“Finding out what you are good at and doing it to the best of your ability is the key to self-respect.”
J K Rowling
Hello, Manchester and hello one last time readers from all around the world who have been following my posts. As you may know, this is the last one. Therefore, I’d like to thank you for following me until the end. This post is different. It should be. Although I don’t have many recent stories to share that involve the academic programme, since over the past two months, all that we have been doing (mostly) is working on our dissertation, I’d like to make a recap of the highlights of my experience in Manchester as we head towards the closure of this cycle.
Cycle. A word heard very often; so constantly used to establish the beginning and the end of a course, of a career, of a life. Wise people suggest that it is appropriate to end a cycle before opening another one. One does not reach the goal without having travelled a path. By definition, a cycle is the repetition of a periodic phenomenon; but to reach the beginning of a new one, of course you have to reach the end of the previous one. Our lives are nothing more than a series of successive cycles. Life itself is one, just like a Russian matryoshka doll that keeps on displaying a succession of surprises, of cycles waiting to be opened… And while many dream of closing cycles, they do not realize that all they do is opening a new illusion, a new stage and a new adventure. I think that the life of a traveller is a continuous cycle of comings and goings, of promises and dreams. Furthermore, studying abroad is like possessing a master key to self-evaluation and to self-criticism. For studying in a different country is certainly one of the most enriching processes of introspection, of growth and maturity.
During the past year that I spent studying the MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (IME) at The University of Manchester’s Alliance Manchester Business School, I had the privilege to meet wonderful, interesting, super-talented people from all over the world. That, I would say, was the biggest highlight of the MSc programme; something that I will take with me throughout my life. The friendships that we built, the bonds that we made and the times that we spent —in classrooms, restaurants, bars, clubs, travelling, working, becoming a family— will always stay in our minds. It is always hard to say ‘goodbye’, but I believe that the prospect of meeting them in the future is a stronger positive feeling. To my fellow IME students, all I can say, with honesty, is THANK YOU. Thanks for the time spent together, for the lessons learned, but mostly, for becoming my family over the past year.
Our class was also rich in diversity, one of the main assets of the IME group. Throughout the year we had a Chinese party, followed by an Indian, a Latino, a German, and so many others. Moreover, we also celebrated the Chinese New Year and the Indian Diwali… The constant buzz of the common gatherings in pubs after deadline submissions or football games. Birthday parties, restaurant rendez-vous, movie premieres, concerts and stadium visits. The IME class never missed a chance. Plus there is always something going on in rainy Manchester, regardless of your tastes.
Another highlight was the trips. Travelling with my friends was an amazing experience. I had the chance to go around England, Wales and Scotland. I also travelled the Balkans, Spain, Portugal and Germany and had a great time. Studying in Europe allows you an exposure to a vast amount of diverse countries and people from different nationalities and backgrounds. The mindset that you develop over such a short period of time becomes more focused, grounded, tolerant and inclusive. It becomes more cosmopolitan, more cultural-aware and that is one of the main reasons for which anyone should pursue an academic programme abroad.
Saying ‘goodbye’ to all those memorable moments in the classrooms sharing ideas for our projects, staying late-night in the Learning Commons trying to finish our essays and making Dover Street Building our headquarters for dissertation is tough. Saying ‘goodbye’ to all of my friends is hard. I will not lie. It was not easy to say ‘goodbye’ to my family when I was leaving my country in the pursuit of this goal. In the same way, it is not easy to say ‘goodbye’ to this family I’ve met. I remember I began this blog with a phrase I read in a book by Paulo Coelho. It said that life is like a train, and that every moment or memory is a station. No matter how many stations we go through, the train runs its course, and the only thing we are left with is the memory of each experience. Sometimes we decide to avoid or to ignore some stations, while other times we descend, trying to find a purpose. Sometimes we change course, we turn to different horizons or we simply stop at a station for so long that it seems we have lost direction. However, in this train of memories, every station is a unique and unrepeatable memory, represented by people, places, moments, situations and ideas. In this sense, we all have the commitment to make the best out of every station, because the interesting thing about this journey is not the destination but the journey itself. This was just a station, one that I will take with me wherever I go. And although we may take different paths, I am glad to say that I made the most out of my time in Manchester.