Interview with SGIA MGIMO 3rd Year student Olivia Ahlund (Sweden)

Interview with SGIA MGIMO 3rd Year student Olivia Ahlund (Sweden)

14 June 2023

We are carrying out a series of interviews with SGIA students about why they chose MGIMO, what they like about it and how it feels to be a foreign student in Russia. Our new speaker is 3rd Year student Olivia Ahlund from Sweden.

What do you think about quality of education on MGIMO?

I would rate the quality of education at MGIMO very highly. The professors are very knowledgeable about their field, and also have extensive personal experience to share, which provides us with even greater understanding of how the things we are taught function in real life. For me personally, the education at MGIMO is very valuable, as it provides me with perspectives on international relations that I did not have before coming here. Since I was born and raised in Sweden, my view on international relations was mainly limited to the perspective of Western countries since that is what I was most exposed to. Since studying at MGIMO, I have gained a broader perspective by being given the opportunity to understand the points of view of Russia and other non-Western countries, which has given me a more well-rounded understanding of the world and international events.

As far as we know, you initially studied at the University of Hong Kong and then decided to transfer to MGIMO SGIA. How did you come up with this decision?

It’s true, I started my university studies at the University of Hong Kong, but since our studies were online at the time because of Covid, I somehow had the idea to do an exchange semester with MGIMO in the second semester of my first year — just because I could. Although this exchange semester was also online, I found myself really enjoying my studies. I was really motivated to do the work because I found the courses very interesting, and I liked that I was being challenged in my way of thinking as I gained a different perspective on international relations. Because of all this, I decided to transfer to MGIMO to become a full-time student here. I would say that coming here was the best decision of my life.

Can you say that studying in MGIMO has opened new opportunities for you? Maybe you have already found a job or another way to put acquired skills in practice?

Studying here provided me with a number of opportunities and experiences. Through the university, I've been able to visit the Russian Caucasus twice: first for the “Meeting the Russian Caucasus” forum, and second for the North Caucasus Youth Festival. These trips gave me the opportunity to learn more about that region of Russia and the diversity of the country. Thanks to MGIMO, I also had the incredible opportunity to attend the Victory Parade on the Red Square this year, together with some other international students of our university. It was such an impressive and unforgettable experience that I would never have had if it weren’t for MGIMO. In terms of work, I am sure that MGIMO will open many opportunities for me in the future, as I am acquiring widely applicable knowledge and skills thanks to the education at this university.

Do you like it in Russia?

Russia was not previously on my radar when I started considering where I wanted to live and study, and I had never been to Russia prior to moving here. But when I arrived I just had this unexplainable feeling that I was in the right place, that this was where I was supposed to be. A year and a half later, I have the same feeling. I love living in Moscow, as it is a big city that is full of life, and there is always something to do. I like people here, as they have always been very welcoming and helpful, as well as willing to show me their culture. I will definitely stay and live here after graduation.

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