Prashant from Nepal
How did you find out about your programme?
"I was working back in my home country of Nepal as an electrical engineer. I did my Bachelor's in Power Engineering and was working in the power sector. While working, I thought I should steer my career more into different energy sources. I thought I should now focus on how can we make the system more sustainable and better for our future. This question led to searching for programmes focused on energy systems. That's how I found out about this programme. I was searching for different universities all over the world and Sweden was one of my prime country choices. I saw that Lund had this programme, so I looked into the website and its objective aligned with my interests. I thought, 'Okay, this looks like something I would really like to study.'"
What do you think about the programme so far?
"I belong to the first batch of students graduating from this programme. Being the first cohort has its ups and downs. A lot of things are experimental. There are new things being introduced to our curriculum so you do not always know what is coming. But there are good aspects to it being a new programme as well. I come from a system where your teacher decides everything. They make the programme, and they decide on its courses. You have no say in it. Here at Lund, things are attuned to students. Course conveners want to see how we are feeling about the programme and what we want to see in it. They involve us so much in designing this programme. I think that is the best part. We can give proper feedback to them and they do their best to make us feel comfortable. Things have already been developed and changed due to this feedback and I think it's going to get better and better with each year."
What can prospective students expect going into the classroom?
"If you are like me and have an electrical background, I feel like sometimes you might feel a little lost in those courses because they're more about mechanical stuff, or thermodynamics and energy. But as things go forward there are courses about solar power and wind, and you start to bring it all together. I feel like my knowledge is more complete now, but initially, I struggled. During my first class, they taught me about combustion engines. I thought, "What am I doing here?”
When we talk about the future, we think of electric cars, batteries, and cars that run on hydrogen or other technologies. But later on, as the course progressed, I realised that "Okay, they don't want to teach us about just engines, but they want to make it clear that engines are here to stay and the question is: How can we make it cleaner?" That's how the course is designed.
I think Lund has a strong department in terms of combustion and turbines. You need to have it in the back of your mind so you are not shocked if it is something you are not used to. The concept of energy is so vague, it can be a lot of different things. You might have a certain expectation going in, but see something different when you come here. Just be open to that."
Do you work in a laboratory or a regular classroom?
"It depends. In some courses, we have laboratories. For example in the solar course, we had a proper lab where we had to work with small solar panels. We produced data and analysed it, and the same with power systems. But in other classes we have modelling where we implement models that we have learned in theory into software, trying to get results from there.
In some subjects, we also write academic papers. These papers give you an opportunity to look through the coursebook and see what interests you the most. Let's say, we have a paper on environmentally-friendly electricity generation. You can write about whatever interests you the most: solar, wind, or maybe site management, tariffs or energy economics. "
What practical experience or networking opportunities have you gained by being in this course?
"This year, we have a project course. I had an opportunity to contact professors from all the departments. They were super flexible to include these projects. I'm working with the electrical department, trying to involve data science in it, with programmes like machine learning for energy engineers. It's quite futuristic. Data science and machine learning are important for every field. I think that when we have opportunities to go interdisciplinary it helps us network with more people. We take courses in solar, which are taught by people constructing solar technologies. They're teaching us how to integrate solar into buildings, and how it looks to have solar in our houses, things like that. They also bring some input from material science, tackling questions like "What are new technologies that are being used to manufacture solars? How efficient are they?" There was also one course on environmental issues where we pondered upon how the future will look from an environmental perspective. We might think we need more batteries, but what is the realistic scenario for manufacturing them? Is it sustainable? These kinds of things make the programme more holistic and inclusive. "
What are some of the differences between being a student in Nepal and being a student in Sweden?
"First, academia. You come here and your professor tells you to call them by their first name. It took me some time to get used to that. It sounds super strange, but I think it's really nice! I like this almost equal relationship between the student and the teacher. Also in terms of group work, everybody is super involved. In Nepal, if you're working in a group, there are people who just do it for the sake of the requirement. One person is working, the other is just compiling stuff, and someone else is presenting. But here, everything is much more collaborative. People are engaged and have different points of view. Back at home, I never expected anyone to express their opinions. Here it's so much more diverse but also mutually respectful. I think the quality of the work is super good. "
What surprised you the most about Sweden?
"One of the surprising factors is that Swedes don't use many spices. Everything is either too salty or too sweet. But I really like the cinnamon bread they have here. The coffee culture is really nice as well. Since filter coffee is so common, I've been drinking like two cups of coffee per day – though I need it anyway.
I think the way they treat academia here is also different, it's like work. People leave early in the morning, study the whole day, go back home, have their quality time, and all that. I really like it. Back home, you only study during the exam period, try to score as high as possible, and then forget everything. Here, you're working little by little every day. This semester I'm studying four courses at once. I think it's a challenge that will teach me a lot about time management and working under pressure."
What's your biggest piece of advice for a prospective student from Nepal?
"Firstly, learn how to cook. In Nepal, it's common to live with your parents. Not knowing how to cook is quite usual there, because so is eating out. But in Sweden, you need to control your budget and be practical. In terms of academics, try to think more critically, rather than just agreeing with everything that your group says. For example, now I'm taking a course in power systems, which I already have some background in. But here, the way the course is designed is so different compared to what it was like at my previous university. We used to spend hours trying to memorise the formulas. Here, you can just look them up. In Nepal, we used to spend so much time on unnecessary things, here you need to be more analytical and form your own opinions. You should learn how to back them up. At home, your opinions don't matter, only facts do. In Sweden, you can form your opinions and test them with what you learn. I think it's quite important. Your creativity is being not killed, it's being respected. It's becoming enhanced. "
Want to know more about study spots at LTH? Check out Prashant's blog post!