What is your educational and professional background?
Well, this is my second year of college; I had to take my first year of prerequisites back home since it was a requirement to be accepted to universities in Sweden for 3-years Bachelor's programme. I have spent my elementary to high school years in New Zealand and Saipan, USA, so I've lived most of my life outside South Korea.
Why did you choose to enrol in your degree programme at Umeå University?
First of all, I was interested in Nordic countries, especially in Sweden and Norway because of their love for nature and high education system. So after searching for science programmes taught in English, Umea University was my top choice. I am very glad that I made that choice because I do not regret coming here.
What do you like most about your programme?
I like how the courses are based on both theory and applications. Yes, it is very challenging and difficult because you have to apply what you've learned in class in the labs and exams, but it prepares you for the real science world. The science departments have well-equipped labs and tools. The professors and assistants are very helpful and friendly; you can always go to their office when you need help. Also, you have classmates who will be studying with you in the program for 3 years; there are some exchange students too, but it is good to have classmates who are there for you and to hang out with.
What is the most interesting thing you learned in your programme or courses so far?
Every day I learn new things. Since I am in my first year in the programme, I've learned four chemistry courses so far, and everything was interesting because there are so many little details in the atoms and cells. Endless learning!
What do you do when you are not studying?
I love to bake! Cakes, cookies, tarts, bread, etc., and give them to my friends and have fika! I like how there are ovens in every house here, because it is uncommon in Korea to have an oven in your house. I also like to go to the Norrlandsoperan to watch live concerts and go to the Bildmuseet to see the art exhibitions. And of course, I go to IKSU to swim or to workout.
What is your impression of Umeå and the surrounding areas?
Everything is so nearby: supermarket, university, city, IKSU and your friends' houses. People really care about the nature and recycling, and they really yearn for the SUN. Also, drinking tap water from the sink; glad that there are free clean water to drink everywhere.
What do you find as the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, from your country with Sweden?
Everyone is so relaxed here. I like how you can study without being stressed; studying and competing for that 0.1% of grade is not the priority here. It feels like they care and wants you to really understand and grasp what you are learning. Also, the coffee break in between the classes; this will never happen back home but by having a coffee break, it gives your brain to rest a little and now I am so used to it that a coffee break is a must!
What you would say or what advice would you give to another international student thinking of attending Umeå University?
Umeå is a great place to study both academically and environmentally. My friends want to come back to Umea for their future studies, and they always miss this place. For sure, you will love here and make unforgettable memories. Don't be afraid of the Swedish winter! I, myself, have never seen the snow ever since I left Korea so I was bit worried if I could survive the winter, but I did, and also had an unforgettable memory in Kiruna riding the dog sled. So bring warm clothes and the excitement to begin a new chapter in Umea.
What are your career aspirations?
I've just started with my studies in life science so I am not 100% sure, but I would like to work in something related with the medical field where I can help people. I believe that there are many other career opportunities for this field, so I shall see about that when I am with my masters or PhD. Also, I want to study music therapy/music in the future because that was what I've wanted to study ever since I was young.
Favourite thing about Umeå University: Overpasses that connect every building (don't have to worry about walking in the cold to different buildings during winter!), library, Culture pa Campus.
Favourite Swedish word or custom: "Vad sa du?" which literally means, "What say you?" But I like how they say that for "What did you say? Sorry?"
Three words to summarise your time in Umeå: Nature, Challenging, and Diverse
Where are you from?
South Korea, Bucheon
Playing/listening to music, swimming, jogging, baking