Attend a summer school and get friends for life

Marianne Bom & Rie Jerichow, Publicér

“It’s awesome” to be in an international and interdisciplinary environment, says Anne Arildsen. During five intense weeks at a summer school focusing on climate and entrepreneurship, she established an international network, that she expects to use for the rest of her professional life.

Climate-KIC programme

To Anne Arildsen, the summer school The Journey was part of a project called the Climate-KIC Master Label Programme, an EU initiative, that educates young people to address the challenges in climate change. Aside from the summer school, the student has to take 30 ECTS exchange or internship in another country, and attend some night lectures. When you do your master thesis in the field of climate, you get ‘Climate-KIC Master’ on top of your master degree title.

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36 students from 18 countries met at the beginning of July 2017 in Lisbon to start five weeks of summer school called “The Journey”. Anne Arildsen, who is now in
the last year of her master degree as a ­environment engineer at DTU, was one
of the participants.
“It was about climate innovation and entrepreneurship, and it was two weeks in Lisbon, two weeks in Valencia, and a final week in Wrocław, Poland,” she explains.
“The content was: what is climate change, and what is it to be an entrepre­-neur, and starting own business within
that field. We went into groups and developed the idea for a company. We got a lot of coaching during that process,” says Anne, who helped developing the consulting company ‘Roofolution’, which should help spread green roofs.
“Green roofs is climate friendly techno­logy, with long payback time, so our idea was to improve the economical aspect, by letting people rent out their roofs to someone in the neighborhood, for instance a yoga studio or a café. Our company would help matching partners,” says Anne.
Other groups developed air filters made of waste from olive oil production, and swimwear from plastic waste.

Not dangerous to become an entrepreneur
“It was a huge learning process to see what people made of their ideas. For me, it was especially the business methods that taught me something. I learned about what kinds of proposals I have to make, and how a business plan works. That means that I have gained a whole new perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur. I have gotten rid of the idea that it’s dangerous to be self-employed.”
Besides the school-aspect, it was the other students who made the trip worthwhile.

Anne Arildsen’s advice

Why pick summer school?
“The choice isn’t so much about where you’re going, but what you want out of it. Should the education be project oriented or a specific course? You have to find out if you want an international environment, or to be one foreign person in a class full of, say, Germans in Germany.”

Can you get ECTS-points?
“You can sometimes. If it’s important to you to get ECTS, then you have to clear that up with the study administration

before going. But you could choose to go for the experience instead.”

How do you get funding?
“Apply for scholarships ahead of schedule. A lot of them have deadlines once a year. But summer schools don’t have to be expensive. If the summer school is one your university works with, you don’t have to pay tuition. Then the expenses are limited to flights, food, and maybe a place to stay. Some schools will have places to stay for you.”

“I like to have an international network, and it was exciting to meet people who cares about the same things I do. I want to do something for the environment and every group made some interesting things. One had done tests on bisons in negative
50 degrees, another had done volunteer work in India, and one guy had started his own company and been at it for several years,” says Anne.

Tearful departure
“It’s awesome to be in that environment. We had a fantastic sense of community and were tearful to part ways after having been through the craziest ups and downs together. I have gained friendships for life, and a lot of inspiration from other subjects. I really got to practice public speaking and working across competences.”
The new acquaintances make for a network in many countries, which Anne expects to draw on for the rest of her professional life.
“I could for instance call an acquaintance in the Netherlands, and hear about their experiences with flood defense. Or if I have a meeting in a culture I don’t know, I can call someone from my network in that culture, and ask if I should show up in a business suit or Fjällräven.”