In the spring of 2023, I knew a good opportunity knocked on my door when I learned about an internship position at Nordregio. As a master’s student specializing in Nordic Urban Planning, I came across Nordregio’s reports during a group project on depopulation, and they left a lasting impression, making this internship opportunity one I couldn’t afford to pass up.
My fascination with how our cities and towns are designed and how they influence our lives led me to pursue this master’s degree. I am keen to explore the relationship between people and their urban environments, particularly in the context of innovative, community-centric urban solutions, which happened to be a great fit for this internship.
My Research Journey Across Nordic Small Towns
My research project focused on exploring methods employed by small towns in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland to enhance urban attractiveness, particularly outside of working hours. This internship enabled me to explore the evolving challenges and transformations in these towns and to analyze and compare different Nordic approaches to these issues.
I joined a dedicated team of four Nordregio researchers and another intern. My specific focus was on Vordingborg, a small town in Denmark, where I analyzed documents, including various policy plans and initiatives. Additionally, I conducted interviews with key municipal figures like the mayor, urban planner, branding expert, and city manager. This provided me with a firsthand view of the intricacies of municipal planning and governance.
Conducting interviews in Danish, a new experience for me, presented its share of challenges, from last-minute changes to occasional miscommunications. However, these hurdles proved invaluable as they taught me the vital importance of effective communication, adaptability, and self-confidence.
Bridging the Academic-Practical Chasm
This internship allowed me to apply my academic knowledge practically, deepening my understanding of managing small-town growth and tackling issues like depopulation.
Despite the challenges of a remote internship, my passion for the subject made it rewarding and flexible enough to continue my university courses. Additionally, two opportunities to travel to Stockholm for workshops with the team proved immensely valuable, offering a chance for knowledge exchange and insights.
In closing, my time at Nordregio has been really enriching, blending theoretical knowledge with practical application. It has equipped me with valuable skills and insights for my future career, and I hope more of you have the chance to join Nordregio in the future.