‘Students should be encouraged to join their Local Network’

SI News catches up with Andrew Willy Kedi, a first-year master’s student at Luleå University, to find out about his Local Network and what it’s like to move from Uganda to the north of Sweden.

‘Students should be encouraged to join their Local Network’
Andrew Willy Kedi with several members of NFGL Luleå

Coming from Uganda, the weather in Sweden’s far north came as something of a shock to Andrew Willy Kedi when he first arrived. He’d barely had time to unpack before receiving a welcome email from Luleå University announcing the arrival of the year’s first snow.

“I’d never lived anywhere where the temperature fell below zero degrees!” he says. “When I arrived at Luleå, I quickly purchased warm clothing in the first weeks of arrival.”

With an average temperature of -10.6°C in January, and often just four hours of daylight in winter, Luleå can be a challenge to adapt to, particularly when you hail from a country with a substantially warmer climate.

But the weather wasn’t what drew Andrew to study for his master’s in Information Security at Luleå University. It was the diversity of the international students and the once in a lifetime opportunity to study alongside them.

“This kind of multiculturalism in a study environment supports the communal exchange of knowledge and learning,” he explains.

When he heard about the NFGL Local Network at Luleå University — which is also comprised of students from the Skellefteå campus — he jumped at the chance to join.

“Local networks provide a lot of possibilities to students who want to go onto leadership positions. All members of Local Networks are scholarship holders and this alone is an opportunity to be part of a large group of people that share common goals and interests.”

Being part of the network, he says, has allowed him to appreciate the initiative of others and enjoy working as part of a team. As the semesters are fairly short, he has also learned to value the activities which fall within the period.

Last year, for example, the network organised a seminar intended to help students write a master’s thesis. This coming semester they are planning several study visits off-campus.

“We are organising a field trip to Volvo Cars in Gothenburg about 1,400 kilometres from Luleå. Volvo is one of the leading car manufacturers currently working on mass production of electric cars. I hope this trip will really benefit our engineering students who will gain insights into manufacturing, automation, and research.”

He adds that the network is also planning to venture even further north than Luleå, when they will visit the Kiruna Mine in Lapland, the world’s largest and most modern iron ore mine.

Andrew encourages his fellow first-year students who are on two-year courses to join their Local Network so they can help next year’s network members organise events, with the hope they get as much out of it as he has.

“It will enable new students who join the following year to share ideas with students who had been part of the network the year before,” he says.

“I’m grateful to the Swedish Institute for funding our activities, as well as other NFGL networks from different universities across Sweden, for the effort they put in outside of their academic work to make our study time more appealing.”


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.