What made you follow this path?
The desire to live. Desire to travel, to try different things, I thought that going with the path of bachelor, master, PhD was missing my youth or at least not making the most of it. This is the best time of our lives so I wanted to make the most of it.
How did you develop this point of view?
I am sure it had to do with how I grew, but I can’t really pinpoint any specific moment that took me in this direction. But maybe it has to do with the fact that as I grew up I lived in many different places. I was born in Cuba, then I went to Colombia, 1 year in The Dominican Republic, then in Aruba and in my last year of high school we moved to Barcelona.
How was it to live in so many different places?
At the time you don’t really notice, especially when you are so young, the one I noticed the most was when we went from Aruba to Barcelona because I was old enough to understand it and well, it as hard as any migration, there is the difference in cultures, also the age because I was a teenager but yeah.
But it was good because it helps in opening your mind, you learn that can get along with different kinds of people and that its easy. It also opens your mind to other possibilities, because many people I have spoken with have the same outlook of bachelor, master, job, find a partner get a house and that’s it, so maybe travelling showed me that there are other options.
It also teaches you how be more autonomous how to be able to cut ties and continue. This could be good or bad depending on the situation because you have a harder time creating deeper connection with people.
How did you chose the bachelor?
I wanted to do psychology, but when I saw that I could choose any bachelor I wanted, I decided to go with the one that gave me the most options. I chose biotechnology because it had the most paths after finishing it. And this is also the reason why I chose bioinformatics for my master’s, as it gave me the widest range of options.
It was a good choice because now I know that the one I like the most is research, it is the most interesting one although I still haven’t decided for sure.
I will finish taking my decision after the master.
What has the bachelor, or university in general taught you?
During the bachelor I didn’t have too much of a university life, I didn’t really go much to class or relate as much with classmates apart from my friends, so while I have learned a lot these years I wouldn’t say it was because of university.
Maybe I learned more from my jobs, where I learned about work ethics and hard work. Since my second year of bachelor I started giving private lessons at an academy. This was also the reason that I was able to travel as much during my Erasmus.
How was the Erasmus experience?
I went to Thessaloniki Greece. I chose it because I enjoy the Mediterranean culture and as I was considering options I wanted to go for one that was different and as I met a girl who was in Barcelona for Erasmus.
I went for a Erasmus studies. The experience was great and it was special for me because there I had the chance to dance. I discovered that I love dancing, that it fills me that it has a social aspect that it helps you relax.
This trip taught me what I enjoy once again, the openness that people have. To be able to speak with anyone you want, the warmth of the people. This trip gave me the chance to rediscover it and at the same time it was one of the hardest experiences because I ended up really ill.
Being about to die in a country where you don’t have anybody to rely on helps put things in perspective. It lets you feel grateful for what you have, it gave me the chance to pursue and understand spirituality and get closer to God.
Did you already believe before?
I wasn’t exactly agnostic but I didn’t believe in anything. Before I did have a few experience close to ”God” but I didn’t give them weight. But when I was ill, the first night I was at the hospital, the only thing that I felt like doing was to pray and cry.
How was the feeling?
How is it to feel love? I don’t know how to explain it, it’s a feeling.
I had viral myocarditis, an infection in the heart. As I was walking home I had a cardiac insufficiency and I had to go straight to the hospital.
If I think about it, if that Saturday I had decided to go running, because I usually do it, I could have died. Between the time that people look at you and the time they take to call for an ambulance I really could have died.
What has this experience taught you?
You get more perspective, you start noticing what is really important.
I had a few months were I couldn’t leave my house because I was recovering, and it was around the start of October that the doctor told me that I was fine and you can’t imagine how happy it made just to be able to walk on my own.
It was such happiness, to be able to dance once again. One night while walking home I was stressed out because of a relationship with a girl I liked, and as I walked I remembered what happened and I was happy.
I was happy because my worries were those. I didn’t have to worry about dying.
It really gives you perspective.
Do you do something to try to keep in mind that perspective?
I do try to, but as time passes you start losing it, you start forgetting about how important it was. It can’t be helped and you do fall on your previous patterns but from time to time that voice comes back and you think:
Why am I so worried about something so trivial?
I remember how it was when I was ill, and I change what I think once again.
How was the second Erasmus experience?
As I was recovering I managed to get better before what was expected, 2 months before and as I was about to get stuck without doing anything for half a year because of what we had planned, I decided to go for another Erasmus, this time to Turin. Well, actually I would have done it either way since we get 12 months of Erasmus and I only used 4 on Greece.
Erasmus for work isn’t the same as the one for studies and I didn’t enjoy Turin as much. I liked the people but I didn’t enjoy it as much, the lifestyle had no night life, there was no culture of going for drinks.
Here you go and you have to work every day at the lab, but during Erasmus studied you don’t have to do as much, the teachers even told me that I didn’t have to go to classes because they were in Greek and they would send me material for me to work on.
And whenever I went to speak with them about doubts I have, they started asking me about how life was in Cuba or how was life at Barcelona, they invited me to coffee, but of course the Erasmus depends on where you go.
Which kind of Erasmus would you recommend?
Both, it depend on how you do it of course. I tried not to be with people who were on Erasmus and rather to use the chance to meet people who lived there. And that way you can do university life. With Erasmus practice you get closer to the real life of the place.
You would learn more about the lifestyle of the place
Your Erasmus will be the way you want it to be.
The second Erasmus also gave me the chance to learn Italian. It was also really good academically and it taught me a lot.
The experience in research gave me a lot. I learned many things and why I shouldn’t do them. I was really competitive, really worried constantly and in the end that only showed my insecurities in myself and my capacities, I learned how to cut down on what I expected of myself and be more realistic, I learned how to be more a droite and how to deal with people.
I learned way more about soft skills than I did about lab work itself.
What is your biggest struggle right now?
I don’t really want to start a job. I want to lengthen the master and the PhD as much as I can because I get closer to the time where I have to go with working 8h shifts, and I think, wouldn’t I be happier working as a teacher at the English academy.
What makes you hesitate?
Economic security is really important even if you don’t have much you need a cushion. I really enjoy English lectures but it’s like there is a barrier, like you can’t really go only with this, and if I go full with the English lessons, it will be too late to go with other options later, whilst it isn’t the case if I do the opposite and start with the others and later switch to English.
Advice for someone who just finished the high school?
Listen to your parents. Because at that time you think you know everything and you are really reluctant to listen to your parents, you might listen to others but not them. You should really listen to them or at least consider what they are saying.
Try to choose the choice that has the broadest option range and try to mature as fast as you can, because you have to be practical.
Were there situations where you didn’t follow your own advice?
It’s hard, because if I did what they told me I might not be who I am today. They told me to study medicine, and I could have enjoyed being a surgeon I find it a beautiful job, but if I did I might not have been who I am today, I might not have the perspective I have.
How did you start dancing?
There was an old school they occupied and this school had a bar inside and I fell in love with that place. I remember that I found it as I was searching for a house, I got in contact with someone and they told me about this place because they played there and they had really good music.
They taught different dances such as tango and swing and I was always interested in them but I hadn’t tried and this was my chance to try it.
You have to enjoy the music, you have to listen to the music find the patterns and once you find them you see that you can use music and dance to express yourself. If you like the music you will enjoy it.
Was there any book, movie or series that changed you?
I’m not too into books.
Silvio Rodriguez, there was a sentece I heard while I was working one day at the lab
Watching go round and round.
Is there any experience that you would recommend?
Living abroad. You should live there not only for a year while thinking that you are going to go back because you will be constantly thinking of going back and you wont go full into it.
Which mentality would you recommend then? To go to a place where you don’t know the culture and to try to get immersed into it. You can try one that is not too far and really try to understand how the people are different because if you go somewhere too different in a short time it will be really hard to pass from a tourist to someone of there.
I want to visit Uruguay, it is the place where tango was born. It was born around rio de la plata and they told me that uruguay is a safe country where you can go out even late at night
What is keeping you from travelling?
I don’t want to go there only for holidays, and its hard to find a way to make it useful for the curriculum, I am having a hard time finding a reason to go apart form a personal one.
I had a chance to go, they have exams for a lot of different positions and they had one for assistant of bioinformatics and I really wanted to apply for it, but I had to go there to actually do the exam.
My roommate at Turin told me something that changed me. In the end you fall in love with moments of your life. Not places not people, and not destiny but rather those moments that make them.