Anna Keuchenius, 1:st year of the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Complex Systems Science 2014

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What is your educational background?

I have studied the first year of a bachelor in "Mathematics  and philosophy" in England. Thereafter I did (and finished) a bachelor in Econometrics.

What made you apply to Chalmers?

I did not apply to Chalmers directly. Im doing the international Erasmus Mundus degree "Complex Systems Science". I must say that I didn’t know much about Chalmers, except that it is supposed to be a good university.

How satisfied are you so far with the program?

I am a satisfied.  The program offers a diverse set of courses that all sound very interesting. Many relatively young motivated professors are involved in the program, from various fields. This is very motivating for us as students.  It shows that there are lots of opportunities for this field to grow and develop.

What I also like a lot are all fellow-students. Students' academic backgrounds are very diverse and this creates an interesting group. In a seminar two hours a week all students give a 20-minutes presentation about a topic in complex system science they are interested in. This is a great way to get to know fellow students and all presentations so far have been very inspiring!

One negative point is that, in my opinion, we don’t get enough time to really think about the methods that we use and what these assume and imply. This is mainly because the homework- exercises, that are mostly straightforward programming exercises, take up most of our time. However, I do think we will have more time for some deeper understanding later in the course.

Could you please name the elective courses you have taken already and are planning to take?

I took "Stochastic Optimization Algorithms", "Functional Analysis" (outside CAS program), "Computational Biology I" and "Simulation of Complex Systems".
I will take "Information Theory" and "Dynamical Systems".

In what way do you believe the CAS program is likely to boost your future career or personal development?

I don't know how my future career is affected by this masters degree, but I don’t mind. Somehow I feel that there are enough career opportunities anyway. On a personal level I am definitely growing due to these studies, and I am sure this will be boosted when we can start doing research. With the Erasmus program we already do some research the first year and I´m very much looking to really dive into a subject.

What do you plan to do in the future (industry, academia, research, management or consulting, branch of industry/field e.g. automotive industry, finiance etc.)?

I consider a Phd. Also, I would be interested in consulting (strategy consulting or organizational consulting) if I can apply the theories/methods of complexity science.  Actually I can imagine myself working in lots of different fields, but always for an innovative company with ideals.

Was/is it hard for you studying CAS coming from econometrics?

It is challenging for me since I did not do any physics, chemistry or biology since my 15th! In high-school I took this range of courses called "Economics & Society" which did not contain any beta sciences (chemistry, physics, mathematics etc.), except for mathematics. The theories that we learn are in themselves not too difficult for me to understand, but it is hard to follow/interpret their applications (in physics and biology).

Why did you choose the Erasmus Mundus Master, and what are the main differences compared to CAS, Gothenburg?

Complex systems science is very interdisciplinary and that attract me the most. The very same "rules" or mechanisms are present in all different aspects of life. The way we have divided up the "sciences" is just one division, there are many other divisions possible and complex systems science looks across these boundaries.

The whole approach of complex systems science is so interesting: we study systems that are in between randomness and clear-cut patterns. It´s very philosophical as well, I think this is the second thing that made me choose this program.

The main differences with CAS is that with this Erasmus Mundus Master you study in two countries, one year in each. Also, we have a bit more freedom in choosing our courses: some courses are mandatory to take but we have some "free space" as well. In the first year approximately one period we can dedicate to doing our own research, which CAS students cannot do.

Which universities did you choose to study at and why did you choose them?

Warwick University. I actually did not pick these cities myself, I was placed by the Erasmus committee. I am very happy with their decision.

What is it like studying at more than one university in a short amount of time?

I think that one year is not really a short amount of time. I have studied abroad before for one year, and in one year you are actually able to really settle down. Since we are away from "home" for two years, you will "leave" the life you were living. Of course you stay in contact with friends and family but it's very different from doing an exchange for a few months or half a year.

Studying at different universities is very nice! You get to appreciate the strong points of each university much more. For example, Im now enjoying all these very modern and new computer labs at Chalmers. Everything is very well arranged, with lots of helpful staff at the library and other desks. At the university of Amsterdam, on the other hand, everything is very poorly arranged. At the economics faculty I had to queue ages if I needed to fix a (silly) administrative thing.  However, the buildings of the University of Amsterdam are spread in over the city centre and have lots of character. On the Chalmers campus I sometimes feel a bit cut off the world.  Sometimes I go to the University of Gothenburg, that reminds me of the university of Amsterdam, to enjoy the old buildings with study rooms full of brown old furniture and art. Just pick the best out of all worlds.

Would you like add additional comments to students considering the Erasmus Mundus Master?

Go for it: its great! (But do prepare to put a lot of time into the studies)

Which country are you from?

The Netherlands.

Why did you choose Sweden and Gothenburg in particular?

I've been wanting to go to Sweden a long time, because of the nature and the mentality of the people. Everyone here acts very environmental friendly and with moderation. There is no excessive consumption (such as in America). People are very happy.

How do you find it in Sweden?

Jag älskar Sverige!