‘Tools like Google Translate have helped us to survive’

Marie S.N Goe, SI scholarship holder at Gävle University, shares some reflections on her experiences in Sweden and Gävle so far.

'Tools like Google Translate have helped us to survive'

Experiences in Sweden

Coming from different places around the world, we have been thrown into a myriad of experiences. Most of which are fun. From enjoying fika to watching the beautiful colors of fall and everything in between.

We sure miss the sun though! We came when the summer was ending and since then we have experienced weather changing with super speed and in the blink of an eye we are approaching winter and we can't imagine walking on the snow. We keep hearing about getting prepared for winter and though that sounds a little scary we are also quite expectant.

We love this place already. We have experienced life in a country with highly developed infrastructure and technology. The habitats and business locations are highly coordinated making possible the use of Google Maps to reach anywhere you want. Tools like Google Translate have helped us to survive as we continue to learn the new language.

First Activity

It's all a good thing experiencing a new environment and getting to meet new people. We were so excited at the first meet and greet we had as a Local Network, and it was good to get to know the people we are to work with for a year and establish a long-lasting network.

The activity was a dinner organized by the new SI scholars and participants were both SI scholars and SI alumni from the University of Gävle. It started up with chats around the table and we all had a joyful night with so many happenings. It was an interesting event that was rich with stories, sharing experiences of the senior SI scholars, and expectations of the newcomers. We had the opportunity to share our background stories and discuss a variety of academic and extra-curricular issues that widened our minds towards our different cultures.

“OH MY GOSH” — before I forget, we are privileged to have a great entertainer within our network, this guy is full of so many goodies you won’t want to miss. If you are stressed or just need an ice breaker to ease your tension, he’s the best!


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.