Indian Dinner in Edinburgh

Just when I thought of a topic to write about for my first ever blog, my mind became blank. That’s why it took me these many days to finally post it.

This is about the third instalment of our gathering in Prof Grunde Jomaas’s house, for Indian Dinner party on 20 November. For the ones in Ghent curious about the previous occasions- the first was potluck dinner where we all brought dishes popular in our own countries, and the second was PIZZA night.

As Grunde mentioned, it is really overwhelming, especially for us first years- to come to a new city far away from home and continuously interact with new people in a new environment with totally new type of studies. It is more so for me- as someone who never was away from her family for more than half a month, until the day she stepped outside of her comfort zone and came to join the IMFSE family.

So these dinners served as “breather” for us. We got to know each other, got to talk about own country and culture, and just have fun without the care of the world (not literally, but well, we got to escape from doing our assignments and studies for a while). And this time too, we had yummy foods in front of us while chatting (with chips and drinks).

We wanted to do something for Grunde for taking care of us in this new place. So we got a small gift for our dear professor- a chess set (and a card with all of our names on it).

Interestingly, we got to celebrate Chamith’s birthday that day with a super delicious chocolate cake made by Fearghal and Leo. So we (I, who loves cakes a lot more than she should) had the chance to taste the cake, along with the Indian food of our own choices.

Thus, it was a great party for the third time to enjoy ourselves, just before the nightmare begins (exams are on the way… … …)

Picture Credit to Cathleen and Vicky 😀

P.S. I am bad at giving titles, apologies.

Finding the Story within the Data

Firstly, apologies for the reduced amount of blog posts recently. Whether you’re in Edinburgh or Ghent, the workload during semester three is um… let’s call it thorough. Luckily we have a new batch of blog post authors who have recently been handed the passwords to the site, so there should be a whole lot of new content coming soon.

Looking back through the IMFSE archives there’s a history of students writing about their experiences with the Fire Science Laboratory subject we second-year students undertake in Edinburgh. And really, this isn’t surprising given how much people enjoy watching things burn. However, this subject is about so much more than that. (To get a brief idea on the types of tests we undertake, have a look at Darko’s nice summary here).


The Fire Science Labs can best be described as doing a series of mini-thesis’ every fortnight for the duration of the semester. If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it can also be incredibly rewarding. Whilst we have a general brief of what is to be undertaken each session, what data we obtain, how we obtain it and most importantly what we do with it is entirely up to us.

Depending upon which literature each of us review, we can come up with our own pathway through the data to tell our own story. It’s always surprising discussing the report process with other students and seeing the vastly different, but still entirely valid, directions they’ve taken the analysis.

Whilst there have been more than a few late nights managing these tasks with the other coursework, I have been able to broaden my understanding of the mechanisms involved in fire, practically validate common design correlations and get a taste of fire safety engineering research.

No mater where we all end up following IMFSE, I am without doubt that the knowledge, experience and approach to thinking gained throughout this subject will frequently be drawn upon.

For now, I better get back to writing up this next report.

On the Other Side of the Screen

About one year ago I discovered this blog and I was reading every single post, as if I was reading a new book, chapter by chapter. As a result, this blog gave me an opportunity to immerse myself into wonderful world of fire safety engineering. Now, as a current IMFSE student, I became a blogger. Still cannot believe that now I am on the other side of the screen.

I remember how I was preparing application documents and was hoping that the local post will not lose it and deliver to the destination point. (If you are from post-soviet country, you are aware of the current status of local post services). I applied in the early November and then moved to another country and started new job. During these changes I completely forgot about my application. Likely, I always check my emails on the regular basis and one of them contained an invitation to the interview. Due to important project at work, I was not able to take a day off at that day; at the same time it was not possible to rearrange interview. Therefore, I was stressed a bit, because my interview went in inconvenient conditions: I just took my laptop and moved from office to a small canteen (hoping that no one will be looking for me during this 20 minutes time). My heart was knocking very fast and loudly; and it was challenging to switch from work to the interview mode so instantly. 20 minutes passed faster than I could imagine. I think, everyone tries to analyze his/her chances after the interview thinking that “it could have been better”. So, I quickly made a decision in my head and switched back to the work..

What a surprise was for me, when after sometime I received an email saying that not only was I accepted to the program, but also got Erasmus scholarship. I could not believe to my eyes! I closed the email and opened it later; fortunately, the message was the same. Frankly speaking, I finally realized what a change will take place in my life only after receiving post from Lies, with this warm welcoming:

This is my story, I do not know what your story is going to be, but in order to make it successful, below are some general tips for your application. Some of them maybe obvious, but still important to keep in mind:

  • Go to IMFSE website and read it!
  • Apply well in advance, because preparation of application documents can take more time than you expect (reference letters, translation, etc.).
  • My personal opinion is that motivation letter is the key document, because only through it you can communicate with the reader. Therefore, I suggest starting it early enough to have time for corrections.
  • And finally, be yourself in every piece of document you provide, because you are that unique person that program is looking for!

Good luck!

Free Walking Tours

Are you familiar with the concept of the Free Walking Tour? I was not, up until January of this year when I first arrived in Copenhagen. Free Walking Tour is a tip-based tour in most of the major cities in Europe, where you do not pay for the tour beforehand, but rather pay the tour guide at the end of the tour. The amount that you give to the tour guide is totally up to you. But most of the time tour guides work full time doing these kinds of tours.

Usually, these tours last for 2.5-3 hours and focus on the main area or specific area of the city. The guide stops in different areas of significance and explains the history, culture, and some fun facts about them. Also, they sometimes give political views of the region, local dos and don’ts, and tips on local food and drinks.

Ever since I got to know about it, when I travel to a new city, I always try to register for one of those and get to know the city from a guide. With my IMFSE peers, we have gone to three of such tours: in Hamburg, Budapest, and Prague and I have gone to the tours in Copenhagen, Malmo, Rome, and Barcelona. I did a little research and found out that there are free walking tours in Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, and Liege. As time permits, some of my classmates and I are very excited to visit these cities during the semester in Belgium ❤

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As a student, I think this is the most budget-friendly way of getting to know a new place because paid tours can get quite expensive if done frequently.

A Whole New Family!

As a student coming from South East Asia, one of the main problems that came to my head before joining IMFSE was that the considerable distance and time zone difference from my family and best friends – it’s like jumping out of your comfort zone. Especially for me, I had never been away from the city I live in for more than a month and I would need to speak a language that is rarely used in my home country. If you are still pondering whether or not you want to join IMFSE because you have the same thought as I had, think no more and go for it! Because here in IMFSE, you will have the best international family you’ve ever had!

It happened to me in the welcome week in Edinburgh, I got new friends from all over the world. Starting from the first year who are in total 7 students from 7 different countries, to the second year students who are 4 students from 4 different countries as well – not to mention our super cool academic supervisor Prof. Grunde Jomaas who warmly welcomed all of us so we could feel at home!

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The best thing about IMFSE is that the relationship among students doesn’t end when the programme has ended. Some of the graduates that are working in the 3 countries of IMFSE programme still willingly welcomed us and showed us around town. For example, Balsa (who is now a PhD student in Ghent University) took us second year students to a small trip around Ghent so we could get to know the best place in town. Other graduates who are working in Ghent are Kristi and Kunsulu. They recently moved in to a new place and invited us for a house warming party, and of course, 1st year and 2nd year students are invited! Look at all the food beautifully placed and served!

To sum up, having been part of IMFSE programme is one of the best experiences in my life. Everyone supports each other without leaving anyone behind. Especially in 2nd semester when you finally get to meet your parted family in Lund, it feels like a very big support system! So, for the first year students who may have problems with anything, don’t be hesitant to contact us seniors or graduates. If we could, we would surely help you sort out the problems as we are one big family after all. IMFSE family!

Life After IMFSE

Two years of learning, of fiery experiments and discussions, of multicultural experiences, of travelling, of bonding moments. As cliché as it may sound, the best two years of my life.

IMFSE went by so fast. I can still vividly remember the day when I received the email saying I am accepted to the programme. I can still clearly remember the day when I had my first international flight; I was excited, albeit afraid, of what is waiting for me on the other side of the globe. The memories are fresh–feels like everything happened just yesterday.

We did it! 🎉 (Photo taken from IMFSE page)

But all good things come to an end. And the culmination of IMFSE is such a bittersweet memory. During the student representatives’ speech on our graduation, I posed a challenge to both the graduating students–to proudly show the world what IMFSE has equipped us with–and the management board–to continue improving the programme for the next generation of fire engineers. After all the jubilation, we were at the point of our lives where we were kind of caught in a limbo. What’s next? Where to go?

Thankfully, IMFSE prepared us really well. Almost all of the graduating class stayed true to what that capital I stands for: INTERNATIONAL. We, literally and figuratively, went places; armed with knowledge and hope for a fire-safe world. UK, Belgium, Italy, Australia, Singapore, China, India, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan: our cohort dispersed like fire brands.

The IMFSE Sprinklers: Cohort 2017-2019! (Photo taken from IMFSE page)

As for me, I am now affiliated with OFR Consultants–one of the company sponsors of IMFSE. I have to say that IMFSE equipped me with the skills that I need for my job. IMFSE’s approach is truly international because it taught us the fundamentals of fire engineering which transcends building codes and standards. It gave us an insight about fire that is applicable everywhere; after all, fire is a global phenomenon. That is not to say that I know immediately everything about my job. I am learning day by day but the training given by IMFSE made the transition from being a student to being a full-pledged engineer easier. My weekdays revolve around assessing building plans and writing fire safety strategies. I occasionally attend meetings with architects and looking forward to meetings with clients and building authorities.

I remember the promotional video of IMFSE saying that more than 70% of the graduates found a job before graduating and the rest within three months after graduating. I am a lucky part of that 70% and I can tell that my knowledge of fire because of IMFSE gave me an advantage.

To the current students, savour every bit of your IMFSE journey but plan for what is ahead–a bigger world where you are more needed. I am sure that IMFSE will prepare you well for the challenge.

This is yours truly, Gerard, signing off.

Shine bright, IMFSE! 🔥 (Photo taken from IMFSE page)

Happy Batik Day!

One of the advantages of being an Erasmus student is learning about different culture from other international students. Starting from a little knowledge of the history of the countries and even the important national dates to learning some of the (bad) language of each country.

Today, for example, is the National Batik Day in Indonesia and most students and people working in the office will wear batik – the traditional shirt of Indonesia. While I was in Jakarta this summer, I thought it would be very nice for the IMFSE group in Ghent to know about this and experience it themselves. So, I brought some batik shirt from Indonesia for them! It looks really nice on them too!

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Unfortunately last year I didn’t have time in Edinburgh to prepare such a thing for IMFSE, so I celebrated batik day with the Edinburgh Indonesian Students’ Society (or widely known as PPI in Indonesia which is the abbreviation for Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia). Here are some photos of us making Edinburgh a bit more colorful!

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Thanks to PPI Edinburgh for making such an event and the photos as well!

Happy Batik Day!