Make university an adventure with Industrial Experience

Jodie Lilley is a third year studying Biology with Industrial Experience programme, and whilst currently on placement abroad at Lund University in Sweden, she is already looking toward the next horizon. Take a look how she plans to carry on expanding her university adventure…

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My area of research here at Lund University is evolutionary ecology – more specifically, looking at whether or not the pollination system of different populations of Lithophragma (a plant species) can affect the reproductive success of the plants, and thus whether the pollination system has an effect on flower morphology and other characteristics.

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Back in Manchester I have taken courses in a wide range of topics, from animal behaviour to neuroscience to a physics University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) course, and am definitely not set on narrowing down my subjects when I get back to my final year. This year is kind of like a test year for me to see what I want to do after I finish University.

In the meantime, I have been helping out with lots of different things at the lab here in Lund such as floral scent extractions, plant DNA extraction, taking care of plants and flies (and building fly shelters!), as well as lots of easier, albeit more mundane tasks, like weighing of roots and seeds… Nevertheless, the research side is really enjoyable and the weekly departmental seminars have speakers from all around the world, so they have been really interesting.

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Apart from the academic side of things, I’ve been really involved in the student life here: I have been on trips with the Erasmus+ network to Norway, where we did some glacial hiking and went on a weekend cottage visit to a scout hut in a nearby forest; my friends and I went to see Lapland and the Aurora Borealis or ‘Northern Lights’; I’ve been over to Copenhagen, up to Gothenburg and will even be going on a trip to Helsinki soon too – I’ve tried to get in as much travel as possible really!

As part of all this travelling I am also a member of one of the ‘Student Nations’ here, which are sort of like student societies but much larger and each has its own building: it’s just yet another way to make friends and socialize (and get food and drink that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!).

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If anything, for me, the thing that has stood out the most so far this year is the amazing friendships I’ve formed with people from all over the world. When I first arrived I participated in a 2-week international welcome programme where I was put into a mentor group designed to help international students get integrated into life in Sweden.

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This was so helpful: not only have kept in touch with a few of the people I met, I have also stayed with a Swedish friend in her family home when I was in Gothenburg whilst celebrating my 21st Birthday. During moments like these, I got to spend time learning about Swedish traditions and even other cultures: for instance, I attended a ‘Sinterklaas’ party, which is traditional way of celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands that I enjoyed with some Dutch friends of mine; I also celebrated Diwali with my housemate from India.

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It was through being a part of the Student Nations society that is was able to gain all these amazing experiences and, more importantly, all these friends – this is especially important to me because I was so anxious and indecisive about coming to Lund because I was worried about being lonely or not meeting anyone my own age, but that has not been the case at all!

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Next year, I will hopefully be staying in the Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in California, to do field work for my project in the spring; there is also the possibility of helping out with other closely-related project work in Greece and Italy – but as I said, I am certainly not limiting my options!

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