What Liviana-Michelle says about the Master's in European Affairs
Hi! My name is Liviana-Michelle, and I'm the student ambassador for the Master's programme in European Affairs. I am happy to answer any questions you might have about the programme, courses, student life, and life in Lund and Sweden via the Unibuddy Platform, where you can chat with me (see below). Please note that I cannot answer questions about the application process, scholarships, or residence permits.
Why did you choose Lund University?
"I was looking for a destination that I knew had a different academic model. One that was more practical, based on teamwork, and that would actually help me get a job. I think the academic criteria came first, but also the lifestyle and how student-friendly Lund is as a city. That's what made me choose it."
What has surprised you about your programme?
"I think one of the things that surprised me was having quite creative assignments. In addition to final papers and things like that, we've also had to write op-eds about different scenarios. For example, "Imagine it's 2025. What do you think will happen to the current international situation?" We also had a negotiation game, which was really fun because you got to apply your skills in a simulated version of what was going on in the real world. It was a simulation of the EU negotiations before COP26 [2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference]. The fun thing is that it was happening at the same time as the real negotiations at the EU level. We were divided into teams. Each team was representing a different country, had its own Prime Minister, Environment Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, and worked together to prepare for the delegation. We got this assignment maybe two weeks before the final event took place. The simulation itself lasted the entire day and we were negotiating what the EU should stand up for when it actually goes to COP26. To be in that position, to learn the basics of decision-making, I think was a nice way to practice your soft skills."
What is the relationship between students and teachers like?
I found it to be very different from my Bachelor's programme, which I did in a totally different country. Here, it feels like your professor is a more experienced colleague who's there to advise you along the way and to give you some opinions. Whereas before, I would talk to my professor maybe once a semester. In Lund, the interaction takes place all the time. You can ask for an opinion on your assignments, and get real feedback, both verbal and written, on all the work that you're doing. Sometimes not only when you're finished, but also during the process which helps and leads to better final results. If I were to summarise this approach, I would say that there are no barriers. Students can always approach professors if they feel the need for anything.
What is the study pace like in the programme?
"At this point in my academic career, it was very useful to be able to focus on one thing at a time. You have one specific subject that you're focusing on, and then within that subject, you're doing individual research, group work, and all different kinds of activities. It allows you to maximise the results, rather than trying to juggle many things at once.
Such an approach also helps with time management. I found it very conducive to doing better in school and improving the knowledge and skills I will need when I enter the workforce."
How international is your class cohort?
"It's quite a nice mix. It is probably 40% of students from Sweden and at least 60% from other countries around the world. At first, you would think that "Okay, it's European Affairs, probably only students from Europe join this programme," but we've had colleagues from the US, Indonesia, and more.
Getting a perspective from outside of the EU on European Affairs was a very useful addition to all of us, I think. The fact that we had several Swedish students also helped us familiarise ourselves with the culture, talk to them and interact with locals while having a very international environment. I guess it was the best of both worlds—having Swedish students, but also a lot of students from all over the world. It just blended very well."
What do you think of the Swedish academic style?
"I chose Sweden because of the way academia is shaped. Now I can say that my programme is fast-paced, in the sense that it pushes you to do better and to think about your assignments. Not just go through the assignments, but also enjoy doing them and improving every time.
While it's still a fast-paced environment, at the same time, it's not competitive at all. It's a healthy environment as well. I think part of the reason why is because it's so collaborative. I was busy studying for many hours every week but I still felt healthy on a psychological and emotional level. It was great to have that balance. You can try that wherever you are, but the effects depend on the people around you, and how much they encourage or discourage that kind of balance."
How was your experience as an international student in Lund?
"I didn't have much cultural shock. I mean, it always exists, but it was more about the really small things that you have to get adjusted to, like store opening hours and living collectively. I think that was one of the most valuable parts of being an international student in Lund, the fact that you get to live in a collective and be part of an international group, both at university and at home.
Then just going around the city, having all of these facilities, libraries, places to study is great. I always had the resources I needed for my studies. Everywhere I went, I thought it was so student-friendly and adapted to what students need, both in the university and the city itself."
Are you part of any extracurricular activities?
"I was part of UPF Lund, The Association of Foreign Affairs. I am actually still doing it remotely right now while I do my exchange semester, though last year was different because I was physically there. I'm writing for THE PERSPECTIVE, both the Magazine and Webzine. It’s fun because whenever I have a topic in my courses that I want to take a bit further, I can always pitch an article or an analysis about it. It is fun to pick anything that is going on in the world, try to find out more about it, interview someone, and then put it into writing. Sometimes you feel like getting away from academic writing so journalism is a fantastic thing to pursue in my free time.
Being part of UPF, you also get the chance to attend so many lectures on different topics and explore perspectives you probably never thought about before. That was what I invested my free time in. Also, whenever I could, I tried to travel and hike. I'm very much into hiking and I think Skåne is one of the best places for that. I ended up doing quite a few hikes in the region and visiting some wild beaches—that relaxes me as well. "
What surprised you the most about Sweden or Swedes?
"For everyone who's coming from a country where personal space is not valued much—or it's not a thing at all—Sweden is almost an alternate reality. Maybe at first, you get a sense that people are distant, but then you get adjusted to society, to living in Sweden. I think you always end up finding your group of friends, people whom you resonate with.
Swedes are very helpful with different issues and questions you're going to ask, anything from opening a bank account to securing a phone subscription. I think that in the end, everybody is willing to help you out and give you some advice. For me, it was a matter of a cultural shock that lasted maybe a few weeks or a month, and then I slowly started to realise that I was being integrated into society."
Do you feel like you have the tools to go after what you want to do for your future because of this programme?
"Definitely, yes. I feel like a year in Lund, as of now, has definitely prepared me for seeking a career either in a public institution or the private sector, both in terms of skills and knowledge.
Upon starting the programme there's a common preconception that if you're doing European Affairs, you have to work at the European Commission, for instance—which, of course, is a great option that we’re all considering. But at the same time, you find all these positions like an Advisor on European Issues that are present at any large private company, local governments, sub-national public institutions or NGOs, so it really opens your mind up."
Have more questions for Liviana-Michelle?
You can chat with her and other current students directly via Unibuddy by clicking the chat card below.
Interested to know more about Liviana-Micelle's thoughts on the programme and the extracurriculars related to it? Check out her blog post!
Blog post 'Kickstarting My International Career With MSc in European Affairs'