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“It was my passion for music and tech that brought me to Hyper Island.”

We met with Digital Data Strategist student Ab, who originally is from Canada. He told us how his passion for music brought him first to Stockholm and finally to Hyper Island.

WELCOME TO HYPER ISLAND

Thanks for being here today! Tell me a bit about yourself.

Yeah so, I’m Abenezer and I’m 22. I’m originally from Vancouver in Canada and I did my Bachelor’s in Ottawa. Besides the facts, I’m really passionate about music, so that has been the driving force throughout my life so far.

So how did that happen?

It all started back in 5th grade when I learned to play the Clarinet and then later the Saxophone. Once I started learning to play the Saxophone I joined a classical band and after that a Jazz band. Besides training to be a Saxophonist for 6 years, I also picked up on playing the piano and the drums. Of course, I chose a musical focus in school and still while in school started touring northern America as a Performer and Producer. That was really fun! But it drove my parents insane.

Wow, that sounds amazing! But you didn’t study Music after school, right?

No, after High School I did a Bachelor’s in Commerce at one of the world’s top 99 Business Schools. I specialized in electronic business. It was during that time that I got really stoked to move to Stockholm.

Why Stockholm?

Of course because of the music! Stockholm is the 2nd biggest exporter of music and of tech - basically my two favorite things. As soon as I found out, I tried everything to be able to come here. Before graduating my Bachelor’s, I wrote a letter to the head of my department, trying to convince him to find a way for me to come to Stockholm. They offered an option for me to study some Master’s courses in either Uppsala or Lund. Obviously, I chose Uppsala, because it’s closer to Stockholm. That’s basically how I ended up here. I took one semester of courses in Uppsala.

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What got you interested in Hyper Island then?

While in Uppsala, I got involved in many Tech meetups. That’s when I met a girl that was working at Spotify. She saw that I had done a Ted x Talk on Music Innovation and she told me to compete in the Spotify Student Innovation awards. I signed-up and made it to the top 10. That’s when I noticed that a lot of the top 10 people where Hyper Island students.

I was blown away by the amount of knowledge they had about the industry. My education at that point had been very theoretical, but they knew about all these industry trends and could apply all these practical tools to solve relevant problems. I wanted to learn how to do that. I wanted to know more.

So you applied to Hyper Island right away?

I had to decide: did I want to find a job and go to work or did I want to take the time to build these very specific skill sets. I’m here today, so obviously I chose the later.

But it was a longer process for me, so I came to Hyper Island here and toured the campus, talked to students and staff before finally making up my mind. I wanted to make sure it’s exactly the right fit for me.

Why did you choose your program?

So I study Digital Data Strategist. It was actually a very easy choice, as it combines all the things I want to do. I want to work as a Data Scientist and Digital Data Strategist gives me relevant skills for that. I checked the syllabus very thoroughly before starting and it has a lot of things I care about. Once I started, I was happy that everybody was super supportive, so I could fully focus on what I wanted to learn.

What was the hardest part about moving abroad?

Pfew, so I had some big problems with Migrationsverket and my permit. I had to re-apply and they delayed it which ended up in me having to leave Sweden for a month before I was allowed to re-enter. That was tough because I was in the middle of my program and had to study remotely for a few weeks. Things like that can happen, so you’ll have to be able to deal with them.

Also, housing is a big issue in Stockholm. I had to move 3 times in 2 months before finding a place to settle.

You work besides studying. What do you do?

After getting accepted at Hyper Island I found a job at a Start-up in Stockholm. I really wanted to work so that was great for me and actually many students here work besides their studies. The Start-up I work for is a marketplace start-up that helps young people find jobs and build their CVs. I am the Analytics lead.

Is there anything you like specifically about Sweden or Stockholm?

Stockholm is an unreal city when it comes to the music and tech industry. It’s like a bubble within a bubble. It’s so small that at any time you’re basically maximum 2 people away from meeting whoever you want to meet here. That gives you insane networking opportunities. Hyper Island also has a big reputation in Stockholm so that gives you a real boost at networking. Stockholm is a great place to be.

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What was your favorite experience at Hyper Island so far?

The Network! I really can’t stress enough what great opportunities it offers and has given me. If you make the effort, you have the potential to meet people that will literally change your life.

The second incredible thing was getting to know myself on a professional level. Before Hyper Island, I was forced to be the classic textbook student. I hadn’t had an opportunity to explore what bothers me in group dynamics or what work environment I thrive in. At Hyper Island, I got to know myself on a whole other level. I now know what my needs are to do my best work and I’m not afraid to ask anymore. I’m a very conflict-averse person, but Hyper Island really helped me get comfortable with conflict. That had an immense impact on my life - both personal and professional.

Are you planning to stay here after you finish studying?

I’d love to stay in Stockholm. I love it here! However, it depends on where I’ll do my internship and of course if my permit will get extended. As it looks now, my chances of getting a great internship here are really good though. Fingers crossed!

Do you have any final Words to international students considering to study at Hyper Island?

Yes! You pay like 28 thousand USD to come here, migration will be hard, so make sure you know what you want to get out of it. And then work for it! Choose a program that solves the desires you have to work in the field you want. Devote yourself to your program. Surround yourself with motivated people. Make sure it’s worth it for you to be here.

Thanks Ab for this great interview! We wish you all the best!


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