Multi Story Edinburgh

Tim - Class of 2021 - Feeling lost, living in the moment and visualising climate change

November 24, 2021 The University of Edinburgh Season 2 Episode 20
Multi Story Edinburgh
Tim - Class of 2021 - Feeling lost, living in the moment and visualising climate change
Show Notes Transcript

Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. As the world emerges from pandemic paralysis, are our Class of 2021 feeling inspired or inhibited, glad or gloomy, chaotic or calm? In this episode we meet Tim who has just completed his MSc in Environmental Sustainability.

Welcome to Season 2, a little bit of the same but quite a lot different. Each month we meet five more graduates from the Class of 2021. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about life, the last 12 months and future plans.

All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh. 

Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.

Music: Since When by Mise Darling from 
Artwork: Vector created by redgreystock from

[Theme music]

Sonia  0:09  This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season two, Class of 2021. A little bit of the same, but quite a lot different.

Tim  0:23  My name is Tim and I just recently finished at the University of Edinburgh with graduating in my Master's in Environmental Sustainability. I am at this interesting point of my life, where something that has been very structured so far, suddenly becomes very unstructured. So I've been studying for five years, now, I studied psychology and philosophy back then. And you know, those four years, and then there's another year of me doing the Masters was very structured, because I always had a plan, I always knew I want to be a student, and I want to learn, I want to, you know, improve myself. Right now, this is sort of transitioning into the work life is something that confuses me actually quite a bit. It's this feeling that the, the ideas that I had beforehand, are suddenly sort of thrown into a bit of a storm. So when I-- when I was younger, I was always thinking that everything would go somehow smoothly, you know, applying for university, and then suddenly you go through university, and you get a top job at the end. And I found out that's really not the case right now. With the pandemic, and then with Brexit, as well, there's so many uncertainties, so many variables for me that-- that sort of make me very uncertain. So for instance, I'm doing an internship right now and the-- it's in, it's in a management consultancy, and, and the internship only lasts for six weeks. The company, they often take on quite a large number of the interns that they had. But of course, that's performance based. In my past, I did another internship and basically, this management internship didn't really go particularly well, I didn't really perform to the expectations of my supervisor. And after the internship, they basically said, yeah, that's, you know, thank you for doing this, but [laughs] you didn't really sort of hit the mark that we wanted you to. And now I'm just very afraid, I am afraid that I won't perform to the expectations of my next internship, and that I won't make it and they won't accept me for a job afterwards. 

So before I actually started going to university, I did a volunteer year of social service in a Camphill Community with-- basically we work with children with additional support needs close to Perth. I found it very challenging. I had an instance for example, where one of the-- like children that I was working with was spitting at me. And that was incredibly off putting for me because I had never faced something like this before. And of course, you have to act responsible, you have to be the supervisor, you have to be the person they look up to. That was so off putting for me that I didn't really focus on my work anymore. And I think the main-- the-- my main learning point back then was really the one thing that helps me most in succeeding in my job, is really sort of living my job, being in the job, being in the moment. I think often people talk about mindfulness. And I think mindfulness is not only sort of when you sit down and you do your breathing exercises, and you try to sort of focus yourself, but it's also when you do your everyday types of work, then being in this moment is something that was incredibly helpful because it helped me to find stability. And I think that was something that I feel like I didn't really remember very well in my last internship, I wasn't really, in the moment enough to actually enjoy my work. I was often sort of anticipating the next weeks or thinking back to my university, like the last semester or something like that. And I think that wasn't really helpful. And that is something going into my next internship, where I want to work really hard on myself to be more in the moment and enjoy myself more in the moment.

One of the main reasons I am worried right now is I studied so many different subjects. And a lot of the subjects looking back didn't really feel like they had a lot of real world applicability. And I think that looking back onto my Masters right now, one of the major challenges was basically that the Masters originally intended to do quite a lot of fieldwork. For instance, we set out, I think, to the Isle of Wight, there is one of the largest wind turbine systems installed on the Isle of Wight. The problem is that this would have been a major part of my master's but sadly, due to the pandemic, we just couldn't go. And I feel like those are sort of these practical components where I feel like that my-- the knowledge that I have gained on paper suddenly has applicability to the real world. This is something where I feel very much lost. You know, I studied this Master's because probably like so many other people I have in my head this idea of the carbon budget that we have left right now for our-- for our planet. And I want to fight climate change, so we-- we don't exceed this carbon budget because the-- the potential effects of climate change are just so dire that I feel like this is my responsibility as a human being. My masters was very general in the sense that we touched upon many different areas, we touched upon policy, we touched upon like business sustainability, we touched upon things like ecological aspects of how to maintain certain ecosystems. And it was so general that right now, I feel like I'm interested into all of those areas. And I don't really know specifically which kind of job I want to choose. So areas that a lot of employers want me to be, I suppose an expert in, I sadly am not an expert in because the Master's was just one year, I feel like I could have studied this for the next five years. And then maybe I would have felt like I was-- I would be prepared for the working world. I don't really feel specialised enough. I feel like I could go into policy, I could become like maybe a civil servant, maybe a consultant, or maybe I'm gonna do something completely different. I feel like this is one of the problems that also the pandemic contributed to, I feel like the pandemic has just, and also Brexit, they've just shaken everything up so much that planning for like, mid or long term is just, in my view, is not possible for inst-- like, I'm, I'm from Germany and I'm sort of thinking okay, do I want to go back to Germany at some point, do I not? My parents are getting older, I want to support my parents, if I can, you know, and suddenly, I'm in a completely different country. So do I want to go back? Can I even go back if I, for instance, go back to Germany, and then at one point want to go back to the United Kingdom? Will the United Kingdom still let me in? So all worries that I have right now, which make long term planning incredibly difficult. 

I think one of the things that helped me a lot in the past is, is this mindset of staying proactive, and it sounds very simple. But if you go out there, and you-- if you want to sort of take control of your life, if you see an opportunity, I always try to go for it, no matter what it is, try it out, be the, I suppose the author of your own life. There are so many opportunities that arise if you just listen closely and act upon the things that people just maybe mentioned on the side. Like, for instance, I participated with a small project of a printing company, which tried to make their printers more sustainable, because I like overheard a conversation on like, Get Together a few years ago. And suddenly I'm in this project and learning about circular economy. So I think it's really important to just like try to be proactive, if you want to change things, just in the small scale, go out there. And if you hear someone say something interesting, go for it, jump into it, try it out, and try your best being in this particular moment. And I think that's something that I-- has helped me a lot in the past and I want to carry forward doing. Because I think yeah, that gives me a greater sense of purpose and agency in my own life.

Sonia  8:05  We also ask our graduates to share a place, somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.

Tim  8:14  I think my most memorable place my past few years, was actually the primary reason why I ended up studying Environmental Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh. Because I was very fortunate because I was allowed to go for an Erasmus Plus programme in Norway. And from Norway, I took a really cheap flight to Iceland. And in Iceland, I basically had the opportunity to look at one of the biggest glaciers in Europe called Solheimajokull, and Solheimajokull is not only a gigantic glacier, and is very sort of breath-taking when you're standing in front of it, but it is also one of the fastest receding glaciers in Europe. And basically, when you're standing in front of this massive block of ice, there are markings on the ground, where you can see how fast the glacier receded in the past few years. So you have like five years ago, 10 years ago and it-- it sort of-- my problem with climate change was always this idea that it is a very general concept. It's incredibly hard to grasp, because climate change is just everywhere. In so many different areas of our lives people talk about climate change, oh, yeah, then some people will throw it into a conversation. And it's often very hard to sort of understand what it actually means. And for me, this moment was really this embodiment of climate change. It was I'm here in the moment right now and I felt like I at least partially understood what climate change actually means. Because that-- that is the impact of it. And if we have all those amazing glaciers, those beautiful habitats around the whole world receding in such a rapid pace, that was just-- it shook me to the core, I felt totally smitten. On that moment, I felt like okay, I need to do something. I can't just sit around and do nothing. And it totally changed my-- my future plans and I said, okay, I want to do something climate change related. And then I had been to Edinburgh multiple times and I always thought Edinburgh was an amazing city. And I found the masters of sustainability and that was basically sort of, I suppose, setting me off on the sustainability journey. And it's something I sometimes look back at, as, as this moment, which still fuels me in the present. It's, it's something that keeps me going, that reminds me, why am I doing all of this because right now, I'm not standing in front of the glacier anymore, it's very distant again. And I feel like sometimes those are those experiences where I feel like I should revisit them. I should go to the same glacier maybe in five years ago, to then tell myself okay, what I'm doing is worth it. What I'm doing has purpose.

Sonia  10:55  Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.

Kirsten  11:13  If this conversation has raised more questions and answers, then you might find it helpful to speak to someone. Speaking with a careers consultant can be a great way to get some answers. Simply log on to mycareerhub to make an appointment and don't forget that you can still use everything on offer from the Careers Service as a recent graduate. 

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