Consider a relevant but distinctly different area of specialisation if you’re thinking about pursuing a Master’s degree. Don’t let it be a review of your last two years of Bachelor’s. And if an undergraduate degree in your home country is sufficient enough to launch your career, you should be cautious of the standardised higher education system in Europe (Bologna Process).
It would appear that the greater the number of references cited in a journal article, the greater its scientific heft and value. But doesn’t that just mean you don’t have much to add to the topic? Wouldn’t the real breakthrough discoveries depend on extraordinary talent and insight, and data collection and analysis devised completely from scratch?
Probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me was from a total stranger on a free walking tour of Ljubljana during my backpacking trip there last summer. I was travelling alone then. She said she was compelled to strike up a conversation with me because I had such a calm demeanor - a certain serene and tranquil vibe if you will. Totally made my day.
When I was much younger I always thought that my parents never had any fun. But actually it’s because back then there was no such thing as the internet or instant social media sharing.
There will never be a 15 second video on my father’s Instagram of him in his 20s drinking with buddies at a bar, or a complete timeline of his milestone events on Facebook, or some genius hashtags attached to a Tweet. Few of the many carefree and happy moments of youth even make it into the photo album - we’re talking physically tangible printed photos of course. When we consciously “meet” our parents as a kid and begin to know them they are probably in their late 30s or early 40s already. As we age and experience the modern day hardships of reality we may begin to relate to them more - but too often with waning optimism for the days ahead, and always, with a certain disconnect in understanding and empathy owing to the generation gap.
Think about the time either one of your parents told you about a surprisingly hilarious, embarrassing, or dorky story from their adolescent or university years. After accumulating many of these endearing stories, didn’t you feel the generation gap shrink? Didn’t you think that they were the coolest and that you could totally go backpacking with both of them around the world at 25?
That’s why I’m so immersed in technology, social media, and personal chronicling. I’m archiving a digital version of my inner child for my future children to meet. It brings the family together.
Collaboration with fellow classmates here is not as easy as back home since we do not have a “homeroom” or a computer lab just for water resources engineering students. I actually really miss the CIVE lab.
I thought I would get used to the commute times between Leuven and Brussels but constant train delays makes for frustrating journeys three times a week.
A majority of my courses this semester are modelling courses involving excessing amounts of data analysis, calibration, and debugging. There are simply not enough help hours and not enough teaching assistants to run the course smoothly.
Over the last year and a half there haven’t been very many deliverables for my courses. In general, it’s much less stressful here not having to worry about graded weekly assignments and midterm exams.
There are tutorial sessions but they work completely differently. Instead of systematically guiding you through the assignment questions and giving you hints, there’s a random Q&A period and then you are left to struggle with it on your own because the TA is always helping someone else.
My thesis topic is slowly coming together and narrowing itself down to a more manageable scope. The overall topic is climate change impacts on the water cycle and their impacts on river basin management planning but I’ll be focusing on desalination in southern Spain.
Still not so sure what services the universities can provide to help us with our research. I’ve heard nothing about any lab space or dedicated computer room with the right modelling software that we could take advantage of. Right now I’m just summarising journal articles, which is not research - it’s literature review.
The trend continues: very much removed from the party scene these days due to the increased workload and looming deadlines.
But I did party in Brussels (Anti Tapas Party) until the wee hours of the morning for the first time and we took the earliest train back to Leuven at 5 am.
Board games are a great way to spend a casual evening indoors.
No mini weekend explorations to new country, which is a little disappointing. I did however enjoy a little day trip in Aachen to see their Christmas market a few weeks ago.
When I’m not studying I’m either at the gym, outside running, reading a book at home, or spending evenings rock climbing and having dinners with friends.
Lunch breaks at the Brussels campus are the rare moments of campus life we have left.
Belgium university life in general is strange to me. Since the country is so small, almost everyone travels home for the weekend. Every Friday there’s a mass exodus of kids dragging their suitcases to the train station. The whole living freely and independently thing is more of a North American college obsession I suppose.
It will be my second chance to experience the holiday season in Belgium. I should really explore the Christmas markets in the region a bit more thoroughly if I have the time.
I’m in serious tennis withdrawal since it’s a little too cold to play on the free outdoor courts now.
I’ve developed a permanent grudge against city halls here because it seems as though they have no idea what they are doing with the residence permit renewal process.
Chocolate waffles used to only be a treat when I travel around Belgian cities but now I view them as normal snacks.
Haven’t been trying new beer varieties lately despite the fact that a new bar opened up in Leuven recently claiming to have the most types of beer in the world.
Super deprived of cheap but good Japanese and Korean food it’s not even funny anymore. It’s just sad now.
Learning that even the local Belgians us the phrase “typical Belgian” when referring to the country and its overly bureaucratic inefficient systems. I’m not the only one!
I’m getting inspired to be more productive with Evernote, Wunderlist, Toggl, and Last Time apps… But I think I’m just more frustrated at how Apple’s own solutions (Notes and Reminders) fail at functionality and UI design.
What are our forests really made of? From the air, ecologist Greg Asner uses a spectrometer and high-powered lasers to map nature in meticulous kaleidoscopic 3D detail — what he calls a very high-tech accounting system of carbon. In this fascinating talk, Asner gives a clear message: To save our ecosystems, we need more data, gathered in new ways.
As Asner states, technology is crucial. “Traditional” environmental engineers working with sewer pipes, wastewater, landfills (etc.) are being left behind using age-old tables and equations in handbooks. Geography and GIS technologies are improving at a rate faster than we can interpret this new data.
“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.”—Wilfred Peterson (via psych-facts)