Call me by my first name

​It has been exciting to see how the communication flows between students and lecturers here at Chalmers.
The programme director of Applied Mechanics and some of his first-year students on a hike while maintaining social distance.
Photo: The programme director of Applied Mechanics and some of his first-year students on a hike while maintaining social distance.

Calling our lecturers, examiners, teaching assistants and coordinators, by their first name is normal here in Sweden. Even Chalmers’ president and CEO, Stefan Bengtsson, told us in his speech that when we see him on campus, we can call him Stefan. Back in our home countries, Turkey and Ecuador, you use titles to show respect. At Chalmers, we can show the same kind of respect without the formal language. 

Sena’s experience:

I felt a combination of worry and sadness starting a new chapter in my life with remote education due to the pandemic. Then I started to feel happiness after the presentation of the Applied Mechanics master’s programme director. In an informal way, he first talked about life in Gothenburg, like climate conditions and the beautiful nature here. He then mentioned that Gothenburg has very good football teams and advised us to go outside a lot when the weather was good. After that part, he gave us information about the programme. I especially liked the fact that he put the images of football teams since I am very interested in sports. Before coming to Chalmers, I’ve researched and contacted the sports teams that I could join. The fact that our lecturer also seemed interested in such social activities was an indicator, for me, that he would also encourage us to participate in social activities.

I must admit that I struggled a bit during my first weeks at Chalmers because I didn’t know anyone from my department that I could brainstorm with. At the end of each study period, I mentioned this in the surveys that was sent to us students to evaluate the lecturers and the courses. After that, our lecturers encouraged us to have more dialogues in our online classes. Some fika sessions were organized through Zoom or break-out rooms. Those were created to discuss the lectures’ topics in small groups. Feedback is very important in the Swedish culture, and this is just one example of how your feedback can make a difference.
With the start of spring, many companies have started to announce various summer-jobs and internship programmes for students. Our programme director has been kind of enough to create a group for us on LinkedIn where he shares interesting job positions that we can apply to. 

This was very helpful because no matter how much I researched, I could overlook some non-English postings because I didn’t know Swedish that well. He also organized a hiking activity and announced it on that platform. It was an event in which we could all get together physically while maintaining social distance due to the pandemic.

Nathaly’s experience:

At Chalmers, they put a lot of effort into incorporating feedback from the students. That’s why every time a course starts, they randomly chose a group of people to be “Student’s representatives.” This group is meant to be the bridge between students and professors. Even though we all can reach the TA’s and professors, some students prefer to handle some topics anonymously. So, they can always get in touch with the student’s representatives.

I got to be a student representative in one of my courses in the Biomedical Engineering programme. Generally, the examiners check in with us about the course's pace, the academic load of the assignments, the lab or exercise sessions, and other similar topics. It was a pleasant experience for me to give this kind of feedback to them and realize that they do their best to find a solution when something is not working as expected. For example, in my Model Predictive Control course, we agreed that we would appreciate it if there were more consultation hours with the TA’s for the assignments to have better results. The week after that, we received a message with the new scheduled hours for this consultation. How great is that?

I also had the chance to contact the lecturer, of Image Analysis, on one occasion when I felt a little lost on a topic. He immediately answered that he would repeat the subject in the next class. We started that lecture on Deep Learning, making a review of the neural network that I asked my question about. The lecturers are so quick on their feet with the feedback they receive from us students! That’s why I think that you can still manage to get the best out of the class, even during online studies.

In my class Medicine for Engineers, where different medical doctors are responsible for the lectures based on their specializations we got to ask medical-related questions. Perhaps something weird happened to you once, and you never figured out the medical reason behind it. The cool thing was that they gave their expert opinion and analysis based on our questions, which got me more excited about studying Biomedical Engineering. It was a fantastic opportunity to be so virtually close to them and have this smooth type of communication. I’ve always said that your professional title doesn’t define you as a person, and Chalmers has proven that to me.

Picture of NathalyPicture of Sena

Authors: Nathaly & Sena

Page manager Published: Thu 03 Jun 2021.