So, here we are. A new year. It’s a milestone. Not only is it a new year, it’s also a new semester. Here at TSE, we technically have trimesters (the third one being reserved for an internship) – but nobody calls them trimesters. And the first one is already done! It feels like this blog, this whole experience just started a couple weeks ago – and at the same time it’s such a rich and dense time that it feels like a full year.
If I look back on that first semester, there are a couple things that stand out:
Firstly, this was definitely the most intense study period of my life so far – and I think the same holds true for all my peers here. There were so many courses and projects, culminating in a 5-day, 5-exam week. This amount of work to be completed just in three months pushed us all to a place where we got to know our potential, but also our limits. Mental health in the cohort is something we are all aware of, and it was good to see that in my immediate surroundings everyone actually takes a break when they need to.
Secondly, with that intensity, there was a shift in how I spent my free time around university. Before Toulouse, I lived alone, there was no such thing as a close cohort, and it was mostly lockdown. I spent a lot of time with myself, writing, reading, exercising, meditating, and so on. Here, most of the days were as social as never before, and sometimes I wouldn’t do anything but study, socialise, eat and sleep in a day. After the social deprivation I experienced during the first year of Covid, that was direly needed - but definitely an overcompensation. My goal for this new semester is to strike the right balance between meeting those lovely people and caring for myself.
Overall though, I’m really happy how the semester went. I met some of my favourite people of all time here, I’m content with the semester’s outcome, and I got reinforced in my drive to pursue Ecological Economics as a career. All is well.
Over the Christmas break, I went to visit my parents in Germany. I saw old friends and extended family. It wasn’t really a vacation (and I would have needed one), but that was to be expected around Christmas. Still, it was lovely. I saw some snow, went hiking in my childhood mountains, and hugged some people I haven’t hugged in a long time.
This new year is a fresh one. I want to really focus my efforts on learning French well. I want to see more of Toulouse’s surroundings, see the Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast. This semester’s courses are also very interesting – they are right up my alley with basically just public and environmental economics and a whole lot of econometrical methods. I’m excited to start again – and with the lessons learned from the first semester, I’m sure it will be even more joyful and balanced this time around.
In the words of my all-time favourite cartoon Calvin and Hobbes: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy. Let’s go exploring.”
January 2022 | Peter Kamal