The future’s bright: Three graduating SI scholars share insights and advice

On May 25th, SI scholars from all over Sweden travelled to Stockholm to graduate at the City Hall. SI News headed along and met with three graduates to find out how Sweden has changed them and how they will use what they've learned in the future.

The future's bright: Three graduating SI scholars share insights and advice
Graduation is the end of one chapter but the start of a brand new one. Three SI scholars reflect on their time in Sweden, how it's changed them and how they will use their experience in the future.
Farjana Bilkis
Agricultural Economics and Management MA, SLU Uppsala
Originally from Bangladesh

How did you first hear about the SI scholarship?

I was looking for an opportunity because higher studies are always quite expensive in a foreign country from a developing country like ours. So I was looking for opportunities, I'd searched in Germany and other countries. Then, I found the SI scholarship and applied here since I am professional so I had experience and that was a requirement. So it was matching thats why I applied and got the scholarship.
What has been your impression of Sweden? 
It was excellent and it has been a turning point in my life after coming here. After coming here with all the educational method, culture, diversity, and the help from the teachers, it has been very different. Overall, the whole package was really life changing! Now I can see life from a different perspective. My motivations have changed; everything has changed because now I see the world as a whole.
What do you plan to do following graduation? 
I have the knowledge so now I want to get some experience. I am looking for a research job now. I'll try to find good researching activities here in Sweden.
How will you use what you’ve learned over the course of your two-year MA?
A big thing we have got from here is the alumni network. It is really very big and it is actually helping sharing knowledge with each other. Since I say that in my country, we didn't have that much opportunity for research, so I want to go back there and start researching. Since I am a student of Agricultural Economics and Management and our country is an agriculture-based country, I want to actually work there for agricultural development. I have a business background so I want to make a good marketing link between the farmers and consumers.
What insights do you have to share with current and future SI scholars?
I will say for future students, you don't know how quickly time flies! After two years now it feels like it's gone very quickly. I think 'I could have done that better' or maybe spread my network more. Use every moment wisely!
Keitumetse Tsubane
Ecotoxicology MSc at University of Gothenburg
Originally from Lesotho in Southern Africa
How did you first hear about the SI scholarship?
I was looking through a lot of opportunities to study further. I stumbled across Sweden and although I hadn't heard a lot about Sweden, I thought, 'Let's see what it has!'. So I researched the SI scholarship and it looked really interesting. I figured I'd just see how it worked out. Then I learned that I am the first from Lesotho!
What has been your impression of Sweden?
There's a lot of fika! The culture shock but now I'm adapted to it. Learning to be alone and enjoying one's own company. But the nature is amazing! The greenery is amazing. Mostly the nature I must say is really captivating. The Gothenburg archipelago is beautiful. In summer last year, I spent the whole summer here, so I did a lot of going out to the parks and beaches. But when you go to the beach here I learned people are basking in the sun, not actually getting into the water!
What's next for you?
I'm planning to go back home because I was working back home. So I'm planning to leave the country and start off where I left. But mostly starting off a youth project, I'm a group leader in a project called Young Leaders. I focus on the environment. I shall go back and see how I can implement some of the things I’ve learned here.
How do you feel about leaving?
I don't really want to think about it! I've made a lot of great friends in and outside of school. So picking up and leaving is somewhat sad. But thinking about all the things you want to do where you come form, that also is inspiring!
How will you use what you've learned here in Sweden?
We don't have a lot of toxicology studies at home. But we need them. I was at a conference two weeks back sponsored by the university. I was presenting my work in Cape Town so the discussions we had with other scientists I realised there's a lot of work here to be done in terms of research. Trying to motivate academia to invest in research, trying to motivate private institutions to invest in research with industries because industries are just about the money mostly but its also good for them to invest in research and see the kind of impact they have on the environment and how that will reflect ten years later. Because we only focus on what is going to happen now but not the future. 
What have you learned about Swedish values?
Sweden is very strict when it comes to taking care of the environment. They have trees all over and im impressed with the efficient recycling practices! 
Did you recycle before?
No but I will try. Its very hard. Heres it easy because you find three bins four bins like that. But at home its just one bin so you think ‘where should I put this’ and also what happens when you sort it out at the recycling plant. There isn’t always one and there doesn’t always have to be but there can be a group of people. At home we are using a lot 
Implementing good recycling habits and also what to do with it after. The most important thing is what next after you have the cans and plastic. What’s next?
Olga Kuchmiienko
Investment Treaty Arbitration MA at Uppsala University
Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine
How did you first hear about the Swedish Institute scholarship?
I think that the first time I heard was through my friend who studied here in Lund five or six years ago. Then I heard about SI and about Uppsala and this program, I realised I really want to study here because I'd already practiced international arbitration before. And It was really good to take the next step in my professional development. 
What has been your impression of Sweden?
I am really overwhelmed and delighted with Sweden. I enjoyed it so much, I've really met good people here and felt really comfortable and relaxed. For me, Sweden is no stress! It's about sustainability, fika, relaxation, no stress, and just really marvellous people. 
What's next for you?
I plan to stay in Sweden for some time. Now I am doing my internship in Bombardier transportation in Stockholm. It is a big transnational company that produces trains and signalling systems. Before I worked with international arbitration and trade so I really wanted to resume more arbitration and international trade experience. I think that it is good opportunity to proceed in my aim and it will help me to reach my long-term goals to develop international arbitration and international trade in Ukraine taking into account the best Swedish practices.
Do you feel that Swedish values have changed you?
Yes! I think Swedish values for me is having no stress and being able to relax. Swedish people are always very pleasant and helpful and society is always aimed to help everybody and to place all people equally and help them fulfil their potential. I really want to contribute to these values as well and spread them all over the world and in Ukraine!
I cannot thank SI enough for the opportunity to be here. This amazing year and the amazing people I met here — the NFGL and SI and Sweden. I will use this experience to contribute to the development of Ukraine and other countries.

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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.