My name is Saryuna Bodieva, and I am a student at the Buryat State Academy of Agriculture, Russia. I would like to share an unforgettable and enriching experience as an exchange student at Umeå University, Sweden under the auspices of the north2north program. It was my first and best experience abroad, and it feels like it was a fabulous dream.

Umeå University was my host university where I had a chance to enrich my knowledge in my chosen field: food production and processing. Everything lived up to my expectations, and I greatly enjoyed the Swedish academic life: university, campus, academic staff, students, etc. The university opens up opportunities for students, and advanced facilities help students feel comfortable and crave for knowledge: well-equipped laboratories, accessible computer classes, rich library resources, cool coffee shops.

Saryuna Bodieva / Umeå University

I completed two courses: 1) Food design: Sensory analysis and Product development, and 2) Biochemistry: Protein structure and function. The courses were challenging but rewarding, and I got to advance my understanding in food structure and product development. We worked in specialized laboratories where we performed food experiments; we read and analyzed amazing materials; and we had an unusual practical work where we were to develop a unique product for various companies.  I proposed honey cake with a special recipe unique to my region, and it received acclaim from the company I collaborated with.

Besides, what could make studies more interesting than having classmates and teachers from different parts of the world? It was like having geography class as a bonus! Before coming to Sweden I could hardly imagine that. As I represented the Asian part of Russia, everyone was surprised to learn I was Russian. They would ask me to show my home city on the map, to tell in detail about my region and culture, and they were surprised to hear about the harsh winters when temperature can fall to -40 degrees Celsius. In return, I discovered new countries, cultures and languages. This was one of the most pleasant parts of my exchange.

Saryuna Bodieva in Umeå

As for Sweden, it is a country with wonderful traditions and friendly, polite people who are truly responsive and ready to help in any situation. And the Swedes taught me to always keep smiling because it makes life much easier!

Thanks to this north2north experience I advanced my knowledge in my field of study, enriched my understanding of the life of the local people, made friends with wonderful Swedes, improved communication and life skills which will stay with me for a rest of my life, and I am sure all this will change my life for the positive. Participation in this program obviously broadened my perspective of the North, northern agriculture and northern lifestyle. I’m happy, and I would like to express my big appreciation to the UArctic for such a wonderful opportunity to participate in the north2north mobility program and discover a new world!