Kara from the USA
How did you find out about Lund University/this programme?
"This is a funny story actually! I came to know about Lund University in a rather untraditional way. I was working in marketing and wanted to learn more about market research. I found someone on LinkedIn who had a job title that I was interested in and reached out to her for a coffee. She mentioned that she had studied this Master’s programme, and as soon as I heard about it, I was intrigued."
Why did you choose this programme?
"I was never really planning on going to graduate school. I had a solid job and was progressing in my career. However, when I heard about this programme I knew I had to consider it. I studied Communications and Culture in undergraduate school with an emphasis on anthropology and have always had a deep interest in culture. It didn’t occur to me that a programme like this existed – one that matched the study of human culture and theory with pragmatic usage incorporation. I was really drawn to the work placement portion of the programme as well, which is an opportunity to apply academic learnings for an organisation during the Master’s."
What is the best thing about your programme?
"I really appreciate that my programme is so interdisciplinary. Our classes take theories from many of the humanities disciplines, such as sociology and anthropology, and teach us how to utilise them in the modern-day workplace. Cultural analysis can be applied to so many fields as well, including marketing corporations, human resources, non-profit governmental organisations, architecture firms, museums and so on. I also like that our professors come from different specialities – we have a professor researching transportation, one who specialises in material culture, and another who focuses on urban planning. Learning from professors in different fields gives us multiple perspectives on how we can apply cultural analysis after the programme has ended."
Have you been able to gain any practical experience during your studies (so far)?
Yes! My programme is very much an applied Master's with many opportunities for applied research and fieldwork. During the first semester, we are sent out into the field almost immediately, practising interviews and fieldwork in public spaces in Lund. I was able to partake in group fieldwork at the cemetery, where we interviewed cemetery groundskeepers and the Department of Cultural Heritage. During the second semester, we took a course on project management where all students conducted a group project for a client alongside our seminars to practice research methods. My client was a countryside municipality in southern Sweden and requested that we perform fieldwork with their residents to increase community engagement. Then, during the second year, students must obtain a two-month work placement with an organisation. The work placement hosts in my class range from public organisations like Malmö Stad, to global advertising agencies. The programme also has a strong alumni network with many graduates still living in the surrounding area, so there are opportunities to get involved in additional research projects that way.
What do you think of the teaching style?
The student-professor relationship is very different from what I experienced in my Bachelor’s in the U.S. I really like the informal approach that professors have here; the flat hierarchy enables me to ask questions that I otherwise may have been intimidated to ask. The teaching style allows for students to speak their minds freely, and opens the door for more interesting conversations.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to socialise with different groups on campus. I have a part-time job and enjoy volunteering in the community. I’ve made a lot of friends living in a student corridor, that are all involved in different faculties and associations. Due to this, I often times attend guest lectures on topics I am interested in. I am a student worker for the Division of External Relations, and a student ambassador for the Unibuddy ambassador programme. I’ve met some great people from around the world that way! I also am a volunteer yoga instructor for Lunds Fontanhus.
What is it like to live in Lund?
I think Lund is the perfect student town. It’s super cosy and there are a ton of spots to study and get coffee with friends. It’s also a very international town with a lot of events going on, so there are things to do during the winter months when it gets cold and dark. My initial transition from New York to Lund was a bit difficult, as I found it hard leaving my community back home and coming to a completely new place where I didn’t know anyone! However, I decided to live in a 10-person corridor and that was the best thing I could’ve done. I met friends quickly through my living accommodation and also through my classes. Lund is definitely small, but once I was here for a few months I started to realise how many organisations and opportunities there are within the university. There are a plethora of networking opportunities at the different faculties in Lund and in the neighbouring cities of Malmö and Copenhagen. There are also startup opportunities, networking nights with Ideon Science Park, Copenhagen student nights, etc. I’ve come to really enjoy the cosiness of Lund as well, and the fact that I almost always see someone familiar on the street.
Have you been able to get by with English in Sweden?
Yes! This was a concern for me before I arrived, but I have not had an issue so far. There are thousands of English-speaking students, researchers, and professors in Lund. Many people at stores will begin speaking to me in Swedish, but quickly switch to English after I signal that I do not understand. I would actually like to learn more Swedish, but most people speak English so I haven’t needed to put in much effort to learn the language.
What are you planning to do after your studies?
I would like to ultimately go back into the private sector, working for either a market research agency or a management consulting company that uses ethnographic methods. I am grateful that I’ve had the chance to work in the municipal/public sector during my studies as well, as there are many public sector clients that rely on the help of consultancies. It would be my dream to work at a company with many international clients or partners, as I’ve really enjoyed learning in such an international environment.