Master’s Thesis Defended

There hasn’t been much to blog about while in London, other than catching up on old stuff from the summer so that I can remember it when I’m old, if I want to. However, in November I went back to Sweden one last time to defend my Master’s thesis as the final requirement to earn my NOHA Master of International Humanitarian Action. Before we get to that, two photos from London: the first is the view from my office as the sun was setting one day in September; the second is one of many ladybugs that lived in the lampshade in my bedroom for several months and occasionally ventured out to visit me down below.



At the very end of October, with loads of help from my parents, I finally finished my Master’s thesis. It had been over a year since I began, and I was VERY happy to have it done. I flew to Sweden on November 4th to defend it on the 6th. Flying from London to Sweden:


The train station beneath Arlanda Airport, to catch my train to Uppsala:


My thesis is the reason I spent so much time in Thailand last year, as I was (among other things) carrying out research among Karen refugees from Burma in the largest refugee camp in Thailand. While I was there, I met a photojournalist named Dave Tacon, who kindly agreed to let me use one of his photos of a KNLA soldier in Karen State for my thesis cover page. Check out his different photo albums and magazine covers at This is what my thesis cover looks like:


If you want to know what it’s about, the very short abstract explains my topic: Identity Formation and Armed Conflict: A Case Study of Young Karen Long-term Refugees in Mae La Refugee Camp.

After I successfully defended my thesis, which also involved meeting a bunch of this year’s NOHA students, I was invited to a party they were holding, which was lots of fun (as all parties seem to be when I’m with humanitarian students / workers).


I reluctantly left picturesque and relaxed Uppsala on November 8th to return to busy and smelly London, and on my last walk along the River Fyris for what will likely be many years, grabbed one last photo of a familiar sight:


Though London’s not my favourite city in the world, I’m still thoroughly enjoying my humanitarian logistics internship with Merlin (Medical Emergency Relief International). Speaking of which, the next round of Merlin internships in programmes, logistics, donor partnerships, finance, and communications (12 internships in total) are now posted on their website, with an application deadline of January 5th. Check out if you’re interested, and feel free to contact me if you’ve got any questions about it.

March in Sweden

I spent all of March in Uppsala, Sweden, working on my thesis and searching online for jobs and an internship to finish up my degree requirements. I didn’t take a whole lot of photos as I spent most of my time in my apartment or in the library, away from natural light and human time schedules.

Descending the escalator at Arlanda airport to the subterranean train station when I arrived at the end of February:

It wasn’t particularly warm when I arrived in Sweden – definitely nothing close to the 30+ weather I’d been experiencing in Burma a few days earlier!

Here’s the River Fyris, frozen over and covered in snow, with Uppsala Cathedral in the background:

A few more shots of the River Fyris from other parts of town on different days:

After arranging an internship through a contact I made on a train in Burma, I headed to Stockholm to get a visa to enter China. Walking back from the embassy, which is in the middle of nowhere past the Djurgården area of town, the water was really well frozen. Check out how thick this saltwater ice is – at least 4 inches!

Back in Uppsala, when I wasn’t being a hermit in my apartment or the library, I was generally cycling to one café or another to catch up with friends. This is one of the many, many nice cafés in Uppsala. Going for fika is definitely one of the best things about Uppsala, and perhaps Sweden as a whole.

When my friend Namiko (she studied with me in New Zealand, years ago) was visiting for a few days, I took her to the cemetary next to my area of the university to show her the family grave of the Hammarskjöld family, which includes the grave of Dag Hammarskjöld, the celebrated 2nd Secretary General of the UN who died after his plane crashed (perhaps shot down) in Africa in 1961.

We also headed over to the castle, where I showed her the cannon pointed toward the cathedral. Many years ago, in order to maintain his position of power, the king arranged for these cannon to point directly at the cathedral so that the head of the Church of Sweden would think twice before doing anything to challenge the power of the king.

Having arranged an internship in Asia starting in April, I left Sweden earlier than expected – on April 1st of all days. More on that in the posts to come…