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Meet Sarah from France

What is your educational and professional background?
– After studying a Bachelor in International Trade, Marketing and intercultural management in France, I came in Sweden to do my two years Master Programme in Management. In France, after each year of study we got to work or do an internship so I got the opportunity to have various professional experiences in very different atmosphere.

I first worked as sales manager in Paris for Saturn for four months. The following year, I went to Florida, to work for Walt Disney World as for three months. And my last professional experience has been an internship in the Paris office of a British company of fine art packers and shipper, Hedleys Humpers. I had been given the title of Export Agent and was in charge of transport processes throughout the world.

Why did you choose to enrol in your degree programme at Umeå University?
– My main criterion was the quality provided for studies regarding every aspect of student life. Firstly, the quality of the teachers and administration is really high. All the staff is really well organized and pro-active. I could have experienced that during my exchange program previously and also throughout my application process when some technical issues needed to be solved. In Umea University there is always a person ready to help you.

The quality of life as a student is also really comfortable. All the services provided besides courses are really appreciable. The library, the group rooms, the cafeterias, the housing areas, and all the facilities are easily accessible.
The international atmosphere was also another criterion that I liked about Umea University. You get a chance to interact with people from many different countries being a student here. You get to learn so many cultural differences with a lot of fun.

What do you like most about your programme?
– The electives, the fact that we can choose part of our programmes according to what we are interested in. I think it is for us a great opportunity to open our possibilities to larger perspectives. I really appreciate that we are given the opportunity to build our own package for our master. It also helps keeping us interested and committed in what we are doing according to our wishes on not only for the diploma.

What is the most interesting thing you learned in your programme or courses so far?
– I learn to learn by myself. Lectures are here to provide us foundations, or basis of the course, additional information to explore different perspectives and a place to ask question on specific points we did not understand. The rest, meaning the research of the information, the understanding, and the full study of the topic are left on our own. We are responsible of these steps. I learnt how to learn, understand, assimilate, and so being able to put into practice theory.

This is why I did not want to continue my studies in France and choose to come in Sweden. In France you are taught to learn and repeat by heart, in Sweden you are taught to learn "to learn".

What do you do when you are not studying?
– I am President of a local committee in Umea of an organization called AIESEC. It is the world's largest student run organization providing internship and volunteer program opportunities throughout 124 countries. My role as President is to ensure that AIESEC grows in Umea for giving these opportunities to students and companies in our local chapter. As President of AIESEC Umea, I am committed to engage active youth and develop high potential young leaders for a positive impact locally and globally.

Besides AIESEC, I am a musician, listen to music all the time and love singing. So if you get a chance to see a girl singing like crazy on campus, you can be sure that it was me. Also, when I have time, I go to the teaching building for playing piano in this nice auditorium which is probably my favourite place in Umea University though.

What is your impression of Umeå and the surrounding areas?
– I find it a really peaceful and fresh place. I really like the green areas, the small forests and the water surrounding the whole city. The campus is big but mainly located in the same area which helps for lectures and studying in general. And after studying in Umea University for more than a year I am still impressed by all these bridges or corridors enabling to go from a building to another without being outside throughout the whole campus. This is pretty convenient during winter time.

What do you find as the biggest cultural difference, both socially and educationally, from your country with Sweden?
– The main difference is the stress, the pressure put in everything we do. In France I felt put under pressure with everything; I was feeling dragging down in all my efforts. I was suffering from people surrounding on my daily basis due to their stressed and sometimes anti-social behaviour. After spending five months as exchange students in Umea, when I came back in France my reverse culture shock has been extreme. My only perspective then was to leave again and that is what I did coming back here in Sweden.

In Sweden, the way things are handled is really organized and everyone is helpful and friendly. I personally found the atmosphere more relaxed and under less pressure which enables a better efficiency and pro-activeness in general.

What you would say or what advice would you give to another international student thinking of attending Umeå University?
– Stop hesitating anymore and get ready to wish staying longer. I like calling it the Umea effect. You come experience Umea, after you do not want to leave, then you realize how Sweden suits you so you think about pursuing your studies in Umea University. Give it try, it's worth it.

What are your career aspirations?
– I would like to work at a global scale and lead projects dealing with intercultural challenges. I aim to make a change in global companies for a better understanding and synergies between different countries, regions, and cultures.

Favourite thing about Umeå University:
Lake Nydala, the best spot for watching the Northern Lights during winter

Favourite Swedish word or custom:
lova (to promise), I find it really beautiful

Three words to summarise your time in Umeå:
Wonderful, Inspiring, Fika

Sarah Mohammedi
Varifrån kommer du?
France, Villepinte (near Paris)
Music (as player and listener), Share of experiences, Travel