Read about Joanna, who graduated in 2015 with a major in Political Science and her exchange in France, which she is really happy to have experienced. Moreover, she shares her BIDS experiences, gains and thoughts that led her to her current Master Studies in International Humanitarian Action.
Exchange in France
“I spent my fourth semester at Sciences Po in Aix-en-Provence, France. The university in Aix is focusing on political science and international law so I took some courses in human rights, humanitarian crisis and Transitional justice. I also had a French language course but since it’s not accredited for I took an extra 7.5 credit course in economic history when I got back to Lund. My exchange semester was an amazing experience and I had time to combine studies with travels in the area and even a school trip to Rome. I even studied for my final exams at a beach in Marseille, so nice! My French did not improve as much as I’d liked but then I also had about 50 % of my courses in English and 50 % in French. There is the option to read everything in French but at the time I didn’t think my French was good enough to do it but you get used to it even though it requires more of you. So if you’re planning on going I’d say challenge yourself and do it!”
Gains from BIDS
“BIDS gave me a good knowledge on contemporary development issues as well as a historical context and aspirations for the future. Moreover, the program and especially the courses at the political science department offered a gender perspective and encouraged critical thinking which are always important. I got also very used to writing and structuring essays and now in my master I definitely have an advantaged compared to some of my fellow students who never learnt how to reference properly.”
“In June, a day after our final examination I packed my bag and went to Uganda where I spent most of my summer. I got in contact with AIESEC through a friend and I travelled as a global citizen to a small village called Kisoso outside Masaka. AIESEC is a student organization that offers internship/volunteer work worldwide. I helped out in a local community based project called Milechild Uganda which both offers education for children, some hand-craft workshops for adults and safari trips to tourists in order to finance the school. I had an amazing time and learnt a lot about their culture, living conditions and educational system.“
This September Joanna started her master degree in International Humanitarian Action at Uppsala University – A master programme by the Network of Humanitarian Action (Noha) and Erasmus Mundus, this leads to her spending her next semester in Bochum, Germany.
“It might seem a bit controversial to go from development studies to Humanitarian Action but the gap and efforts to build a bridge between the two interests me. The class is a mix of people with different academic backgrounds and practical experiences so we tend to have never ending discussions. The first months have been both stressful and more chilled but I enjoy it so far.”
“I’m going to continue with my master degree and hopefully get an internship for my third semester. That’s how far my plans reaches at the moment”
Advice for future BIDS-graduates
“Don’t stress about your thesis! In the beginning it feels you have to climb a mountain but one step at a time and then it’s done”
Finally, Joanna sees the Alumni BIDS page as a platform with opportunities to network and contact former BIDSters who are active in the development work or related fields. Joanna adds; “Moreover, a platform for sharing research and a forum for discussion of various issues related to development.”
Interview conducted and edited by Anna Butondo