Peter Kamal

If you walk through Toulouse one of these days, there are a few things you will notice. The trees have finished blossoming and the fresh green of the spring leaves has turned just the slightest bit duller. People are outside, and they have a chance to show off their wardrobe untainted by warm layers of clothing. Flowery dresses, linen shirts, crop tops, and sandals with feet of varying degrees of pedicure in them. Unmistakably, it’s summer - and life starts to heat up.

This is the second to last of these blogposts I’ll do, and I’ve taken you along throughout my first two trimesters studying Economics & Ecology here in Toulouse. Right now, I’m waiting for the grades, I’ve started my research internship at TSE and I’m doing my best to enjoy the early, yet powerful summer. This point in time is a great opportunity to give you an idea of what is to come after we part ways.

My internship will run until mid-August and so far, I’m enjoying it a lot. My supervising professor endorses exploring new knowledge and skills to an extent that I’ve rarely seen before. In only three weeks, I’ve learned how to perform analysis with spatial data, how to make stylish and informative maps about whaling in the 19th century, and how to impute migration data (with varying degrees of success). I’ve read about machine learning methods, female empowerment in postcolonial Cameroon, and the carbon emissions generated by the fishing industry. And this is, mind you, in an internship that is technically in Economics. If I think about it, I can say I’m very lucky, and I’m excited for the summer and all there is to learn still.

The second year of the Master will start the second week of September. From then on until December, I will exclusively have classes in ecology, and I’m beyond excited for it. I’ve never had the opportunity to study natural science at a university level, and to be able to start at this level is just very good fortune. In the second semester, economics and ecology will unite and I’ll have classes on ecosystem conservation just as much as on structural models – I’m looking forward to that a lot.

The new semester will most likely also bring a kind of university life that I haven’t experienced before – a more engaged one. My programme is quite small and I might run for student representative, which is something I’ve never done before. My friends at the university newspaper have approached me to write a sort of environmental column for them. I plan on being active in a newly founded student association about ecological change at TSE; and I might also join the university choir – I’ve really missed singing since high school. 

This all sounds like a lot – but to be honest, I’m yearning for it. The first year of the master’s degree was such an intense phase, and not much time was left for doing anything but seeing friends, cooking and sports. Now, in the internship, I have almost too much time. I read an astonishing amount of books for my standards, I do sports, I write, and I still spend too much time on my phone. Having that university structure back and loading myself up with other enjoyable and fulfilling responsibilities sounds like a dream, honestly. 

I’m currently reading Matt Haig’s “The Midnight Library”, and it has reminded me that, while regrets are a part of life, we always have an opportunity to bounce back and become happy again. This sounds cheesy, and it is – but after all, I’m in France, it’s summer, and that cheese is gonna melt away, so I’mma better eat it all up.

Excuse me for being goofy, I’m in a good mood. I really do recommend you read that book and do something that makes you regret less – summer is the season for it, so go out and get it.

 May 2022 | Peter Kamal