Monthly Archives: November 2016

The student nations

I promised already a while ago that I would tell a little more about Uppsala’s student nations. The nations play an important role when it comes to student life in Uppsala. Or as they describe themselves: “The nations are the social nerve of the student-community with accommodations, scholarships, clubs, culture, pubs, associations, sports and a lot more – by students for students!“. Even though all aspects mentioned are true, I would say that the nations are most famous for their energetic night life. The roots of the nations date back all the way to the sixteenth century. There are currently thirteen student nations in Uppsala.

         
Gästrike-Hälsinge, Göteborgs, Norrlands, Värmlands, Uplands and Västgota
Source: Uppsalastudent.com

The nations are named after the Swedish provinces from which they traditionally used to recruit their members. For example if you were a student from far North of Sweden moving here to study in Uppsala, it would create a possibility to hang out with people from your area of origin. As Sweden is such an outstretched country and regular visits to your parents may not be possible, I can imagine it to be nice to speak to people who share your dialect or maybe local habits.  Especially in earlier times when the internet – or even phoning – were not existent yet. Nowadays almost all the nations allow everyone to join, no matter where you are from. Though in practice I think still many Swedes prefer to sign up for the nation that relates to their area of origin.

             
Kalmar, Stockholms, Södermanlands-Nerikes, Smålands, Västmanlands-Dala, Gotlands
Source: Uppsalastudent.com

Some of these nations are rather small, while others count many members. As a member of one of the nations you get access to all other nations as well. However, almost all nations will charge different entrance prices for club nights depending on whether you are ‘their’ member or member at another nation. Membership isn’t cheap, about €30 per semester, but you’ll get a lot out of it! The nation pubs are cosy and freely accessible once you are a member, and offer alcohol at a cheaper price thanks to some tax discount system. The activities organised are usually pretty fun and offer a wide range of possibilities. For example I have been painting at Kalmars nation, active with sports at GH-nation and spend now quite some time social dancing at both Smålands and Värmlands nations. But if you are really keen to become part of a nation, it is strongly recommended to start working at them. I haven’t done it myself yet, but heard a lot of positive experiences about it.

If you have any more questions – shoot!
Rosan

Zotero

So I went to this class in zotero. After salsa, bachata and kizomba I thought it was time for a new challenge. Just kidding, zotero is a system to sort your references, like endnote. But don’t you agree the name fits quite well in that list of social dances? Anyway, the zotero workshop was hosted by the library and you had to sign up by email beforehand. I had received a reply with the question if people could come an hour later to an extra workshop, as there was such a huge interest. When I arrived it turned out everyone else had shown up at the original time, and therefore I had a private workshop in zotero.

“The librarian called it enthusiastically ‘Magic for scientists!’”

As I told you a few weeks ago, I recently started with my degree project. Right now I am doing literature research and soon I should start writing. You are probably familiar with the concept of reference lists at the end of a project or report. I knew that some smart software had been developed to make this easier, but I had never used it myself. If the project is not too big and the reference list not that long, I think it’s a small effort to type it. But for the degree project I expect to end up with a big pile of references, so when I saw the invite to the workshop this seemed the perfect moment.

“If you are aiming for an academic career – publishing in scientific magazines – you are going to love this.”

It may sound like a dull topic, but it was pretty eye-opening! The librarian called it enthusiastically ‘Magic for scientists!’. It takes a small effort because you have to download a programme, a plug-in and make yourself a web account, but I think it’s going to be extremely time saving in the future. It seems very user friendly and easy to learn. And if you are aiming for an academic career – publishing in scientific magazines – you are going to love this. Scientific magazines usually all have their preferred style of reference lists and by using a programme like zotero with one click the lay out will change. That can be a life saver!

SLU has some very useful information about the programme on their webpage to get you started. Go have a look and become a science wizard 😉 Still some questions? Feel free to post them below.

Rosan

 

Cool dudes and red hot lies.

A few weeks ago I went to another lecture by CEMUS, the centre for environment and development studies that I wrote earlier about. The theme of this lecture was called ‘How climate change became controversial – examining the denial movement‘. I had been quite busy that week, but as I recently discovered that even some of my facebook friends are doubting climate change, I felt a strong need for deeper understanding. The guest speaker, sociology professor Riley Dunlap from Oklahoma University, was starting the evening with his lecture, which was followed by two shorter related lectures and a discussion.

“I am afraid that the American population electing Trump for president – a strong denier of climate change – is another indicator of how many do not believe, or do not wish to believe, that climate change is real.”

Dunlap started to explain the audience the history of the organized climate change denial. Truth is that back in 1988 when global warming was already noticed and became a social problem, a survey was held and 63% percent of the US population worried a great deal about this issue. A similar survey was held in 2015, showing that over the years the number had decreased to 55%. I am afraid that the American population electing Trump for president – a strong denier of climate change – is another indicator of how many do not believe, or do not wish to believe, that climate change is real. Dunlap talked a lot about the organization behind the climate change denial movement and how ‘invisible’ this ‘machine’ tries to operate. The scheme below shows the most significant relations between the different elements of organised climate change denial.


Dunlap and McCright, from the Oxford handbook of
Climate Change and Society, 2011. Click to enlarge.

Special attention should be paid to the column ‘Conservative Think Tanks’, often abbreviated as CTT’s. Dunlap spent quite some time outlining how this group empowers politicians, controversial scientists, activists, media and many others. For example there are quite a lot of books written on climate change denial. I did not make up the term ‘Red Hot Lies’ myself, this is actually supposed to be a serious book on how ‘global warming alarmists keep you misinformed’. Unfortunately, climate change denial books reach a large audience. These books may try to appear trustworthy and independent, but 92% of all books written on this matter in English language can be traced back to CTT’s. As a matter of fact, not a single one of these books is published by a university press.

It was shocking to learn about the many frightening similarities of the climate change denial movement  identical to that of the tobacco industry in the past. Something that had never really crossed my mind is how there are several types of climate change denial. To understand climate change denial, it is important to realize not everybody is denying the same aspects. According to Dunlap’s lecture, climate change denial can be split up into the following four groups.

  • Trend denial:
    The earth is NOT getting warmer
  • Attribution denial:
    Even if it is, human activities are NOT the cause
  • Impact denial:
    Should warming occur, the impact will be inconsequential or benign
  • Policy denial:
    There is no need for carbon emissions reduction policies

Dunlap’s lecture was followed by the British Kevin Anderson – visiting professor in climate change leadership – who gave an insight on how politicians are affected and threatened by the climate change denial movement on different levels. Finally Kirsti Jylha from the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University showed common factors in people who denied climate change, such as political orientation and ideological variables. As a matter of fact, the term ‘Cool dudes’ wasn’t my invention either, this refers to the main group of climate change deniers in the US, which are conservative white males. If you are interested, you can read all about them in this paper.

Before closing this topic I would like to mention some positive things as well. Because even though the climate change denial movement is massive in terms of power and financial capital; and yes, Trumps victory is a slap in the face of many, there are also good things happening. I would say that a large step forward to make people aware of climate change was the release of ‘Before the Flood‘, one of the most accessible and all-inclusive documentaries so far. I hope it will reach out to many, have you watched it yet? On a more local level: Last week the COP22 negotiations took place in Marrakesh and an inspiring group of Uppsala students travelled down by minivan – flying is a no-go because of the huge carbon emissions – to be part of this important follow-up of the Paris negotiations last year. They are keeping the rest of us up to date through their #minivandiaries, definitely worth a read.


Uppsala for climate justice. The beginning of the #minivandiaries two weeks ago.
Photo from The Minivan Diaries facebook page.

I hope this post gave you some insight into the topic of climate change denial. As usual all questions and comments are welcome. This is not my field of studies but I will try to answer the best I can.

Rosan

Project-work: Breeding & Feeding

Even though the horse course is officially finished by now, I would like to tell you a little bit about the project we have been working on during the course. It was introduced to us as followed: “In this project you will focus on a stud farm that you visit on your own in small groups. You will work with a breed from the list below. The breeds are chosen because they have different use and nutritional requirements. The project includes both breeding and feeding. When possible, a synthesis between the two parts shall be made.”. Our class was divided into four groups and the breeds we worked with were the Arabian horse, Gotland pony, the Swedish Ardenner and Pura Raza Española(PRE). My group had the Arabian breed and our study visit was absolutely fabulous, you can read all about it in this post.

“Although the breeds were very different, there were quite some similarities concerning the challenges.”

Working on the project took place alongside classes and practicals. Our group had decided to split the breeding and feeding parts initially and I ended up in breeding. The breeding part was divided once more into Arabian horse breeding on a national level and ‘on-farm level’. All chosen breeds are relatively small when it comes to the amount of horses in Sweden. Some of them have a large population when looking at a global level(PRE and Arabian horse) while others barely exist out of Sweden(Gotland pony, Swedish Ardenner). This strongly affects the orientation of the studbook and breeding strategies.

picture2cOur breeding scheme of Arabian horses on the National level

It was really interesting to compare the differences between the projects during the end presentations. Although the breeds were very different, there were quite some similarities concerning the challenges. Does the selection process match the breeding goal?  What genetic diseases could cause problems and how is dealt with the prevention of these?

“The nutrition part of the course has been very good and it was a great experience to put theory to practice.”

For the feeding evaluation we had taken feed samples on the farm to analyse the roughage. We had received all information on concentrates and supplements used and talked with the breeders about their pasture management. We calculated nutrition requirements for young horses, pregnant and lactating mares and compared these with the analysis of the feed provided. Combined with the results of the body condition scoring we ended up with a clear picture of the current situation and were able to come up with well founded recommendations. The nutrition part of the course has been very good and it was a great experience to put theory to practice.

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The main stables of Slängsboda studfarm

The most important part of the project was to analyse and evaluate the breeding and feeding practices on the farm, but other management aspects were also taken into consideration. For example our farm had one of the best stabling systems I have ever seen. Generally speaking it was spacious, light and clean. But it were the boxes that were outstanding. As most of them were without bars they allowed a wide range of social contact between the horses. The in between walls were removable, giving the opportunity to change box size and for example create a group-housing. However, this system was not only beneficial for the horses, it was also very ergonomic: Deep litter bedding required minimal daily workload and was easily removed mechanically by the end of the season.

All together I would say we learned a lot during the project. Also the teachers told us they were extremely pleased with the efforts the groups had made this year – Thank you all for well written reports! The best first versions we have read in many years!” – which was of course really nice to hear. If you have any more questions on the project or the horse course, please comment below.

Rosan

 

 

Around Uppsala: Fyrisån

Lund and Uppsala seem to be in a continuous competition about which of the two is the nicest student city of Sweden. A friend of mine who has lived in both places for a while told me that Uppsala wins to him without any doubt. The reason? Lund doesn’t have a river. This might sound a little strange, but also to me the river of Uppsala – named Fyrisån – is the heart of the town. It was one of the first things I heard about this place, that a river crosses through town. Neighbours of my parents had travelled through all of Sweden and had totally fallen in love with Uppsala in particular. I remember them say that they felt it was almost ‘French’; with beautiful small bridges decorated by flowers hanging over the river. Needless to say this is one of my favourite places around Uppsala – and I think it’s a top pick from locals and tourists alike.

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The flower decorations reflecting in the water, summer 2015

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Snowy trees hanging over Fyrisån in the city centre, last week

The river has not always been named Fyrisån. It was renamed in the 17th century to honour the Fyrisvellir plains. Before that it was called both Full and Sala. The river is about 80 km long and ends in lake Mälaren, at lake Ekoln (which I described in an earlier post). If you are in Uppsala and follow the beautiful bike tracks south along the riverside you will stumble apon our SLU campus Ultuna. This area is popular among bikers, hikers and usually there are many young parents here running while pushing their babies in those children-wagons. A sight that took me some time to get used to, haha. You can find many bird species and other wildlife as well as stunning sights around here. During summertime you may see people rowing or kayaking downstream.

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The South-Eastern banks not far from town
Summer 2015

And finally for students Fyrisån has a special meaning because of the Valborg celebration. Every year at the the last day of April a river-race is being organized by students on homemade rafts – which rarely make it to the finishline. This crazy tradition is extremely popular, the whole town seems to come out to watch.  My friends and me were there last year and it was so much fun. Absolutely worth it to sit on a stone bridge for hours to claim a good spot!

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Fyrisån full of students on homemade rafts during Valborg 2016

Feel free to leave a reply if you have any questions or comments 🙂

Rosan

 

 

Winter wonderland

Admitted, I wasn’t too happy with the sudden arrival of Winter, but who can stay mad at something so wonderful?

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Me enjoying the snow, made a gif of photos by Oskar Westlin (spot him in the upper right)
dsc_0314   dsc_0334dsc_0355‘Skägglav’, photo by Oskar Westlin
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dsc_0391A rabbit was here!

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I do. We are now hoping for kärle’, meaning that the frost will reach into the ground and the snow will stay. Otherwise we will end up with all this nasty ‘slask’  (translation: snowmelt) that won’t make anybody happy. Let’s wait and see and in the meantime enjoy as much as we can 🙂

Rosan

Ps. Do you remember the post about Flogsta? Well this is Kvarnbo, a three week time difference only. Hard to believe, right?
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The degree project

Last week we changed from the first half of the Autumn semester to the second half. It’s hard to believe already a quarter of this academic year has flown by again. I am kind of sad that the horse-course is over, but I guess all good things must come to an end. However I am planning on writing a few more posts on the course and also I haven’t gotten my exam back yet… so might not be over at all. However, for now I would like to tell you about my new course. Actually, it’s not really a ‘course’-course, I am starting this period with my degree project – also known as master thesis. This project is accountable for a quarter of the total amount of ECTS in the master programme Animal Science, so yes, kind of important 😉

“For most of us the degree project will be the first time to actually take part in an experiment.”

As I see it a degree project is kind of a sneak peak into academic life, like an internship on a PhD-position. Even though you may already have written a thesis for you bachelor, for most of us the degree project will be the first time to actually take part in an experiment. As a student in Animal Science this often concerns animal experiments, something that should not be considered lightly. Luckily a lot of these studies are not invasive to the animals, but it depends strongly on what direction your specializing in.

Right now I am going through the registration process and am working on my research plan proposal. This means that I already should have a clear idea of what and how I am planning to do the research. As my project is part of a larger project, certain things are already decided while other aspects are still open to my own interpretation. And of course everything is guided by your supervisor.

I am looking very much forward on the work ahead in the degree project but I must admit that the beginning is a bit of a struggle.  In Dutch we have a saying ‘Alle begin is moeilijk’, which literally translates to ‘all starts are difficult’. I think there’s a lot of truth to it, or at least there is for me, haha. However, there is another saying ‘Een goed begin is het halve werk‘ which means ‘a good start is half the job’. My point being that the start may be difficult, but doing the beginning properly will pay off later 🙂

Rosan

 

First snow.

Dear Winter,
we have to talk.

I know we just changed the clock to your preferred schedule, but it would have been really nice if you gave me some time to get comfortable with the darkness before we moved on. Yes, it is November now. But did that really mean it had to rain ALL day yesterday? Not to mention today, when you already gave me snow. I mean, isn’t that supposed to happen much later, like maybe after a month or something? You’re moving too fast. Even my bike thinks it’s too much, the poor thing doesn’t wear winter tires yet.

Sweden you are cool, very cool. Literally. And I am afraid I like you much more than I should – we both know this is temporary. But please give me some time if you’d like me to stay around.

Rosan

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Psst, don’t tell Winter, but  aren’t winter bike tires “dubbdäck” the coolest thing ever?
Photo: www.cykelfritid.se