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Sometimes the job chooses you and leads the way

With a gainful and satisfying work life, the Stockholm University alum Bonjung Goo wants to show her appreciation for the education she received at SU and for the Swedish system that supported her studies. Her master's degree in political science, as well as her internship in Stockholm, became a springboard for her career.

Bonjung Goo moved to Sweden in 2010 to study a master’s in political science at Stockholm University. Today Bonjung works as a Portfolio Associate Professional at Green Climate Fund in Seoul in South Korea.

Portrait of Bonjung Goo

 

Coming to Sweden

It was already during her undergraduate studies in South Korea that Bonjung became interested in Sweden.

–    My bachelor’s degree, 15 years ago, was in political science and international relations and there was the question of the Swedish Model. I was particularly interested in the parliamentary system as well as the welfare system.
Bonjung’s arrival coincided with elections in Sweden and it was the first time that the Sweden Democrats were elected into parliament.

–    When I was in Sweden, it was an interesting period. There were a lot of questions about what to prioritise, which groups to support, the Sweden Democrats took place in the parliament, I could witness that there were a lot of mixed feelings.


 

The Swedish Model

At that time, South Korea was trying to increase the social welfare support from a low level compared to European systems. The Swedish society on the other hand was talking about cutting down from a very high level.

–    I had really high expectations coming to Sweden, with an idea of a perfect Nordic country. As expected, everything was in order and peaceful, and I didn’t have a single bad experience in Stockholm. In the meantime, I slowly found out that people were actually discussing how to improve – or even whether to change - their current system. There was a lot of discussion going on, including immigration/integration policy, health care system, etc. I found those discussions extremely interesting and there was a lot to learn.

Bonjung’s impression of Swedish people was that they were very polite, family oriented and well mannered.

–    I was not fully prepared for the language, everything was in Swedish, but it was great that there were free language courses. My study groups during my education, more than half were international students.

She rented a room with a Swedish family: a single mom, her son and in the same building lived the mom's boyfriend.

–    In Korea, family means usually a mother and a father and children. Here it was a boyfriend and girlfriend living separately but the same building and sometimes the father of the son would visit. The family was so free.

Bonjung was also struck by how many people were vegetarians.

–    At that time, I had hardly ever seen any vegetarians in my life!

Bonjung Goo sitting on a rock in with water and red houses in the background
Bonjung Goo in Gotland, Sweden

 

Stepping stones to a career

During her master’s programme she had a lot of reading but also quite a lot of flexible time so she decided to look for an internship.

–    One of my professors at SU recommended me for the intern position at International IDEA and there I made some friends who have then visited me in Korea.

As she was completing her studies she applied for jobs both within Sweden and all over the world.

–    I wanted to stay in Sweden at the time but my main goal was to get a job, regardless of its location.

She was offered a job at the regional project office of UNDP/GEF to work on ecosystem preservation of the Yellow Sea, between Korea and China.

–    It is a place that has had a lot of environmental impact consequences. That experience led me to my current work because it related to the climate change and environment.

Today Bonjung works with project data analysis and pipeline operations for Green Climate Fund.

–    I got a job based on both my studies and my internships. It’s not exactly related to political science but it’s intergovernmental body and politics is part of it. Sometimes also the job chooses you, you don’t choose the job. The job leads the way, you don’t know really where it takes you but you just keep learning new things. For which I have felt lucky and grateful.


 

Giving back

Another reason Bonjung chose to come to Sweden for her master’s was that international students at the time could study for free with high education quality. Despite acceptance letters from several universities in the UK, Bonjung decided on Sweden.

–    I am not from Sweden or the EU and I was one of the last students who could get a free education in Sweden.

Unlike South Korea, Sweden had a long tradition of free education, something Bonjung expresses deep appreciation for.

–    I believe that other students, who had the same experience as me, will be forever thankful for what they have gotten. I am sure that they are.

Now with a gainful career, Bonjung wants to show her appreciation for the education she received at Stockholm University and from the Swedish system. She wants to give back.

–    I want to do it whenever I can, to show that you guys really helped me a lot. It’s something that I feel that I need to do, even if it a small thing.

Support Stockholm University

There are many ways for alumni to give back to their alma mater. You can give of your time or money. Donate the amount of your choice, volunteer in support of our recruitment and marketing initiatives, mentor a student, return as a guest lecturer and much more. To read more about ways of getting involved and giving back read more here:

su.se/alumni
su.se/stodsu

 

Contact

Alumni Relations: alumni@su.se

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