Hi Emi! You came to Lund University as an exchange student from Waseda University in Japan autumn 2007 and then returned to Sweden in 2012 and studied Swedish and the Law programme (in Swedish!). Can you tell us a bit about your decision to move from Japan to Sweden?
I chose Lund University’s one-year exchange program because I wanted to study European and Swedish social policies and Lund University offered a lot of courses in English. I broadened my horizons and enjoyed my stimulating student life in Lund, and it was one of my best decisions so far to study at Lund University!
I was 19 when I first came to Lund. Having lived in Japan all my life before that, living and studying in Sweden with students from different parts of the world was a real eye-opener. I learned how Swedish society works and was impressed by society’s commitment to achieve gender equality. I also got the impression that the social structure and working culture in Sweden allowed people to pursue both career and family life. In Japan, it is still quite difficult for women to pursue their careers after getting married and especially after having children. After I went back to Japan, I worked just over two years for a Japanese company and was shocked to see many female workers give up their careers in their 20s or 30s.
The exchange year in Lund was also special for me because I met my husband-to-be then. He moved to Lund from Stockholm to study the same year as I came to Sweden for the first time. When we decided to get married after some years, we decided to live in Lund, Sweden. I wanted to continue my career even after having children, so it felt reasonable and natural for me to move from Japan to Sweden rather than my husband moving from Sweden to Japan.
It was not easy to choose my career path in Sweden, because I could not apply skills that I learned in Japan directly. Considering long-term career goals, I decided to specialize in law and study the programme in Swedish, which would give me opportunities to work in a variety of areas and develop myself. Law might not be the best subject to learn in your third language, because language skills are essential for legal expertise. But I prioritized my interest and passion and started the law programme (LLM) in autumn 2014.
What have you been up to since your graduation from the Law Programme?
After my graduation in 2019, I started to work as a law clerk for Malmö District Court. I wanted that job to get experience in the court process, which is helpful for legal jobs in the future. I worked mainly with criminal law, civil law and family law at the court. After that, I worked as a consultant Legal Specialist at Mercedes-Benz Sweden for several months, before I joined Baltic Cable this August where I’m working as a Legal Counsel (in-house lawyer). Baltic Cable is an international company in the energy sector and a part of the European electricity market. As a Legal Counsel, I work with different types of contracts and provide legal advice and support to the team. There are a lot of new things to learn, and I enjoy working with a variety of topics in international contexts!
Tell us about your experiences from the Swedish work environment! Any culture clashes that have been advantageous or challenging?
In my experience, it is much easier to combine work and family life or other interests in Sweden compared to in Japan. The Swedish work environment is based on the premise that everyone, regardless of gender, should be able to have a good life outside work. I also like the fika tradition in Swedish workplaces. I have not experienced any culture clashes, only positive surprises.
How did you learn Swedish and can you share your top tips to everyone who wants to learn the language?
I learned Swedish by engaging in student associations and getting in touch with Swedish students and the Swedish language, in addition to classroom studies. I joined the student orchestra Alte Kamereren and played the saxophone and the clarinet – and it was there I met my husband!
I was active in several organizations such as Spex (a kind of comedy musical). It motivated me to learn Swedish and I got a great opportunity to hear Swedish in use. One of my tips is to join at least one organization or group where you can use Swedish! There are many student organizations in Lund. I’d like to recommend Swedish courses at SOL-center at Lund University as well! I was able to master Swedish quickly thanks to the education at SOL.
What current fact about your life would most impress your five-year-old self?
I think the fact that I am living and working in Sweden and know languages other than Japanese would be enough to impress five-year-old me.