The EMTM experience
June, 16 2021
is not just a master’s degree for me, but
also my reason to believe that dreams do come true. I have
always been driven by a sense of freedom, learning, and growth which eventually
brought me here.
I consider myself extremely lucky to be born in my country, Pakistan, and to be raised by a single mother of 5 children who pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and make an impact in the world. As a high school student, I dreamt of enrolling at one of the top universities in the country. Two years later, I got financial assistance to study at that university. It pushed me to become more focused and enabled me to explore my inner strengths, which I had been unaware of. In this process, I realized that I aspired to change, for a kind of enlightenment that would open up my mind to see a broader world and free me from the thoughts that were formed by the impact of the environment around me.
I was very fulfilled by my bachelor’s degree. Immediately afterwards, I started working in the environment and climate change sector. Although the job was completely unrelated to my field of study, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Working for a sub-sector of eco-tourism drove me the most. I realized that the best way to career progression was to make my passion my profession.
I wanted to study sustainable tourism development from abroad, which became another challenge because my mother could not afford a foreign degree and my siblings could hardly support themselves. I applied for programs with scholarships day in and day out, but the program that spoke to me the most was EMTM. The description seemed like a narration of what was all in my heart. I applied in 2019 and got admitted but did not make it to the scholarship. The next year, I tried again and got admitted again, but still no scholarship. I was disheartened and very demotivated.
A few months later, I got an email congratulating me for the conditional offer, as one student chose to drop out, and I happened to be the next one on the merit list. I could not believe the email when I read it. For a whole hour, I kept waiting for another email telling me that they had sent me the previous email by accident. I remember that after one hour, I told my boss to read that email to me. He said: “Congratulations, you got a scholarship!” This was my dream coming true. At the time, I was drowning in a black hole in my life, this program was the light at the end of the tunnel.
When my flight landed in Copenhagen at the beginning of October, my heart was empty but full all at once. This was the first time that I was about to live in a place far away from home, very different and very new. I was both anxious and excited in the beginning, but the moment when 7 EMTM students met on the bus to Kolding, I became joyful. As I got to know EMTM, I realized that it is my colleagues here who make this so special: this huge family of 25 people play roles of “parents”, “children”, “siblings” and, of course, friends. The more I got to know about them, the more I realized how similar we were to each other rather than how different we were. Moving to Denmark was such a big cultural shock. My mindset that I had to fight and thrive for each day by shutting down so many voices changed. I did not have to be loud to be heard.
Amid the pandemic, things were going downhill, but Denmark still welcomed us with open arms. I often found myself with my morning coffee at the little lake just contemplating life, under the tree that sheltered me from every rain and every drizzle, whenever I wanted to have a quiet moment by myself. The residents of our accommodation willingly associated themselves with the title of “Hospies”… The other house was the BlaBla house, which is an EMTM-created abbreviation for the name of the street, where we had all our small COVID-restrictive dinners. It is the house where I met the best of my friends. The patio where the girls took a breather in the middle of a dance-off, the barbecue oven that we never used, and the stairs with the automatic light which would almost always go off were all part of my adventures.
Kolding was a very special place for me. I worked as a newspaper distributor, which made me feel like the main character from Matilda with her cart of books. I got a scooter that took me to the edge of the city. I saw fields greener than I had ever seen. I remember the trains that took me to different places where I had amazing food - the foodie inside me was satisfied. I found people from my country and from my neighbouring country with whom I could communicate in the same language.
These 3 months in Denmark changed me in ways I had never imagined. Now, with more than a month down in Ljubljana, I have a feeling that this will be an even more exciting experience. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, EMTM students find a way to make it to a hike, a small picnic or a food gathering, not letting the love and association of EMTM die.
In this program, I did things I never thought I was capable of. I’ve grown so much, and I believe it is the same for all 25 of us. In the beginning, we were very sceptical about this situation because the pandemic was making it hard to predict the situation anywhere: it was going to be a big change in our lives. However, with 6 months down the road, I think we could all say that every second of EMTM was worth it. Every day, I thank the people who pushed me to take this master’s and live my dream.
Written by Ana Fatima Pasha, Student of EMTM Generation 2020-2022