Towards the end of a Master in Applied Ecology

Hello and goodbye. Before the exam period and the Christmas holidays start I will disappear. First in my books and then to Germany for a while 🙂

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Today I spent the last day at home, going for a walk, drinking tea, enjoying Dostoevsky’s «The Brothers Karamazov» , before two busy weeks starts: preparing for exams, reading papers, last meetings before Christmas and writing reports and emails . Why start with all this on a Saturday? Because we have a tradition in our class to have small, self- organized working camps, combining brain-storming, discussing, repeating and proofreading. And one special type of those occasions are «working weekends» with one fellow student and friend of mine in her old and idyllic farm, close to the Rondane national park.

This weekend I expect a particularly intense session as we will discuss the quality of about 20 papers, and set them in the context of general scientific quality to prepare for our exam in the course «Topics in Applied Ecology». The course was intense, rapid and stimulating, and there is a lot of material for me to process and reflect about, which also makes me wondering about my own work and views. 

At the moment we also meet about three times a week for the course «Advanced Statistical Modelling», which gives us new knowledge and motivation to try to understand the analyzes the authors chose in all those papers we try to comprehend and evaluate in the other course.

The philosopher Peter Bieri said that reading novels lets us imagine the life of the characters and gives us more choices for our own life, leading to more freedom; I think, the same is true for scientific work. The more I read and comprehend, the wider becomes my imagination and the more conscious my choice of how to do something myself.  Because I cannot trust my own judgement about topics I am not very familiar with («oh no, is this stupid or am I?!» was a very frequent sentence in the past weeks), I am so lucky to be not alone with my opinion. We are only a few people in our Master class, but I am very thankful for each of those, sharing their views and thoughts with me.

There are only a few lectures left in my master studies, maybe even in my life. Then it’s almost over and only my thesis is left to write, mainly on my own.

But: In the past year we got to know each other, with our scientific and personal qualities and weaknesses in all the different experiences we shared. And we got a good piece of insight from our teachers, that good science is about collaborating, working and thinking together, improving and learning from each other. Therefore I think we are ready to stick together also for the last few months of our studies, ask for each others help and invest in each others success.  I am looking forward to this process, and to learn more about foxes, reindeer, and spiders of course 😉

Have a nice Christmas and good luck on your path! L.

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