Interviewing 7 GEMs: How is the first year as a GEM student?

Discover the experiences of these seven students from the GEM MSC who started their first year at Lund University (Sweden). Some of them will travel during their second year at the University of Twente – ITC in The Netherlands, while others will study at UC Louvain in Belgium.

The GEM MSc is a two-year programme that allows you to choose from 4 different tracks. Each track starts in one university for the first year and continues in a different university (and a different country) in the second year.

We are pleased to have you here today! Could all of you please introduce yourself?

Yan de Paoli: Hi, I am Yan! I come from Brazil, but I also have the Italian nationality. I have now been studying in Lund University for a year.

Sraboni Sarker: I am Sraboni, I come from Bangladesh, and the GEM MSc is my second Master’s Degree.

Anudari Bayarkhangai: I am Anudari, from Mongolia. Next September I will be going to the ITC Faculty, in the Netherlands.

William Krista Mahendra: I am William, from Indonesia, and in September I am also going to study at the ITC Faculty

Ingrid Martins Fritschi: My name is Ingrid, and I am from Brazil. Like some of my classmates, I will be studying at the ITC Faculty from September.

Ali Fakor: I am Ali, from Iran, and this is also my second Master’s. My previous Master’s was in Natural Resources, and I have a background in ArcGIS.

Ann Njogu: I am Ann, from Kenya. Next September I will go to study at UC Louvain. I have a background in Spatial Engineering with Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing.

What is your experience studying the MSc program? From an academic and social perspective?


Academically, the courses were very good. And looking back, it makes a lot of sense how the courses were structured, because we started with basic GIS, and then advanced GIS followed by Environmental Modelling and Remote Sensing. In this last course, we were able to use the knowledge that we acquired in the first courses. As for the social aspect, I experienced social life in Sweden to be a bit limited, but it was still a good experience.


In my case, I did not have much background knowledge in the field, mostly basic GIS and Remote Sensing knowledge, so most of the materials were new to me. In the beginning, I struggled a bit but my classmates provided a lot of help. I learned a lot and I am very happy about that. It was my first time in Europe, and I fell in love with Sweden. I like this country a lot.


From an academic perspective, I would like to highlight that the staff at Lund University are very, very helpful. When I don't understand something, they make sure to allocate their time to explain it thoroughly and discuss it with me. Additionally, my next year will be at the ITC Faculty, and some staff have already helped me build up my coding background. Socially, I am really enjoying studying here. The biggest downside for me is the climate, as it is colder than what I am used to, but overall, I have had a great experience studying here.

What topic will you choose for your Thesis and why?


I'm not sure yet, but I think that I will go for something that involves remote sensing and environmental modelling. I would like to combine those two topics that we learned and apply them to agriculture. I will be going for my second year to UCLouvain in Belgium. I have looked into the research staff that I could be working with, and they have a lot of experience in the area I want to study.


In the beginning, I thought of choosing a topic related to ecosystem modelling. But after following some lectures, I realized that I am more interested in software related to GIS and Remote Sensing. I will do my 2nd year at the ITC Faculty in the Netherlands, and they offered a topic dealing with WebGIS. In the end, that is the topic that I chose.


When I started the GEM MSc programme, I wanted to do something with precision agriculture, because I love machine learning and I would like to bridge machine learning and geo-information science. I haven't really thought about the exact topic I will do in Belgium, at UC Louvain. I would really like to do something with agriculture because I'm very passionate about food and hopefully I can find a topic related to it.

Will you do an internship?


In my case, I have an offer right now. I'm really hoping it goes through, as it's a project with Lund University and several other institutions. The main institution is ICIPE in Kenya, which is a Centre for Insects and Pests. I also received an offer from the ICD in Belgium, but it starts in September, and I also want to follow my courses. 


Since July I will be doing an internship in Brussels, Belgium. It will be an internship using Remote Sensing in a company called Constellr. They work with space engineering and remote sensing insights for agriculture areas. I’m looking forward to it.


I have received an internship offer yesterday and quickly contacted the ITC Internship Coordinator for her approval. The internship is with the Smithsonian Biological Institute in the United States. The internship is about UAV datasets collected in Mongolia. I will go in the summer to help them with data collection, but the internship is in data processing and will start in September. It is a 6-month internship, which is quite long. I also want to still follow courses, so I have to see how to work it out. 


I haven't searched for an internship yet. I decided to do it at the end of the course. I would like to work in forest preservation or something in that area, perhaps Tropenbos in Wageningen could be an option. 

Will you do fieldwork to collect data for your thesis?


Yeah, I would love to go into the field to collect data. But my future supervisor already has done data collection for the topic I will work on. But perhaps it is possible to collect additional data as well. 


I would like to, as well. There was a topic offered that I chose involving data collection in Brazil, so I hope that fieldwork is indeed happening.


The good thing is that we already had some experience with collecting data and doing fieldwork for a specific project in the last course. It was nice because we had a very special opportunity to get to know the countryside.

How do you aim to continue developing your career after GEM? Will you seek a career aligned with the same topic as your Thesis?


Good question. I'm not sure if I want to go for a PhD or work in the industry. I’m relying on the second year to decide, so it also depends on my internship experience. It's going to be my first working experience within the EU. I am still considering doing a PhD, but this also depends on the opportunities.


I would prefer to gain some working experience first, and then maybe I can consider doing a PhD after some years, but I want to see what the market is for a job first.


My priority would also be to find a job in the industry. I would like to work in my field of expertise.


Well, I have not really thought about this yet. I do want to do a PhD but not directly after my Master’s, maybe after two or three years. I would really like to go back to Bangladesh with my experience in geo-information science.