Five things I have learned at Chalmers
The wonderful, caring, talented people whom I've met during my time at Chalmers have helped me to not feel lonely. 

What I have learned in 2021

Two years ago, I decided to study for a master’s in Biotechnology at Chalmers. This is what that decision has taught me about myself.
I've never been one to collect quotes, but one of my favourite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, once wrote: "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down". I remember I read it in my late teens, back when I was about to move out of my parents' house, and I was feeling nervous about the journey ahead, so it just remained in my mind. 

Now, I'm in the second half of my twenties, and it seems like I've jumped off more cliffs than I can count, and, though I'm now a bit older, I don't think I'll be done anytime soon. So, in the spirit of welcoming a new year, I will share some of the things I've learned so far in my almost year and a half of living in Sweden and studying at Chalmers as a student from Mexico:

I can do more things than I thought I could…
This year has been an extremely busy one: apart from working on my thesis (read more about that here!​), I've been balancing being a digital ambassador, a part-time job, and Swedish classes. The better part of the year has consisted of doing lab work or reading papers during weekdays and then, starting Friday, spending my weekend working at my job as a waitress. When I'm not in Swedish class, I write blogs or host our Instagram channel We are Chalmers. Younger me would think you'd have to split into two to do everything I manage to fit into a week, but now I'm starting to think that I'm a pro at it!

… but I have limits, and it’s okay…
I am, after all, human, and I don't have endless energy resources, and my priority as a student will always be my thesis work. So, if I want to remain level-headed and do a good job, it's only smart to learn how to distribute my energy and say no to activities that might throw me off balance. Like a lot of you, I've always been a very active person, so this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. Be it an extra shift at the restaurant when I have a social event planned or an invitation to hang out when I'd rather sleep in, I've learned that it's important to ask myself twice before committing to a plan that might affect my energy detrimentally.

… still, off-time is every bit as important as work
I feel like I'm coming off as a workaholic in this blog, and though it just might be slightly true, it's essential to be aware that, as master's students, we are not our work, and we are not the grades we get in our courses. We are people, complete with interests, hobbies, and a need to share our time with people who enrich this experience we call life. Although I already knew it, I have learned that off-time isn't only valid so that you can rest up and keep working the next day; it's another very fulfilling way to keep growing as a person Like a quote from the movie The Shining ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"). Most importantly, joining groups or clubs will bring you close to people who have similar ideas to yours, which brings me to my next point.

You will find a family anywhere you are
One of the hardest parts of studying far away from home is leaving your family behind. I am from Mexico, so it's complicated for me to fly home as it's so far away, and the current world situation (I'm sure we're all tired of the word that starts with a "p" and ends on "andemic", so I'll leave it off), has not made that easier. It's easy to feel lonely living in a new place where you don't know anyone, but it doesn't mean you should be lonely. Nobody will replace my family back home, but the wonderful, caring, talented people whom I've met in my time here have helped me not feel lonely. A place like Chalmers is filled with like-minded people who have also left their home countries and whose ambitions are similar to yours, and that is way stronger than any language or cultural differences you might have with other people. Coming out of your comfort zone is scary at first, but it can become the most remarkable thing you've ever done.

Although I've lived by myself for all of my twenties, this is the longest I've been so far away from home. I left a well-paying job, a great apartment in a place where I could easily visit my family and the culture I was born within to come to a place that's utterly different from the situation I was living in. Still, I'm amazed at how much I've grown in just a year and a half, and I'm excited for the future opportunities that being here has opened up for me. If I had the chance to do it all over again (the anxiety, the sadness, the happiness, the laughter, the fun, and all the work), I wouldn't change anything.


Author: Abril​

Page manager Published: Mon 27 Dec 2021.