José from Mexico: “Fantastic to be in the lab”

José Ramón Bárcenas Walls is a scholarship holder from Mexico. His dream is to become a research director at a life science company.

José Ramón Bárcenas Walls, a scholarship holder from Monterrey, Mexico, is in the second semester of the Master’s Programme in Molecular Medicine. What did it feel like coming to Uppsala?

“My first impression was that it is so beautiful in and around Uppsala. The nature is very different from Mexico’s. The forest, the trees... It was overwhelming to come here in the summer when everything was green. I also like the way that so many people cycle, even older people, and that there are good bicycle paths for cyclists and walkways for pedestrians.”

What have you learned and experienced so far?
“I have just finished my favourite course, genomic and epigenomic medicine. Understanding the molecular causes of different diseases is my great interest. It was fantastic to be in the lab and help in ongoing research projects and implement chip technology in cancer cells. One thing I have got much better at is speaking better English. It’s not so common in Mexico. It’s been very helpful to do presentations for my group and teachers.”

What have you thought of student life apart from studies?
“The first semester, I didn’t have so much time for that; it was hard work. Now I feel much more at ease and have started going to the gym and playing squash and badminton with my friends. The student nations play a big role for active student life in Uppsala. It’s less expensive and nicer than going out to regular restaurants. One of the best things is that the social life is so international. We are 25 students from different parts of the world. Many of us don’t speak English as a mother tongue, but we still have to communicate and we learn a lot from each other. We are abroad, away from family, friends and familiar surroundings, and that brings us together.”

What do your future plans look like?
“Because I’m a scholarship holder, I will return to my research centre in Mexico, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Ciencias de la Salud, CIDICS, and work there for a while. Of course, I want to continue with research and eventually do my thesis in molecular medicine. My dream is to become a research director at a life science company. Why not in Uppsala?”

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Facts

In the autumn semester of 2017, 1,682 students were admitted to international Master’s programmes at Uppsala University. Of them, 1,047 come from countries outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland.

Henrik Möller

12 April 2018