Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Students the Way of the Future

Erica Rose is Coordinator and Advocacy Secretary for International Students at Stockholm University in Sweden. Erica visited the University of Illinois as part of a delegation from Stockholm University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Karolinska Institutet for April's INSPIRE Summit. During her trip, she maintained a travel blog. The last entry, which is posted below, includes a discussion about the opportunities at the University of Illinois for studying the European Union through the EUC.

by Erica Rose

This is it, the final chapter in the trip across the pond. There was so much to take in I think it was good to have a break in between blogs (ok-this is more of a novel than a blog) and sort out the highlight of the trip that will benefit both Swedish and international students. Now where to begin, maybe the beginning of the day?

On the second day I was taking the elevator down to breakfast to meet some other delegates from Stockholm University when the president of KTH and the President of KI (Karolinska Institute) came into the elevator. I said hi and introduced myself and we all went to the breakfast area. I thought that would be the last time I would talk to them but I was wrong. As I went to sit down at a table near Stockholm University, the server must have thought that the two people I was talking with were also with me, so he put menus down for them right where I was sitting. Thinking it would be a quiet breakfast, I instead ended up eating breakfast and trying to speak Swedish (which is not easy to do early in the morning) with both presidents. –Which proves that you never know what´s going to happen- 9 months ago I was working in daycare trying to read in Swedish to one and two year olds- to sitting and eating breakfast with two of the presidents from some of the biggest universities in Sweden. Not bad for a Tuesday morning…

After that interesting morning, I went about the day and learned about what Stockholm University and University of Illinois (UofI) are setting up for you regarding jobs on campus, clubs, and studying the EU with an American twist. Again, the possibilities are endless.

For one, looking for a job on campus can be tough, and sometimes not always glorious (selling coffee, cleaning, etc.). But at the UofI, you can not only study but actually work in a field of your study right on campus. (And yes, even students from outside the US can use their study visas to work at these well known companies on campus.) It´s called Research Parks at U of I, where companies such as Yahoo, Autonomic Materials (self healing paint anyone?) and Deere & Company hire students to work or for internships. A real job on campus? now that´s pretty cool. While working for a big company is interesting, the Research Park also helps students with start up companies and has helped over 127 since 2001. (Research Park) To have a university offering real positions on campus gives you a leg up on everyone else when starting in the work force.  And not only that, the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce is looking to get jobs for Swedish students coming to the USA, and vice versa. Sweden may be a small country, but they have some big friends elsewhere.

Secondly, I know I am always trying to push students to join clubs, but sometimes there may not always be a club out there that you think is for you. At UofI, this is not a problem as there are over 1,100 registered clubs on campus with a budget of $10 million dollars. Price is Right Fan Club, Archery, Board Game, Cooking, or Insomiac clubs? There is a club for someone and everyone.

Lastly, you can even study a couple courses or even the Masters on the EU at the European Union Centre. And yes, this EU Centre is officially certified by the EU Commision. Now you´re probably thinking, I come from the EU, why would I study that abroad? Well if learning about the EU with an American twist, seminars with guest lecturers such as Ambassador of Estonia and EU, UN interpreter, professors from around the world, international movie nights and multiple language courses options doesn´t pull you in, how about the chance to work or intern at an EU office in Washington or a trade office in Brussels? As one of the original 10 EU centres opened in the States, the EU Centre at UofI is opening doors for students that can benefit both students coming to Stockholm and studying abroad.

So in all, what I have learned the INSPIRE Summit at University of Illinois in collaboration with Stockholm University, KTH and KI is that it could really opening up the doors for students from many different disciplines from all over the world. The amount of interdisciplinary courses, shared research programs, job opportunities and internships that will be provided to students because of this increased cooperation between the universities will not only improve students quality of education and access to programs, but increase Stockholm University´s standing and make it a world competitor. This can only be possible if students at all universities involved show a willingness to participate. Students need to get involved in their education process on campus, studying abroad, and even looking at other universities to see if a collboration between the two is possible. Administration can take away the red taped barriers, but it is up to the students to take these opportunities to get involved and make a difference what ever and where ever you are studying.


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