Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology
Ylva took the opportunity to visit a unit that is really good at what she is researching. She got help from colleagues in Berlin to book concert and museum tickets in advance. Her tip is that it may be a good idea to book and plan things like this well in advance of the trip.
Hello Ylva. You are a doctoral student at the Department of Educational Sciences. What is the topic of your thesis?
Hello! My doctoral studies are in the teaching and learning of chemistry, and I am studying sensemaking in chemistry at the upper-secondary level.
You travelled on an Erasmus exchange in spring 2022. Tell us more!
I travelled to Berlin to visit the Chemistry Didactics Unit at Freie Universität. I spent four jam-packed days there, gaining insight into how they teach chemistry teaching and learning and how they structure it for their students studying to become chemistry teachers. This involved gaining insight into their goal documents, courses and curricula, and attending lectures from their various courses.
How did you make contact with someone in Berlin?
I met a doctoral student in chemistry teaching and learning during the ESERA 2021 conference (a European conference on science education), who I contacted after seeing his presentation. Freie Universität has a highly ranked teacher training programme, and since I teach chemistry teaching and learning myself, I was interested in how they structured their instruction. I also invited the doctoral student to come and talk about his research at our department's higher seminar.
How early in your doctoral studies did the mobility take place?
During my second-to-last year.
Was this rewarding for your research and/or future career? In what way?
It has been a great asset to have in my CV in terms of teaching experience from an international perspective. My experiences there have given me several perspectives on how to conduct teacher training that I think can be very useful for my future career.
Have you created or strengthened networks that you think will continue to be of benefit in the future?
Yes, absolutely. The doctoral student I am in contact with is one of the few in the world who, like me, is studying the role of language in the teaching and learning of chemistry in schools. I hope for continued collaborations and have been told that I am welcome to come back if I get the opportunity.
What was most enjoyable or rewarding about the exchange?
Seeing how teacher training in Germany works, and of course visiting Berlin for the first time with a local guide.
What was most challenging?
German! I took an evening course in German before I left. I managed to get by with the help of that, Google Translate and a little translation help from the doctoral student who hosted me.
How did things work financially? Were you reimbursed for your expenses?
Yes, everything went smoothly. But you really need to set up a good budget and keep track of the receipts.
Was it complicated to apply for and report the exchange?
Not at all. I got a lot of help from the University with all the forms, and the professor at the host institution did not have to do much at all.
Is there anything else you want to tell us? Do you have any tips for other doctoral students who are also considering travelling abroad on an exchange?
I got several local recommendations about things to do in the evenings and in my free time, and I managed to visit a museum and a concert before going home, which were great experiences. It can be good to ask your hosts about things like that ahead of time, so you can book tickets. I even got help booking a museum ticket, as they did not take Swedish payment cards. The professor in the group I visited even gave me a recommendation about which hotel to stay at, and that was a really good tip.
The gifts from Lund University that you can take along are very much appreciated. I also brought a box of chocolates for everyone in the research group, which was also good.
You can travel to Berlin by train, which I thought was nice. But there was not much space for luggage on the Danish and German trains. I recommend travelling light if going by train, and having a bag you can stow in the shelf above your seat.