Have you been accepted to Environmental Communication?

First of all: CONGRATULATIONS! This may be the beginning of a very nice experience. In this post I will tell some practical details about moving to Uppsala and a brief summary of the masters.

Housing: I recommend you to start looking as soon as you have the time. I used this website: https://studentboet.se/en You may also take a look to Facebook groups such as “Uppsala University Buy and Sell”. There may be less posts than rooms becoming available because people ask first friends of friends when moving out. So, one option is to post on Facebook groups yourself.

Through Studentboet, I directly contacted my landlord by email and introduced myself a bit. I commented that I had shared a flat before, and wrote Hej! (hello) and Tack (Thank you) in swedish, just to be nice. I did an interview on Skype first, and when I got a “yes” I signed a contract in advance. I started looking for accomodation in June and I got my room in July, so even being late, it worked out in the end.

Relatively central neighborhoods are: Kåbo, Eriksberg, Ekeby, Luthagen… Flogsta is “the student area”, a bit out of town. I lived in the city instead of near SLU, and although biking to SLU takes some time, I got used to it quite fast. My experience is that you can go by bike everywhere (20 min average), so I recommend you to choose a room/flat considering your flatmates, how long the contract will be, and price. You can expect from 3.000 to 4.000 SEK/month for a room.

ECM posts guide:

  • What’s ECM about? I made a post in April 2018 for those accepted this year. If you read other posts you will realize that there is a mix between social theory, discussions, and practice through activities such as research in groups, role plays, presentations, group assignments… etc.
  • Internship: Details about where students did their internship are mainly in two posts in September 2018.
  • Group projects: We had four in our first year. Group projects entailed interviewing people from outside of university, presentations and written work. Individual grading is independent from group projects. The individual grading is done through “home exams”, so it is not about memorizing.
  • Master Thesis: The topic is your own choice. There is a database with finished master thesis called EPSILON that you may want to visit. You just need to “click” Environmental Communication and search: https://stud.epsilon.slu.se/cgi/search/advanced

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Environmental Communication 2017-2019

I can say very few things at this point, except that “we are done” with this masters.

I think that’s the only thing that “finishes” right now. Many things have begun and changed since we started our studies, or at least that’s my impression. For example, my perception of Sweden, its winter, the people I met the first weeks and those that I could say I know now. Some people were with you although they weren’t here. Some people faded away, and some appeared and stayed.

So, maybe getting to pass all courses of the master’s degree is the most linear sequence of events you can expect in these two years. And I cannot tell how it will feel for you, nor how it feels for others, but my experience is that it’s been nice to be part of “this”. I can only tell that I would do it again. No matter what comes next. I think it’s worth it.

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Thesis process in an image:

This was shared on social media by one of my classmates. 🙂

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“FIKA Break?” Master Thesis work in progress

Working on the Thesis is certainly a slooooow process. Luckily, we came up with a few ideas to make it sweeter:

Some classmates discussed a plan to keep in touch. So, the plan is to meet everyday at a library in town and to study at SLU on Tuesdays. We ususally meet at lunchtime, and although not everyone is there everyday, those who go share that time together 🙂

Another idea was to do turism as well as studying. How? Every now and then, visiting towns around Uppsala by bus and studying in a cafeteria.

The most popular idea: FIKA break? … Too many fikas and so few written words for the Thesis, so far.

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The perfect student town, Uppsala!

Uppsala is a relatively small city, but there is plenty of room for students. Both SLU and Uppsala University offer many resources to students, such as book loans, kithcen on campus, study rooms and group rooms that you can book in advance. Now that I am writing my thesis, I appreciate I can borrow books from both universities.

When I had class at SLU, I could heat my food in the kitchen’s microwave ovens, and have lunch with my classmates at university. While being in town, I have access to the city public libraries and to Uppsala University libraries. This makes it easier to meet up and study if you decide living in town (Approx 35 min away by bike from SLU).

There are thirteen Nations, which are historical buildings owned and run by student associations. Usually, students pay a fee of about 250 SEK, like 25 euros, for a semenster and join a nation of their choice. Each nation is named after a region in Sweden, and students may join the nation representing the region they were from or any other. When I first came to Uppsala, me and a friend from southern europe joined Norrlands nation, for example. As a memeber you can access all the nations’ cafés, pubs and parties. These are also far cheaper places to hang out in Uppsala!

The nations and available resources have my experience as a student easier, and happier too. Hope this info helps,


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Fridays for future

Last Friday there was a climate strike also here in Uppsala. I went to the city center when the protest was almost finished. Some friends who study Sustainable Development were there too. We went to have a Semla (a traditional bun with cream) to a café afterwards, and discussed our thesis work and about what we just saw: a few kids, who must have been about six years old, asking for signatures at the square. Images like that may pose unconfortable questions about responsability and how we may understimate ourselves and young generations about what we can and cannot do.

We commented on what an achievement is for Greta Thunberg to have reached so many people at her age, and the strenght she has shown. “We do need hope, of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.”
TED Talk – Greta Thunberg

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SLU Campus (January 2019)

Snowball sampling – I read this term in a paper (see below) and it catched my attention. I think it describes well how my work “finding interviewees” has been so far: from one person to another. It all started with one email forwarded to all students from a researcher in the Environmental Communication division, which contained some Master Thesis topics suggested by someone outside university. I first showed interst, and later I asked “if they knew someone working with ecosystem services” (which is my topic). I followed this approach with their contacts and other people I contacted independently as well.

Blicharska, M., Hilding-Rydevik, T., 2018. “A thousand flowers are flowering just now” – Towards integration of the ecosystem services concept into decision making. Ecosystem Services 30, 181–191. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2018.03.001

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Working during your studies?

Bearing in mind that ECM lasts two years, it is likely that you, future student, may consider this posssiblity. In my opinion, it is recommendable that you come to Uppsala with enough money to cover your first year of studies full time, at least. Finding a summer job here or back home can be safe card to play in order to both ensure that you get the most out of your studies, which is why you are studying a masters in the first place, and earn some money to cover your expenses. Keep in mind that if you are living at a student accommodation, you will not pay rent during summer… so you can save money then.

These are just a few stories from what I’ve experienced, seen and heard around here:

  • Swedish is required for most jobs. Good news are that there is hope for those who do not speak Swedish: You can try to learn Swedish at SFI (Svenska för invandrare – Swedish for Immigrants) for free, or online before coming here. You can check www.arbetsformedlingen.se to see vacancies offered by the employment public service.
  • It is possible to find a student job? Yes. Even without Swedish, I know four people who worked at restaurants, pubs, teaching, and leading yoga classes knowing basic Swedish. Also, two other non-swedish speakers found admin and librarian roles through contacts. Here, like in many places, it makes it easier to find jobs when you know people! These jobs were part time. Other international students were working online, and for Deliveroo or similar delivery companies.
  • Working for the Nations. Many students work at the pubs and cafés when they want to. I met a student who worked at the Nations first, one day per week during the first year, and then met someone who knew someone who worked at the theatre and she works there now part time. However, working for the Nations can be on voluntary basis and when paid, the payment is very low (35 – 40SEK/h). So, it is an option for learning and paying some of your groceries, but you cannot live on that in Uppsala.

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Did we have an impact? Maybe…

A classmate who participated in the group project we did for the
Conflict, democracy and facilitation course is now in Berlin as an Erasmus student. She is doing her assignment on risk management, and she will be focusing on, as she called him: “our old friend” Habermas, and communicative rationality. Because our group field research in Gotland was focused on trust and collaboration in water management, she wanted to integrate our findings in her assignment too.

Interestingly enough, while doing her research, she found current documents describing the situation in Gotland very differently than a year ago:

“The water resources are exposed to various threats and risks. At the same time, there is a risk of conflict situations between different areas of use. This can, for example, be about the influence of individual sewage, agriculture, the lime industry, but also the nature conservation interest is an opposite interest to the water supply. Water protection areas are perhaps the most important measure in a long-term perspective to ensure the quality of water supplies. The protection of public water resources is currently insufficient on Gotland, and extensive work on establishing and reviewing water protection areas will have to be done in the coming years.
Regional water supply plan for Gotland County

– Goolge translation from the original:
Vattenresurserna är utsatta för olika hot och risker. Samtidigt finns det risk för konfliktsituationer mellan olika användningsområden. Det kan till exempel handla om påverkan från enskilda avlopp, jordbruket, kalkindustrin, men även naturvårdsintresset är ett motstående intresse till vattenförsörjningen. Vattenskyddsområden är den kanske viktigaste åtgärden i ett långsiktigt perspektiv för att säkerställa kvaliteten i vattentäkterna. Skyddet av allmänna vattentäkter är idag otillräckligt på Gotland, och ett omfattande arbete med inrättande och översyn av vattenskyddsområden kommer att behöva göras under de närmaste åren.”
Regional vattenförsörjningsplan för Gotlands län. 18/12/2018

As she put it: one year ago no one wanted to call it “a shortage” and now not only they do, but they acknowledged the need of preventing a risk of “conflict”, which they didn’t really see at the time”


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Winter wonderland

When I first heard the word “Samis” was on a lecture in the introductory course. Although I had heard the word “Lapones” (Samis in Spanish), I mainly heard about this term in the sentence “En Laponia hace frío” meaning “In Lapland, it is cold”. Now, thanks to the courses and being here, I got to know a bit more than that!

Some of the lectures during the introductory course were centered on traditional knowledge and indigenous communities. We read research papers about the Samis, representation and collaboration. In fact, a classmate won a scolarship for her Thesis work, here a link to her Thesis: Grönvall, Agnes, 2019. Governing orders at odds in Sápmi : assessing governability in trans-border reindeer herding with help of social impact assessment. Also, there are open lectures on varied topics in Uppsala, such as one I attended about what challenges reindeer herders face with climate change and urban development.

One memorable moment for me was visiting “Jokkmokk’s market”. This is a Sami market organized every year, where I saw handmade crafts, reindeers, dog sledding, and walked on the frozen lake without even knowing it, actually. I bought one thing I really needed at -22ºC: wool socks.

Some recommended literature (1st course, 2017):

Larsen, R.,Raitio, K., Stinnerbom, M. & Wik-Karlsson, J. (2017) Sami-state collaboration in the governance of cumulative effects assessment: A critical action research approach. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 64: 67–76.

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