To begin, I would like to introduce myself so that you know who is writing and why. My name is Masa Lazarevic and I come from Belgrade, Serbia. After my undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Belgrade, I got admitted to a master program called “Managing People, Knowledge and Change” at the esteemed Lund University in Sweden. I am one of five lucky Serbian students who have been granted a Swedish Institute scholarship for East Europe.
During this academic year I will write about my experience in Sweden as a student and, hopefully, as an actively involved resident of this charming, fairytale university town Lund.
Let’s start from the very beginning. With a couple of students from Bosnia and Serbia I went by airplane to Copenhagen, Denmark, where some volunteers from Lund University were waiting. From the airport we went together by train over the bridge that links between Denmark and Sweden and after less than 45 minutes we were in Lund. Smiling and helpful faces were with us the whole arrival day. They were driving us to our accommodation, filling in documents for us and made that day as easy as a moving-in-day actually can be.
Our welcome package consisted of a reusable plastic bottle and a postcard, showed in the picture below. The following was written on the other side: “What a privilege to turn on the tap at home and fill your glass with fresh, delicious, ice-cold water! Swedish tap water is world class. And tap water is eco-friendly – no transportation required!”. And then I realized – yes, it is real, I am in Sweden. No unnecessary printed materials or T-shirts were given to us, just a simple message to acknowledge. Thus, after that everything made sense. No unnecessary words, papers, smiles have been given to me. Simplicity of living, I would say, and all is about that here, in Sweden.
However, we have sometimes been expected to know how things are working over here, which is a part that has been exceedingly challenging the last weeks. A lot of things are taken for granted and our university staff occasionally supposes that we will know how to cope with it by ourselves without many instructions or support. They probably think that everything works in a similar manner in our home countries.
Another interesting thing that I have noticed is that you have to make an appointment if one needs help or have a question to a person at the institution. One cannot just knock the person’s door, which from an organizational perspective is a great lesson to be learned in my country. Here employees have their schedules and you cannot interrupt them whenever you want. It helps them to be efficient, which they really are. On the other hand, when it comes to being a new foreign student in another country it would be nice to have more open doors.
As far as my master program is concerned, it already seems very challenging although just one week of lectures is behind me. Approximately 50 people with diverse backgrounds were chosen to share their views and give different perspective to the same topic during our classes. The first two months are reserved for courses such as “Organizational Development” and “Knowledge Work and Organization” where our professors discuss KIFs (Knowledge Intensive Organizations) and perspectives on change.
To cap it all, Lund University is famous for its research. Most of professors are involved in important research projects and teaching is a secondary mission for them. Being students of Lund University we are expected to have well-developed writing and researching skills. Fortunately, Swedish professors, of course, will not leave it to chance so we will have lectures in academic writing. In Serbia, from primary school we were supposed to write tones of papers and that was the most frustrating part of my education. Few days ago I realized why. Nobody showed us how to do it properly, how to search for literature, how to quote or to structure the text well etc., but we were expected to write as much text as we could. One A4 paper was just not enough for the best grade in my high school. And most importantly, at master level in Sweden my papers will not exceed 2000 words. As one of the professors explained, “it is harder to make it short.” This would be probably the most essential lecture that I have learned from Swedes in those 3 weeks. Therefore, “keep it simple!”
Every month from now we will be able to follow Masa and her time in Sweden through the Swedish Embassy in Belgrade's website. - Read the second post here!
Read more about Lund University that was recently ranked 67th place in the 2013 QS World University Rankings: Lund University
Read more about the Swedish Institute and SI scholarships for East Europe for master level studies in Sweden: Swedish Institute