International story Bekzat Musrepova

Bekzat Musrepova Doctoral Student at Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics


1. What made you choose Umeå University as an employer?

I came here first in 2015 as a part of my Master's in Strategic Project Management programme (MSPME). It was a master's programme offered jointly by Heriot-Watt University (UK), Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and Umeå University. I liked Umeå university's research approach, study quality and friendly atmosphere during the programme's six months part at Umeå. After five years of working as a strategy consultant, I decided to switch to academia. Choosing Umeå university as an employer was a pretty natural decision. I chose my alma mater and not just a random employer.

2. What was your general impression of Umeå?

When I came first in 2015, I was impressed with the northern lights and the city's closeness to nature. For my PhD, I moved with my husband and 1,5-year-old daughter, and this time it is worth mentioning not just mine, but my family's impression. We found Nordic aesthetics and a "lagom" way of living close to our family values.

3. Has your impression changed during your time here? Why and in what way?

I cannot say that it is changed; maybe it has become more formed. We were pretty prepared when we moved to Sweden. We read a lot of books, articles, watched all available travel blogs in English and Russian languages. It helped us to dive into everyday life faster.

4. Did you have any challenges initially or during your time that you can share thoughts about?

It was not an easy task to move with a small kid. The good thing is that we tried to plan her kindergarten before the relocation. We signed up to kindergarten queue 3-4 months before we came to Umeå. Her adaptation took almost three months. It was hard, but now I see that she likes her pedagogs, learns new things daily, and has buddies. She even knows more Swedish words than I do. Seeing that she has colourful life makes me happy.

Noticeable, it is challenging to find suitable accommodation, even though we planned everything well in advance. So, I would advise to sign up anywhere where possible, keep trying and even ask for colleagues' help.

5. Do you find that there are cultural differences that have made work or private life difficult?

I had an opportunity to work with Swedish colleagues before I came to work at Umeå. I was not surprised by the Swedish mentality, way of doing business, work-life balance approach and private life protection tendencies. Of course, there are always cultural differences when you move to a new country. It is just essential to be genuine, embrace differences and have mutual respect. I guess people can be better when they learn from each other differences.

6. Can you recommend any activities and places to visit that you like?

My husband and I try to discover new places in gastronomic terms too. Here in Umeå, we found pretty good restaurants working with fine local ingredients. Our favourite one so far is Köksbaren. We also like the intimacy of Bodegan, crusty bread from Kulturbageriet, pastries from Nya Konditoriet and yummy treats from Duå.

We also like visiting the Curiosum science centre with our daughter and activities in kid libraries. It is easy to find an activity if you want to.

Rosita Nilsson