Amanda Backlund traveled to Argentina with a Linneaus Palme scholarship. "Be open to go to places you weren’t first thinking of or choosing a topic that would not appear to you naturally. This will give you the best opportunities for a successful exchange and thesis."
You are doing your Master's thesis in Argentina this semester through Linneaus-Palme. How come you applied for an exchange programme?
I had been curious about studying abroad since I first started at SLU five years ago. My plan was initially to go for a semester or a year, however when this didn't work out I decided to search for an opportunity to write my Master's thesis abroad. I had heard about MFS and was doing research about it when I came across the Linneaus Palme collaboration between SLU and UBA, Universidad de Buenos Aires. Overly excited I emailed the people in charge that day, and thankfully I was awarded this grant.
What did you do there? What was your thesis about?
I am, together with a classmate, doing research about the possibilities of developing community garden streetscapes within the informal settlements in Greater Buenos Aires. Our focus was to enhance social cohesion between the residents living in the informal settlements and the formal city. As a part of the Linneaus Palme exchange programme, we also got to participate in the course Proyecto Urbano at UBA.
The thesis you did, how is it linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
We have linked our work to the SDGs by exploring different scenarios of community garden streetscapes. The community gardens we suggested fit the circumstances at the specific site and we wish to find ways to improve the infrastructure and social structures. We have linked our work to the goals: 1. No poverty, 2. Zero hunger, 3. Good health and well-being, 10. Reduce inequalities, 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 12. Responsible consumption and production, 13. Climate action and 15. Life on land (Rogge et al. 2018 ; UN n.d.).
What have your learned during this time?
I don’t know where to start. This year has been special to everyone with the ongoing crisis (Covid-19) and I cannot deny that this has affected us. We we’re in Buenos Aires when Argentina went into lockdown and we struggled to come back to Sweden. I bring this up as I want to express how grateful I am for all the people arranging this exchange. We had help from teachers at SLU and UBA pretty much 24h. We arrived back in Sweden safe and sound and all is working well on remote too. We have class and supervision, partially in Spanish. This has been challenging and I’m very proud of how we’ve pushed ourselves. I have learnt tons from this exchange, from start to finish. I feel like we are a part of something bigger and that is very inspiring.
Did you exchange studies give a taste for an international career?
Yes, absolutely! I think we have much to learn from others, traveling and working in other countries could be away to pick up new knowledge. I’m also fascinated by different cultures and could for that reason also be open for an international career.
What is your advice to someone that is interested in doing their thesis abroad?
Start doing your research early. Some projects aren’t that easy to find and you may need to contact a few people before you find something what interests you.
Also, be open to go to places you weren’t first thinking of or choosing a topic that would not appear to you naturally. This will give you the best opportunities for a successful exchange and thesis.