Studying abroad

A privileged migration story

The opportunity to study abroad is usually a privileged migration experience compared to others. Our Mexican author Pamela Cruz remembers her time at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
The author at the graduation ceremony in Bochum with fellow Latin American students in February 2022. Pamela Cruz The author at the graduation ceremony in Bochum with fellow Latin American students in February 2022.

Migration is difficult. The process of adaptation and the anxiety that comes with migration are complex and unique to each person and context. It means leaving the familiar behind and facing a new world that needs to be learnt about and embraced.

From a privileged position, people decide to migrate in search of adventure, knowledge and new experiences to broaden their horizon and view of the world. This was the case for me. Since the USA is not far from Mexico, and I had the support of my family who could afford it, I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange programme in Florida during my last year of high school. This experience expanded my perspective on the world and gave me the opportunity to improve my second language, English. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to be able to explore a different culture in a controlled and caring environment.

After this experience, one of my personal goals was to do a Master’s degree abroad. Initially, I thought of the USA and the United Kingdom as options to reduce the language restrictions. Eventually, I applied for a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to study in Germany as friends of mine were already studying there and encouraged me to give it a try. After looking at various options for scholarships, academic programmes and financial support, I sent my application to Ruhr-Universität Bochum and was given the chance to study abroad fully funded.

Studying during lockdown

With many difficulties amidst the uncertainty the Covid-19 pandemic brought, I moved to Bochum, a city in western Germany, in September 2020. During the lockdown, I built a strong support network with my flatmates and fellow Master’s students. I think it was a good idea for the university to accommodate all the students in one building: the Papageien­haus (“Parrot house”). We spent our days with distance learning via Zoom and shared meals.

When the restrictions were eased, I took the opportunity to visit friends in other cities. By getting to know and explore Germany, I fell in love with the country, its culture and people. I didn’t plan to stay from the beginning, but in the end a part of me will always hold a special place for Germany. One month before completing my Master’s degree, I got a job in Mexico. The decision to return home was not easy, but it was the right one.

Despite the challenges, I know that my experience of migrating and returning to my home country have been quite privileged. I am grateful for that. But I keep thinking that many don’t have the same luck I had. I wish more people all over the world were given the same opportunities.

Pamela Cruz is the Special Projects Coordinator at Comunalia, a network of community foundations in Mexico and Strategic Advisor at MY World Mexico.
pamela.cruzm@gmail.com

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