Iresha Amali Lama Hewage: “Luckily, I was accepted in Luleå”

Iresha Amali Lama Hewage, is a student from Sri Lanka currently studing at Luleå University of Technology. Since they give the surname first in Sri Lanka it`s actually Lama Hewage Iresha Amali, but she`s called Amali. Currently she lives here in Luleå and is in the second year of her Master in International Business. But she is doing way more than just attending her courses! 

How does exchange students see Luleå? In Vårt Luleå's article series, exchange students talk about their experience and what they like about Luleå.

Iresha Amali Lama Hewage

Iresha Amali Lama Hewage, is a student from Sri Lanka currently studing at Luleå University of Technology.

– I am 32 years old and besides my studies in International Business I am also an intern for a Finnish company, and I work in a restaurant in the city center. 

When she thought about her Master`s degree, Sweden was the first country, that came up to her mind! She never heard of Luleå, but it came up, when she googled the different possibilities for her master`s program. She had to check if her bachelor's degree and the transcript of courses she attended in Sri Lanka fit the Swedish requirements. She found about six different master programs and applied to several universities. Linköping was her first choice, Luleå the second.

– Luckily, I was accepted here because I really love the snow and the winter up here! I like the differences in weather due to the seasons. We don`t really have that in Sri Lanka. 

Compared to Sri Lanka, applying to the master program is very easy, because they face a huge competition in Sri Lanka, the applicants have to write tests, and the opportunities are limited. The (governmental) Bachelor`s degree, that students get in Sri Lanka is highly recognized in Sweden, so it was easy to get the university place. Applying for the visa, on the other hand, was a totally different story. 

– It was very, very hard! Since we don`t have a Swedish embassy in Sri Lanka, we need to travel to India to apply for the visa. That is quite time consuming and also expensive. Sadly, you only get the visa for 13 months, even though you were accepted for a two-year study. So, I have to reapply this July.


Iresha Amali Lama Hewage och Rebecca Klaue

If Iresha Amali Lama Hewage has to go home, she will miss the university. The teachers as well as the other students.

As mentioned before besides her studies, Amali is working as a kitchen helper in a restaurant in the city center. She was always working, while studying, so she wanted to do the same in Luleå.

– But it didn`t work out in the first place. Normally, I just print my CV, go from restaurant to restaurant, introduce myself and leave my contacts. I tried this in Luleå as well, but in Sweden you need references. I didn`t know that. One of my friends, she was already working in a restaurant, asked her boss if she can reach out to a few people who themselves called people, and so I got the job. I am very happy to have it! 

In general, the life in Luleå seems to be quiet and calm to Amali. Since she is working very much, she doesn`t really have the time to look for places in and around Luleå. But there`s one thing she can absolutely recommend - She likes the benches and seats in front of Kulturens Hus! She spends her lunch breaks there, just relaxing and enjoying the sun and the sea view.

– The public transportation is a bit complicated, especially if you want to go to the countryside on a weekend. The given routes and times are rare, so I really don`t like that. That limits me in my possibilities of spending different and nice weekends! So, it would be nice if you could improve the public transportation. 

But still, Amali would absolutely recommend coming here and she can imagine staying in Luleå after her studies.

– I can definitely imagine staying here, I am a person who likes it, when it`s calm and quiet. But my decision will depend on my job opportunities. I`m not sure if I`d be able to find something in the field of International Business.

If she has to go home, she will miss the university. The teachers as well as the other students.

– And, as I told you before, the weather! The winter with the snow was very nice, I really liked the time before Christmas! I`m also looking forward to summer, the sun and the flowers everywhere!


Text and pictures: Rebecca Klaue