Roadripping with Batch 17, blog story by Erika

February 20, 2023

I’m Erika Kalkofen, a Batch 17 MESPOMer from the USA. Following my studies in International Relations, I spent 2 years in Zambia working with farmers on conservation farming techniques to adapt to climate change. This experience sparked my passion and interest for environmental sciences.To gain more knowledge in this field, I applied to the MESPOM programme.

I was impressed by its alumni network and, its interdisciplinary offerings made environmental sciences easily accessible for students with a different background like me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this journey and, while sad to have such an amazing experience nearing its end, I am excited to be working on my thesis topic on the scaling of biochar for soil applications (with the potential practical output of a mobile app!).

I had originally picked the Lund track but switched to Manchester for my Year 2 Fall Semester as I wanted to get more experience with data modelling and GIS/Remote Sensing.

As I did not have a scientific background, the Manchester track allowed me to step outside of my “comfort zone” which was rigorous but rewarding. The professors were engaging and patient when explaining difficult concepts and an additional perk of studying in such a big university was the availability of a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities.

As the fall semester was coming to an end, our MESPOM group decided to take a well-deserved break and have a final get-together before some of us parted ways to complete our theses at different universities.

Many of us had not yet been to Wales, so we decided to head to Llandudno, a beach town in Northern Wales, where we were blessed by amazing weather.

It was surprising and hilarious to notice how often what we learnt in our classes came up during the trip – for example, during a morning hike on the slopes of Great Orme, we identified the Orographic precipitation and Rossby waves forming at the Welsh coast.

Because we had rented a van, we were able to take day trips to Snowdonia National Park and Holyhead Island. Besides the unforgettable landscapes, it was simply wonderful to share these moments with my classmates, cooking, watching movies, playing games, and hanging out together.

Our Wales trip was a huge highlight of my MESPOM experience, and I hope future batches organize similar trips. Many of us are unsure what the future holds as we finalize our thesis topics and start to job hunt, but one thing is for certain: the friends and experiences I have made through MESPOM will accompany me for life!