Svea Freiberg, a Business Administration student at IE University, is a young woman with an irrepressible instinct for learning, getting to know other cultures and for helping others in solidarity work.
Svea Freiberg observes the beauty of the Segovian horizon for the first time through the bus window. Behind lies the AVE train station. It’s a bright, sunny day; this is the exciting and anticipated discovery of a city. The Castilian landscape gives way to the first houses of the city, and in a few minutes the city bus makes its way through the cobbled streets of the city center. Having just gone down the avenue of Padre Claret leading to Plaza de la Artillería, the young German now takes in the aqueduct of Segovia, the Roman construction with more than two thousand years of history. She will never forget how that colossal image grew larger through the bus window as it drew closer. That image – a bright, sunny Segovia – lives on in her memory.
“I miss Segovia,” she confesses to me on the phone as she travels on Madrid’s metro system. It’s still early as she makes her way to the company where she’s currently doing an internship. “Spotahome” is a Spanish startup in the home rental sector, a disruptive enterprise that is revolutionizing the real estate industry. There, Svea brings her knowledge of German language and culture; valuable for a young, determined company with an international trajectory, designed by other young talents like her who, among others, includes an IE alumni.
The 23-year-old German graduated a couple of months ago in Business Administration from IE University. Her story is that of a young woman with an unstoppable instinct to learn, to get to know other cultures, to help others through volunteer work, and to grow as a person. On her way to work on the metro, Svea tells me her story.
Image of Svea Freiberg taking a stroll around Madrid’s Crystal Palace. Svea will graduate in Business Administration from IE University in July. By: Roberto Arribas
A preference for Spain
Svea Freiberg is originally from Hannover, capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony. She was always a good student with a natural ability for other languages; she recalls that many of the classes at her German school were in English, French, and Spanish. During our phone conversation, I notice her mastery of the Spanish language, using colloquial expressions and a rich vocabulary. Her preference for Spain and its culture comes from her history and language classes with a Spanish teacher in her native Germany which contributed to her dream of one day coming to Spain. She tells me she did so well in her Spanish classes that she received a scholarship from the Spanish embassy in Berlin and a diploma recognizing her excellent academic grades.
After graduating from high school, her desire to see the world was unstoppable. She needed to explore in order to see something different from what she had already experienced. She went to work with a friend on two farms in France, where she was also able to practice another language and experience a different culture. On one farm, they grew and sold vegetables; on the other, she helped to take care of a goat farm that produced and sold cheese. Following her time in France, Svea returned to Germany to work in an audiovisual company that produced television shows. She felt she needed to explore, see the world of work, and get experience before starting university.
Her first visit to Segovia took place during that period of her life. Thanks to a family friend’s recommendation, Svea was encouraged to find out more about IE University. “On an IE Open Day, I got to know the university and its educative philosophy, which is so international and open to diversity. It was clear from the beginning,” Svea says, highlighting that she greatly appreciated the fact that the university was in Segovia, “a beautiful and peaceful city steeped in history with so many places to make the most of my free time.”
Before starting university, Svea spent six months working at a rehabilitation clinic in Germany, “where I supported and took care of sick people in need of care, keeping them company so they didn’t feel alone,” she goes on telling me while the noise of the metro is heard in the background.
Full of excitement, Svea started her Business Administration degree at the IE University campus in Segovia. Looking back, Svea recognizes it was the right decision, highlighting the school’s international atmosphere, its focus on real-world markets, and the various projects she completed during her years of study.
Svea also tells me about the places where she was able to gain work experience during her studies: the United Nations University (UNU-CRIS) located in the Belgian city of Bruges, a research and training center specializing in the study of regional integration; a management consulting firm in Hannover, “Where I got to know the world of consultancy, learning the importance of creating good projects and creating value for the client,”; and at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), one of the best universities in China. That’s how Svea fulfilled her dream of seeing Asia. “It was a very strong personal wish that I wanted to satisfy because Asia had always seemed to be a place as far away as it is fascinating.” She returned to Europe having been influenced a great deal by what she had experienced due to the strong contrast between Europe and China.
I ask Svea if her interests in life go beyond her studies and I discover that Svea possesses a giving side that she says she’s always had. Last summer, she volunteered with the Red Cross because she “knew that it was going to be her last chance to give a lot of my free time to a social cause, so I decided to visit elderly people in their residential homes to chat, go for walks with them, and keep them company.”
The young German confesses to me that her interests now lie in the world of computer science and technology, an inclination that may be as a result of her semester in Hong Kong. Her final thesis for her degree, for example, examined how project management practices can support startups.
My phone conversation with Svea lasts around twenty minutes. It’s still the early hours of the morning. During our conversation on her way to work, the German student makes me realize that her years at IE University have been very important for her personal and professional development. She also points out to me that her time in Spain has been a life-changing experience. Lastly, she tells me that she will always go back to Segovia and to one of her favorite places: the walk that leads to the foot of the Alcázar (castle). “It’s a quiet city but at the same time it’s full of life. The people of Segovia have preserved it to remind us and everyone else of the history of our civilization.”
Svea will graduate next month in Segovia. For the young German, it will be the start of a new chapter with exciting challenges, with projects that could take her to any corner of the world. What is certain is that she will always keep that first impression of a bright, sunny Segovia in her heart.