International students come to Lund at the longest for a two-year master’s programme. But some of them stick around in Lund after finishing. Lundagård spoke to three ‘stayers’ to find out what made them take this step.
Mariangela Dello Iacovo left Italy in August 2011 to do an exchange for her bachelor’s. She enjoyed her exchange, and extended it for another semester. Not long after that she took a Swedish language course at an institute for adult education. It was there that she met Swedish Nicklas, her future boyfriend.
Mariangela Dello Iacovo went back to Italy to finish her studies and then booked a one-way ticket back to Gothenburg. In 2014, she and her boyfriend moved to Lund, where she now studies and works as a language teacher. But it was not just love that kept her in Sweden:
“I already wanted to stay before I met my boyfriend. The culture is very different from my own and it has always fascinated me.”
The story of Mariangela Dello Iacovo isn’t too exceptional. Statistics are lacking, but it regularly happens that international students stay longer, ranging from exchange students that return for their masters’ to people that stay here for life.
Alexander Hoffmann from Germany came to Sweden in 2013. When he finished his Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science in 2015, he decided not to leave Lund straight away but instead start his job search in Sweden.
“I liked the student community here and the choir that I was a part of. And staying gave me the possibility to take complementary courses, at Alnarp University.”
After christmas, alexander Hoffmann even signed up for a high-level Swedish course “as I was already here”. Regularly traveling abroad to attend job interviews, he kept his room in Lund and finished the course earlier this summer. Thus he stayed a year beyond what was planned.
Ana Carolina Donetto already took up learning Swedish during her studies. In 2011 she came from Brazil to Sweden in order to start a master’s programme in Applied Cultural Analysis.
“I really liked Lund. It’s very safe here; a small town without chaos is different from Rio de Janeiro. I wanted to continue living here and realised that I needed to learn the language.”
Ana Carolina Donetto took a study leave to get her Swedish to a higher level. She thinks that her command of the language contributed to her staying, as it gave her entrance to the job market and to Swedish academic courses.
“It also makes sure that you are more integrated. Of course it’s easy to live in Lund without knowing Swedish, but it is not the same,” she adds.
For as much as the stayers like Sweden, it doesn’t mean that they never miss their homes. Mariangela Dello Iacovo is still not used to Swedish winters:
“It takes time to get used to darkness and cold. People are not so social in the winter, you have to make sure to keep contact with others.” She confirms the stereotype that Swedes can be reserved.
“They are shier than we are in Italy. But it is not true that the Swedes are cold. When you get to know them, they are loyal, polite and social.”
Ana Carolina Donetto mainly misses her family and friends in Brazil.
“I am watching the Olympics right now and that can make me homesick, because I have memories of all those places. But I am happy here.”
Asked where she will be in five years from now, Ana Carolina Donetto hopes to still live in Sweden.
“Maybe Lund, or maybe Gothenburg, I like that city. I hope to get a job connected to my current Bachelor’s in Design of Information Systems. But I’d like to combine it with my current job, teaching Portuguese.”
Mariangela Dello Iacovo doesn’t imagine going back any time soon either.
“Right now I am not thinking about going back, also because of the current economic situation in Italy. And my boyfriend doesn’t speak Italian. But it is not a closed door.”
After several years here, she is often asked whether she feels Swedish:
“No, I am an Italian that moved to Sweden and I hope that I can combine the best of both countries. But sure, if my country allows it, I would like to get dual citizenship!”
Alexander Hoffmann is the only one soon leaving as he found an internship in Brussels.
“It’s sad to leave Lund behind, but I am actually more ready to leave now than directly after finishing the programme. I got to see much more of Skåne and the countryside during this extra year. I am definitely happy for it.”