Ludwig Ahlqvist, graduate in BA International Development and Italian.

Ludwig Ahlqvist

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an international student from Gothenburg, Sweden, doing my whole degree here at the University of Leeds. I am currently in my fourth year of an undergraduate joint honours degree in International Development and Italian.

After completing high school in Sweden, I volunteered a year at SOS Children’s Village in Mantova, Italy, as a part of the European Exchange Programme, Youth in Action. It was during this year I developed an interest in Italian culture, which contributed to my decision to come to Leeds and study a joint honours.

As a person I am very social and inquisitive, especially when it comes to food recipes and cultural traditions. My main hobbies are travelling, football and cooking. A favorite recipe is definitely spaghetti carbonara; it is fast, easy, cheap and tasty - perfect for a student!

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

The opportunity to do a joint honours degree with International Development and Italian was for me the perfect match. I knew that I wanted to study in a vibrant university city, which wasn’t too small, so after some research online, I found Leeds to be the perfect city attaining this criteria.  

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I think that International Development is very exciting, since you get to follow contemporary affairs on a global perspective. To combine this with my other interests about Italian language, culture and politics, makes every day of this degree inspiring.

What makes me passionate about my area of study is that the knowledge I attain is immediately related to my life and the contemporary situation. Whether it is a new phrase in Italian or knowledge about a current development project or atrocity. 

What do you think of your course so far?

Doing a joint honours gives you deep insight in two different degrees. With the knowledge you have attained, you can combine these two disciplines into a single cohesive degree. Later, you’ll realise just how much knowledge you have and how exciting studying is. 

What do you think of the facilities?

The facilities at the University of Leeds are great; there are always some ongoing projects to improve the campus and study experience for students. 

Tell us about your study abroad year.

I went to the University of Turin, Italy. To live in a different country for a whole year gave me a proper feeling of how life is in Italy which was great. However, the highlight of the year must be all the friends I made during the year.

How did you apply this to your studies?

During my year abroad I decided to study economics. This has been very helpful for my studies in International Development. The global economy is the prevalent source of power in the world and every political decision circulates around it. With a deeper insight in economy, I have been able to also deepen my knowledge about International Development. 

Doing a year aboard is an amazing experience that I recommend everyone to do. It is just not great fun but you will also make connections that you can use later in your professional career.

Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities?

There are so many activities to do outside of university, ranging from any society you can think of to a wide range of volunteering opportunities. I am a Student Ambassador for the Italian department during open days. This is a very fun job which allows me to speak to future university students and learn about their plans for studying Italian at Leeds. 

I am also a member of the Hiking and Mountaineering Society. When studying hard during weekdays it is very relaxing to go up to the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales for a weekend hike and just escape university and city life.

I have also been involved with two non-governmental organisations in Leeds, Zimbabwe Educational Trust and Leeds Refugee Forum. The Forum started as a youth group for those aged 14-20, to support young people in society. They meet once a week to hang out, study and practice English, etc. They also do sports and cultural activities, such as visiting the Yorkshire Playhouse and Opera North.

Tell us about your summer work placement.

This degree has been great for my professional career; during the summer between first and second year I was successful in my application to do an internship at Free the Slaves HQ in Washington D.C. The internship gave me insight of how it is to work at an international non-governmental organisation that has projects all over the world.

I recommend every new student to apply to these kind of work experiences since it is possible to get them if you work hard with your studies and application. There is also great help to get from the University and tutors if you find a project that interests you.  

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a great city if you are a student since the city is full of us! I personally like to go and listen to live music and there is always a good gig at some of the different venues. 

What do you like to do outside of studying?

Outside of studying I like to meet friends, cook food and just relax. When I have time I also try to do some traveling around the UK to see different places. 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Do it if you’d like to study an exciting degree, combining contemporary affairs and a language. For me this degree has been fantastic and I would recommend it to everyone.

What are your plans for the future?

Just before coming to Leeds I founded a non-governmental organisation called YOLO - Youth Organisation for Learning Opportunities - which, is an initiative towards cultural diversity and openness in Europe.

One of the activities organised by the NGO is multinational youth exchange within Europe. I plan to develop this activity further in hope of increasing the understanding and cooperation between people and fight the growth of extremism in Sweden and Europe.