If my life appreciation in 2010 could be represented by a culinary dish, I would say I left my country as a tortilla. In 2012, when I returned to Mexico from Germany, my appreciation had become a mixture of rice, chilli, tortilla, lentils, curry and plantain. This means that I met people from different cultures at the master programme in Energy and Environmental Management. All of us were blessed with the opportunity of receiving a higher education.
The master programme was drawing to a close, and I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, the feeling of anxiety for the future was constantly weighing on my mind: “Was returning to Mexico immediately after my studies the right decision? Should I have tried to stay in Germany?” On the other hand, I was eager to apply what I had learned abroad, and the desire to help, or simply homesickness, was pushing me to return. The craziest thing is that the adventure of studying in Germany enabled me to give myself permission to dare, not to be scared to leave my comfort zone. After my studies, Germany was my comfort zone! It was time to make a decision, though. Should I stay or should I go? I struggled for several days to make the BEST decision. Hearing a salsa song that goes, “Si del cielo te caen limones aprende a hacer limonada”, something like: “Don’t ever forget how to make lemonade when life throws some lemons your way!”, calmed me down. I realized that there is no such thing as making the best or the worse decision. The words can be understood as meaning that you should accept whatever comes, but you can also interpret them the other way around – not to wait for things to happen by themselves, but to exploit and manage your life with what you have.
In September 2012, the reloaded version of myself arrived in Mexico. Just as if someone had thrown cold water on me, I was upset by the feeling of being a foreigner in my own country. If this happens to you when you return home after studying abroad, I would like to take this chance to give you a first piece of advice: be creative, spend your first days back in town doing something that you said you would like to do back in those days when you didn’t have time. You can travel or spend some time with your family, but most importantly, spend time with yourself. This is how to reverse the feeling that external factors are influencing you. You are the one who came back to town to influence the environment that surrounds you for the better!
No one says it is easy. I was jobless, and it was my turn to fight for my professional future in a field that is not well paid in my country. Then I remembered this salsa song: let´s see what comes out and I will manage to make the best out of it. I didn´t have to wait long before I got a job opportunity from a former colleague. Then here it goes, a second piece of advice: get in touch with your former employers, university colleagues and professors. Let them know you are back in town and better qualified than before. Some may help you, others won´t. It is important not to take it personally if you don´t receive the help that you hoped for. Believe me, there are always people who will offer you a hand, and sometimes this comes from people you wouldn´t expect. One month after my graduation ceremony, I was sitting in the Environmental Ministry as a consultant. It was my first time working for the government. I had the prejudice that working for the government would be boring and bureaucratic, but it was the complete opposite. And finally my third and last piece of advice: adapt to the situation; this way you prove your abilities. Apply what German culture provided: be on time, efficient, dedicated, and remember that others count on your word. Remember you came back as a talent to transform problems when the opportunity arises.
Please, feel free to contact me if you have an idea for making lemonade together. Cheers!