In just a few months, Florence Schelling, 29, will graduate from the master’s programme in Business Administration – Strategy and Management in International Organisations, at Linköping University. She started her studies in Linköping two years ago, thanks to an offer from Linköping Hockey Club.
“It was three years ago that they asked me if I wanted to come to Linköping to play hockey. I was attracted by their offer and was looking for new challenges, so I jumped at the chance. But I didn’t start studying immediately: that came a year later,” she tells us, and makes it clear how much she enjoys being at Linköping University.
“It’s a university town of exactly the right size – not too big and not too small. There’s loads to do here, and I’ve made lots of new friends, even though I haven’t been able to join in some of the international events since hockey takes up so much time.”
Florence Schelling was born and grew up in Switzerland, but chose to travel to Boston in the US for a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She spent five years there, before ending up in Linköping. Studying in Sweden was radically different from the experiences she had gained in the US.
“There are huge differences between studying in Sweden and in the US. Over there you live on campus and share accommodation with other students, while taking several courses at the same time. In Sweden, you take one course at a time. Each course lasts for a number of weeks, and when it’s over you start a new one. Relationships between students and teachers are also more relaxed in Sweden. In the US, contact with the teachers was restricted to office hours, but here you can send a text message asking for help at any time, and usually receive an answer immediately.”
Another noticeable difference is how students talk to the teachers.
“In Switzerland, for example, you would never call a professor by his or her first name, as you do here. If I return to Switzerland and start calling teachers by their first names, I’m certainly going to get some funny looks. The distance between students and teachers is much closer in Sweden,” she says.
Photo credit: Peter ModinFlorence Schelling’s master’s project is a collaboration with Stanford University in the US, and Saab in Sweden. Stanford University gives a course called “ME310”, in which their students work together with students from other leading global universities to investigate design innovation challenges, posed by global corporations. For Florence Schelling this means ensuring that several collaborations all work smoothly at the same time, both with the group in Linköping, and with the group at Stanford. This can be a challenge, given the time difference between here and there.
“When we’re working on the project they’re asleep, and vice versa. But we’ve been able to solve this using late Skype calls. The commission we received from Saab was to come up with solutions for how to evacuate earthquake victims in difficult terrain, and make them safe. We are developing tents that differ from the ones currently on the market, and we’re developing ideas about how they can be transported to specific regions using, for example, drones,” she says.
During her time in Linköping Florence Schelling has not only studied for her master’s: she has also become proud owner of a student overall, and been selected as Goaltender of the Year by the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL). Two years at Linköping University have given Florence Schelling many new experiences and expertise.
“This is a research-based university, and I have learnt not only to develop new knowledge based on other people’s research, but also to work together in a team in a way that was new to me. This is extremely valuable, not least when working on the final project.”
What will be her most enduring memory from LiU?
“I’m pretty sure that I’ll miss the Swedish fika tradition. To be honest, I’m not really a coffee drinker, but the fika holds such a strong position in Sweden. It’s not like this in Switzerland: there you start at 8 am, take lunch at 12, and then end work at 5 pm. I guess after three years here I’ve got used to taking a fika at any time,” she says with a smile.
Footnote: Florence Schelling informed her social media followers on 31 May that she is ending her ice hockey career and starting a new chapter in life: Retirement Announcement
Translation: George Farrants