International Story by Carlos Martìn



Carlos Martìn, Researcher at the Dep. of Chemistry

The fika room is almost empty and we sit down in the corner, the rain is pouring down outside.

Rosita: So, Carlos what do you remember from the first days of arrival in Umeå?

Carlos: It felt very good, it was a beautiful golden October. It was actually very warm and sunny for several days which I know now is not always the normal weather during the autumn season up north.

Rosita: Was this your first visit to Sweden?

Carlos: No, I was a PhD Student in Lund in the late 90´s and later on, while working at the University of Matanzas, Cuba, I had collaborations with research groups at Universities of Borås, Karlstad and Lund, so I have visited Sweden several times before coming to Umeå.

Rosita: Ok, it sounds like you had quite an easy onboarding in Sweden? Many people coming here, especially during fall and winter, have trouble adapting to the climate/weather. They also have issues regarding some cultural differences, Swedes being hard to get to know and so on.

Carlos: Well, I knew Sweden quite well before I moved here and for me that was not a problem at all. Furthermore, I have been travelling a lot and worked in several countries in Northern Europe, so I was accustomed with the climate and the changing seasons as well as people's behavior. For me coming to Umeå felt a bit like coming home.

Rosita: And what about cultural differences, is that something that has affected you in some way?

Carlos: They exist of course but has not affected me. Swedish people might not be most outgoing people, but they will never reject somebody who comes up for a talk. I think it might have to do with your own personality and behavior. I can easily approach anybody and therefore this is not an issue, least not for me.

We continue talking about typical Swedish behaviors for a while and how things here, when added together, can make one person enjoying their stay while another is hating it. As a PhD supervisor he has seen both.

Carlos: One of my students counted the days until he could leave Sweden, he really did not like it at all. That is of course hard to deal with.

Rosita: When it comes to researchers and teachers' working situation in Sweden, applying for funding e.g and understanding how things work here and what you need to do if you want to move forward in your career development, what are your thoughts about that?

Carlos: It is of course a challenging before you know how things works but after a while thing tend to sort themselves out with help from other colleagues.

Rosita: The Research Support and Collaboration Office provides support to researchers and in the new introduction programme we are planning a seminar in the theme "research support". This means that all new employees can get information directly when they start or within the first year. What is your opinion about that?

Carlos: I think it is very good and valuable. I would have participated in this if it was available when I arrived.

Rosita: Do you have any advice to other researchers coming here?

Carlos: I would say taking advantage of the environment given by the university. Forget about complaining and enjoy all the positive things that are around. Carpe diem, amigo mío.

Rosita: Before we wrap this up I would like to congratulate you again to your new position. You are soon leaving Umeå for a new position in Norway.

Carlos: Yes, I was offered a professorship in biomass and bioresources utilization at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. It is a nice opportunity to start up a new research team there and it is of course a very attractive position. But I will still be connected to Umeå University and to Bio4Energy research environment for a while since I have two postdoctoral researchers and a PhD Student to supervise and a few projects to handle. It is of course a huge challenge as well, to start again from zero. Now I finally got the hang of everything in Sweden, research infrastructure at Umeå university, collaborating partners at several institutions in Norrland, available funding bodies, how to apply and so on. But I look forward with optimism, and I am sure that after some time I will have everything under control in Norway as well. I will also start teaching again which I am really looking forward to.

Rosita: Looking back on your time in Umeå, what will you miss most?

Carlos: It has been fantastic here, Umeå is a great city. It is a growing and dynamic city. Many things have changed over the years but all to the positive. There are new buildings, new projects and the city is becoming more and more alive. I have many friends here, and it will be sad to leave them behind.

I will also miss the closeness to nature. Having Nydalasjön and Mariehemsängarna at my doorstep everyday available for all sorts of activities is great. I am very active and like to go hiking, jogging, skiing, swimming and so on. I really enjoy the spending time close to water, Nydalasjön, Tavelsjön or out by the seaside so I visit those locations often. I will also miss a lot IKSU, especially the Friday beach volleyball sessions with my friends

Staff starts to enter the fika room for lunch and even though the large room is almost emptied of tables the noise immediately gets louder. Visiting researchers at their workplace is actually very nice and I hope I will be able to do it again soon. Thank you Carlos for your time and good luck in the future!

"Carpe diem" (from Latin), "amigo mío" (Spanish).

"Carpe diem", e.g., is part of my life philosophy.

"Amigo mío" is a typical way how I call my friends and colleagues. By default, all the persons around me are potential friends. Therefore, "amigo mío" is the right treatment.

Rosita Nilsson