‘My experience with the Swedish education system’

NFGL Local Network Dalarna's Israel Biramo reflects on what he has learned from the Swedish education system and how it has changed his mind about the best ways to learn.

'My experience with the Swedish education system'
Photo: Israel Biramo, Si scholar in Dalarna
Coming from the rural suburbs of Ethiopia to the high tech city of Stockholm was a life-changing experience for me. I remember in my first few days in Stockholm, I was fascinated by the beauty of Sweden. I had never thought I would ever set foot in the land of the great astronomer Anders Celsius. 
I feel that I am on a learning curve, trying to learn as much as I can from the handling of Swedish resources, environmental concerns, social policies, diplomacy, energy exploitation, innovation and so on. But for now, let’s focus on my reflection of the academic world in Sweden. 
Experiencing the Swedish education system, it has changed my mind as to what the best way to learn is. I feel that I am continually progressing and this has boosted my confidence. I was, at first, surprised by way of teaching and the amount of responsibility put on the students. But what I enjoy the most is the interaction between students and teachers. They are not only your academic teachers but also mentors, friends, and advisors, there to guide you in both your personal and professional achievements.
I study engineering and didn’t really think about presentation as a skill. I find it scary to stand in front of the class and present what I did. At first, I felt a little worried when presenting, but I soon realised that no one was judging me. I find this an excellent environment for learning, free from judgement where everyone is willing to help you. I know now I am not only learning engineering, but also developing lifelong leadership skills. 
During exams, I feel that I am judged for my understanding of the subject, and not how well I can memorise formulas, which had never happened to me. 
The interactive learning platforms are also a great asset in the Swedish education system. Coming from a place where technology in education is still in its beginnings, it has inspired me to contribute to helping schools back home using these tools. They make education accessible and pave the way for students to learn more flexibly. Moreover, it makes education efficient and saves a lot of resources. 
For people coming from communities like mine, education is believed to be a powerful instrument for a better future. So, I will try my best to apply my new learnings in my country to help others create a better future for themselves.  

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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.