2 Jul 2016

Three Years On: A Lovestory

It has almost been three years since I moved to England, and with only a little over a week to go until I graduate from university, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my time in this country. I have chosen the title of this post as the story of my life since I moved to this country feels like it has been a lovestory. The story of me falling in love with a city and a country, and falling even more in love with science
I want to use this to talk about the experience as a whole, but I want to do this honestly. Moving to a different country is not all making new friends and traveling and eating new food, a lot of it is loneliness, doubts and fear. But is it all worth it? HELL YEAH!

The first year was the hardest, and looking back I see how I could have made it easier for myself, but we always know better once it's all worked out anyway. I loved my course, I loved university, I knew I had found the thing I wanted to do. But I didn't have many friends, which is something I really struggled with. Not having my family and friends around was made more difficult by the fact that I didn't have anyone I really wanted to talk to. In retrospect I should have opened up a bit more, gone to more events, joined more societies. And most importantly, asked for help. This is something I still struggle with, but I have gotten better at it. There is no shame in not understanding the healthcare system in a country you've only lived in for a few months, no one will look at you weird for asking how things work. I managed to work it out in the end though, I learned a lot for myself and how to live my life, and it was at the end of my first year that I met some of the people who are still a big part of my life.

The University of Manchester iGEM Team 2015
Determined to make second year better than the first, I moved into my own little flat to have my own space, I took part in more society activities and volunteered at the Manchester Science Festival for the first time. My health wasn't amazing for the first semester, but all of my memories of that time are still filled with spending time with friends and loving university, so I guess it can't have been that bad! Second year was also the year I made one of the best decisions of my life and joined our university iGEM team to spend six months working on our own synthetic biology project, and spend the summer in the lab. Not only did I meet some amazing people this way, some of which are still my best friends, but I also learned that working in a lab was well and truly what I loved. And working with bacteria is basically the best thing in the world for me. At the end of a summer full of work we got to go to Boston and present our project, most definitely one of the best experiences of my life and I am so glad I made the decision to take part. I honestly think my life would be very different now if I hadn't chosen to do it.

Media City after a day volunteering at Manchester Science Festival

After a summer full of science I returned to Manchester ready for my third year. After a few weeks of Boston-induced jet lag which almost lead me to forget to send off my application for Manchester Science Festival, I started researching the topic for my literature review which would lead to my lab project in second semester. The whole project gave me even more confidence that I was going down the right path, and I decided to stick with microbiology in the future. Bacteria are great after all.

I can say without a doubt that my third year at uni has been the best yet, I made some important decisions, and even more important memories. I can well and truly say that this has been the best year of my life and I wouldn't change a thing about it. This past year I well and truly fell in love with this amazing city, staying here over summer and spending the rest of the year exploring the city both on my own and with friends truly made me feel at home here.

Moving to a new country isn't an easy thing to do, but in my case it was more than worth it. I am especially happy about the things I learned about myself along the way and how much it changed me in the best way possible. My love for science and this city lead to me to volunteer at the Manchester Science Festival twice and meet some of the best people in the process. People who share my love for science and this city, some of which have since become a very important part of my life. It is due to the people I met along the way that I have fallen more in love with this country, felt welcome and was made to feel at home. I honestly cannot thank them enough for making me feel that way. I might not have started out with a large group of friends, but I now have people in this country I know I can rely on.

This country is my home now, England you're stuck with me.

22 Jun 2016

An Austrian in England

Almost three years ago I moved to this country that I now call my second home. I moved here because It had been my dream for many years and because it would help me achieve my biggest goal: to study science. In the three years I have lived here I have learned a lot of things, about this country and about the people and the culture. I know no place in the world is ideal, and I now see this country with all its weird and wonderful traits, and I still call it home.

I don't mean to write a hugely emotional post although this is an emotional matter for me. I had a whole post written out about my time at uni and how I have grown as a person, but I feel at this point I would much rather write about something a little different. I want this to be positive still, I want to show how welcome I felt and still do, and most importantly, why I even had the chance to make this dream of mine come true.

I waved goodbye to Austria almost three years ago to come to England. Two countries which are very different in many ways, Austrians drink less tea, smoke cigarettes in pubs...and most importantly, don't really have many pubs. In England it's almost impossible to get a good schnitzel, footballers are actually talented...and most importantly, people don't hate Austrians. At least not anymore.

My two home countries were once at war with each other, and less than a century later I can live here without having to hide where I come from. I can say I am Austrian and the first reaction is most likely something along the lines of: "oh yeah I went skiing there" or: "I love the sound of music!" And while those are still stereotypes, they are positive ones (at least compared to many others).

I was able to come to this country, study here, make friends and call it home because my two home countries decided not to be at war with each other and instead be united. I strongly believe that we need to look in the past to make decisions about our future. And the past of my two countries tells me two things: that our history should have taught us that having a union with each other and other countries was a good decision, and that I am grateful to this country and the many people that accept me and so many others who have moved here. 

I am an immigrant. And I am lucky to have people who have welcomed me here. I can only hope that everyone who wants a chance like this will still get it in the future. 

A more light-hearted post about my years at university is to follow, but I felt it was important to write down my thoughts. And that's all this is, my thoughts, I do not have a say in whether this country remains part of the EU or not, but I can express my feelings and hope, that whoever reads this agrees at least a little bit.