Agnieszka from Poland
Why did you choose your programme?
“Upon graduating high school, I knew I wanted to study something related to International Relations or Political Science. BIDS (that’s what we colloquially call our programme) is the perfect mix of both of those things and beyond. In fact, it combines Political Science with Economic History, Sociology and Human Geography. Moreover, it allows you to choose one of these disciplines as a Major. You can guess what my pick was!”
What is the best thing about your programme?
“The best thing about BIDS is its interdisciplinarity and flexibility. Sure, we have classes and seminars, but also group projects (at times quite creative) and take-home exams. The classes never last more than 2 hours at once, and almost all the assignments are in the form of essays that we can tailor to our interests. I truly appreciate how BIDS facilitates our own take on the topics and encourages us to find our niche. For example, our fourth semester was dedicated entirely to electives – courses from outside of our curriculum that we got to pick personally. Mine were ‘Swedish Politics’, ‘Governance and Conflict in the Middle East,’ and ‘Nationalism and Communism in Central Europe.’”
Why should prospective students choose this programme?
“BIDS is for you if you’re interested in international development, public policy, the humanitarian sector, economics, diplomacy and all that jazz. Even more so if you appreciate your alone study time – our programme heavily relies on individual workload, readings and assignments. But fear not, the professors are there to support you at all times.”
What was your favourite course and why?
“One of my favourite courses was the ‘Theory and Science of Research Methods’ – it was the last course of my first year, and our final exam was a research project we had to design from scratch. You could pick any topic you wished to investigate. There were no constraints, as long as you could prove it related to development. Do you now see what I meant by ‘flexibility’?
Sure, the task was just theory, but the teachers said we could use our proposals during the third year if we decided to conduct Minor Field Studies (MFS). It gave me a sense of purpose and practicality. Further down the degree, we had other assignments similar to this one, but UTVC24 especially stuck with me. It was the very first time I could unleash my scientific imagination and let my creativity roam. I ended up designing a study called 'The Double Game of Hezbollah: Social Protection, Welfare and Socio-Political Dynamics in Lebanon'. I was quite proud of it!”
Have you been able to gain any practical experience during your studies?
“Not personally. However, during my third year, I had an option to either do an internship or pursue Minor Field Studies. I think both are riveting, and great options to get your boots on the ground. Some of my classmates stayed in Europe, but some embarked on journeys to countries such as Colombia or South Africa.
I was initially selected to participate in a bilateral exchange (another fantastic opportunity!) with Tsinghua University in Beijing which sadly, was cancelled due to the pandemic.
I hope that gives you some insight into the range of activities that we, the BIDSters, can engage in.”
What do you think of the teaching style in Lund?
“It resonates with me very much. I work best on my own and BIDS largely relies on individual reading and study time but it also gives me a great sense of comfort. I know the professors are not 'out there to get me' – everyone has a great deal of understanding and willingness to bring a student up, not down.”
How international is your programme? (in terms of nationalities represented)
“Development Studies stands for diversity, and that’s exactly what BIDS has to offer. It would be tough for me to list every single country my classmates come from, but I would probably count them in dozens. It’s a mix of Swedish and international students from Europe and beyond. I’m pretty sure six out of seven continents are represented in our programme.”
What is it like to be an international student at Lund University?
“Probably as easy as being one can be. Swedes speak perfect English, and plenty of extracurriculars are offered in that language as well. Lund is surprisingly rich in student traditions, which I found both extraordinary and unexpected. I think it’s important to highlight that Lund University stands not only for academic excellence but also for vibrant student life and centuries-old traditions.
In terms of academia, I know the starting point varies depending on the students’ previous experience. For me, getting acquainted with academia was tough – but in the best sense possible. Even though my grades initially suffered, the professors left me with quality feedback that allowed me to boost my performance. An example? I had no idea how to write or quote sources academically, but BIDS offered me all the tools needed to level my performance up.”
What do you do in your spare time? Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
“Among other functions, I held the post of the Editor-in-Chief of THE PERSPECTIVE, a printed publication of UPF Lund (The Association of Foreign Affairs) and the largest student-run foreign policy magazine in Sweden. I have also been active both in my nation (Östgöta) and my student union (Samhällsvetarkåren), volunteered at the local arthouse cinema and helped the prospective Lund students by sharing my experience via the LU Student Ambassador programme. At last, I co-organised several big events back in Poland and participated in mentoring schemes, conferences, summer schools and summer courses.
My schedule has been jam-packed which says a lot about the flexibility that BIDS allows for. It also would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the open-mindedness and support of my teachers, who would grant us as many as 3 deadlines per single assignment.”
What advice would you give someone who is considering coming to Lund?
“The limit does not exist – get engaged in a variety of activities because Lund has plenty to offer. You don’t need to leave your comfort zone, just expand it at your own pace. Come to Lund with an open mind and curiosity."
What do you plan to do after your studies?
“In a very Swedish manner, I am planning a gap year. First, I will be joining the United Nations Population Fund in Turkey. Next? I’m not sure. My long-term plans, however, involve getting a Master’s degree in Security Studies and pursuing a career in diplomacy with a focus on the Middle East, and probably living somewhere warm. I will forever miss the Scandinavian summers, though!”