My first experience in the Biochemical Process Engineering group was as an Erasmus student for the final thesis of my degree as a Chemical Engineer at NTUA, Greece, with a special interest in Biotechnology. During those six months I realized that I enjoyed a lot working in a lab surrounded by incredibly supportive people, but also the involvement in a project with real-world applications strengthened my interest in research. Due to that, and for the fact that Luleå offers a completely different experience over the seasons, I gladly extended my stay as an IAESTE intern for another nine months.
During all that time I participated in the production of food-grade oligosaccharides with high prebiotic value from forest, but also marine biomass. I became familiar with several laboratory techniques such as enzymatic production, biomass saccharification, product recovery and purification with pressure-driven membrane methods and scale-up processes. I also learned how to deal with microbial cultures, both in aerobic and anaerobic environments, and how to use chromatographic instruments. Most importantly, I learned how to work independently under great supervision and I broadened my knowledge about different scientific topics. The multinational environment of the lab was just perfect to share experiences and knowledge. After I finished my internship I applied for a Research Engineer position and I am currently starting my PhD at the Biochemical Process Engineering group.
Luleå offers an unforgettable experience that you can only get the chance to live in the north of Sweden. Northern lights brighten the long dark winter but during the summer months the almost 24 hour sun makes up for the darkness. During winter you get the chance to walk, ski, skate, or even drive on the frozen sea and if you feel more adventurous you can hike with snowshoes in the deep forest and stay in one of the many free cabins overnight under the warmth of a fire stove. If you are a ski enthusiast and you are able to rent a car you can find some nice slopes closeby. You can also visit the ice hotel in Kiruna or the Arctic moose farm or the Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, Finland. During summer the possibilities for hiking in Luleå but also in nearby places are endless and so are the biking paths. There are boats that you can take to visit the nearest islands in the Luleå archipelago but you can also rent a canoe or a kayak and explore the rivers around. Although it might not be that close I definetely suggest a visit to the Lofoten islands in Norway and the Abisko national park in Sweden.
Overall, if you like nature and wilderness then Luleå is the place to be!