Nearing the End – Part Two

Hej hej,

It is finally time to post my final blog as a CIE blogger. Before I get overly sentimental, let me fill you in on what I have been up two over the past several weeks.

Drawing of the common bream by Houghton.

Drawing of the common bream by Houghton.

In terms of school, I’m still attending class on a regular basis. Our current lectures have shifted away from water treatment, moving more toward the realm of river and lake restoration. This past week I found myself out on two excursions. The first was on Tuesday and took us to Höör and Hörby to witness biomanipulation in action! Everyone in class piled into little motor boats so that we could catch up to some small trawling vessels that were attempting to catch bream. In this particular lake, the bream are removed in order to maintain a habitat that favours pike perch. Before we left, the men working on the trawlers tossed us three huge bream to take home. Now, I should say that in Sweden bream is considered a ‘junk fish’. That is, it is often a fish that people would not eat. However, many of the fish species we currently consume were once considered junk fish as well. We eat them now because the species that were highly sought after have all been overfished. So, with this in mind I managed to convince some of my classmates to help me cook the bream. This bream eating party didn’t actually happen until Thursday, but I must say it was worth the wait. We ended up making a fish stew, as well as an American style fish fry using beer batter. Both were pretty phenomenal. The one draw back I suppose was that the bream was quite bony. However, the bones themselves were on the larger size, so picking them out was quick and easy.

Okay, enough about eating supposed junk fish, back to the excursions. Our second excursion took place Wednesday afternoon and evening. In the afternoon we broke up into small groups and were assigned a 400m section of river to habitat map. This is easier said than done. The river was not easily accessible, and my group found ourselves having to take turns touching the electric fences to see if they were operational. Thankfully, all our fences were off. All in all, we spent about three hours mapping this 400m stretch. It involved a lot of climbing, as well as a fair amount of sinking into what looked like solid ground, but in actuality was some kind of epic mud pit that deeply wanted to devour shoes. Later in the evening, when all the groups had reunited, we walked around in large patches of farmland listening to frog calls. This was actually super cool. We found a pond that was making quite a lot of commotion, and using our lights we were able to spot a few different species (below are photos of a few of the species we were hunting for). We eventually made it back to Lund shortly after midnight.

Spadefoot toad.

Spadefoot toad.

Fire bellied toad.

Fire bellied toad.

Great crested newt.

Great crested newt.

Hackeberga.

Häckeberga.

Now, as for my free time, well I’ve been up to the same old. A small group of us enjoyed a hike in Häckeberga one weekend. While on another weekend we did a cycle trip to Lomma again. More interestingly however, was celebrating Valborg. I’m still uncertain as to why and how Valborg came to be, but it was definitely a spectacle to behold. Basically, it consisted of every student in Lund coming down to the city park with loads of beer, food, and a picnic blanket. People began arriving as early as 8am to reserve their spot, and begin the partying. I arrived sometime around 10:30 and was completely overwhelmed by the huge amount of people already there. Quite frankly I had not even realized this many people even lived in Lund!

Häckeberga.

Häckeberga.

Passing the rapeseed fields while on route to Lomma.

Passing the rapeseed fields while on route to Lomma.

Action shot!

Action shot!

 

Picnic during Valborg.

Picnic during Valborg.

Where are you?

Valborg: Where are you?

Valborg, early afternoon.

Valborg: Early afternoon.

With my exchange experience coming to a close, I really feel the need to reiterate just how amazing these past nine months have been. Before leaving for Sweden, I felt as though my life back in Toronto was becoming too comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends, but I was getting that itch to shake things up. What I love most about traveling and living abroad is that you never know what you’re going to experience, and thus, what you’re going to learn. The education I have received from Lund University has drastically increased my confidence in regard to my research abilities. This confidence lead me to apply for research positions, and now I’m happy to say that I will be spending the summer working for The Seagrass Ecosystem Research Lab in Miami, Florida. I would never have looked for this position had I not participated in the exchange program. On top of spending the summer in Miami, I am also in the process of searching for a UofT professor who can take me on as a 4th year project student.

On top of the exceptional education I have received, I also have to give credit to the phenomenal people I have met during my stay in Lund. I think many of these people do not realize just how much they have inspired me, and how they will stay with me as I carry onward to my next adventure. I can only hope that I manage to someday cross paths with these fine folks again. And of course my door, wherever that might be, will always be open for a friendly visit.

Tack så mycket Sverige! It’s been a slice.

Abby

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