For my last post, I complained about my struggle in finding a master’s project in the UK. Months of writing and waiting proved useless as the usual replies came through – ‘no space sorry’ or ‘yeah sure but you have to pay us a bench fee’. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I want to work for free and you want me to pay you. oh ok…
I mean, I really did appreciate the professors who took their time to reply to me, some genuinely didn’t have the space or time to give me and that was ok, but there were those who would leave me hanging. ‘I’ll check to see if there’s someone who can supervise you and I’ll get back to you by the end of the week’ was the usual response… I’m patient, but when 4 weeks pass with no reply, well yeah, it’s time to change track. The worst ones were those who didn’t even reply. Even just an email with two letters ‘no’ would have sufficed. They must have forgotten that they were a student once too!
Hope was lost it seemed but nonetheless I had to keep trying. I pulled on my big girl pants, downed two cups of tea (milk, 2 sugars) and got back on the metaphorical horse that was the interwebs.
I toyed with the not-so financially sensible option of living elsewhere in Europe. I opened up google maps a couple of times just to get a good look at our lovely continent we call Europe. Ok, I already know where I want to be, I thought, but will they speak English in the labs and more importantly can I afford another year without working? All I knew is that funding could be available if I was willing to try a new country other than my own.
A research group caught my eye on the first site I looked at. Their work seemed pretty fascinating; in fact, it was ideal – perfect topic in an incredibly perfect location. I sent an email not thinking too much of it but surprisingly I had a reply within hours. ‘Interview on Monday…?’ – Wow perfect!
So I nervously prepared as much as I could by reading papers previously published on the topic. Practicing potential questions in my head like any other sane human who talks to themselves would do, I really didn’t want to mess it up.
The interview went pretty quickly, it was rather casual in fact. He wanted to know about my education, my aims for the project and then proceeded to tell me that as long as I can work hard for him, I can enjoy the ‘party’ lifestyle that the city has to offer – fair deal really. Then there it was… an offer. Wow. It took a little while to sink, in fact I was over the bloody moon to be honest. Months of worrying now turned to excitement.
I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, thanks to the flexibility of my course, I can perform a project wherever I choose and have it accredited by Uppsala (within reason). If all goes well, this means I can spend the entirety of my master’s degree in two different countries. I’ve really had such an experience here in Sweden. Uppsala is beautiful, there’s no denying it, the place is bursting with culture, an immense international atmosphere and the university has world class education. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it all, through the hard times and the good, and I’ll look back with no regrets knowing that I’ve become a little braver. Although I’m leaving Sweden, I go because I’m ready to try something new, why not? An incredible opportunity has arisen and I sure as hell want to give it a go. That’s not to say that I’ll forget what Sweden has done for me. Coming here has opened so many doors, many more than what I’d get at home. For once I am proud of the institution in which I study at, the education is almost faultless and the staff are kind and incredibly helpful. I have become much more independent than I first thought I was and I’ve learned how to deal with any bumps along the way. I’ve met some incredible people from all over the world and my eyes have truly been opened. I guess I can blame Uppsala for making me desperate to see the rest of the world – I don’t sit still anymore.
Oh and the city I am hopefully going to be living in for 12 months come this September is Lisbon… after experiencing a Swedish winter, warm sunshine for the most part of the year is very, very welcome.