Why did you choose to study at Umeå University?
I was coming to the end of my Bachelor's Degree and I came across this opportunity to study Public Health. The course content seemed interesting, well structured and covered a broad spectrum of topics and issues. I was already quite intrigued by the subject, as I had been made aware of it during my undergraduate studies. It held great relevancy for me due to the invaluable insight it could provide into the general workings of a health system, and the different components that should to be considered, whilst bearing in mind the local, national and international perspectives. Having this additional knowledge I hoped would give me better working understanding of the current situation within the health sector. Being a one-year course made it more appealing from a time and cost perspective.
However, the factor that clinched the deal was the environment. Doing some research on the city in general revealed its diverse seasons. This was something completely different to what I was accustomed to and thought it would be a great adventure to embark on.
As it turns out, I was spot on. It has been a true once in a lifetime experience. Starting from the cold, wet darkness that suddenly gives way to a gorgeously glistening white snow landscape, which then magically disappears before your eyes only to reveal a vibrant green haven boasting long summer nights (or should I say days)...AMAZING!
What do you like most about your programme?
What I like most about our programme is the variety of courses we get to study. The courses offered can be best described as a comprehensive starter tool kit for conducting field research and developing a good foundation for working in the public health sector. The programme covers all the main bases to provide sound knowledge, whilst at the same time offering a good mix of teaching and learning styles. We are expected to participate in various class discussions and group presentations; this in conjunction with the independent reading set in every course is a great strength of the programme.
What has been your most memorable moment about the programme so far?
I have been privileged enough to share my year with 17 other wonderful individuals. Our cohort is very closely knit and this is reflected in my many memorable moments such as end of exam celebrations, BBQ's by the lake and not forgetting graduation day.
However, my ultimate memorable moment has to be the Sittning benefit I helped organise. In collaboration with the Medical Student's Union and the support of our peers and the entire faculty we managed to create a successful event for a good cause.
It will be forever etched in my memory as a great moment and one that could not have been achieved without the support of my fellow students, our dedicated faculty staff members and hard working administrative team.
To all the above I would like to say a massive thank you.
What do you do when you're not studying?
This is a very active programme, with the precious spare time available, I usually spend it catching up with friends over fika and/or dinner and going to IKSU.
What you like best about the town of Umeå and its surroundings?
I like how you get the best of both worlds; you have a touch of the city life mixed in with the simple, relaxed and stress free ambience associated with the countryside. Wherever you look you are never far away from a green space. There is always something interesting and exciting happening in town; whether it's the famers market, the international food market or the lovely music and art festivals. Umea may be a small city but it is bursting with life.
What do you find as the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, from your country with Sweden?
Socially to be honest, I did not find a massive cultural difference between England and Sweden. It was more the subtle differences or 'quirks' that I noticed more. For example, the way people dress in Sweden is more vibrant then back home (they are not afraid to wear colour). How one presents themselves in daily life and the etiquette used and expected is slightly different also, but nothing that you aren't able to get used to.
Educationally, however the differences were more pronounced. I felt it most in the teacher-student relationship. It is not the traditional 'You sit, I teach' ethos. It is inherently expected that the students fully participate, share their views in frank discussions and inform the lecturer's and staff members when they are not happy with something. The fact that the staff placed so much value and importance on student opinions and subsequently acted upon the requests, helped foster a positive and comfortable learning atmosphere for both the teacher's and students. If the student's feel looked after then they will perform better. Student satisfaction is a high priority and this is one of the main reason's why the course is top quality and will continue to be so.
What you would say to another international student thinking of attending Umeå University?
I would say be prepared for a great adventure, embrace the differences in culture and environment. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Go for it! You will not regret it!
What are you career aspirations?
Studying this course has potentially opened up so many different career paths. As of yet I am not sure on my definitive route but I would love to gain some experience in fieldwork. Further exploring a public health issue to a specialist's level is also an appealing option. But ultimately, working for a prestigious organisation such as the WHO would be a dream come true.
I guess you just have to watch the space.
Favourite thing about Umeå University:
Their endless supply of good coffee, not to mention the balance they have achieved between studying and extracurricular activities. The great facilities and comfortable atmosphere makes it appealing to study but at the same time develops interest for the surroundings making you want to explore the various festivals, activities and seminars they have to offer.
Favourite Swedish word or custom:
Fika of course!
Three words to summarise your time in Umeå:
A Hidden Gem