What is your educational and professional background?
– I have a bachelor's degree in International Business and Management for which I did an Erasmus study abroad semester in Norway and internships in New Zealand and Australia.
Why did you choose to enrol in your degree programme at Umeå University?
– My bachelor has a wide focus which made me decide to specialize in marketing. I have always been eager to find new countries to get to know and I have a great love for Scandinavia, including its high standard for education. This made my focus on Sweden in my search for a master's degree. Soon I came across Umeå University which provides some interesting master programmes in business administration with attractive curriculums.
The opportunity to mix marketing with management or entrepreneurship, as well as the "exotic" location of Umeå made me apply.
What do you like most about your programme?
– The (Swedish) system of one course at the time is brilliant. You can focus on this subject completely and really dive into it. As the programme is very well structured with each course building on the next, it provides a stepwise learning experience which works really well for me.
I also enjoy the practical touches such as consulting assignments for local companies, cases and guest lectures. While theory is an important backbone for any discipline these practical experiences incorporated in it provide understanding beyond the theoretical and will be especially important in future jobs. What is the most interesting thing you learned in your programme or courses so far? Probably, the importance of looking back before going forward. Understanding the history of any problem makes for better decisions about the future.
What do you do when you are not studying?
– When I'm not studying I like to go to IKSU (sport and fitness centre) for squash, yoga or any of their other activities, have fika with my friends, and like every student enjoy the nightlife. I also like to enjoy the nature around Umeå by walking around the forests (or get lost in them) and have BBQ's around Lake Nydala.
What is your impression of Umeå and the surrounding areas?
– Umeå is a relatively small city but it has everything you need. It is considerably cheaper to live here than, for example, Stockholm and it has beautiful nature surrounding it. I love walking around Lake Nydala to clear my head or enjoy a nice BBQ with friends. Maybe the most impressive thing to me is that (on a good night) I can just sit in front of my window and enjoy the most wonderful northern light show in the sky.
What do you find as the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, from your country with Sweden?
– As mentioned earlier, the fact that the courses don't run parallel is the main educational difference. This system works very well for me, but it can cause for quite a bit of time pressure as well. Within a period of about five weeks you start a course, with lectures, cases and other assignments and (for most courses) at the end of these five weeks you'll have to be ready for a written exam. It can keep you on your toes at times, but it's a good learning experience.
Socially I agree with the masses saying that Swedes can be shy or hold back in the beginning, but once you know them this shyness goes right out the window. Also, I have noticed that students generally eat very healthy, cook food from scratch, bake bread etc. etc. As I remember, students in The Netherlands tend to prepare/buy easy and fast meals or fastfood.
What you would say or what advice would you give to another international student thinking of attending Umeå University?
– Umeå University is a great place to study, many international students come here and the university takes good care of them. You have an instant friend base of both international and Swedish students if you join the buddy programme. The education is good and the teaching staff is knowledgeable and helpful.
If you are not hung up on living in a metropolis and can enjoy a smaller city with great student life, nature, low temperatures and darkness in winter, and lots of light in summer, Umeå is a great place to live and Umeå University a great place to study.
What are your career aspirations?
– With my master's degree in marketing from Umeå University I would like to explore a new country and find a job in (marketing) management consultancy.