My name is Pia Skouby Larsen, I graduated from the Metropolitan University College in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Global Nutrition and Health, with a specialisation in Lifestyle Coaching & Fitness Management (now Lifestyle and Health Education). I am currently studying a Master’s degree in Applied Sport and Exercise Physiology at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, UK and if all goes as planned I will be graduating in 2015. I am studying part time and apart from my studies I am currently working as a childminder for a couple of hours 4 days a week.
I am a traveller by heart, so I have always wanted to travel the world in one way or the other. I was lucky to do my second and third work placement periods at Thule Air Base Greenland, where I worked for Greenland Contractors in their activities department. After graduating from Metropolitan University College I applied for a permanent position – my Thule life was far from finished. I ended up spending two absolutely amazing years at Thule Air Base, where I enjoyed the simple life far from civilisation in the middle of the most beautiful nature I have ever experienced.
Thule is basically a small city that has limited resources due to its remote position, but despite this we did have internet (!) and TV channels. It is hard to explain how it is to live under such special conditions, and all I can really say is that this experience truly changed my life in so many ways. A typical work day for me on base could be anything from cleaning the machines at the gym or teaching classes, to making café latte and going on guided tours with a group of Thule Tubbies (the local term for civilians and air force personnel on base).
However, despite the fact that I loved my two years on base, there were tough times e.g. when the sun did not rise over winter – imagine going to work in the dark, going to lunch in the dark, and leaving work in complete darkness. There is no doubt that working in Thule requires a strong mind and mental health. Most people work three months and then go on holiday for four weeks, and since you are not able to go home whenever you want (Thule is located 3861km from Copenhagen!) you learn to appreciate your holidays!
In July 2013 it was time to move on, and in September 2013 I was back in school ready to learn and gain new experiences in another country. I now study a Master’s degree in Applied Sport and Exercise Physiology at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, a suburb approximately 30 min from the centre of London, and to go to the River Thames from where I live, take less than 2 minutes! Twickenham is a university city, where Rugby is the pride and joy of all! I still have not gotten my head around the rules, but I do know that the players have more or less no safety equipment and that wearing tight shirts is NOT a fashion statement – it is a matter of safety!
I originally wanted to study full time, so that I could be finished within a year, however, when I went for my interview at the university, I was advised to study part-time, due to the heavy load of readings etc. Moving to a master’s level is though! But with challenges comes new knowledge, and wow have I gained new knowledge. So far we have completed modules on research methods, advanced exercise physiology, and training programme design and evaluation. We are a small class, only 11 students, which means that the lecturers have time to discuss whatever issues or ideas we might have. What I like most about this course is that I get to apply my knowledge into practice e.g. by working with Great Britain’s under 23 male kayaking team, England Athletics, London Triathlon Plus Show, and some of the most qualified and well known researchers within the area of applied sports physiology. I also find great value in the lectures we attend, which for the most part is 50-50 in regards to theory and practice – believe it or not, but I actually enjoy completing a VO2max test or getting my blood lactate levels taken. I am a bit of a geek when it comes to testing.
The knowledge which I gained from my bachelor has definitely helped me along the way, and especially the sports science modules played an important role in my decision to specialise even more within that area.