“My masters in Sweden have proved to be a catalyst in my journey.”

We caught up with Raj Kharel, a former SI scholar and current chairperson of the Sweden Alumni Network Nepal, about his time in Sweden and life after.
Raj standing in front of an illustration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Raj chose the city of Lund as his study destination after having found the MSc Welfare Policies and Management programme at Lund University.

-I chose Sweden because, where better to study ‘Welfare Policies’ than the country that champions it the best! As a public policy enthusiast, I was always drawn by the Swedish welfare system, he says. My programme mostly dealt with understanding how states across the world designed and implemented welfare mechanisms for their people. Lund University, and the diversity of it, provided the best environment for me to not just learn but actually thrive in an international environment, he adds.

What surprised Raj the most was the relation between students and their professors.

– I was quite taken aback the first time I heard a student call a professor by their name. The Nepali in me was amazed to not hear “sir” dangling behind any professor’s name. It was very refreshing to immerse into the study culture where professors treat you as an equal and gently help you out to emerge as a young academician. Exploring this new equality made me more confident in my academic life and was surely a new perspective I aim to carry forward in life.

Looking at the journey before receiving the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals to where he is today, it’s fair to say Sweden has had an impact on Raj.

-I firmly believe that my masters in Sweden have proved to be a catalyst in my journey as a more mature and responsible individual. I feel I am nearer to issues like equality, welfare and climate change and I have to thank the SI scholarship for enabling that transition. I have become more confident in my professional demeanour, as well as very driven about causes that I am passionate about. The scholarship allowed me to soak the culture of Sweden and instilled the values that SI advocates for, and as a result, I have definitely emerged as a better human being.

The Swedish Institute provides financial support for certified local alumni networks to organise activities related to UN’s sustainable development goals or Sweden. Raj makes sure to promote his experience in his professional life and stays in contact with SI through Sweden Alumni Network Nepal.

– As a relatively fresh graduate, I know I still have a long way to go, however having studied and lived in Sweden has added a lot of strength to my CV. After graduating, I got some good professional work experience in the development sector working on two different projects – one with local governments and another within the agri-logistic sector, he shares.

– After returning home, I have begun to evaluate everything I, and people/institutions around me, do from a gender as well as sustainability lens. It has given me the ability to think of creative ways, voice my opinions and make suggestions – which I think is a good place to start!, Raj continues.

– Today I am the founding chair of the alumni network of Nepal. Our team has done some amazing work around inclusion and SDGs this year. Being a part of the local network is like having a family who understands the experience of having Sweden as a part of life. The local alumni network has been a sanctuary to share our experiences of life in Sweden and keep the values we learned while being there, alive.

When asked if he would recommend Sweden as a study destination, Raj is convinced Sweden has something for everyone.

-Oh, I keep finding myself recommending Sweden as an ideal study destination to people. Especially for individuals who are looking to have a quality education with a warm (not weather wise) society to live in, I suggest they try to find the right course within Sweden. I felt very cared for as an international student studying in the country and I most certainly recommend many of my friends and colleagues to consider doing the same!

– And after your experience, SI provides a platform for you to continue making impact on issues we believe in and want to work towards. Joining your local alumni network and being around people with shared values and working for important causes, I would 100 percent recommend that!, Raj argues.

Raj is still close to his professors and network in Sweden.

– I have thoroughly enjoyed the inclusivity of Swedish welfare, welcoming nature of the Swedish people and the delicious cinnamon buns Swedes have with Fika! I believe that if ever I want to go back to Sweden, I will always have a home!

Learn more about the SI Scholarship and SI Alumni Network.

The SI Scholarship for Global Professionals offers fully-financed scholarships for master’s studies in Sweden. It is a unique opportunity to develop professionally and academically, experience Swedish society and culture, and build a long-lasting relationship with Sweden and other global professionals. Read more about the scholarship here.

The Sweden Alumni Network is a global community open to all who have received a scholarship from the Swedish Institute, participated in one of our Leadership Programmes or have studied in Sweden. Here you can find more information on how to engage with our alumni networks.