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Meet Julia

Name: Julia Freytag

Programme: Master's Programme in Finance, 1st semester

From: A small town located around one-hour to the west of Leipzig


Why a master programme in Umeå?

I completed an English- and French-speaking bachelor’s programme in Germany but the amount of English-taught degree programmes is very limited there. Hence, I was looking for a country where English-speaking master programmes in the area of finance are offered and also for a country with a great education system supporting the student’s development to become sophisticated and critically thinking business professionals.

I personally had the desire to live in Scandinavia due to the quality of living, education and the landscape.

I finally decided to study in Sweden as it appealed to me that you study only one course at the time over a period of four to five weeks.
Initially, I set the master’s programme in finance and accounting at Lund University as my first choice when I applied but I’m now glad to be in Umeå as the programme here is pure finance. Umeå University has a great reputation and despite being a smaller city, the setting is very international.

What is best with the programme so far?

I decided to go for the master’s programme in finance at USBE as it provides you with the opportunity to shape the programme according to your interests.

The first semester captures the most important subject of finance on advanced level. In the second semester, you can choose electives and do an internship, in the third semester, you can either go abroad or do a minor in another discipline of business administration. USBE has a great variety of partner universities with great reputations across the globe and I am personally very interested in doing a double degree at a business school in France.

According to my experience, the students in Sweden are quieter and more focused during lectures, maybe it is because one lecture is about 45 minutes only. The professors change the schedule very seldom and overall, the quality of teaching at USBE is amazing! Our lecturers have both a strong academical background as well as a great deal of practical experience. Umeå University uses different kinds of examinations and emphasises the self-independent working style of its students, this is a great opportunity to develop your own skills in dealing with case studies, holding presentations and working in a team further. In general, student’s life in Sweden is less stressful as you only study one course at the time. This makes it easier to focus and get deeper into the topic.

One of the things I appreciate most is the accessibility of the people working at and with the university. Everyone I met so far has an open ear for you and is trying to help you best.

Your plans after graduation?

I’m planning to start my career in the area of risk management in a larger financial services company.

What is best with Umeå?

What I like about living in Umeå is the cycling culture. Every place is reachable by bike, you’re not in need of a car and are always outdoors. My favourite place is the Strandpromenaden, the bike lane along the riverbank. It is really beautiful! Regarding outdoor activities, Umeå comes up with skiing and cross-skiing lanes, forests where elks live and - probably the best – aurora borealis.

The buddy programme

I have also been very well received within the buddy programme. Our buddy group is gathering together on a regular basis for different activities like international dinners, volleyball tournaments, or berry and mushroom picking in the forest (as the right of public access in Sweden makes it possible to pick in any forest although you do not own the land).

Living in Sweden and the Swedish culture

Before I moved to the far North of Europe, people told me Scandinavians aren’t really talkative. But living here, black proved white. I am fortunate to have two Swedish flatmates who are very social and are singing and dancing around our apartment. This is a great advantage in learning the Swedish language and getting introduced to the Swedish culture.
And by the way, my experience holds true for body distance. Swedes aren’t standing that far away from each other as some may believe.

Despite the emphasis put on environmental sustainability, I am, however, surprised that Swedes are still using so many plastic bags. Many buy a plastic bag every time they go grocery shopping, this is no longer common in Germany.

Advice to German students

Start planning your journey early
Of course, there aren’t many obstacles to overcome when moving to Sweden as an EU citizen but semester timings in Sweden are different compared to those of most German universities.

The eligibility requirements 
It is essential to look at the eligibility requirements of the degree programmes and it can be good to know that USBE doesn’t require German students to take a TOEFL or GMAT test, what can save you several hundred euros.

No tuition fees
As an EU citizen you’re also not required to pay tuition fees but the living costs in Sweden are higher than in most European countries. However, at most places you can get a student’s discount and there’re also grocery stores with more reasonable prices.

While studying in Sweden, Germany students can apply for the Auslands-BaföG, although they might not have been eligible for this type of student loan while studying at home.