Going through 2021 in my diary was like reading a whole book. I’m glad that I was consistent enough to keep my writing habit going and I can’t get tired of saying how cool it is to look back on your thoughts and doings for each specific day. The way you remember things is one thing, but when you’ve written down the actual feeling to some experience, it can be totally different than the memory itself. Not being pessimistic here, but we can’t trust our memories too much.
So, what did I do this year? My main mission, finishing my Master studies, is almost passed. I’ve almost completed all the courses in the curriculum but I’m not too sure on the topic of my final thesis yet. I don’t want to rush making it because it has to be a subject I’m really interested in. Throughout the two years of medical technology studies, I’ve come to understand my main interests in the field. When I started my studies, I had no clue how large and complex this industry is. At this point, neurotechnology feels most intriguing to me but it’s still taking the first baby steps in the medical field, so there’s a lot of research to be done.
Because I’m about to graduate soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to work for the next couple of years. I still love the idea of working in a small start-up, but some part of me wants to try working in a hospital to work with medical professionals and get my hands on various medical imaging modalities. I’m still in the process of finding the perfect next chapter in my career, but I’m sure everything will work out perfectly.
I’ve studied a lot this year, well at least most of the year. In the first half of ’21, I was still at my home university in Tallinn. In June I got an acceptance letter for one-semester exchange studies in Politecnico di Milano. Thereby, I took the summer off – stayed with my family in Viljandi and played a lot of tennis. In September I moved to Italy. These four months in here so far have been an experience I would recommend to anyone who has the chance. Living in a foreign country and making friends from different cultures gives some new interesting perspectives to life.
I didn’t move to Italy because of the country, but the specific university. This school has an extensive biomedical engineering track – I took courses like ’Neuroengineering’ about deep learning, computational neuroscience, rehabilitation robotics, and neuroprostheses, and ’Clinical Technology Assessment’ about clinical trial design, medical technology evaluation, and clinical literature review. I also participated in a biosignal processing laboratory where I learned a few new signal processing techniques. A lot of studying happened this year and I feel I’m going in the right direction with my education.
The first month in Italy, September, was full of socializing with other exchange students – let’s call it the networking month. Seeing the city or visiting a museum on Wednesday, sipping spritz in a bar on Thursday, attending a massive campus party on Friday, dancing in a nightclub on Saturday – this was the general routine, crazy to think about it now.
In October, I had some friends from home visiting me for my birthday – we went out with my exchange friends and had a blast. Right after this, I had an amazing one-week trip to Sicily with another group of friends from Estonia. The regular life felt like a distant dream in there and my favorite part was the day-long boat ride on the Mediterranean – what else do you need from life, right?
November was the month of midterms, so I studied a lot because I hadn’t studied enough the previous two months. Fortunately, I aced every exam and it felt great.
In December, before going home for Christmas, I finally went to see a football match at San Siro stadium which I planned to do since I arrived in Milan, and the day after I attended a concert by my favorite pianist Ludovico Einaudi. The same week I went to Rome and played tourist in there for a few days – it was like an open-air museum, a picturesque city. The group of friends I made during the start of the exchange period has had a huge impact on my experiences in Italy – I’m grateful.
In December, I went back to Estonia for two weeks. The emotions of being back home after a while were sweet – playing cards with my family in the evening, winning or losing to my bro in FIFA, having a sauna night with my good friends, preparing a fancy dinner and getting drunk as a tradition at the end of each year with my best friends, and seeing other friends who I hadn’t seen for a couple of months now. New friends in Italy are awesome, but the connection with my best friends in Estonia is special and I don’t want to lose it.
The New Year was greeted with much sincerity and happiness in Malta. My friends and I decided to escape the snowy winter and spend a week in this tiny country in the central Mediterranean. Rallying from bar to bar, eating seafood, getting stuck in an elevator, hiking in nature, getting scammed in a gentlemen’s club but winning money back in a casino - fun and games, all check.
I’ll say, ‘new year, same me’ and it doesn’t mean I don’t want to change or improve – quite the opposite. I want to have the same growth mindset, motivation to take on new challenges and calmness to keep growing. Have a nice one!