Last year I started my PhD in Berlin, and since then I have learned A LOT. I could write about so many things, many challenges and fears about living abroad and starting a doctorate. However, in this first post I think it would be more interesting to start introducing you to how I got here in the first place.
I do not expect to tell you all the details, not even to persuade you to come to Germany or to live abroad. But I think it might be helpful for some of you to see how many points we have to plan for, and how your dreams are important in order to get really motivated about your goals.
Okay, let’s get started. I will summarize the main points of my experience.
The Dream of Living Abroad
I would say it all began during School time. I remember searching for universities in the U.S. and feeling amazed about people who could study at Harvard or Yale. But when looking for scholarships, I was aware of not being able to go for it. Not all opportunities are financially worth, especially when including your family into it. Anyway, I applied for two federal universities (no fees) in Rio de Janeiro (yep, I’m Brazilian) and for two private ones (BIG fees). I passed for three of four that I tried and I decided for one of the privates. The best in my opinion. I got a full scholarship there, and also financial support for food and public transportation. Nonetheless, it does not mean I was a super nerd, maybe a little bite, but I was very dedicated and persistent. I was only accepted in the waiting lists, it was not in the very first try.
THE DREAM of going abroad only got stronger. I tried twice a scholarship during College (one for the U.S. and the other one for Germany), but nothing worked. Trying to be more concise, at some point I realized I did not know why the U.S. and at the same time I became more and more confident about Germany, and also what this country meant for me during my whole life. My last name is German, I come from a city in the mountains of Rio, where the main cultural influence is German. And I have German roots. But anyway, this was not the only think. I had the opportunity to visit Berlin in 2016, and after reading a lot about the city I got convinced that this was the place that I would like to start my life and career. Berlin is this place where you feel that the future of humanity is being planned, dreamed and discussed.
After 4 years of search and reflection, I had a very clear plan of the future. Maybe it was too much planning. It brought me so much stress. But it worked at the end. And then the reality makes its presence. You need money. It does not matter whether you have a scholarship or not. You need to pay for your flights, the health insurance (mandatory in Germany), your food, accommodation, and daily costs (at least for the first months). Maybe your dream does not demand money, but it for sure demands some sort of effort. Otherwise, it would be already reality, right? My main effort was saving and getting more money. I come from a poor family and I did not have much savings. I mean, I needed some extra budget, or extra jobs. I planned my Masters with that in mind. At the end, I basically had 3 jobs in order to have money to make my dream true, and in addition to marry my love :).
I think even more difficult than the time moving to Germany, it was the time organizing that. But it was fun when looking back. That’s the most important thing. Of course, not everything generates joy. But it is important to enjoy your way, since most of the time we are living a way, seeking a goal/dream.
I am biologist who mastered in Informatics, married another guy, and had 3 jobs. Imagine how intense it was. But so delightful and inspiring. I am still today inspired on how I could manage those things. So, I believe this is another point. Sometimes we forget things we dealt with in the past and we really believe we are failing miserably. But when you remember your past, you notice you already faced similar issues. I repeat this to me right now, hahah. It is difficult to get focused and to study so many things in a row. But it is just a matter of strategy and love. As I said, we have to enjoy our way. No stress, please. Be careful of being too much precise in all your plans and schedule. You are a human being. Be happy !
I think I can finish by now. Be faithful and you will get there.
Thank you for reading this post. Any feedback is welcome.