A week in the life of a LiU student: Week 4

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Hello everyone! Its a new month and I’m going to be giving piecemeal doses of the beautiful experiences as well as challenges of life as a student at LiU.

I began a new course Monday, January 21st. The time was 10:15 am. The venue was Linden at the university hospital campus. We were about 7 students in the room. Lasse Jensen, the course coordinator for cardiovascular science was connecting his laptop to the screen. He took a roll call and then gave us a rundown of what to expect during the course.

The course introduction was greeted with mixed feelings. The syllabus held promise for a very interesting albeit demanding course. We had a mentor’s meeting afterwards. It was like a reunion. You see, the last time the whole class was together in a room was sometime in November last year. We were either taking different optional courses or carrying out projects, so our schedules were extremely varied. After the meeting, most of us stayed back to catch up on what we’d been up to since we last saw each other. Especially the Christmas holidays. A couple of minutes later, I was riding the free campus bus back home.

 

Home made coffee from Costa Rica

The rest of the week began just like Monday. I stepped out that morning and was greeted with snow covered routes. Some bike paths had been cleared but I was in no mood to take any chances. Like most of my friends, I had fallen off my bike twice in December on such days when everywhere was covered in snow. I was not willing to increase the fall count.

So, I decided to take the bus. The first lecture on Tuesday left us hoping that all other course lectures would be delivered in a similar manner. It was quite easy to understand, and everyone seemed to listen all through with rapt attention. I definitely can not forget  Wednesday’s fika. I had the opportunity to taste home made enchilada, coffee  as well as  agua dulce (sugar cane drink) from Costa Rica. The venue was the fika room of the cell biology laboratory on floor 13. On Friday, we had the first cardiovascular biology laboratory session in the zebrafish laboratory. After an overview of the task at hand, we began to section and stain zebra fish specimen. Afterwards, we took micrographs of our specimen.

Zebra fish micrograph

The weekend had finally arrived. But then I had reports to hand in and course literature to study. By Saturday evening, it was time to take a well-deserved rest from work and in the company of a few friends, I did just that. The venue was Kårhuset Kollektivet. By 3:30 am on Sunday morning, the city center was still a beehive of activities. After church service later that day, I was ready for the experiences of a new week.

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January 2019 Biomedical Project Report Presentations at LiU

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In the experimental and medical biosciences master’s program at LiU, students are required to conduct a project in each study year of the program. In the first year, students can carry out either a 15-credit project (half semester) or a 30-credit (full semester) project. This provides students with relevant skills and experience to conduct an outstanding degree project in the second year. Thursday, January 10, 2019 was an opportunity for students who carried out projects in the autumn semester to present their findings. The program which kicked off by 9:15 am had in attendance master’s students; some of who stood as opponents of the presenting authors. Expert reviewers were present as well to give their remarks. Each presentation was moderated by the mentor/ examiner of the presenting student.

A seminar at the university hospital campus.
Photo Credit: Ibikari Allwell-Brown

Carolina Ervik opened the floor with a presentation of her project report titled “The influence of Alzheimer’s associated peptides on synchronized network function in hiPSC-derived cortical neurons”. Annabel Burkard followed with “The correlation of metabolic markers and growth in newborns participating in a probiotic prevention trial”.

After the second presentation, everyone took a break and reconvened by 13:15 for the afternoon session. Thomas Tan presented “Influence of culture medium and IGF-1 on MAPK pathways in chicken cardiomyocytes” and Johanna Radegard presented “Analysis of DNA Methylation differences in the pineal gland of chickens subjected to random illumination patterns”. After each presentation, the pair of opponents had the opportunity to analyze the project report. The expert reviewer then gave his/her assessment of the project report. The reviewer also assessed the author’s grasp of the topic. Other members of the audience were eventually given the opportunity to make comments about the presentation.

The program ended at 15:05. Everyone left satisfied. The presenting students with relief of having presented and defended their project reports. The supervisors with satisfaction of grooming the next generation of ground-breaking researchers. And the rest of us in appreciation of the opportunity to learn about a few more of the many interesting ongoing biomedical research projects at LiU.

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My first Christmas holiday in Sweden Part 2

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I couldn’t travel till the 23rd. I had promised to attend a party the previous evening and I did just that. I spent the day compiling the results from my project. Very early the next day,  I was staring at the snow capped rooftops and the glassy lakes through the window on the upper deck of the SJ train.  That had become my favorite seat choice for traveling around Sweden. With those seats came the opportunity to catch breath taking views of the city and country sides along the route. After 3 hours, I was in a bus on my way to my brother’s house in Uppsala.

At the cathedral in Uppsala. Took a few minutes to believe its a statue

Not long after arriving my brother’s house, we were out again. This time for some Christmas shopping. We decided to wait till the next morning to buy the turkey. There was no way the large stock of turkeys we saw could finish overnight. We were exhausted and in no mood to carry any more items that day. A decision we would regret as the turkeys were sold out by the next day.

When everyone had gone to bed, I sneaked to place my gifts under the Christmas tree. I had decided to help Santa with getting and delivering the gifts for that home. I remember the excitement in my niece’s eyes on Christmas day when she got to open her present from Santa.  The day after Christmas we attended the service of Christmas lessons and carols at the Cathedral.  I was fascinated by the lifelike statue. It took me a couple of minutes to believe it indeed was a statue. The next day, we were out again. Tourists taking in the city sights and shopping as we went along. We ended each tour day in a local restaurant to have dinner before heading home. By the 30th we were bored with the routine in Uppsala. So we packed a few things and by the next day we were in Stockholm.  We checked into a hotel and stepped out to continue our all too familiar task of touring.

 

We decided to take a boat ride. The smell of the sea breeze in the winter morning air was an experience I will not be forgetting any time soon.

Having dessert on the boat.

There was a tour guide showing us places of interest. There was music and yes, there were breakfast and lunch buffets. The boat ride ended around 4 pm and we proceeded to an ice skating ring. We were content with just watching other individuals skate. After visiting as many places in the city as we could, we returned to the hotel around 8 pm to get some rest. We were out again  around 10 pm to grab a late dinner before heading to find a great spot to watch the  new year fireworks. We followed the crowd and with the help of police officers stationed around to maintain order, we settled on a spot in front of a castle by the water front. A few minutes to midnight, a boat with it lights off, slowly made its way towards us and stopped right in front of the castle.   At the stroke of midnight, the fireworks were let loose. Blaring from the boat and lighting up the night sky. Greeted with cheers, whistles and shouts of  gott nytt år (happy new year)!

A few days later I was on the train, on my way back to Linkoping. The holidays were over but I probably smiled through out the journey as my mind was flooded with pleasant memories of my first Christmas in Sweden.

 

 

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My first Christmas holiday in Sweden Part 1

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As early as the 1st of December, the mood was palpable in Linköping. It all began with the official lighting ceremony. It was a beautiful Saturday evening  and the excitement had reached fever pitch.

There were several performances to entertain residents who had gathered at Stora torget, the city center. Then at 4pm, the lights came on. Christmas was definitely in the air. From the beautiful decors adorning stores to the lighted trees in front of houses.

Radio and TV stations made sure to remind their audience often about the season with Christmas songs and adverts. Retail stores displayed several deals and discounts for Jul mat ( Christmas food). There were Christmas rea (discounts) that could tempt even the most frugal customer. A shopaholic’s paradise.

I took a trip to Norrköping with some friends and the mood was the same. Christmas menus in every restaurant. Not to forget the sweet Christmas Glögg (wine). It was also the season of parties and dinners. Everyone seemed to have a good reason to organize one. Nobody complained though. We enjoyed every one of them. After all, it was the season to be merry. Or wasn’t it? There were local Christmas markets. Stocked with selections of the finest Christmas presents. One of the major student accomodation providers in Linköping organized a ginger bread house contest.

Christmas tourists in Norrköping.
Photo Credit: Aj Alkhabawi

The Christmas market at Gamla Linköping.
Photo Credit: Aj Alkhabawi.

Gingerbread house masterpiece

They provided all the materials and even threw in a complimentary bottle of wine. It was a perfect opportunity for students on the corridor to socialize over the bottle of wine as we put ideas and skills together to come up with a master piece ginger bread house. There was so much to talk about and yes, we had some christmas music in the background.

 

By the 21st of December, the student housing areas had become like ghost towns. Leaving behind endless trails of wheeled travel bags in the snow. The holidays had begun.

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The Lucia celebration, Christmas dishes and my first Christmas in a Swedish winter wonderland

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On Sunday 16th December, I awoke to the first snowy day in 2018 in Linkoping. The Christmas mood had engulfed the city since the beginning of the month when the Christmas lightning ceremonies were held at the city center with much pomp and glamour. But with the snow came the real Christmas spirit.  Winter was finally here. Literally arrived.

Lucia Performance
Photo Credit: Claudia Gründer

Within the past few days, I have observed with admiration several Christmas traditions in Sweden. Notable among them is the Lucia celebration. This famous tradition is celebrated every year on 13 December.

The Lucia tradition can be traced back  to AD 304 when St Lucia of Syracuse was martyred. She brought food and aid to Christians who went into hiding for fear of persecution.  She used a candle-lit wreath to light her way so that her hands remained free to carry as much food as possible.

The Lucia performance is made up of children clad in beautiful white gowns. The procession is led by a girl who plays Lucia with a crown of electric candles in a wreath on her head.  She is followed by her handmaidens, each carrying a candle. Also in the procession are star boys who carry stars on sticks.

This years Lucia celebration was observed by the LiU medical faculty outside of Delifresh at the Campus US. Students and lecturers converged at Rönnen after the Lucia performance to have lussekatter ( Lucia saffron bread), coffee and tea.

Lucia sweet saffron bread
Photo Credit: Elise Bauer

 

I will be sharing with you all the wonderful Christmas dishes I have had the opportunity to taste soon. So watch out for that.

 

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