Alumnus Patrik from Sweden
Describe your educational background!
"My academic background is mainly in China studies. Before the Asian Studies Programme, I lived and studied in China for several years. I went to Chengdu after high school to study Chinese. Chengdu is a city known for pandas, bamboo parks and tea houses – and the best food in China in my view! I ended up staying in China from 2006 to 2014, getting a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese from Sichuan University, and a Master’s degree in ancient Chinese literature from Beijing Normal University."
What was the best thing about the Asian Studies programme?
"That it taught me to analyse complex political and social issues in Asia with the help of different theories and methodological tools. Before the programme, my knowledge was mainly about China and I didn’t have much training in research methodology. The programme helped me to broaden my knowledge to other countries of Asia and to study China in a regional Asian context. The programme also gave excellent opportunities to do field studies in China. I spent one semester as an exchange student at Tsinghua University and a couple of months doing field studies at Peking University."
Which was your favourite course?
"Hard to pick only one, but my favourite course was probably the one on political systems and governance in Asia. I also liked the specialisation course on Chinese politics and society. I loved digging deeper into interesting current topics in China. I also very much appreciated the methodology course, which had a lot of useful practical exercises."
Can you describe the teachers and the teaching style of the programme?
"The teachers were extremely knowledgeable within their respective areas of expertise. They did a great job at engaging the students in the classes via group work or student presentations. Their teaching style was quite different from what I was used to. Before the Asian Studies programme, my experience with higher education was from China, where I had just gotten a Master’s degree in ancient Chinese literature. In that programme, the teachers and their presentations took up more space in classes overall. While each style had its advantages, I personally preferred the more interactive style of the Asian Studies programme."
What would you like to say to prospective students who are thinking of applying to the Asian Studies programme?
"If you want to deepen your knowledge about Asia and also develop the skills needed to analyse current events in Asia, the Asian Studies programme is a really good choice! Area studies are multidisciplinary and allow you to study complex problems in their proper regional context which is a huge advantage in my view. The programme covers a wide range of topics and teaches you a very broad set of methodological tools. It does not in itself place you in a specific box or directs you towards a specific profession – it is ultimately up to you to decide what to do with your training. Some of my classmates have gone to do PhDs just like myself. Some work in the private sector. Others work at NGOs or in government."
What was the focus of your thesis?
"My Master’s thesis focused on political experimentation at the local level in China. It analysed cases of experimental township elections in China between 1998 and 2006, and sought to answer the question: Why were China’s experimental township elections not institutionalised? It found that the limited democracy brought by such elections collided with the Chinese Communist Party’s desire for full control over personnel management, making their institutionalisation highly unlikely."
What have you been doing since you graduated from the programme?
"I’m one of those who went for a career in academic research. I recently got my PhD from Aalborg University for an industrial PhD project. In Denmark, the industrial PhD is a collaborative project carried out between a company or a public sector organisation and a university, with financial support from the Danish Innovation Fund. My project was a collaboration between Aalborg University and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. My dissertation studied Chinese interests in Artic minerals, with a focus on how foreign policy and industrial development priorities are bargained and shaped at the domestic level in China, and how these priorities affect the decisions and approaches of Chinese companies in the Arctic. As of April 2022, I’m working as a researcher on a short-term project at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen. After that, I will probably search for a post-doc opportunity, although I’m open to other opportunities as well, including in the private sector."
How did the programme prepare you for working life?
"The programme equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a PhD, which is basically a pre-requisite for a career in academia. It gave me deeper knowledge about politics and society in China and Asia more broadly. I also developed my academic writing skills and improved my knowledge of research methodology."
The best thing about being a student at Lund University?
"Lund University is one of the top universities in Sweden and it has a very rich student life with lots of activities for students. Lund is a wonderful southern Swedish town with a very distinguished academic atmosphere. And there are lots of innovative people living and working here. I’m not from Lund originally, but like many others, I ended up settling down here after my graduation."