Choosing a Master’s degree: Lab coat or a Pen?


Written by Annamaria

28 Mar 2024

Since I was a child, I’ve always felt like I had two minds – one drawn more towards an artistic direction of creative storytelling, and the other curious about the analytical world of science. Although I mostly dreamed about becoming a screenwriter, novelist, or journalist, my growing curiosity about diseases and the human body led me down a different path. Are you also unsure what degree to choose? Or just curious about what options there are? Well then, I advise you to learn from my experience.

Why I chose biomedicine?

It all began when I was visiting my grandmother in Switzerland. She was working at the time as an activity coordinator for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, so I volunteered to help out. It was mind-blowing for me to see how some kind of disease can gradually take complete control over a person’s brain. There were some people who could still communicate and then those that seemed to forget they had a spoon in their mouth. Why does a disease control us and not the other way around?
I became really curious about how the brain works and the potential for groundbreaking discoveries in the field of neuroscience. So when I was choosing my bachelor’s degree, I thought of biomedicine. I’ll be doing research and I’ll save the world, right? 🌍

A woman sitting on a chair outdoors at a university campus.
Photo: Patrik Moravcik

How did I end up in Sweden?

Well, once I knew I want to pursue a degree in biomedicine, I thought about the best countries for scientific innovations. Sweden is definitely one of those; famous for innovations in the field of technology, healthcare, and sustainability. You know, think of Spotify, for example.🎵
Although Sweden is a small country, they invest a significant portion of their budget to support research and innovation initiatives. They support small start-ups, and have incubators, and different grants for new businesses. It’s an environment designed to stimulate new findings. And if that’s not enough, they have some of the most prestigious universities and research institutions. In my field, it’s mostly Lund University, Uppsala University, and Karolinska Institute, but there also many more. (Oh and education is free for EU students!) Learn more about why and where to study biomedicine in Sweden.

Studying in Skövde

Of course, I applied to the prestigious universities but they are super competitive, so I didn’t get in. I got into biomedicine at the University of Skövde. Do I regret accepting my offer? Definitely not.
Through this experience I learned that the prestige of the university is not too important in Sweden. Universities often collaborate to make sure their syllabi are on the same level. The newer universities often have lower ranking but that is not representative of their standard. For example, University of Skövde is a small and no more than 50 years old institution but it has a very beautiful colourful and cosy campus, well equipped laboratories, and its own incubator for businesses focused especially on Game Development. (It’s one of the best places to study Game Development in Sweden!)

Lab equipment.
Photo: Annamaria

My degree project and part-time jobs

As many other students, I was looking for a part-time job to earn some money and experience during my studies. I emailed to many pharmaceutical companies in the West Sweden and sent them my CV where I highlighted the lab experience I gained during my studies and my interest in writing. I said I am looking for any internship opportunity where I can apply these skills.
Most of the companies didn’t reply, some just said they are not looking for interns, but one company replied. One is enough.
They were looking for someone who can write articles for their website using scientific studies. And that’s how I ended up writing for science.
Through this company, I also got my bachelor’s degree project at the University of Gothenburg. Networking in Sweden is really important.

A smiling woman holding glass cylinders at a lab.
Photo: Annamaria

Choosing my Master’s degree

So what’s next? I love my work in science communication but do I want to give up on science? In an effort to reconcile these conflicting passions, I made a lot of pros and cons lists. After weeks and weeks of pondering over this topic, I made the brave decision to pursue a Master’s degree in Communication at the University of Gothenburg that is open to all backgrounds.
I still kept a couple backup options like Molecular Biology in Gothenburg and Infection Biology in Skövde.
But those will wait because now I am starting a new chapter of my journey, an intersection of science and art.

What to take away from this

  • if you don’t know what degree to choose because you have many interests or you can’t imagine what you want to do in the future, just go for what is available and you are interested in now
  • know that life is not that short and there will probably be opportunity to change your mind or follow another passion

Let me know in the comments, what degrees you ended up choosing? Were you indecisive too?


Written by Annamaria

28 Mar 2024