My story before PhD study in Sweden

My story before PhD study in Sweden
Cherry blossoms at the campus in April, 2024

In 2021 during the COVID-19 outbreak, I completed my four-year bachelor's degree in National Taipei University in Taiwan. Uncertainty about my passion for my major, real estate, combined with a lack of confidence in finding a good job after graduation, contributed to my insecurity. The reasons making me unsecured are not having enough self-confidence, economic uncertainty, and feeling unsure about my career pathway in the future... Therefore, I decided to continue graduate study for the following reasons:

1. To develop my knowledge in real estate and urban planning

Even though I studied real estate and built environment for four years, I still feel like learning a lot of things without focusing on any specific topic. I understood that it is important to make you 'recognizable' by specializing in certain fields. More specifically, it is about solving problems that you are good at. Therefore, studying more and focusing on deeper knowledge, equipping myself with practical data analytical skills, and eventually accomplishing a project (master thesis) on my own is my priority. I was still not sure if I was that interested in doing real estate topics such as real estate development, real estate regulations, and tax management. So I switched my orientation to more a bit urban planning, and human geography aspects, which are also connected to the following two points.

Besides that, I was aware that real estate is a field that requires a lot of practical experience. To develop my knowledge, and experience and to see if I have enough interest in this field (specifically, viewing real estate as a job option), I did an internship at two different real estate start-up companies. It turned out really fun and so different from the 'book knowledge' I learned from university.

One of my internships was visiting properties in Taipei and wrote articles for them

2. To give myself more time to think about the future

Following the point and the context above, I realize I need more time to think about my future, including interests, career, dreams to fulfill, ideal working style, and environment. Continuing my graduate studies didn't sound bad because I was still learning and even started to earn a bit of money from my internship. However, the twist point making me start my adventure in Sweden is the next one!

Maybe it would be nice to work at somewhere with big sofas and table tennis?

3. To grab a very last opportunity to exchange with another country

Studying abroad is always one of my dreams! I used to have a chance to do an exchange in Shanghai in 2021. However, the Covid-19 outbreak forced me to cancel the plan. I then started to think about any possibilities to study overseas for my master's degree, even though I still wasn't sure about what to study. Many of my classmates continue their graduate studies in the UK, the USA, and Australia, which are popular for many Taiwanese students. These countries are also known for their high living cost and expensive tuition fees. Considering my economic situation, it was not smart to spend that much money without knowing what I really wanted to study.

Thankfully, my department offers only one exchange opportunity, which is a geomatics master's program at the University of Gävle in Sweden! I only have to pay the tuition fee in Taiwan and I can study in Sweden. What a wonderful opportunity for me! Furthermore, I can obtain another master's degree by completing all the 1-year program courses and a master's thesis. Therefore, I decided to fulfill my dream first and refresh my mind in Sweden.

world map near desk globe on brown wooden panel
Photo by Aslı Yılmaz / Unsplash

Doing my second Master's degree in Sweden

I was very ambitious, not only to realize my dream of experiencing a brand new lifestyle in another country but also to prove my capability to learn a new field in one year and obtain two master's degrees in two years. (One master's degree in Real Estate and Built Environment in Taiwan, and another master's degree in Geomatics in Sweden). Unlike other dual-degree programs, I had to finish two different programs and two master theses, which was challenging and I am really happy that I did it!! In addition, the usual duration of a master's program in Taiwan is two years, but I did some master's courses during my bachelor's study, making it possible to accomplish the program in Taiwan in only one year.

My master's graduation ceremony at National Taipei University in Taiwan
My master's graduation ceremony at University of Gävle in Sweden

Stay in Sweden by faith and started my PhD journey

I had a wonderful year, or the happiest year ever in my life in Sweden between 2022 and 2023. I even obtained an opportunity to work on my master's thesis with IKEA using remotely sensed data. I also found my passion in geography and decided to continue this passion in terms of a relevant job. It was difficult and stressful at the beginning because I had to fly back to Taiwan if I didn't get a job in two months while working on my thesis at the same time. However, lucky as I was go a PhD position in Sweden 3 days before my flight back to Taiwan. It was another amazing twist allowing me to continue my adventure in Sweden.

I remember there were 4 goals when I first arrived in Sweden, and fortunately, I made it!

  1. Make a lot of friends
  2. Complete my master's program in Sweden for another degree
  3. Travel to many European countries
  4. Find a job in Europe!

As a Taiwanese girl, studying, working, or even living in Sweden was always not in my life plan. However, you never know 😀 Here I would like to share a bit of my story and its connection with Sweden and Geography. As one of the focuses of my website, I will definitely share more about my ongoing PhD journey in Sweden.