This the last part of my thougths and reflections about these 5 months studying in Sweden. Focused in KI and the difference with my own country.
Most of my partners (women almost all) are from European countries. There only two people from Africa, (Uganda and Ethiopia) and one from India. We are in total 23 students, 17 women. There are no students from other countries specially because two years ago Sweden started to charge tuition fees for non-Swedish or UE students. The tuition fee is not cheap, actually. I am one of the few that are paying (some others from different countries in this and other masters have scholarship, are the spouse of a Swedish citizen or have residence for reasons different to study). I am using a loan from Colfuturo* although the total lent money is not enough for paying tuition fees and maintenance. Fortunately, my wife got a transfer from her employer and is working here. I was not selected to Swedish scholarships and in Colombia there are no many scholarships to study this and study it here. The country of origin bias is a general problem in all Swedish universities and there is some people asking for a reform on this rule or an increase in scholarships**. If it happens I will not have any benefit and I think it could take some years to be in force, if someday it occurs. There are students that prefer to pay tuition fees in other country, for instance UK, instead of coming to Sweden.
Karolinska Institute, despite its ‘institute’ name is a university focused in medicine and related disciplines and it is the university responsible of most of the research in Sweden, and one of the most important in the world. In that sense I found similarities with the Business School of Universidad de Los Andes and its Triple Crown*** that places it in a selected group. The emphasis in research at Karolinska Institute is really evident and almost all program is focused in developing the skills and competences to do a very good thesis. From the very first semester we are being trained in developing research questions, prepare research proposals (fictional, by the moment, but based in actual bibliography revision), indentification of knowledge gaps in Science and in the peer review of our propsals. Maybe that is why the whole 20 weeks of the last semester are only for our research project. Many of the students return to their countries of origin to collect data for their thesis. I do not know yet although my intention is to research on Health economy and policies in Colombia. Let’s see what happens.
If my thesis is still uncertain, my return to Colombia when finishing the Master is even more cloudy. If I return to Colombia I have the benefit of paying only half of the Colfuturo’s loan but I must be in Colombia 5 years, at least. Otherwise I loss that discount. Not only that, if I do not return of leave the country before finishing the fifth year, they will charge higuer interest rates and reduce the time to pay the debt. Actually I have a very strong incentive to return and that is the purpose of Colfuturo. But my wife has a permanent job here and could be not interesting for her to return to Colombia. But develop a career in Sweden. The only thing we have clear is wherever we go we will be together. I also had the idea to pursue a PhD but now I am not sure if I am really interested in following a research question for more than four years.
There is something I miss and it is the presence of disciplines different form medical and related ones. That was also a thing I missed during my MBA as the Business School was out of the campus and I studied during the nights. But some very proactive members of the Student Union coordinate some art and leisure activities that could cover in part that lack of diversity. My attempt to do something different is being one of the Digital Ambassadors for KI and write for the students blog. English is other issue, generally overcome but speaking is still a challenge. But if it was to speack Spanish what else could I expect J. Time will say if I can handle Swedish language, sometime.
And that is all, maybe in the summer I can make another big summary about different topics and my own decisions and future.
Un gran saludo
Mauricio Duque Arrubla
*Colfuturo is COLFUTURO is a foundation created in 1991. Its capital is both public and private. Its mission is to promote, finance, guide, promote, and participate in the training of the best Colombian professionals, for them to complete their graduate studies in the best universities worldwide. Thanks to new donations of major Colombian entrepreneurs, as of 2010, COLFUTURO supports one thousand students per year in all field of studies in the best academic programs. http://www.colfuturo.org/
**”Foreign students should have time to find jobs” http://www.thelocal.se/20140205/foreign-university-students-need-more-time-to-find-jobs
*** Triple Accreditation is the accreditation awarded to 59 business schools worldwide by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation associations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_accreditation