The path of the Union
I started walking down the path of the Union 8 years ago. This means that a huge chunk of my youth was devoted to the Union, one way or another. Eight years is no joke, and one can imagine themselves getting both Bachelors and Masters diplomas during such a time period, or climbing a lot of ladders in a professional career path.
I chose something else. The school of the Union, as I would like to call it, offered a little bit of everything – overarching education, non-traditional work and a plethora of social life.
It was an education on education, meaning I got to understand what higher education should be like, together with all its intertwined components, as well as learning all about the different specific education programmes and courses at our University and how they are built up. Jack of all trades, master of none. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t master anything – I rather want to underline the complexity and challenge of being an expert on all education questions concerning the student body, while representing twenty four thousand students in my daily work. There is no single education that can prepare your expertise in all these fields and it is a heavy task for us students, who chose to work with and for students. And maybe in the end you don’t get a profession out of it but it most certainly opens a lot of paths towards many different future endeavors and not only in educational fields.
I cannot leave out the social part. It was superb! …
At the Union I had the opportunity to meet all kinds of individuals and groups of people, of all possible ages and backgrounds.
The work at the Union is not like any other. We are not employed until further notice, we are elected by the student body every single year, similar to a political mandate. We have tons of rules, steering documents and policies, but we don’t always have black on white what we are supposed to do or what the right opinion on certain questions is. We often have to act as firemen, putting down sudden fires when that happens. The most important precondition for us to be able to react adequately is to be in a close connection with our students. Sadly, sometimes we don’t even have the time we would like to have, in order to get the student’s opinions. This means we sometimes have to make difficult decisions on behalf of students, hence the need for us to be experts in all questions. However, at the same time we are supposed to be students on a study break. Being a student and giving student perspective to questions is one thing, being an expert and giving an expertise in a field is another. Well, we are expected to be both and somewhere along the way the lines get very blurry. You start off as a student, ‘untainted’ by any bureaucracy, laws, regulations and expertises. Slowly and steadily you make your way towards being a professional. It is a wide spectrum and the more you make your way towards mastery, the more you derive from that initial point of view as a student.
I cannot leave out the social part. It was superb! You know how sometimes it might be hard to find the right people to hang out with, maybe a tight group within your studies. At the Union I had the opportunity to meet all kinds of individuals and groups of people, of all possible ages and backgrounds. This also leads to another learning process – of understanding people with their different beliefs and values and why they are who they are. I swore not to name the recent events, so before You-Know-What happened there hadn’t been any lack of social gatherings either, on the contrary. There had been times where I had to prioritize which events I should go to, simply because there used to be too many all the time. Or even worse – decide to skip certain events due to exhausting my social battery. All in all, I managed to gain friendships for life, as well as a much better grasp of different cultures, ideologies and understandings. All that while I was having the time of my life.
Clock is ticking and it’s soon time for me to say goodbye. I’m at the end of a long path, a path that wasn’t always straight or easy to walk on, a path full of emotions and challenges. In any case, I’m not leaving empty-handed. I don’t know what path I’m going to take next, still I’m not too worried and I feel well-equipped for the next chapter.
I would like to thank students, student unions, teachers and other employees at Malmö University for a really long run of good cooperation and two-sided support!
Vice President in the Student Union 2020/2021