Tell us a little about your background, what did you dream of when you were young?
– I grew up just outside of Gothenburg, but both my parents are from China. Every summer I spent in Shanghai. I remember dreaming of becoming a diplomat. I was maybe 14 and I didn’t really know what a diplomat was, but the interest in international relations was there from early on. Probably, because I traveled a lot when I was young and had this dual belonging to Sweden and China.
What did you study at the University of Gothenburg?
– I started the European Studies Programme, mainly because of the opportunities for exchange studies and internships. I probably pictured myself working at the European Commission in the future. I liked the programme! I got to meet a greater mix of people with different experiences and backgrounds. More than I was used to from previous school years in Sweden. I started straight after high school, something that I sometimes regret, but also not. I got to travel and experience things anyway.
Tell us about your exchange experiences.
– I did an exchange at Sciences Po Lille in northern France for a year. It was quite hardcore, 60-70 percent of our courses were entirely in French, but I just went with it. I also did an internship at the Consulate General in Shanghai. I had worked at the export council and spoke Chinese, which was obviously a good match for them.
Language is so important if you want to work internationally! That was one of the reasons why I got my first job after my studies.
You had an early interest for globalization and development. How come?
– The fact that I was part of the European Youth Parliament in high school was probably a contributing factor. But for as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in social issues. During the 90s and early 00s there was an extreme economic growth in China and especially in Shanghai. Every summer when I got there, there was a new skyscraper, more shops and more people. I found it fascinating, but I could also see the downsides. My Swedish background made me look at it in terms of gender equality and the welfare system.
Any special memories from your studies at the University of Gothenburg?
– My thesis was about exports between China and the EU. Claes Alvstam, professor of International Economic Geography (ed. note), was my thesis supervisor. He was very encouraging, and it really felt like he really wanted things to go well. He came to Shanghai when I was there to give a lecture at Fudan University, and he invited me.