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Published: 2023-10-17 Updated: 2023-10-18, 20:20

"It's been a pretty cool journey of learning and self-discovery!"

PROFILE Studying a master's degree in another country can be a daunting task, but Silvia Estela Morales Gutiérrez from Guatemala was intrigued by the interdisciplinary aspects of the cognitive science programme at Umeå University. She appreciates high-quality teaching and cultural exchange among students, and plans to pursue PhD studies after graduating.

Text: David Meyers

Name: Silvia Estela Morales Gutiérrez
Home city and country: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Degree programme: Master’s Programme in Cognitive Science
Favourite quote: “What is the greatest ideal of myself that I can be today?”
Favourite Swedish word or custom? “Jaha!”

What made you interested in applying for the programme?

Considering how incredibly complex the human brain and the human experience is, I was really into the idea of this programme's interdisciplinary approach. I mean, we're not just feelings and how we were raised, right? We are a jumble of everything around us. This programme seems all about digging into “the messy reality” of what makes us tick. It is a lot of food for thought, and I'm all for that!

What would you like to have known before you came to Umeå?

How useful Facebook can be. I would have done more research on the different activities around town to meet more people, the language exchange café, for example! I would recommend everyone to look for Facebook groups in Umeå. You’ll be surprised by the number of activities you can do. There’s always something going on! You just need to find it.

What do you think about the programme and the teachers/teaching?

Here I’ve had two of the best teachers I’ve had in seven years of university studies, great teaching attitude and great feedback. The study environment in Sweden is more laid-back. I was initially freaked out about not getting things right and failing, but I quickly realized that it's all good here. If you don’t understand something during the lecture it’s perfectly fine, you’ll have space to discuss with classmates and professors without any worries in the seminar. It's been a pretty cool journey of learning and self-discovery! 

What do you like to do in Umeå during your free time?

I really enjoy going to the gym and taking walks, especially by the river. Blueberry picking and bonfires with friends are also a favourite. Oh! And of course, having fika with friends is a must.

What are the biggest differences between studying in Sweden and your home country?

The development of careers and professionals in Sweden is much greater than in Guatemala because there is a lot of research and many more options for master's programs, which is what drives the fields to progress. Also, here we have a lot more cultural exchange among students, and this gives us a space to foster personal growth and enhancing both general knowledge and individual development.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plan is to apply for PhD positions to make the best out of the opportunities Sweden has, particularly in education. If a PhD is not an option, I would see what other opportunities and options I have in Sweden where I can not only learn more, but also share my skills and knowledge. Of course, I would love to stay here in Umeå if possible, because I love this city and it already feels like home, but I guess time and opportunities will tell.

Internationella studenter studerar i caféet i Lindellhallen
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Meet some of our students and alumni, expressing their thoughts on Umeå University and the city of Umeå.