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You cannot prepare for the unknown

Maria Almquist, 26, is the new international student coordinator and therefore responsible for the exchange students and everything regarding the university during their exchange. For Lösnummer she reveals exclusively some of her brand new ideas for the exchange students and how excited she is about the upcoming orientation program. 

Maria is a real Örebroare (Swedish word for the inhabitants of Örebro). She is born and raised in Sweden´s seventh largest city with her parents and four more siblings. Before she started studying Human Geography and Sustainable Development at the university in 2010, her life was mostly about dancing and music. But this did not keep her away from exploring the world and in 2012 she decided to go for an exchange to Canada, where she studied some sociology, geography and women studies courses.

Which are the projects you want to realize during the two years as the international student coordinator? – I really want to integrate the ESN students more into the Swedish University´s life. I always get the feeling that the ESN students are neglected and somewhere in the shadow. But first of all, we have to manage the orientation program and afterwards everything else.

But not enough, she wants to invent something she has been experiencing in Canada two years ago, where only one student has been taking care of her and showed her everything. – I have been thinking about some kind of buddy program. For instance, one exchange student from Spain gets a Swedish ‘buddy’ who is supposed go to Spain afterwards as an exchange student. They can help each other and exchange experiences and advices. But I just had this idea recently, so it´s not well developed. And I don´t want to say too much.

How do you feel right now about the orientation program? – I am so excited already. And it´s going to be a really interesting experience. I try to prepare myself for this week as much as I can, but you cannot prepare for the unknown.

But one thing she is already sure about is that she doesn´t want the introduction to smell like alcohol since the ESN students are often considered as being the party students. – I want them to see that Sweden has so much more to explore than alcohol.

Are there any projects the former international student coordinator, Diederic, has been inventing which you will follow or won’t follow up? – He had some ideas, but he is always encouraging me to do it my way. Diederic is often saying I shouldn’t listen to him too much. That´s also a reason why a person just gets this position for one or two years, so afterwards new ideas and energy can float into this position

What was your motivation to apply for this job? – When I read the ad for the job the first time, I thought immediately “this is my job!” and I had the feeling it has my name on it. Since I´ve been an exchange student myself, I know the feeling pretty well. Personally, I would recommend everybody to study abroad, if you have the opportunity.

Thank you, Maria, and good luck with the introduction!

Maria can be found in the International Office in Långhuset on Campus from Monday to Friday.

/ Luise Röpke Skribent och fotograf

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