Ny ansökningsomgång HT21/ New application round Autumn 21

En ny MFS-ansökningsomgång för de som vill göra sin fältstudie under VT22 eller HT22 är öppen. Ansökningsdeadline är 10 november. Läs mer om informationsmöte och ansökningsinstruktioner här.

A new MFS application round for those that want to do a field study during spring 2022 or autumn 2022 is now open. Application deadline is 10 November. More information about information meeting, application instructions and more is available here.

Madaraka Day, Ramadan, Serengeti wildlife and other everyday life in Kenya

Hi everyone. I’m on my second last week here in Western Kenya in Wagwe. The days for me are mostly calm and easy. However, I have during this time of two weeks experienced: a music festival in a high school (a singing and dancing competition from various schools); Madaraka Day (Kenya’s 56th year of self-rule); and Ramadan.

This picture I took during Ramadan

It was a big celebration in Narok Country during Madaraka Day, located in the South-West Kenya, the land of the Maasai. Every year Kenya celebrates the day from a different county with music and dance, speeches and other events. This time, because it took place in Narok county, people had the chance to enter the Serengeti wildlife reserve for free.

Underneath, is a picture of the Maasai. Not only are they known for wearing red and to be one of the world’s last great warrior cultures – but they are also incredible good a jumping!

This picture is taken from the webpage: https://www.lightworkers.com/maasai-warrior-happiness/

I can tell you how most of my regular days looks like here: I wake up around 07:00-08:00 by the rooster. You wake up with less stress and tiredness than waking up from an alarm-sounding phone (what I am used to at home). Then, I go and boil some eggs or make myself an omelette. Every morning I need to take the malaria medicine (a red pill), which is best taken with something fat – like eggs. I make some tee and if I sync my breakfast with my host family, I will share it with George (my kind and hospital contact person). Then, either I will go to the Mama Norah school before lunch to help the chefs in the kitchen to serve the pupils or stay home and write and read. After lunch if I’m in school, I might sit in the library and read, or I attend the classes. Around 15:00 – they have something called “game time”. They bring out a basketball and some footballs to play with for about an hour. For the record, the footballs are very expensive here. I reckoned this when I bought one for the school and one for a boy. In Kenyan schilling it estimates around 1500-2000 schilling, which is about 200 Swedish crowns ($20).

When attending the Kiswahili class

On the way to and home from school there is a 10-minute walk that I usually go with one of the neighbours, one is a teacher at the school. I usually meet children on the way that wants to high-five me and others that I greet on the way. Rocky, the dog from the house I am staying in, sometimes follow me too.

Yesterday (6 June), I had an interview with one of the teachers. It was really giving. I am performing the fieldwork through participant observation, where I go on about the everyday life and attend local events and meet people in the community. It seems natural to have an interview after 1-1,5 week after some observations and time to think. I write down some structured questions as a guide of what I want to discuss or ask about, but usually the conversation leads to greater insights and discussions than what I beforehand had planned. So, there is more of an ongoing storytelling from the informant and random questions I come up with when being in the moment – it feels more natural and I get more inspired “in the zone” than writing out questions beforehand.

The community in Wagwe consist of many different types of religions. Mostly, the community consist of Roho, a branch from Christianity. But there is also Hindus, Muslims and other branches of Christianity, like The Seven Day Adventist church that live together side by side in the community. I have attended the Roho Church (mostly) every Saturday as the host family are going there. They wear a white or red coat/long dresses, and women wear a scarf around their head. Someone preaches to the crowd and then suddenly, a person starts singing, and then more people are singing. First, you can hear one drum beating in fast paste that shortly accompanies by 2-3 other drums – creating a dance beat. Someone also joins with maracas, that makes one more inspired to stand up and dance. And that is what’s happening. As soon as the first drum sounds – the smallest kids start to bounce up and down and run towards the centre where the people playing the drums and maracas and the person singing stand. The sound is so loud, it feels like your heart vibrates to the sounds of it (it’s hard for me to sit completely still). Then more and more people from all ages joins the dancing in the middle.

This is how I can look like when attending the Roho church

I seem to have written a lot this time, I hope you enjoyed the reading of some of the everyday life of mine in Wagwe. I must end this by saying that tomorrow, I will be going early to Serengeti, a wildlife reserve in Maasai Mara. It will the first trip for me “outside the field work” – I look very much forward to it. Apparently, there is low season now, because the wildebeests are over the border in Tanzania. They usually arrive to Kenya in July and departs in November. It is said that during a period of three days, more than 1 million (!) wildebeests migrates over the river to Kenya  – which is why many people come to visit the reserve at the Great Rift Park. However, I’ve been told that because of climate change, the herd will arrive earlier than usual to Kenya – which is why I might be able to view it. I will write a post after this trip, and of course put up some picture for you to see!

This is how the wildbeests migration in Serengeti can look like (pictures used from safari sites)

I also want to thank those that contributed to the foundrasing about two weeks ago to the school. I have been talking with the teachers and people in the CBO who got very happy about this – and so together we will see how we can get the best use of it – I will not forget to update about this.

Until next time – take care! /Isabelle

Sista veckan och sista inlägget

Hooola a todos y todas,

Nu har vi haft vår sista helg tillsammans här i Cali och Rolanda är påväg norrut för att resa runt i Colombia och Brasilien medan jag, Malin, stannar ett par veckor till här i Cali. Uppsatsen ska presenteras i augusti och är därför inte helt klar, fattas lite finslip på diskussion och korrekturläsa. Men det sparar vi till juli när vi båda är hemma i Sverige igen. Det var dags för en paus nu efter två månaders intervjuande, läsande och skrivande på tre olika språk.

Under vår sista helg, med besök från Sverige, gjorde vi en roadtrip till Cristo Rey, en utkiksplats i Cali, och Kilometro 18 som är ett svalt område i bergen dit man åker när det är allt för varmt i staden och man är sugen på något som liknar svenskt höst-rugg och varm choklad med ost i. Det fortsätter förvåna oss att Colombia varierar sååå mycket i temperatur, kultur och landskap bara efter en halvtimmes körning. Vi dansade även lite salsa, promenerade i stan och åt god mat.

Roadtrip med fina vänner, från Sverige och Colombia

Detta blir sista inlägget från vår resa och vi hoppas vi inspirerat fler till att ta chansen att söka MFS och resa till ett land du intresserar dig för och skriv om något kul, spännande, orättvist, sorgligt eller whatever. Det har varit utmanande vid flera tillfällen, meeen så otroligt lärorikt och helt klart värt det.

Här tillsammans med Damaris, vår tolk och nu nära vän


Un abrazo graaaande!

Malin y Rolanda


New home

Phnom Penh from our private boat tour

Time passes quickly… like always when having fun. So, with the interviews done and over two months passed, my return back to Sweden is approaching. And I don’t feel ready. Living here for just a while  really makes one see new perspectives of things, like always when travelling. If you haven’t been travelling away for longer trip – just do it. Even when feeling the most lost or culturally shocked it makes you appreciate life and respecting other cultures. Being in a development country and researching on such a sensitive topic like politics (which should not be a sensitive topic) makes me so grateful for all the freedoms back home that we just take for granted. Don’t take it for granted! Especially with the political climate in Europe that to some extent is shifting towards closed borders and scepticism against people with different backgrounds and the current political system – a system that is so great comparing to how it could have been!


On a night out with my Cambodian friends

But being here also offers tolerance and patience – for example in traffic. There is no point even trying to get rushed, instead I just look out the tuktuk and admiring the views or curiously glance at people in their everyday life which is so different to what I’d see back home. At the same time it is not too different. People are still people, trying to make a living and appreciating life sipping frozen cocktails from shotglasses on an outdoor bar in 32 degrees heat. At this bar we got to meet some locals too, the nicest people who kept on buying us snacks, such as different fruits we’d never tried before while discussing the Chinese investments of the country. I have also met two other cambodians, laughing at my rules of playing pool and showing me how it’s really done. These two sisters that I’ll definately miss when going back.

With the thesis submitted earlier than planned I went out to the island Koh Rong Sanloem for some vacation before going back home to defend my thesis. Right now I am stuck in Sihanoukville, a town that has horribly changed within the past few years to Chinese construction work. Hopefully time will pass quickly with a coffe and a book in hand.

M’pai Bay – Koh Rong Sanloem

Tomorrow I’m flying home to Sweden, back to reality with cold weather and shy people. I am so looking forward to seeing all my friends and family and clean streets though!

Partir, c’est mourir un peu.

(To leave is to die a little)

Good morning from a chilly airport in Brussels,

Yesterday was the day, I left Ghana. It was still impossible for me to believe, somehow it still hasn’t really hit me. Except for the sadness, and already missing soo much.

A funny thing happened though since I had been thinking about extending my stay, it turned out that I had overstayed my VISA! I almost had a heart attack when the people at immigration said I had overstayed my VISA, and that it was a very very serious offense and that I would get a penalty! Somehow I had thought I had a 3 months VISA automatically when entering Ghana, did not even check the stamp when I arrived, where they had written 60 days… After being taken into an office at the airport to a very angry woman, she said I would have to pay a fine. Again, heart attack because now I thought okay if I’m not getting arrested or something crazy like that – at least this fine is going to be HUGE. Haha, nope. 80 Ghanaian cedis, which is about 145 SEK. I wanted to laugh, but it was not the moment. I was still scared too, so I was already almost crying. But the lady warmed up, we talked about nice things with Ghana and I was good to go! So a suggestion from me, check your stamp at arrival haha!

Anyways, the week has been hectic. I had 3 interviews, all insanely interesting and helpful! I still can’t believe all the amazing people I have met during my time in Ghana. So many people fighting for human rights, and children’s rights, it gives me hope for the future.

But like I mentioned, I feel very sad and empty right now. I feel like I have left a piece of my heart in Ghana. The food, the people, the music, the weather, the city, the traffic, the languages – yeah you get it. I could go on forever. It has been so different from Sweden, it has forced me out of my comfort zone sooo many times. More times than I thought I was ready for even, but here I am, so grateful and proud of my experience in Ghana. It has been lifechanging honestly, and has brought back some light in my life that I have been missing for a long time.

My last thought goes to all the amazing friends I have had the opportunity to meet and spend my 9 weeks with. They truly are some amazing people, they are what I will miss the most. You all know who you are.


En sista hälsning från mig i Mauritius

Så har mina åtta veckor gått, jag åker hem ikväll. Det har varit en fantastisk upplevelse och jag är så tacksam för att jag har fått denna möjlighet. Med facit i hand känner jag mig nöjd med mitt fältarbete, jag har fått alla de intervjuer som jag ville ha och lite till och har fått kontakter med myndigheter och människor som jag kan vända mig till ifall jag behöver något ytterligare. Så nu återstår “bara” att färdigställa uppsatsen 🙂

Det är väl på sin plats att sammanfatta mina upplevelser här och det tänker jag göra genom två listor. Den första listan beskriver alla saker som jag kommer att sakna när jag lämnar Mauritius och den andra listan alla saker som jag har lärt mig eller tar med mig från denna erfarenhet.

Jag kommer att sakna:

Min härliga extra-familj som jag har fått här. Vilket mottagande jag fick, så mycket hjälp och stöd jag har fått och så många skratt de har gett mig.

Vädret. Alltid varmt, nästan alltid sol. Även om det tog ett tag att vänja sig…

Maten. Alla härliga smaker, färger, dofter. En blandning av så många olika kulturer och traditioner. Blandning av så många smaker: sött och starkt och salt och surt på samma gång. Kreol influerat av kinesiskt, indiskt influerat av afrikanskt. Chili och curry och saffran…

De otroligt vänliga, öppna människorna som börjar prata med en helt spontant, på gatan på bussen eller var som helst. Generösa och hjälpsamma samtidigt som alla tycks visa stor respekt för alla.

Naturen med de sagolika stränderna, palmerna och de alltid närvarande bergen. Grönska mitt i det turkosa vattnet. Och mina söta fladdermöss på min terrass.

Jag tar med mig från Mauritius, förutom ett rikt material till min uppsats:

Nya vänner och kontakter. Så många trevliga och intressanta möten med olika kulturer. Så många intressanta idéer och syn på livets stora och små frågor.

En insikt om att i vissa lägen fungerar inte den svenska försiktiga mentaliteten. Vill man få något uträttat här ska man helt enkelt gå dit och knacka på dörren. Kan vara ett intressant experiment att göra det hemma 🙂

Min solbränna… (trots solfaktor 50)

Som du säker förstår skriver jag detta inlägg med lite vemod samtidigt som jag verkligen ser fram emot att komma hem. Ibland har det varit tufft här, både fysiskt och mentalt, men de positiva minnena överväger helt klart och sammantaget har det varit en väldigt fin upplevelse. Jag hoppas verkligen att få komma tillbaka en dag…

Over and out.

Analysen, la salsita och ett volontäruppdrag!

Hola amigos!
Jag och Malin har pratat en del om möjligheten vi har fått genom MFS. Det är genom MFS stipendium som vi har kunnat träffa alla organisationer och få höra om allas personliga historier, samt att få upptäcka Colombia. De vännerna och kontakterna vi har fått är tack vare MFS stipendium och det kommer vi alltid vara tacksamma för.
De sista veckorna närmar sig sin slut och det som står kvar är – analys delen. Genom att vi har börjat skriva vår analys, har vi upptäckt nya dimensioner, tankar och teman inom intervjuer…Det är som att se insamlad data från en annan vinkel…

Under tiden vi inte skriver, vilket är kvällstimmar, så lagar vi en del mat och bakar och bjuder människor att få smaka på olika, svenska specialiteter. Vi har också haft chans att utföra några dagsutflykter i djungel, samt att dansa salsa som aldrig slutar spelas på radio eller gatorna. Innan vi anlände till Cali, hade vi inte ens aning att det är så mycket salsa här runt omkring.

Under tiden vi skriver vår uppsats och tränar lite salsa, har vi också hunnit att bidra med vår engelska kunskaper. Jag och Malin har fått uppdrag att lära ut grundskolebarn – engelska. Det har känts meningsfullt att kombinera skrivandet, med ett volontäruppdrag.
Ta hand om er och vi hörs:)))

4 weeks left: Challenges and positive outcomes!

Now, I must say that the sunshine really peaks out from some earlier thick clouds.

Last week, I was suppose to get a new stamp in my passport. At the airport in Nairobi when I first arrived, the man that checks the e-Visa and passport only wrote 1 month/holiday next to the stamp and said that after one month I needed to get another one. Something that I haven’t yet understood why that is needed, as the e-Visa holds for 3 months and there is no information about this one-month-stamp in any official websites (only personal stories etc). However, I did what he said, of course. Easier said than done.

So, went to the immigration service office in Kisumu. When I came to the desk, I got interrogated like I was in a Miami Vice episode. The man asked me for 15.000 shilling (around 1.500 sek) and claimed that I had the wrong visa. I was sure this was not the case, but whatever I told him, he got more and more angry and said that I claimed that he didn’t know his job.

Anyhow, after some calls to the embassy, and some other people that I needed to consult this with (as I did not know what the consequences this man could give me), I left and hope to renew the stamp this week instead.

So a tip for anyone in the same position: Go with a man if you need to go to a local office if you feel you need support (as this I heard was one of the problems).

Yes, there can be challenges in these scenarios, or it will go smooth, as I’ve heard others just going in to the office and got a stamp without questions asked.

Anyhow – let’s leave this behind for now. I have been talking to friendly strangers around the community, randomly when taking a short walk around my house. Things comes together of why I am here, and in regards to the community-based organization’s influence in Wagwe. To meet these people and to hear their point of views of various things such as corruption or sustainable development brings me back on my track and the goal of my visit.

On Thursday, I just got noticed that I will also meet a women’s CBO group that works together to encourage and support all from helping orphans to older women, or other “everyday issues” that challanges the lives here.

Am very grateful for being here and to get these stories out.

All the best, Isabelle

Less than a week left, and finally got the dream interview!

Sunday afternoon and I’m writing this only having less than a week left here in Ghana. This past week I’ve really been debating with myself whether or not I should stay a few more weeks here, at least till my VISA expires 3 weeks after my departure date… A big part of me really likes it here, and it already feels like a sort of home. On top of that, I’m not too excited to go back to Sweden at the moment. But a part of me also feels ready to go home, mainly to be able to see friends and family. This last week I’ve just felt really lonely. Also I really really cannot wait to get back to Sweden and all the Swedish food! I’m honestly writing a list on my phone of things I’m gonna eat when I come back, no joke.

The main reason why I feel ready to go home is because I have now scheduled another 3 interviews this coming week, and I feel like the material I have now is what I wanted from the beginning, and good enough. One of these interviews is with the chief of child protection at UNICEF! I couldn’t believe it when I got the answer from him, I cried haha. They were always on top of my list of organizations I wanted to interview. Everyone kept telling me they were a looong shot and it would be quite impossible to get an interview there. Well, if you really really want something fight for it and it will work out one way or the other.

Now I’m heading to the Accra Mall, to sit down at the coffee shop and drink plenty of my favorite coconut icepresso and study! That place has really been a comfy place where I have spent many days studying, drinking coffee, meeting new people, and, buying my new phone, I will miss it!

Time to fly back to Sweden

After two months in Ukraine, I am getting ready to travel back home to Sweden. Meanwhile, I have been transcribing some of the interviews that I have conducted in Odessa and Donetsk. I have conducted very important interviews with some key research participants during my journey to the Donetsk region. This allows me to answer my research questions by having more reliability in the gathered material. I have met volunteer fighters at the frontline from such battalions as Dnipro 1, Aydar and the Right Sector. I stayed some time with these fighters and made a participant observation. This enabled me to better understand how my research participants interpret the world around them, and also how they act in the real life setting. The field notes that I made during my participant observation help me to understand the everyday experience of these fighters both during combat and among their comrades in general.

Transcribing the interviews and writing my thesis

Together with a fighter from the Dnipro 1 battalion

One thing that I noticed during my trip to Donbass was the sharp division of the population living there. People are divided into two campaigns. Pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian attitudes are eminent whether an issue concerns the language, religion, political or historical standpoints. In some cities of the Donetsk region there is a straightforward de-Sovietization, which can be observed by the removal of Soviet monuments and other symbolic items. This process of Ukrainization has achieved the removal of Lenin’s monuments and the abandonment of symbolic items that spread separatism and violence.

Lenin’s monument is removed in the town of Krasnoqorivka in the Donetsk region

Lenin’s monument is removed in the city of Pokrovsk, Donetsk region

All in all, my field study in Ukraine was very interesting, exciting and productive. I have met new people and made contacts that can be crucial in the upcoming master or even doctoral field studies. Most importantly, I have filled an essential research gap that existed in academia. Previous research within the social science describe the motivations of the Ukrainian volunteer fighters in ambiguous and simplistic ways. Despite some minor similarities, my results promise to reveal different motivations of volunteer fighters. The attractiveness of the battlezone for these fighters will also differ from the conclusions of the recent studies in this area.

The view of the nature resembles the blue yellow Ukrainian flag

Farewell Ukraine!