Edinburgh practical information

Readers of my blogs might know by now that I spent the first semester of the IMFSE programme studying at The University of Edinburgh. Scotland has been always on my list of “must see” places, and I was incredibly happy for the chance to study and live in Edinburgh. Within couple of months, Edinburgh with its Medieval Castle on the Hill, ancient Royal Mile, Calton hill and Portobello beach won my heart. Although foggy and rainy weather is characteristic to Edinburgh, it perfectly complies with city’s unique architecture, thereby giving it gothic and Harry Potter vibes. So, I would like to share some practical information that can be useful for those who will visit Edinburgh as part of this programme.

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Accommodation

Unfortunately, since the university offers an accommodation only for the full academic year, IMFSE students need to look for a place to stay in private market which might be a challenge. Personally, I wanted to find a place before arriving, that is why I started seaching in June on groups such as “EdinRoom” and “Edinburgh to let”, websites like “Spare Room”, “EasyRoommate” and “Gumtree”. I think it is better to use Facebook because most of the times  I did not get any reply when I used other websites. It took me almost 2 months to finally find a room. However, I will suggest you to arrive earlier and search for it when you are in the city, as you can view the place, meet the landlord and housemates, and generally have more options compared to when you look for it from home. Just do not pay anything before viewing the place. It is all I can advise, good luck with that!

Public Transport

Public transport system consists of buses and trams, the former being predominant. At the Project Management class taken in the first semester we studied the development of tramline in Edinburgh, and unfortunately, it was an example of failed project, as it resulted in significant delays and financial losses due to poorly defined objective at the initiation stage of the project. In particular, relocation of service lines lasted longer than it had been predicted because of the centuries old history of the city.  As a consequence, the tramline extends much less than it had been planned, but you can still take a nice ride on tram from the airport to the city center.

There are several types of bus tickets such as single ticket for £1.60, day ticket for £4.0, night ticket for £3.00, and day&night ticket for £3.50 valid after 6 pm till 4.30 am. The most important thing to know is that bus drivers do not give a change, so prepare your loose change beforehand. You can also get a 1-week and 4-week card, Ridacard, with the discount for students if you present your student ID. In case you had a bad luck and lost the card, as I did, there is a good news: it is possible to get a new one at the Travelshop by paying only card issue fee of £3.00. For more details, check the Lothian Buses website.

But if you do not want to spend money on public transport and want be physically active, you can go for a bike. In that case, you should be OK to ride it with the wind and rain splashing on your face. Since I learned how to bike only in Lund, which I believe is more bike-friendly, that was not an option for me in Edinburgh.

Bank account

Another practical matter is opening a bank account. Below you can find a banking comparison table which explains how you can open a bank account. Note that the information might not be up-to-date, so it is better to visit the branch. Compare the conditions and choose the right one for you. Since it is the beginning of academic year, there will be many students willing to open a bank account, so it is good if you apply for it earlier. I should inform you that in reality it may take much longer to receive the card.

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So these are the things I wanted to share with you my dear readers, I hope you will find it useful. If you have any questions, you can always contact me. I also want to welcome the first year students! Welcome to the IMFSE family! I am sure these two years will be the best years in your life! Looking forward to meet you all soon!

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Advanced Fire Dynamics course

During the second semester spent at Lund University, we had 4 courses: Advanced Fire Dynamics, Risk Assessment, Simulation of Fires in Enclosures, and Human Behaviour in Fire. Advanced Fire Dynamics was delivered only till March, and Human Behaviour in Fires “replaced” it, thus we had only 3 courses being taught at the same time throughout the semester, which had substantially reduced the exam stress at the end of semester.

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Fires in Buildings (credits to the Lecture slides by Dr.Nils Johansson)

Let me talk more about the Advanced Fire Dynamics (AFD) course that was delivered at Lund University. Both in Edinburgh and Ghent, students had Fire Dynamics course during the first semester, so all of us had background knowledge in this subject. AFD course mainly focused on the mechanisms controlling enclosure fires and their effect on the surroundings. It consisted of lectures and tutorial classes where we explained how the assignments had been solved. Interestingly, the assignments were not simple ‘set problem-one solution-same answer’ style, but we were given more ‘freedom’, and everybody had their own solution and answer. Similarly, we had to design and conduct in groups our own fire experiment. Our group had several ideas for the experiment, but after consultation with professors, we decided to determine the minimum concentration of alcohol that can be ignited at room temperature. Also, in case of the ignition, we studied how different concentrations of alcohol affect HRR, effective heat of combustion, flame height, and flame temperature. Since it was my first experience in performing fire test, I was very excited to visit the Fire Lab and to see all the equipment that we heard and read about.

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Free burning of ethanol

I believe that it was a valuable course which not only enhanced our understanding about the compartment fire behaviour, but also allowed us to be more independent and creative while working on course assessments.

 

“Will you stand up in the court and defence your fire model?”

“Will you stand up in the court and defence your fire model?”,- was the question asked by Professor Rubini at the lectures on Simulation of Fires in Enclosures back in January. I did not know much about modelling of fires before taking this course, but now I know that it can be a very powerful tool if used with caution. Fire modelling can be used analyze a range of concepts including ignition, flames, plume, smoke and etc. for the purposes of life safety, structural behaviour, investigations, risk and many more. But complex nature of the fire phenomenon and inadequacy of computer power set limitations to the fire modelling, that is why it is important to know both capabilities and shortcomings of the modelling tools.

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Fire scenario (credits to the Lecture slides by Dr.Philip Rubini)

Currently, there are a number of CFD software (not Confusion For Dummies), and we were introduced to the Fire Dynamics Simulator or simply FDS, which is commonly used for fire applications. It is free, so everyone can access it, and potentially become an expert in using it. But, to ensure that results are credible it is important to verify and validate computational simulations, as well as check the sensitivity of the model to the parameters. Also, we were introduced to the famous Philip’s Rules which state “No grid, no solution”, “If you haven’t filled your computer you are not trying hard enough”, “Garbage in-garbage out”, and “A report of a CFD simulation without discussion of error is of little value”. I think these rules can be very useful and should be kept in mind before building the model.

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CFD user (credits to the Lecture slides by Dr.Philip Rubini)

To conclude, by taking this course, we got an insight into the fire modelling world. In the future, we might be able to improve the simulations by using more powerful computers, but as for now, we need to be fully aware of the current limitations.

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FDS simulation of the Steckler room fire experiment.

Field trip to DBI

Field trips can be very useful as they give an insight into the industry and increase awareness about career opportunities along with developing network of contacts. Last week, we had our first field trip: a visit to Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI) located in Hvidovre, a suburb of Copenhagen. We were kindly welcomed by Karlis, an IMFSE alumni currently working at DBI. He had planned a program full of activities to introduce us to DBI.

First, we were welcomed by Mr. Damgaard, the Head of the Research and Development Department at DBI, which is one of the important divisions at DBI as many resources are invested into research to meet the needs of clients. After that Karlis introduced us to a number of DBI services related to fire safety and prevention such as consulting, certification, fire testing, inspection, and fire investigation. However, non-fire related services including safety and security consulting  are also provided by DBI.

After familiriazing ourselves with DBI services, we were given a short presentation about Fire Safety Consultancy at DBI: one of the projects was introduced where performance-based design had been used to ensure that appropriate level of fire safety can be achieved without the code compliance. Then, during the next presentation we were introduced 2 important questions that should be asked to deal with the challenges of fire safety: What is the problem? Who has that problem?

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After delicious lunch, we had a visit to Fire Testing facilities at DBI. We were impressed with the scale of fire resistance laboratory which is well-equipped to determine specimens compliance with the required test standards. The laboratory has two furnaces for classification tests and a model furnace for exploratory tests. Doors/windows, coverings, horizontal dividing structures, and even the ship components up to 4.48 meters high can be tested at DBI.

The presentations about Facade Fire Safety and Modelling of Pressurized Staircases with FDS were in particular interesting as they correspond to some of the thesis topics offered by universities and sponsoring companies.

Overall, we had a great day with full of activites, and on behalf of first year IMFSE students, I want to thank the Fire Safety Engineering Division at Lund University and DBI for arranging and organizing this interesting and informative field trip.

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Short vacation: eat,(pray),travel

Exams can be stressful, and after studying intensively, for me, as for a student, the feeling of relief after exams is the best feeling. So, after the Advanced Fire Dynamics exam, we decided to treat ourselves with a good food and visited Africa Daily Market which was recommended by our friends who visited that place before. It incorporates a small restaurant with traditional African food and shop where you can find various African style souvenirs and even clothing. The food was really delicious, the best I have eaten recently, as it is more homemade food rather than restaurant food. We enjoyed not only the food, but also friendly and warm atmosphere, so I highly recommended this place to everyone in Lund. You can see our happy well fed faces from the photos below. I hope that we will have same expression after the grades will be released…

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Africa Daily Market and African Food

Since we had no class next day, we decided to go to Copenhagen for a day trip, as we had not visited it yet. It is very easy to go there since there is a direct train from Lund. Because it is not very big, we just wandered around and visited the main attractions. As in many historic cities, in Copenhagen you can find imposing palaces and churches such as The Marble church standing next to modern buildings such as Copenhagen Opera House.

Copenhagen is also a green city with a number of parks and gardens, and the garden of Rosenborg Castle, which is also known as King’s Garden, is the oldest and most visited among tourists. Since spring has just come, flowers are just starting to bloom, so we agreed to come back later to fully enjoy the beauty of the garden.

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Nyhavn

I want to mention that we had a little adventure while visiting the Rosenborg Castle. If you have been there, you may know that, since Danish Crown Jewels are displayed in the castle, it is guarded by armed soldiers. After walking around the castle for a while we wanted to see Nyhavn with its famous colourful houses, and we were just heading to the exit when suddenly the guards started to run and shout. The entrances and exits were closed, and we were gathered in one place, while people inside the castle were not allowed to go out. Nobody explained anything, and we just stood outside. In the beginning, we thought that it is some kind of training, but when I heard the sounds of people shouting from the streets, I got scared. But, luckily, the girls standing next to us told that they saw hockey fans on the streets before, and that it must be them cheering outside. After about 20 minutes, we were finally released. The sigh of relief passed over the crowd as we started to move, but still nobody explained the reason why all of this had happened. We were curious, so we asked people who were stuck in the castle, and they told us that someone just touched the glass and alarm went off. Curtains fall…

So, I want to advise all not to touch the things that are not allowed to in the Rosenborg Castle or any other place guarded with armed soldiers. On the other hand, because of that person I have a story to share with you in my blog. Everything happens for a reason…

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Rosenborg Castle

So, after studying hard for the exam, we had our short ‘vacation’, and now we are ready to start the second half of the semester with a new course of Human Behaviour in Fires which seems to be very interesting and useful for our future career as a Fire Protection Engineer.

“A year with thirteen months”

As I have mentioned before, this year is 350th anniversary of Lund University, and a number of activities have been organized  starting from December 2016 till January 2018 to celebrate this important jubilee. Thus, according to the event programme, it is “a year with thirteen months”. Some events are part of the scientific theme weeks, and some are associated with culture weeks.

This week, for instance, was a Science Week, and it was launched with the discussion if “the world is becoming a better place”. The panel consisting of the professors from different departments of Lund University tried to answer this question by concentrating on global issues including democracy, energy crisis, gender inequality, poverty and risks.

In between, we enjoyed a magnificent choral performance by the Palaestra Vocal Ensemble whose beautiful voices filled the grand Universithusets aula. Interestingly, all performed songs were related to the discussion theme. Especially, I got goosebumps when the choir sang a small sentence-“When I close my eyes, I dream of peace”-spoken by an eleven years old Crotian boy during the Yugoslav war. It was sung in 12 different languages by different choral groups, and I was excited when I heard it in Russian.

The discussion was concluded that even though it can be said that the world is becoming a better place by considering the advancement of science and technology, there are many social, political, and environmental problems that need to be resolved. The evening ended with a small reception where we enjoyed the chocolate with the university logo.

This Science week was not the last one, as three more Science Weeks will be held with the focus on the digitalisation, neuroscience, and education with the following topics: The Digital Society, The Amazing Brain, and The University of the Future. We can also enjoy the activities which are part of the upcoming Global Week and Sustainability Week. Thus, it can be seen that the university offers an extensive programme of activities and events. So, check them out and take part in celebrating the jubille of one of the most prestigious universities in Northern Europe.

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Kulturen Lund or one day before a ‘viking’ virus attack

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog, and the reason for this was catching the flu or a ‘viking’ virus. We gave it such a name because it started unexpectedly and knocked us out completely. So, as I missed the opportunity to talk about the Fire Day, which was the main event in the past couple of weeks, there is not much I can write about, unless you want to know about all the ‘perks’ of being sick. However, luckily, one day before the ‘viking’ virus attack, I went to Kulturen which is a museum in Lund, consisting both conventional  and an open air museums.

With over 30 buildings, Kulturen is considered as one of the biggest open air museums in Sweden. Some of the buildings were brought to Kulturen from different places, while the others stand on their original sites. The complex includes both urban and rural buildings from the Medieval period to the twentieth century. Although some of the old buildings were reconstructed, they give authentic feel. Personally, I was really impressed how Bosebo wooden church from 1652 is amazingly preserved.

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Bosebo church

Another building that I found interesting was two floor Thomanderska huset with its elegantly decorated rooms with wooden furniture and a personal library. It was built in 1814, and Johan Henrik Thomander, a professor and member of parliament, lived there with his family. His daughter bought the house and gave her childhood home to the museum.The various rooms were restored as she remembered them, partly with her own furniture.It can be seen from the photo below that the facade color of Thomanderska huset differs from the surronding buildings. It was painted by using carbon black, a pigment widely used in 19th century.

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Thomanderska huset

Another interesting building in the open museum is Locus Peccatorum on the corner of Adelgatan and St. Anne Street, which served as a student barrack during the XVIII-XIX centuries. Locus Peccatorum means “Sin house” in Latin, and there is a story behind this name: in 1829, the son of the university dean killed fellow student in a fight and was sentenced to death. From that time, the building has such a mysterious name.

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Locus Peccatorum,”Sin house”

In the center of Kulturen, there is a large building, Herrehuset, with Baroque facade, pond and garden. In the past, it was used for residential purposes, but now it hosts a ceramic collection which is among the largest in the Nordic region. There are many other buildings that contain various collections including glass,silver and textiles.

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Herrehuset

So, I am glad that I was able to visit such an interesting place before being knocked out by the flu. Wishing a fast recovery for fellow sick IMFSE students in Lund, and hoping that as spring has officially started a ‘viking’ virus will not attack us again.