Tag archives for Sweden

Studying in Sweden 30 years on: A mother’s experience and her daughter’s expectations

Read the interview of a mother (Carmen Ortega) who studied in Sweden 30 years ago and how she inspired her daughter (Viveka Guzman) to study in Sweden now.

Interview with Carmen Ortega (the mother): 

Please describe to us, as you would describe to your daughter, what Viveka has to look forward to as she moves to Sweden? 

I would say to her that she has a unique opportunity to be in a country, which is one of the best in the world—not only in terms of its high level of science, but also in terms of its advances with respect to human rights.

What did you study and how did it affect where you ended up today?

I studied my Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Stockholm, and it has been one of the best experiences in my life. Currently, I work as a lecturer at the University of Guadalajara and I try to do my best to contribute in the training of Chemistry professionals and to help students learn and love chemistry.

I was very lucky to have studied at Laboratory of Arrehenius, where pioneering work in Organic Chemistry and Carbohydrates research took place. I learned through this experience about the interdisciplinary ways, in which science can be developed. In my thesis, for example, publications involved researchers from different countries, specialized in different fields. Each one of us was focused on doing a specific part and after putting all the parts together we were able to solve a specific and important problem. From this experience I learned that we need to exchange knowledge and experience. At the time I was in Arrehenius, Professor Bengt Lindberg transmitted to us the importance of our work. Thus we tried to do our best and work hard to get our results as soon as possible.

It was a very competitive research group and it happened that another group published before us but Professor Lindberg encouraged us by saying “it shows that we are working in the right direction”.

During my current work at the University of Guadalajara I try to transmit these important learning experiences to my students and to encourage them to go abroad if they have the chance.

What do you think could be different in Sweden today, compared to when you studied in Stockholm?

I returned to Mexico more than 30 years ago. However, last year I had the opportunity to visit Stockholm and I realised that it is much more diverse than when I lived there. I think this is a very positive change!

I believe that to have the opportunity of knowing other cultures helps you to grow as a human being and that it helps you to become aware and appreciate what you have, as well as to develop your empathy towards the people whom are around you.

What was the biggest mistake you made while in Sweden?

That I did not travel to different states in Sweden’s northern part. I went to Uppsala, Gotland and Öland. It should be great to know how the people in the north live. I also regret that I did not participate in community work. But I was very involved in my Ph.D. studies, as I early on experienced the difference in education levels between Mexico and Sweden.

I wanted to get my degree, return to Mexico and be part in changing the education system. I have always believed that the only way that my country can improve is having better education in all the levels starting from elementary school to University. When I started my studies, I already had a Master’s degree from one of the best research centres in Mexico. Nevertheless, it was still very hard to keep track of the theoretical part of my Ph.D. studies. On the other hand I really enjoyed working in the lab; I had everything I needed, and if I asked for the reactants that I needed for my research I got them as soon as possible. I could work until very late if I needed and I could go to the lab during weekends as I had free access to the building, to the library, so I always felt that my success depended on me and my own efforts. So I got the feeling that we in Mexico are behind of developed countries due to the fact that we have difficulty to get financial support to do research, so we need work hard in order to change our education system and to learn to work as a team. Something that I truly believe is that it is very important to do interdisciplinary work.

I also learned very much besides science during my stay in Sweden, for example, I learned to swim, to ride a bicycle and to appreciate going to the forest to pick up mushrooms. I learned that is possible to have friends despite language barriers and keep them in spite of distance.

What is the most important thing that your daughter should do while in Sweden?

To learn Swedish as soon as possible without losing focus from her studies (Master’s degree), because it will award her more knowledge of what Swedish society is and how it functions. That knowledge will help her to grow as human being.

What is the most important thing that she needs to avoid while in Sweden?

To have relationships with people solely because they share the same native language, as this could lead to her becoming isolated from the Swedish community.

What is your relationship to Sweden look like today?

I have good friends that I met while I was in Sweden during my studies. They have been to Mexico and I have visited them. We keep I touch through the Internet, and before that through traditional mail. I consider them part of my family. They are very important for me!!

Do you think that you’ll ever arrange an alumni event? And if so, what do you think the topic and format will be?

I think that the alumni network is a great way to keep in touch with people who have been in Sweden or will be going to Sweden. It will be a pleasure to participate in events organised by the Swedish Institute. I would appreciate if I could be informed about the program of the events and would be delighted if I can contribute in some way. It would be great if we can organize a group in Guadalajara.  Please let me know if I contribute in some way from here!!

A topic suggestion: “Counseling to build a new firm”. I suggest this topic because when I returned to México, I started working at a research center and nobody was working in Carbohydrates so it was very hard to work in a team. Nowadays, the Mexican government tries to encourage people to set up small firms with relatives or friends, but we do not have enough information about how to do it. I think this kind of information would be very valuable. In the last event organized by the Swedish Institute they presented us how the people do it in Sweden. So I think it would be great to land these ideas in our reality.

Interview with Viveka Guzman (the daughter): 

What will you study and where?

I will study a 2 year master program in Global Health at the University of Gothenburg.

Having heard your mother’s stories from Sweden, what are your expectations? Nervous? Excited?

I am thrilled with the opportunity to be part of a society with higher gender equality, excellent work-life balance, advanced social welfare system and sustainable development. I am really looking forward to participate in an interdisciplinary and international education environment, a space where students and professors share their creativity, experiences and way of thinking to come up with better research and adequate solutions.

I am also really excited about the opportunity to eat a massive amount of delicious lax, to be able to bike to school and get away from traffic jams, to come across very dark long winters vs enjoying all-day-long sunny summers. There is also the expectation for lots of fikas and life lasting friendships; lots of archipelagos and boats and wonderful nature. I am just a little bit nervous about learning Swedish, which I consider an important goal and another bit nervous of assembling Ikea furniture by myself!

What do you think will be the biggest difference between what you will experience in Sweden during the coming two years compared to your mother’s experience?

I would say that in the period of time in between my mother and my experience, Sweden continued getting a more diverse population where more cultures are represented, new social challenges have emerged and new technology is making everything move faster than ever before. This means I might get the opportunity to get to know, appreciate and face cultural differences, while also having the chance to remain close to my family and friends through the internet.

How do you think the time in Sweden affected your mother?

I think my mom left Sweden, but Sweden never left my mom. Some part of her became definitely Swedish both in her way of thinking and in her everyday life. When I was a kid it went from wishing good night with “natti natti”, and having kottbullar at lunch every now and then, to realizing that, that language my parents used when they didn’t want to be understood by others was the Swedish they fought so hard to master, the main reason why they were so happy to be able to communicate with those tall, blond foreigners we got to encounter in a trip.

I believe my mom is a very intelligent person and that Sweden provided to her specific skills to enhance her professional development, while also building on her confidence. After her experience in Sweden, my mother became an advocate for social justice and education improvement in Mexico, and also an honorary lifetime ambassador for everything swedish.

Through my mother sharing her experience in Sweden, from an early age, I learned how far one can get by mastering different languages, working hard at school and having the determination and will to push yourself to reach your goals.

How do you think you’ll be affected?

I believe this will be an overall life changing experience. It will open a whole new professional field for me, also giving me the opportunity to challenge myself and get to grow in many personal aspects.

In a few years, you’ll be part of the same alumni network. Do you think that you’ll ever arrange an alumni event? And if so, what do you think the topic and format will be?

I think we would both like very much to be involved in an alumni event! I believe the “Counselling to build a new firm” suggested by my mother is a good idea. In the process of obtaining my medical doctor degree, I realized most of my colleagues considered the only way to successfully continue their professional career was with further specializing in a very specific field of medicine, in Mexico there are very few opportunities to follow this path and competition is fierce, so many young doctors feel despair as they are left behind on jobs they are not passionate about, that usually have very poor working conditions with limited or no impact in improving the health of the population.

In between this group, knowledge of the ways of building a new firm is almost non existing, so it would be interesting to organize conferences and talks with successful health related professionals and Swedish enterprises to get to know what they do, how they got to do it and what does it actually mean (what are their current and future perspectives).

It would be great to include medical/laboratory equipment and pharmaceutical enterprises, universities and institutions developing research related to health, specialized medical doctors and NGO’s. Maybe someone could talk about some statistics and the differences between both countries health systems, and also highlight the fact that with globalization diseases are transcending physical boarders making an urgent call of action and international cooperation.

Interview with Swedish Institute alumnus: Dmytro Iarovyi

The Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine has interviewed three Swedish Institute alumni. This article is the last in a series of profiles published by the Embassy of Sweden during October.

Dmytro Iarovyi, originally from the Luhansk region, is the current Head of international communications at the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine.  A few years ago, Dmytro was looking for opportunities to study abroad and, according to him, Sweden offered the best combination of affordability and quality. After receiving a grant from the Swedish Institute, Dmytro spent two years studying International Administration and Global Governance at Gothenburg University.

“It was the brightest experience of my life”, says Dmytro. “The teachers were great. Moreover, thanks to the practical component of my course, I was able to do a two month internship in New York for the delegation of Ukraine to the UN”.

Dmytro’s study abroad experience involved a good portion of sight-seeing and leisure. He was pleased with Gothenburg’s mix of big city clubs and small town cycling lanes, and considers it his “favorite city in the world”. Being part of an SI-programme also allowed him to form lasting connections with international students. Thanks to an SI-organized kickoff at the start of the academic year, Dmytro met other SI-students and made a great group of friends. Together they rented a car and travelled all around Europe.

Upon returning to Ukraine, Dmytro was so inspired by his time abroad that he decided to continue promoting his experiences and values from Sweden.  As an active member of SI’s alumni network, Dmytro has co-hosted a workshop on leadership with the help of SI’s funding. He has also independently hosted a workshop on public broadcasting for Ukrainian students and SI alumni.

Dmytro wholeheartedly recommends the SI’s programmes to other Ukrainians looking for a European experience and has tirelessly promoted study abroad opportunities. “For those who want to learn about good practice in governance and administration, with a uniquely Swedish perspective on gender and development, studying in Sweden is an invaluable opportunity. I would highly recommend applying for these scholarships – if I could, I would do it again and again.”

The interview was published at the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine website. You can read the original article here.

Interview with Swedish Institute alumna: Mariia Tyshchenko

The Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine has interviewed three Swedish Institute alumni. This article is the second in series of profiles published by the Embassy of Sweden during October.

Mariia Tyshchenko is the founder and director of the NGO Poruch (“Nearby” or “Alongside”), as well as an associate professor in the political economy department at Kyiv National Economy University. A tireless activist and educator, Mariia’s main interests center on sustainable development and social cohesion.

“I was already interested in sustainable development. When looking for programmes where I could explore this in more depth, I stumbled upon the Swedish Institute’s summer school”, says Mariia. The 2010 summer school on strategic sustainable development involved spending one week in Mundekulla, followed by one week in Karlskrona. The whole experience was funded by SI.

“Mundekulla was in the middle of nowhere in northern Sweden. We lived on an estate that was completely sustainable”, remembers Mariia. “They grew their own food and recycled pretty much everything. They even had sustainable toilets! Having to differentiate between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ plastic was a bit of a shock for us Eastern Europeans.”

Moreover, the community sported a small grocery store without a shopkeeper. The store’s profitability relied on visitors putting the right amount of money down for the items they bought. This made a deep impression on Mariia. “For me, it was proof of the high levels of social capital in Sweden. Coincidentally, social trust correlates with low levels of corruption”, says Mariia.

Of course, in addition to their learning experience, there was plenty of time for the students to enjoy themselves. “I was lucky enough to have my summer course coincide with the Swedish Midsummer celebrations. It was a party like I’ve never experienced. We were even wearing our vyshyvanky (Ukrainian national dress)!”

Mariia was heavily inspired by the summer school’s overall philosophy of social responsibility, as well as the strong presence of women activists in Sweden. Mariia returned to Ukraine with a feeling that she could change the world. As a result, Poruch was born, an NGO with the aim of building communities and fostering sustainable development in the regional areas of Ukraine. Their current projects involve social cohesion training in Donbas and integrating internally displaced people (IDPs) into their host communities. This was directly inspired by the social cohesion she observed in Sweden.

Mariia has continued to maintain her relationship with the Swedish Institute and its alumni. During its 5 years of existence, Poruch has organized dozens of events, many supported by SI and the Embassy. The vast network of activists and experts Mariia formed at SI’s summer school has also been a valuable resource: to this day, the SI summer school alumni work together on various projects all over Ukraine.

In 2015, Mariia went to Sweden once again, this time to SI’s Summer Academy for Young Professionals, with the aim of increasing the practice of good governance in the wider Baltic Sea Region.

Overall, Mariia is happy with her choices. “Attending SI’s summer schools broadened my horizons while enhanging my career profile” she says. “Ukraine still has many unsolved domestic problems and challenges. By studying the Swedish experience we can add to our own knowledge”.

The interview was published at the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine website. You can read the original article here.

Launch of sweden.ru

The family of Sweden websites grows even bigger as sweden.ru in Russian joins the Arabic, Chinese and English official sites of Sweden.

Sweden.ru will provide users with updated, credible and relevant information about Sweden. The sweden.ru team aims to offer ‘aha’ experiences, unexpected angles and challenge the common myths about Sweden.

Embassy of Sweden in Jakarta Break Fast Gathering and Pre-Departure Briefing

On July 16, 2014 the Embassy of Sweden in Jakarta organised a break fast gathering and Pre-Departure Briefing at Erasmus Huis, Jl. Rasuna Said S-3, Setiabudi, South of Jakarta.  This event was opened for the Embassy of Sweden staff, Swedish universities alumni, current and future Swedish universities students, and invited guests. This event was hosted by Daniel Johansson, chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Sweden in Jakarta and supported by the Swedish Institute.

All of us!

Read more » >>