Summer Break. 2019

Being in a two-year program in Europe certainly has many advantages. Especially Summer Break gives a big window of opportunity to recover from previous semesters and get ready for the next ones. Everyone tries to enjoy that time how they deem to be appropriate and the most beneficial. Some do internships, some work, some travel, some go back home, and some multitask. I asked some of my classmates to share about their summer break, to show how IMFSE students take full advantages of the time given outside of classes.

The summer between IMFSE semesters was always planned to be one of exploration and preparation. Given that I am an Australian student in the course, I relished the chance to travel the vast expanses of Europe over this summer period, while I was to be in the region. However, the method by which it was to be navigated was not set in stone until the summer had already begun. Further, with the qualification of the Australian Beach Handball Team (February 2019) into the World Beach Games to be held in October 2019 in Qatar, it was clear that the summer travels would revolve around tournaments throughout Europe in training for potential selection in the team for this event. As such upon requests, flexibility of schedule and last minute offered positions, I have played in 4 countries so far across 3 different teams spanning many weekends to continue the push for selection, whilst navigating the beauty of Europe in all manner of destinations in between.

I have become well accustomed to the overnight travel experience and the public park recovery (naps) and fitness sessions to keep myself tournament ready. I have loved the time so far and have come through with great progress and results, but look forward to more of what the summer has to offer, especially two weeks of planned vacation at a music festival and roaming Sicily on a yacht! Amidst all of this travel visits to fellow students met at partner universities, as well as other IMFSE students hometowns have been rife. The connections made throughout the IMFSE journey have been remarkable and are well and truly cherished. Thanks for the memories already IMFSE and catch you real soon in the coming academic year in Ghent and Lund.

My summer started with an internship in Basler and Hofmann in Zurich, Switzerland. I was working on the understanding capability to integrate fire-related software (Pyrosim, Pathfinder) with BIM software Revit. Meanwhile, I also started to play cricket in Switzerland. I had played cricket for over a decade, but I was lucky to play my first match in Switzerland at the most scenic ground in the world.

Last week of my stay in Zurich, my university colleague Miru who is doing his Ph.D. in Cambridge UK, visited me. We went to Lucerne and Mount Rigi which is breathtaking.(a tip for travelers to Switzerland: when you travel, always make good use of available student discounts 😀 )

After that my Chapter in Europe is over as a first-year IMFSE student. Long-awaited journey to home was next. On my way back, I took a small detour to see Burj Khalifa (No need to say the tallest building in the World) and to visit my old friend who is like an elder sister to me. Colorful night skyline in Dubai is just breathtaking and captivating. However, even being from a country near to equator Dubai temperature was very difficult to tolerate.

Finally, enjoying my holidays in beautiful home country Sri Lanka with greenery everywhere.

Over the summer I joined a new multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy as a principle fire engineer in Bristol, England. This gave me the opportunity to live in a new city and experience a whole different range of fire engineering projects. It’s interesting to see how project sizes, scope and communication changes depending on where you work. This proved to be particularly true where working with different approving authorities and fire services. Local political and cultural influences really do play such a critical influence on application of building standards even in the relatively homogeneous regulatory backdrop of the UK.

During this time I went to a number of interesting seminars and fire testing events at the UKs largest fire fighter training centre in Moreton-in Marsh. The facilities at this centre were particularly impressive with motorways, trains, plains, shopping centres and collapsed buildings all set up on site for the purpose of large incident training for fire fighters from all around the world. We were treated to some fire behaviour training, demonstrating backdraught in a small shipping container. The visit was all very reminiscent to the trip we had taken, as part of IMFSE, to MSB in Sweden, where the facilities serve a similar purpose.

Aside from the work-related events it was all in all a busy summer. Managing to make it to one of the world cup cricket games in Durham was made all the sweeter with England’s victory in the final against a challenging New Zealand team. Getting a chance to visit Italy for the first time was also a highlight with the architecture in Luca and Florence offering a stunning backdrop to the great weather we experienced there (much needed after the incremental bouts of rain England had yielded the weeks prior!).

During my summer holidays, I wanted to get some practical experience in Fire Safety Engineering. I received an opportunity to work as an intern at BRE Global for a duration of 2.5 months. To be in close proximity to work I decided to move to St Albans, that is approximately 20 min train ride away from London. As a BRE employee, I was able to experience different full-scale tests as well as intermediate-scale testing in their fire laboratory. I also got familiar with their current projects and get some experience using FDS and B-RISK.

Members of the fire team also spend some quality time together outside of work. In July a few colleagues visited amusement park for a day and in August we went together to Topgolf that is a simplified version of golf. Working in the field of study, getting some experience, networking, and team bonding activities seem to be a worthy spent time in summer break.   

Many thanks to Danny, Chamith, Bobby, and Tanja for taking their time to share about their summer! ❤ ⭐


Graduation Day 2019

This year’s graduation ceremony was like preparation and first-hand experience on what is awaiting us within a year. Every year a few student volunteers help Lies with the tasks during the ceremony and reception. This year’s volunteers were Waqas, Laura, and I. We helped Lies with tasks like preparing the thesis posters, interviewing, counting the votes for the awards, and distributing and collecting the gowns. In-between tasks, we had the opportunity to listen to inspirational speeches from professors, alumni, and students themselves. Especially, the video created by Farah and Kate was so moving and emotional that made me realize that soon enough we will also be saying goodbyes to each other and the program. It was great to see how the program brought together incredibly talented individuals and shaped them to become a big diverse family.

It was a beautiful day in Ghent, sunny during the day and breezy during in the evening. The graduation ceremony, then, moved to an evening reception on a boat with nice Ghent views and good food and drinks. We not only got to mingle with graduating class, but also got to meet alumni who are now spread around the world, sponsors of the program, and professors whose classes we will be taking during the upcoming semester.

This incredible day was organized and orchestrated by Lies to whom we all are incredibly grateful!

Congratulations IMFSE class of ’17-19 and Good Luck on your future endeavor!!!


Semester in Lund

WhatsApp Image 2019-06-26 at 09.54.44Semester in Lund was very special in every meaning of the word and took place in our hearts. The semester when students have an opportunity to spend the semester together, live together, eat together, study together, and travel together. It was wonderful to share happy and stressful moments together. It made us bond, the bond that will hopefully last for a lifetime.

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During the semester we had four classes, four field trips, and three IMFSE student-led workshops. It was a very fulfilling and productive semester. We learned about human behavior in fire, assessed risk of fires in a theatre, and did Steckler room simulations with FDS. We tried out Cobra cutting extinguisher (originated in Sweden), slid down a fire pole, and sat inside the fire truck.

The semester in Lund was amazing and I am sure following semesters will be even more so.

My greatest appreciation to Lund University and IMFSE ‘18-20 for an unforgettable semester ❤ !!!

Potluck and Games

Few days after finishing our last exam in Lund, we started getting ready to pack our stuff and get ready for summer break. Naturally, having many leftover products and food, some of us decided to get rid of them without wasting. This was a great reason for us to gather for a potluck dinner. Being part of IMFSE family means being in a very diverse environment. Dinner was great. It consisted of Indian, Sri-Lankan, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Egyptian, Iranian, Kazakh and other national food, such as dolma, potato curry, pulao, fried beef, chicken qorma, watermelon jelly with apples, and chocolate pudding.

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Then a spontaneous potluck dinner dissolved into the game night and early morning at the playground 😀 😛 .  When you have an awesome night with awesome people, you obviously would not want to stop. As a result, to continue the fun, we ended up going to Copenhagen to visit the famous Tivoli Park and the city.

The last activity in Lund before everyone went their separate ways, we decided to have an early dinner at an all-you-can-eat sushi place. As usual, quality time with friends was great and sushi was spot on. If you ever end up in Lund, definitely try Aiko Sushi, the best place to enjoy sushi in town.

Now, it is time to start the summer break after an enjoyable and productive semester in Lund ❤

50 reasons to join IMFSE immediately

This blog post is dedicated to new students that are coming to an upcoming academic year, students who are trying to decide to join the program or not, and applicants who are planning to apply for the next year’s intake.

50 reasons to join IMFSE immediately (from the perspective of first-year students):

  1. Each semester in different universities
  2. Considerate and friendly Management Board
  3. Lies – the sweetest and most helpful administrator
  4. FSE day every autumn where whole IMFSE family gets together ❤  IMG-1518
  5. Exposure to different cultures and soaking up the history of hosting cities
  6. Possibility to learn new languages (If you think English is enough, think again)
  7. Helpful professors and teaching assistants (100% committed and helpful teaching staff)
  8. Supportive second-year students (for some of you, we will be supportive second-year students)
  9. Get familiar with building codes and regulations of different countries
  10. Internship opportunities in summer (start the process early because time passes by very fast)
  11. Guest lecturers from industry representatives
  12. Field trips to fire-related companies
  13. Possibility to improve fire safety in your country (Fire safety is a culture, not just a field of study. You can spread this culture at your home country)
  14. Choosing the thesis topic that you like (but you also need to compromise because there are some rules that come with choosing the topic :/ )
  15. Group exam preparations
  16. Amazing chemistry between students (You will find a long-lasting friendship)                                 WhatsApp Image 2019-04-08 at 14.55.38DSC09890
  17. Endless talks with classmates at night in the computer lab instead of finishing the assignment
  18. Ryanair flight discounts and Flixbus discounts for being Erasmus+ students 😎
  19. Travel while you study (during weekends, of course, do not miss the lectures 😀 )  DSC08709
  20. For students from the south: a chance to experience snow for the first time


  1. Become a fire fighter for a day during the fire station visit with Fire Fighting class                                 IMG-1519
  2. Small class experiments in Explosions class
  3. “Student kick” welcome week in Ghent
  4. Beautiful views from the dorm – Home Vermeylen (observe beautiful Ghent sunsets or stargaze without getting out of your bed)
  5. Cozy evening gatherings in dorms    IMG-20181002-WA0015
  6. Belgian chocolate and craft beer (Some of us, chocolate lovers, will be going to Ghent for the third semester, we are very excited about this)
  7. Group study at terrace of Home Fabiola
  8. Halloween party in the dorms  IMG-20181031-WA0015
  9. Belgian fries (From Ewana’s words, who traveled to 22 countries in Europe, Belgian fries are the best)


  1. Group lunch/dinners with Grunde


  1. Fire-related songs at breaks in Ricky’s class
  2. Welcome Week full of events
  3. 24/7 library on the main campus (there is also hot water available on the first floor, perfect for tea lovers like me)
  4. Excellent gym facilities for an affordable price for students (try it out during Welcome Week for free. It is also free during Health Awareness Week in the middle of the semester)
  5. Themed pubs at Teviot House  DSC06323
  6. Monday Pub Quiz at Pleasance Bar (you do not have to drink to socialize and participate in the quiz for a chance to win a prize)
  7. Scottish Highlands
  8. Extremely cheap and delicious cookies “Bourbon” (£0.22). We always used to have them during group studies    IMG_7989.JPG


  1. Picturesque spring of Lund (experience long daytime during spring and summer)
  2. Learn not only the technical side but also human behavior in fire and behavioral influence (If you think that fire is unpredictable, try predicting human behavior in fire)
  3. Learn how to use evacuation programs (Simulex, Pathfinder and etc.)
  4. Fire labs to burn stuff (It’s always amazing to see stuff burn in lab experiments)                                                                                        eba2b71b-7513-4785-9304-ad2008d18ad8unnamed
  5. 15-minute per hour class breaks (Don’t expect it anywhere else)
  6. “Sittnings” at Nations in Lund (join the Nations at the university to get involved in the student activities)
  7. Bike trip to Malmo (Continue IMFSE tradition of bike trips to Malmo)  IMG_0148
  8. A football match with local students in Lund
  9. Dancing in the Dark (If you are shy to dance in front of others, try this free event held every week. Nobody will see how you are dancing. This was an entirely new experience for us)
  10. “TDC” parties in Lund accommodations (party and get to know people who live in the same accommodation as you)
  11. Kiruna in January/February to observe Northern Lights (but be ready for -26C 😳 ).


  1. Become a blogger for IMFSE blog (Why read about people’s adventures when you can live yours and write about them)


PS: Tune in next academic year for the expansion of this list from the perceptive of second-year students.


Social Influence

Edinburgh is a city filled with year-round festivals and celebrations that attract many people from all around the UK and the World. The biggest yet is Hogmanay – the Scottish way of celebrating the New Year. It is a three-day celebration that starts on 30th of December with Torchlight Procession and ends on 1st of January with The Loony Dook. Although I had not heard of Hogmanay before coming to Edinburgh, I am very glad that I was part of this Torchlight Procession during my stay in this beautiful city.

When Dan, Joni, and I first got our torches at the entrance, Dan and I immediately started guessing how much Heat Release Rate the torch would have and how fast would it burn. But then, after seeing thousands of people jammed on South Bridge, we started reluctantly thinking about people’s behaviour with a meter long lighted torches. According to BBC news, this year there were 20 000 participants and 20 000 spectators in the procession (1). Luckily, we witnessed no fire-related accidents during the procession.

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This semester in Lund, we are taking Human Behaviour in Fire class, where we learned about different theories related to human behaviour during a fire. One of the theories made me think about this procession. Although there was no emergency during the event, people’s behaviour, I think, is still relatable to the theory of Social Influence. According to the theory suggested by M. Deutsch and H.B. Gerard, normative social behaviour is characterized as people not wanting to stand out and making fool of themselves, hence behaving in accordance with what is expected from them (2). During the procession, torchbearers were walking cautiously and at the same pace. Nobody wanted to walk faster, bypass each other, or cause discomfort to others. Although there were some that stopped during the walk to get that “Picture perfect” photo of themselves walking with a torchlight, by which they caused disturbance to others. I must confess, I also wanted to stop and get a good photo of mine taken during the procession. However, following a classical case of normative social influence, I wanted to avoid glares and judgment of people, so I chose not to do so (although I have some good photos before and after).

Overall, being part of this procession was a memorable experience. Many thanks to Dan and Joni for quality time.

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  1. Brown, Angie. Edinburgh torchlight procession creates giant Scotland map. BBC News. [Online] BBC, December 31, 2018. [Cited: February 27, 2019.]
  2. Nilsson, Daniel. Exit choice in fire emergencies – Influencing choice of exit with flashing lights. Lund : Lund University , 2009.

Winter break

After a very short and intense semester, my fellow classmates and I wanted to kick off our official winter break right after our final deadline at 4pm on 21st of December, which we did. We kicked off by throwing a Secret Santa party at Dan’s place. Dan and Joni kindly offered to host this party, Joni made an amazing vegetarian marinara sauce, and Karim and I helped her out by cooking different types of meat to meet everyone’s dietary restrictions.

As you might have noticed, since it was the Secret Santa party, everyone came prepared with their gifts and kept their recipients in secret. Overall it was a great party where we finally got relaxed, talked about something other than classes, and laughed. Since the conditions of the gift exchange were to find a funny gift under 10 GBP, I must say the gifts were funny and imaginative. You can see the photos below:

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Then everyone went separate ways to spend their winter break. I myself stayed in Edinburgh up until New Years. I visited all touristy places, had traditional turkey dinner at Dan and Joni’s place on Christmas, went to Hogmanay Torchlight Procession with them (which I will post later), and spent quality time with friends on New Year’s Eve after which left for Berlin to have a mini European trip.

P.S: sorry for making this post late, I just needed an excuse to share the photos from the event. Photo credit: Dan and Joni.