Yuliyan, Lilli & Julia – The Union Presidium

Today, the 2nd of April is not only Good Friday, but in Sweden it is also the National Day of Students! The Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) established the day in 2007 in order to highlight matters of importance to students – from students’ financial hardship, their living conditions through to mental health questions, this day is meant to amplify students’ voices on the current challenges they are facing and shine a light on pressing issues in Sweden’s higher education system.

With the second National Day of Students in a row taking place during pandemic times, there is certainly a lot worth highlighting that is currently exacerbating students’ general situation and the quality of their education.

A year of (almost) only meeting your classmates digitally, a year without sittningar in the studentpub and waaay too many headache-inducing hours watching someone struggle to share their screen over Zoom. 2020 and its evil twin sister 2021 have surely not been the easiest years for being a student – but in true spirit of our slogan “The Union is big when you feel small” we want to spread some optimism for the next semester to come by sharing our thoughts on why the time of being a student (albeit challenging in many different ways) is still the best time of our lives!

Being a student is the best because…

…you can explore your interests and dive deeper into the things you are really passionate about! Yes, I know, I am an absolute nerd who does stuff like voluntarily learning about biochemistry on the weekends “just for fun”, but hear me out! The kind of exploring and learning I mean is not the type of studying that ties your butt to the library chair for an all-nighter. Being a student at university throws you into a classroom with a bunch of random people you probably would have never met otherwise – some of them might become your best friends for life and some might seriously test your frustration tolerance levels during group work. But one way or another, you do learn a lot from them! May it be about yourself and your capacities to handle conflict or about the knowledge from their backgrounds that they bring into the classroom. 

This kind of learning can open your eyes to aspects that you will never be able to experience in the same way by reading about the same topic in books. Peer-to-peer learning allows you to geek out on the aspects of the subject you and your groupmates find most fascinating and let’s everyone become a mentor and mentee at the same time. Personally, my most valuable learning experience studying the Masters of Urban Studies at MAU was not even in Malmö, but in Milano where our programme was lucky enough to participate in the International Urban Studies week at the Politecnico di Milano with lecturers and students from five European partner universities. This week tackling real life scenarios of campus development in the city of Milano in groups together with fellow students from Sweden, Italy, Germany, France and Slovenia taught me more than any other lecture of the course, and the lessons inspired my independent student works and were even part of my motivation to run for Student Union president! In that sense, your fellow students might become far greater teachers than you might expect – and vice versa you might inspire them and make a lasting impact on their academic journey and further life as well yourself. 

-Lilli

Being a student is the best because…

…you get to reinvent yourself! Being a student at University has a special role in one’s growth and shaping up as an individual. Similar to kindergarten, elementary and highschool – you are dropped in a completely unfamiliar environment, which can be scary, challenging and at the same time very exciting! While spending a longer period of time in an environment that you are completely unaccustomed to, you slowly and gradually become acquainted with it and at the same time adapt yourself to find your place in it. This adaptation process often results in you getting used to new things and ideas and starting to follow new routines. You make a lot of conscious and subconscious choices that will determine what activities you will engage in and who you are going to hang out with.

New environments, for example a new workplace, can often be scary and intimidating. You might end up starting a new job where you are the only one new at the place. Individuals at such a place are likely to already be familiar with the environment, themselves and each others’ routines, which doesn’t make it easier for someone new to jump in and find their place in it. One of the best things about starting as a student at a University is that most students will be new and unfamiliar with each other and the surroundings. This occurrence will be different for everyone but it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of people can experience it to be frightening, intimidating and even terrifying – it’s only natural. Once you let yourself overcome those feelings and dive in, you will get an abundance of opportunities to enrich your character and broaden your horizons.

Change can indeed be scary and it wasn’t any different for me once I moved to Malmö for a Masters. My first months I was counting the days until I could go back home. Half a year later I had a huge gang of friends and I was part of two student association boards.

Today, about seven years later from that point, I still find myself at Malmö University and still have a hard time leaving. 

-Yuliyan

Being a student is the best because…

… you meet so many different people from all over the world! Since I was an international student myself I really appreciated the effort that was made from both the International Office and ESN to make us new students feel like home right away and help getting connected to each other by various activities. As almost everyone that is new to Malmö or even to Sweden is somewhat in the same situation at the beginning of their first semester it can be quite overwhelming and lonely but when feelings like those are mutual among your peers it is easy to connect and make new friendships! Once you survived those first and exciting days it is time for Insparken! And once again it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and get to know not only internationals but also Swedish students! 

All in all the student life that is ongoing throughout the semesters, not only in those very first weeks, and the newly built friendships that can last a lifetime are such a great addition to studying at a university that I wouldn’t wanna miss for anything in the world!

Three cheers for all you students!

-Julia