How studying in Sweden will help me empower other Pakistani girls

Here Nida Asghar, who is studying Leadership and Management in International Contexts at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, shares an inspiring and deeply personal account of her experiences before and during her stay in Sweden. Nida is currently the chairperson of Linnaeus University's NFGL Local Network.

How studying in Sweden will help me empower other Pakistani girls
I believe that a high-quality education is one of the basic ingredients for living a peaceful and prosperous life on this planet. In my experience, education is the means to a contented and happy life, and essential for the growth of a developing nation such as my native country Pakistan.
I came to my realization about the value of education by witnessing the disadvantaged position of students in my small home village in Pakistan, Ghazi Kaka. Many young people were not able to enter a university or pursue a career in the more developed urban centers of Pakistan because of the poor level of education they had received. I might have met the same fate as these people had my father not worked so hard to provide my siblings and me with the best possible education.
I belong to a conservative family where girls are not allowed to get an education or even allowed to go out alone. Since there were no schools or educational facilities in our village, my father sent us to another village to go to school. This started what was to become a long educational journey. Being a girl at some of Pakistan's best educational institutions was quite a challenge, but my parents constantly defied the taboo and paved the way for me as though I were a son. This is how my journey toward my dreams started.
To achieve my dream of bringing about educational reforms in Pakistan and help to break the mold for other girls in my neighborhood, I decided to travel to Europe to pursue an advanced degree in Leadership and Management in International Contexts. On the day I left Pakistan, I was determined to accomplish my goals through the Swedish education system, and I landed in Sweden full of excitement and enthusiasm.
Having international students with diverse backgrounds in my class, I can learn about different cultures and countries including Germany, Colombia, Cambodia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Finland, Egypt, and Japan. Learning through group activities, workshops, outdoor sessions, case studies, presentations, seminars, speeches and so on has allowed me to immerse myself in my field of study and made me confident about my career path.
Besides great formal education, Sweden offers many spaces of interaction, socialization, and mingling where people from all over the world can come together and learn from each other. All in all, so far my journey in Sweden is full of learning, practical experiences, joyful “Fika” moments, as well as explorations of Swedish culture and new people and places. I am hoping all these experiences will brighten my future and help me achieve my dream of empowering other Pakistani girls.


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.