Finally a post that is at least a little related to the time of the year. I’ve been really horrible with connecting the topical events in my life with my blog, hence this is actually a mix of an update from the past year as well as an outline for the next one.
I’m currently ¾ done with my Erasmus Mundus MSc in Food Innovation and Product Design. I’ve lived and studied in Paris, Dublin, Seoul and Lund (south of Sweden), being able to significantly reduce the financial burden on my family by being awarded a scholarship waiving all tuition fees and adding a nice contribution to living expenses.
In my last semester, I’ll be left with one exam and my master thesis. I’ll be working on antimicrobial and antioxidant gels made from natural and safe ingredients to be used for food preservation in place of more controversial preservatives. I’m really excited about doing more of biochemistry and microbiology again – when I applied for FIPDes, I was pretty sure I was fed up with lab life enough to go as far as marketing to escape it. But during FIPDes, I realized that’s not right at all – not only did I perform better in subjects related to hardcore science, I actually enjoyed them more than the business-y and marketing topics. While academia and research can be highly frustrating, just as companies can work on cutting-edge discoveries, I feel like the academic world fits me more and provides more opportunities for innovation. Hence I think that I will apply for PhD positions rather than graduate jobs – unless I manage to find a company and position that would really suit me.
3) Extracurricular activities
Gerald, me and our Swedish friend/classmate formed a team and applied to Thought for Food Challenge – how to feed 9 billion people by 2050. And amazingly, we were chosen as one of the top 10 of 336 teams to proceed to the finals held in Lisbon, Portugal. Our chances of winning are hard to estimate, because the other 9 finalists are seriously impressing – but the awesome part is being able to meet some of the most innovative brains of today – the creator of the first in vitro grown burger, prof. Post, is so far the speaker I’m looking forward to meeting the most, since I’ve been interested in his work for quite some time, but the rest of the list is equally impressive! Hope I will get to taste the bug meat one of our competitors invented too. The part I’m still reluctant to believe is that the whole trip, including the plane ticket, will be covered by the organizers. It’s seriously one-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m incredibly grateful I was fortunate enough to become part of it.
In a couple of days, I’ll be leaving for Seoul again – I’m of course excited to be reunited with my amazing lab family in Korea and to spend 5 months in a country that I truly love. Having more time this year, I plan to travel around as much as I can during weekends and my week off. If things go well, my mum will visit me for a week, which would be great. During this time, we’ll be separated with Gerald, who is going to Italy for his thesis work. Because of this, we decided to start a couple blog to help us get through the LDR phase and to perhaps show the ups (and occasional downs) of a cross-cultural relationship.
After we defend our thesis in June, we will hopefully already know where to settle after – though at the moment it’s still a big mess, considering the endless supply of job offers and PhD positions available worldwide, but with varying degrees of success during applications.
5) Fashion and Cosmetics
I’ve been becoming increasingly concerned with fair trade and environmental issues. Which is why I’ve decided to further change my spending habits.
For one, I’ve decided to limit as much as possible buying clothes and accessories from fast fashion chains that have been repeatedly shown to have poor control of their supply chains and low interest in the living conditions of their employees in manufacturing. I plan to instead buy from young designers, fair trade and eco-friendly brands, brands manufacturing in countries with strict labor regulations, and second-hand.
For cosmetics, I plan to try to buy as much as possible from brands applying environmentally conscious principles in their production and design.
What will you guys be doing next year? :)