that you can pick your courses yourself, which is something you can’t do in Switzerland. I also really like that you can work on your Master’s project for a full year. You don’t have to do this though; you can also make it a one-semester project, which is what I did at first. I signed up for one semester because I intended to do two different projects. After I’d been working in the lab for a few weeks I realised I wouldn’t have time to do everything I want to do in just one semester. I spoke to my professor, who is really nice, and asked if I could extend it to one year. He said ‘of course you can.’”
How do you find the relationship between the professors and the students?
“My professor takes really good care of me. He’s always asking about my project and even about my wellbeing. I really like the atmosphere at the faculty. We also have a lot of PhD students in the group and they’re all really nice. We hang out and do things together outside of work hours, which I really like.”
Is the teaching style different compared to that in Switzerland?
“It depends on the course, but some of the courses definitely have a different teaching style. I’m used to going to a lecture where the professor explains something and you take notes. In Lund, I had one or two specific courses that were very different. In one course we were only two students. It was very informal and we had discussions rather than lectures. In the end we were not having lectures anymore; we had to read some books and present ourselves. If we got something wrong or needed some help, then the professor would help out. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot! I had another course like this where you had to read for yourself. It was two hours per day and the professor would join us during the last half hour and go through everything, and if you had questions you could ask. Everything else you had to do for yourself. It was very independent, and I really liked it.”
Do you have many opportunities for networking in the programme? Do you discuss your future career or PhD options?
“Definitely. It’s also just something that comes up in everyday conversations, especially with the PhD students in our group that I’m close to. We talk about where to do a PhD and what to do a PhD in. Everyone in the department knows each other really well. We have breakfast together every Wednesday and you always see everyone at ‘fika’, which is really great. I’ve ended up knowing a lot of different people from different places, which is great for networking.”
How international is your programme?
“It’s definitely quite international. I’ve never been the only international student in my class, and we have quite small classes. We are usually between ten and thirty people. Of the PhDs I know most are not Swedish.”
Why do you think prospective students should choose this programme?
“I think it’s a really good programme because you can select which kind of chemistry you’re interested in and take courses about that. I like the fact that classes are really small – it feels really personal. You often work as a team in the classes. We have so many exercise sessions where you have to solve problems, and everyone works together. I really like that; you learn a lot this way. We also have great professors who are really smart people. At the same time, it’s not that stressful, it’s kind of chill. It allows for a really good balance between studying and having a personal life as well, which is great.”
What’s it like to be an international student at Lund?
“I really enjoy it! That’s why I stayed. The people are amazing here and very calm and welcoming. There are so many activities you can do. I love the nations. I came for the student life and I really got what I needed. I’ve met so many cool people. I met a lot of exchange students as well, especially during my first year when I went out a lot. I’m still in contact with a lot of them, even though they were only here for a semester. I have a really good friend from Taiwan and I actually went to visit her, which was great.”
What do you think of Lund as a city and the surrounding area outside of the University?
“I like it. I think Lund is really cute, especially in winter with all the Christmas decorations. I really like Copenhagen as well. I go often since it’s so close.”
What have been some of the highlights of your time in Lund so far?
“I enjoy going on spontaneous trips with my friends. I never had the time to travel all over Europe like a lot of my friends did because I have classes that I need to go to, but I have discovered so many places around Skåne. I really like the southern part of Skåne and Ystad. It’s really beautiful and you can do lots of walks around there. I live in a house with 17 other students. I really enjoy it because it’s not a corridor, so it’s a bit quieter. We do hang out together all the time and it really feels like a family. During my first year, I lived in a studio apartment and it turns out I really don’t like living by myself, so it was really nice when I moved to my current house.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I’d like to do a PhD. I think I want to stay in organic chemistry because that’s what I do – I synthesise stuff and I really like that. It might be interesting to go into neuroscience as well. We’ll see!”
Do you have any advice for other students that are considering coming to Lund?
“You should just come! It’s a great experience. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t happy in Lund. You don’t have to stay for years, if you just come for an exchange it’s definitely worth it. You can meet so many people and do so many things that are really interesting.”