African. Passionate. Adventurous.
Meet Jessica, a French-Cameroonian student. She was enrolled in a bachelor’s program orientated towards European and African issues in Sciences Po, a school for political and social sciences in France. During her third year in the program, Jessica’s school gave students the opportunity to spend a year abroad while doing an internship or attending a university. Choosing Stockholm, Sweden for her year abroad, Jessica attended Stockholm University as an Erasmus student in the department of Political Science.
I was born and raised in Cameroon, a central African country. I lived for a few years in Limbé, a coastal town lined with black-sanded beaches and surmounted by a 4040-meter high, active volcano. My family and I quickly moved to the city of Douala, a bigger city, and the center of Cameroon’s economy. There, I attended primary school, middle school and high school in a French institution.
“The lack of real democratic institutions, hindering the development in my country, like in many other African countries, triggered my interest in politics.”
Of course, growing up in Cameroon highly influenced my vision of the world and my interests in life. The lack of real democratic institutions, hindering the development in my country, like in many other African countries, triggered my interest in politics. I was also very attracted to social issues and media (I have never been very good at settling for only one topic at the time).
Therefore, after graduating from high school, I went through an international selection process to enter one of France’s greatest schools : Sciences Po. I succeeded in going through the admission procedure and entered the school in 2014. Sciences Po in French, is a diminutive for Political Science. People usually think that it’s a school where we only study political science but it’s actually much more. We study sociology, microeconomics, macroeconomics, history and many other subjects… which is why I prefer to call the school a social science institution.
I enrolled more specifically in the Europe-Africa program, which is a program offering European but also African perspectives on economics, politics, strategies, business and history.
In order to attend the school, I first moved from Cameroon to Paris, to pursue my first year in my bachelor’s program. It was a big change for me since I had always lived in Cameroon, in the cocoon of my home and family. However, I was used to Paris having spent all my summers there since I was a kid.
Living in Paris was a great, but overwhelming experience. I had the opportunity to enjoy the heady atmosphere of the city, the many cultural activities, but also the amazing nightlife. However, when it came down to studying and getting used to the Parisian routine, things didn’t prove to be as exciting. It was often difficult to go home late, go to the library, which was very far from home, or attend exams at halls outside of the city.
It was nevertheless a great experience overall! It definitely helped me grow a lot.
For my second year in Sciences Po, I had to move to the city of Reims, where my program was delocalized. Moving to such a small city was, surprisingly, the biggest change in my life. I was very afraid that living in such a small city would be boring and strange. But so far, it was the best of all the years that I had to spend abroad. I had an amazing time in this city, reputed for its champagne and amazing cathedral where French kings used to be crowned.
At the end of my second year, I had already changed cities twice in two years. But yet, I’m on the next change: Stockholm!
When I had the opportunity to choose an university in which I would spend a year abroad before ending my bachelor’s program, it wasn’t hard for me to make a decision.
Having already lived my whole life in an African country, and travelled a lot in Africa, I chose to stay in Europe. Then, I had to find something that would be interesting as a living experience, but also bring me useful knowledge and an interesting perspective on politics and societies that I could bring back home in the future…
The Exotic North
I decided to apply only to Universities in Northern Europe, because, believe it or not, Northern Europe is very exotic to me! The farthest I’d ever been in Europe was Germany so I was very curious to discover the Scandinavian lands. Also, Scandinavian countries are reputed for their political and social systems, praised all around the world. I therefore found it interesting to try and live there, making it a living but also academic experience.
I sent my motivation letters, CV and all necessary files to different universities. A few months later, I received an acceptance letter from… Stockholm University!
And that is how this whole adventure began.