Looking back at her bachelor degree, Suzanna Törnroth claims that: “BIDS is a utopian environment where the majority of people are open-minded, aware of the world and curious.”
She is half Swedish, half Singaporean and grew up in Singapore and moved to Lund when she was 19 to start the BIDS program at Lund University; an act which she claims to be the best decision of her life. “Cliché, but true,” as she expresses in an interview about her experience with BIDS.
The BIDS experience
I majored in Sociology and I went to the Maldives under the internship period in the third year to write about environmental politics for my thesis. It has been 2 years since I’ve graduated from BIDs and looking back, the most meaningful part of BIDS was, without a doubt, the personal development and growth I had undergone. I had led a sheltered life in Singapore and all at once, moving away from home and meeting the most amazing of people and teachers has really contributed greatly to my identity and the person I have become. BIDS, through my classmates, teachings and entire student life experience, shaped me to become a more aware, a more understanding yet strongly opinionated, confident young lady with a strong will for justice and equality (wow, right?).
Name one thing you liked about BIDS?
Seminars and open discussions that were quite frequent. I was constantly challenged by new ideas and this thought me to critically explore ideas that I have never thought about before. I had some fear with public speaking/speaking up and I managed to overcome this through the comfortable and safe environments these seminars were conducted in.
After BIDS, I travelled a bit, worked a bit in Copenhagen with fashion for about half a year, and then a short job stint in Malmö. Soon after I moved to Luleå to start a masters in climate-sensitive urban planning and now I am a year in, soon to enter the preparation phase for my master thesis. I worked in Singapore over the summer for an urban planning corporation that may lead me to do my thesis in Dubai early next year.
Any BIDS related long-term future plans?
Well, indirectly yes. I have always been into the creative industry (music, design, etc.), but I am practical and technical at heart and hence I chose urban planning as a masters because it has appealed to me for a long time – it is a sort of “structured” art form where imagination and creativity can flourish but they are inherently rooted in certain restrictions, be it logistical, financial, political or engineering. BIDS, on the other hand, made me passionate for social issues, so my long-term goal is to eventually work for an urban think-tank, a quite specific field that focuses on researching and creating strategies from a design perspective to influence the social architecture and informal development of a city.
Some advice for future BIDS graduates?
Yes. I would say that BIDS is a utopian environment where the majority of people are open-minded, aware of the world and curious. However, upon leaving university and entering new environments or different stages of life, you will meet (or at least this has been my experience) a lot of different people with not necessarily the same respect or understanding for others and the world around them. In countless instances, I have had to stand up against gender discrimination and racism, because in many parts of the world, these are still considered acceptable social norms. I have found it tiring and frustrating, especially when the majority works against you. But! If you ever find yourselves in this position, this is my advice: Don’t be disheartened and always, always, stick to your ideals because at the end of the day it is what you do that shapes who you are – and in 50 years, I would like to look back and know that I have been a strong and fabulous individual that fought for what is right!
Interviewed and edited by Clara Nepper Winther