Ying Hong took her PhD at Stockholm University
Ying Hong took her PhD at Stockholm University

The high level of research and the positive working environment are conditions that have contributed to Ying Hong’s choice of domicile during the last twelve years: Stockholm and Stockholm University.

Ying Hong made a life changing decision in 1995—to do her postgraduate studies at Stockholm University in Sweden. "That summer I visited my husband who was studying in Stockholm. I was surprised to see how beautiful it was and how organised everything in Sweden seemed to be."

These impressions lead on to an important choice of career. Ying decided to leave her job in Beijing and to apply for a position as a PhD student at the demography unit at Stockholm University. "I went to see the professor and he was very forthcoming. But he wanted to see results from studies in Sweden before he could accept me as a PhD student."

Ying already had a research preparatory Master’s degree in Economics from Fudan University in Shanghai. Now she turned to the International Student Office for help to get accepted as a visiting student and to find appropriate courses. "The advisers were very supportive and helped me with all the practical details."

The first year in Sweden she describes as both exciting and difficult. Exciting because everything was new and different—and difficult for the same reasons. The demand for self-reflection and for expressing your own views during lectures was new and challenging. "It was difficult but very rewarding. I was forced to overcome my shyness and developed independent and analytical thinking skills."

Ying completed her first year with flying colours. She was accepted as a PhD student in 1996 and received her doctor’s degree in 2002. "Our professor was very good at keeping the research group together. To me the positive working environment meant a lot. I learned that when I needed help, all I had to do was ask"

It has now been twelve years since Ying made the decision to move to Stockholm. After completing her doctorate she has worked as a researcher in several projects at the University and at a research institute in Stockholm.

When asked about what she thinks are the advantages of studying and working at Stockholm University she says: "There are many benefits. For example the wide selection of courses and the high levels of knowledge conveyance and research." Ying also points out that whoever studies at Stockholm University gets access to all the benefits of living in a capital city. "But it can be difficult to get to know Swedes.

However, this is a difficulty you can overcome by participating in various student activities—and that’s fun too!" Ying Hong has a tip: "Participate in the orientation programme. It gives a good orientation of what there is to do and whom you can turn to if you need help or support.