Every year, thousands of international students travel from their countries to different parts of the world in search of new experiences, different cultures, and of course, higher education.
It’s always an exciting time for them as they set out to a new place alone. This process comes with both high and low moments as they try to live independently and integrate well with their new society.
“When I received the news in Nairobi that my application to go study my Masters in Sweden had been successful, I could not contain my joy,” says Judith Oginga, Chair of the NFGL Local Network at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH).
“I had always desired to one day travel to this part of the world and see first-hand the land of the Vikings, midsummer and if lucky, the Aurora. It was a dream come true. Not only would I travel to this beautiful country, but to know that I would be there for the next year completely blew my mind.”
Vera, also an SI scholar student at BTH from Russia, said that it has been an exciting period for her.
“Sweden is a beautiful country. I love to explore and being here has given me the chance to see beautiful places and make lots of new friends.”
However, the process has not been without its challenges with accommodation being a big problem for many international students, not only in Blekinge but also in other parts of Sweden as well.
“There have been a few challenges, but the good experiences far outweigh the bad. We want to experience the best that Sweden has to offer, and in return, we want to offer Sweden our very best too. It’s a give and take relationship,” adds Judith.
The NFGL Blekinge is inspired to make a positive impact here in Sweden during the 2017-18 academic year.
World cities day celebrations at BTH
The United Nations designated October 31st as World Cities Day to be celebrated every year all over the world. This year’s theme was Innovative Governance, Open Cities.
Panel discussion. from left Ola Swardh, Mikael Backman, Anastacia Laukannen, Patrick Faming, Stellan Fryxell, Paula Gulbing and Judith Oginga
NFGL Blekinge organized celebrations in Sweden at BTH with financial support from the Swedish Institute. They were able to put together a successful event in three weeks, something that wouldn’t have been possible without support from the community around them.
“We received overwhelming support from our university’s Swedish School of Planning and PlanKan, a student body who helped us with marketing and preparing impressive Swedish fika!” reported Albert from Ghana.
The event was able to gain interest not only from the university itself but also from the larger Swedish community.
Sveriges Radio P4 in Karlskrona held an interview with the organisers on the day of the event to help spread the word to the residents of Blekinge.
Musik I Blekinge brought on board the South African afro jazz musician, Mpho Ludidi & the Unit for great live music. The night’s moderator was Paula Gulbing.
Mpho Ludidi & the Unit from Musik I Blekinge
Karlskrona Kommun was the hosting city represented by Ola Swärdh – Planning Strategist for Karlskrona. He welcomed all international students to Karlskrona and presented interesting facts and figures about the city, its vision and ongoing projects.
The Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) graced the event and was represented by Patrik Faming, National Coordinator- Platform for Sustainable Urban Development.
The private sector was represented by Tengbom Architects (Stellan Fryxell) and Sweco Architects (Mikael Bäckman ) who brought to the table vast international experience and insight on the theme for the day.
Anastacia Laukkannen, a journalist and SI Masters student of Sustainable Leadership at BTH represented both women and the general public with inspiring views on cities.
The room was filled to capacity with international students, Swedish students, members of staff and residents of Karlskrona. There were lots of opportunities to participate, with the most memorable one being the use of white boards where everyone was invited to share their thoughts on the ongoing discussions.
It was a meeting point where the world and Sweden met, celebrated together with amazing fika, and discussed issues that promoted sustainable development of our cities.
The event was summarized in three main reflections.
The first was that international students are welcome to Sweden. Both the representatives of national government (Boverket) and the municipality (Karlskrona Kommun) agreed that international students were an important part of the society and were encouraged to continue choosing Sweden as their study destination.
Secondly, sustainable development of our cities would only be possible with collective effort from all stakeholders ranging from the authorities, private sector, academia, civil society and the public.
Lastly, that it was important to continue creating opportunities for people from all over the world to meet as this would encourage sharing of knowledge, innovation, and good will.
Parting shot: we will work together with Sweden to make the world better
NFGL Blekinge concludes by saying that international students are ambassadors who will work to maintain good relations between their home countries and Sweden.
“Sweden has given us its best, we will do the same.”