Meet Svitlana from Ukraine
Name: Svitlana Vdovikova
Home Country and City: Ukraine, Dnipropetrovsk
Programme of Study: PhD in Molecular Biology
Personal Interests: self-development, research career, traveling
Favourite thing about Umeå University: organization and care
Favourite Swedish word or custom: of course, fika
Three words to summarise your time in Umeå: IKSU. Nature. Friends.
What is your educational and professional background?
I have obtained a Specialist diploma in Clinical Pharmacy in Ukraine and was working as a consultant and lecturer in the network of pharmacies. At the same time, I was interested in microbiology and molecular mechanisms of bacterial resistance and virulence. Thus, I have applied for a Master\'s programme in Molecular Biology in Umeå University, and I have graduated in 2011.
Why did you choose to enrol in your PhD programme at Umeå University?
First of all, during the Master project at the department of Molecular Biology, I realized that I really enjoy the topic of my research, the people surrounding me and my two supervisors. What does a person actually need for a successful career? You have everything here: a healthy and lively atmosphere, help of other people, cooperation between different groups and departments, wise supervision, hi-tech lab facilities and perfect organization including small details. Besides this, Umeå University has a quite high world ranking and has collaborations with other renowned universities all over the world.
What do you like most about studying at Umeå University?
I like the freedom in the planning of my working time, I like the international environment, I like the broad range of academic and recreational opportunities, all within an exciting campus with a lake. Additionally, you have one paid hour per week for sport activities. In this way, Umeå University is taking care of the health of students and employees.
What is the most interesting thing about your research?
I am working with Vibrio cholerae, a pathogenic bacterium, which can cause serious epidemic disease killing millions of people worldwide (100,000-130,000 deaths per year as of 2010). The infection happens mainly in developing countries through contaminated food or not enough purified water. In my research, I am investigating a biological role of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) secreted by Vibrio cholerae and other bacteria as well as their roles in host-pathogen interactions during infection process. OMVs are attractive candidates for vaccine development taking into account their immunogenicity, ability to be taken up by mammalian cells and to carry a variety of virulence factors.
What do you do when you are not studying?
There are so many things to do that I always wish I could have more time than 24 hours per day. I like traveling, learning photography, working out at IKSU, meeting new people, baking with my friend Hanna (I\'ve met her through the host programme), trying new outdoor activities in the winter, having barbecues in the spring, walking or running around Nydala lake in summer nights when the sun goes down only for three or four hours.
What is your impression of Umeå and the surrounding areas?
Umeå is totally different during winter and summer time. Obviously, nine months of winter can scare anyone; but you should learn to love it. "There is no bad weather, there are bad clothes". You can always find many outdoor activities during winter; the sport club IKSU organizes some of them. The nature and air here is fantastic, a huge contrast to big and polluted cities. You can travel around Umeå as well, doing hiking, rafting, horse riding in the snow, dog sledding, skiing, driving a snowmobile etc. Summer in Umeå is the best, green and blossoming; you can relax here and enjoy life.
What do you find as the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, from your country with Sweden?
The main difference, in my opinion, between Sweden and Ukraine is a different mentality of the people. I could never imagine that I can find so much hospitality, help and friendliness here. Almost everyone speaks English in Sweden so you won\'t feel as a foreigner here. The other difference between the two countries is in equal relations between employer-employee as well as teacher-student.
What you would say or what advice would you give to another international student thinking of attending Umeå University?
Take a lot of warm clothes, a positive attitude and your smile, and go for it! Definitely, Umeå is a great place to study, to work and to live.
What are your career aspirations?
I am at the beginning of my PhD career, so I am planning to finish it in four to four and a half years and continue to work and develop myself in the research area. Honestly, it was my dream since school.