So, this is it. The last blogpost of this series.  Nine months ago, I wrote the first one of these – not knowing what to expect from Toulouse, from my degree, or from my cohort. To you who have followed along (thank you for that!), you know what happened. I fell in love with the city, I found really great friends, and was challenged in the best way possible by my coursework. Let me take you through my learnings.

2021 was a very diverse year for me. I started by finishing my undergraduate degree, then worked a bit, built out a van, and lived three months on the road. Then, I started my degree in Toulouse – so I had a bit of everything, university, work, outdoor life. In turn, these last nine months I’ve had very little time for anything but university, it was undoubtedly a very intense experience overall. I feel like it was worth it, though: Having finished the first year of my master's degree marks the first time I feel somewhat capable to do anything in a professional context. Obviously, I need a ton of experience, and I’m far from being an actual economist, but seeing how I can apply my knowledge to my internship, to discussions, and the real world makes me feel good about my choices. In the end, it is very satisfying to see the fruits of hard work. 

However, with intensity always comes a bit of suffering. Sometimes, you really don’t want to do that problem set or get up for an 8am class. There are two things that were essential in helping me go through this: feeling at home in my city and having good people around me. I’ve compromised on both things before – choosing a degree without regard for the city it was in and slacking on social interaction in favour of that one additional problem set. Let me tell you this: I was stupid to do so. Obviously, this is going to be different for different people, but if you’re anything like me, it makes at least half of my day to enjoy the views I see every day and to have really good friends put a smile on my face. In fact, it’s necessary – I perform better in university too if I manage that balance.

The next thing I want to mention is English. I study in an international programme, and we have around 90 nationalities in all master’s degrees. Even though it has been detrimental to the development of my French, English has been my bread and butter, and I’m beyond thankful to have worked on it so much before coming here. Language, after all, is how you connect with people, and being so comfortable in a language that you can relax, crack a joke, and express your emotions gets you places with new people. I’ve discovered a whole new extroverted, open, friendly side about myself that has been mostly facilitated by English, its rhythm and the feel it puts on my speech. Every language has its own characteristics, and English to me is simple, powerful, inviting and loving. It’s the language I feel most comfortable expressing myself in, and I try and work on my flow, on my naturality every day – and I strongly urge you to do the same. 

My dad and I playing Boule ©

Peter Kamal

Lastly, I want to say thank you to IELTS. I fundamentally believe good education should be free, and for them to enable me to study in an elite research university and pay no tuition fees is just amazing. Don’t forget you can benefit from the same funding, by applying here until June 30. I strongly recommend you apply, it’s a great experience anyway and the people you communicate with are also just very nice.

Very lastly, I want to thank you for following along. It’s been fun to write these little posts and to track my experience. I hope you’ve found something in there that resonates with you, something that maybe has made you think or smile. If you ever have any questions or just want to connect, here is my personal website with contact details (e-mail, Instagram) at the bottom. I would love to hear from you.

 June take 2022 | Peter Kamal