What University Means To Me

I received the following two tweets a few days ago and I replied brutally; but this got me thinking and gave me an idea of what the next blog post would be about.

This is how I replied:

I think I was a bit rude because probably he caught me in one of those moments where I was thinking about what I am going to do in September when even my fourth year of University is gone.

There are a lot of “students” that believe University is a way to find a nice job, with a high paid salary and a nice house. True.

I mean that is what society tells us, but they are all wrong.

The first University was founded in Italy (yai!) more than 900 years ago and I really don’t think they did that to let people find jobs.

Universities are places where the individual is faced against life’s problems for the first time and is able to look at them in a more mature way. Forget about what you did in high school, you were still a kid.

This is the place to grow as a person, understand things, analyse behaviours and gain as many life’s lessons as possible in order to apply them after Uni, in the real world. It’s not a joke and I am not even referring to textbooks and coursework, which, in my personal opinion, accounts for probably 10% of what Uni is really about.

Think about Uni as a gym, where you train yourself for the real world. Manchester is probably one of the best places in the UK because there are thousands of international students. This means that you stumble across different cultures, behaviours, opinions, lifestyles, every five minutes.

What did I learn in the last four years?

Yes, a bit of Java, C, Networks, Machine Learning and whatever you’ll find listed on my CV (yes, I do have one).

What I truly LEARNED is myself. I have started to realise how I react to certain situations, why I do the things I do, what I like, what I dislike, why people think in different ways and what really drives society. This is my learning and these are the lessons that University has given me and will keep giving me till July 2016.

I have built two startups, faced failure, organised several events, made friends, stopped being friends with some of them, cried, laughed, loved some, hated others, been depressed, but also super-happy.

I’ll probably forget if Java passes parameters by value or reference, but I’ll never forget these human lessons that University has given me.

To me, University is the place to learn who you are and what you want to become. Forget the textbooks. Forget the lectures (but attend them!). Forget the words “career” and “job”. You are not here for any of these, you are here for yourself.

I say these things while I still have a first (mummy is proud). I got a job this summer because I was doing the things I loved and while doing them I stumbled across different people who weren’t even part of Uni.

Did I get a job because my CV looked good to them? No, I got one because they saw the way I was doing the things I loved and that was enough. This also led to a graduate offer and a part-time job that is paying for every single expense in my fourth year (I am really well paid, yai! and I love to say it every time, I know, I know, I am egocentric).

Did I look for these things? No, I never looked for them. They just came and they will keep coming no matter what.

I spent my third year looking at the mirror and shaking. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was really scared and when someone judged me, I went down, completely. I spent probably 6 months of my third year digging a hole. It wasn’t fun and I also didn’t understand why.

Was this part of a University’s course? No, this was life and I was starting to interact with it.

I skipped a lot of lectures and almost jeopardised my entire year, but on a Wednesday morning I decided to go and listen to what Simon Harper had to say (he teaches User Experience). He told us to read “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance“.  A book that probably hasn’t got anything to do with what you’ll have to write in your exam, but has everything to do with User Experience and most of all, LIFE.

I finished that book in a week. That completely changed me. Why? I started to realise the relationship between Quality and Quantity, which led me to wonder what Quality really meant for me and how I could look for it. I realised that my thoughts were part of a quantitative behaviour and that I had to find my real values, those that would have led me to find Quality.

Quality is what you are at Uni for and by that I mean all the reasons why you should join the University of Manchester, which I have listed above.

All the rest is Quantity, so when you ask me if an industrial placement is worth it? I can just reply that you are probably asking the wrong question. Ask yourself what Quality is for you and you’ll find the answer.

To me Quality is about spending the next years of my life trying to add some value and improve the life of the people who surround me; but most of all, I’d love to touch their feelings and make them smile.

To me Quality is organising the Italian Society’s event for 100 people, but having 300 people showing up.

To me Quality is the message I write on a birthday wishes card, not the material of the card (that’s quantity).

To me Quality is about spending more than two hours writing this, when I have 3 deadlines and I’ll probably be in the lab till midnight, when I could have left at 9PM, If I didn’t write this.

To me Quality is about working with a bunch of people on something that makes no sense, with the lowest pay ever, but that could affect the lives of millions of people.

To me Quality is walking on campus just to refresh my mind, observe other people and focus on what really is important to me.

To me Quality is better than Quantity.

I spent the best years of my life at Uni and my learning hasn’t finished yet, but what I am aware of is that I’ll be able to be a better person thanks to this experience.

Yes, I do have fans…

ps: don’t worry mummy, I am going to work on the lab now!

ps2: don’t forget to follow me!

My 4th Year!

I started this blog in my first year at the University of Manchester and now I am already heading towards second week of my 4th year!

I am in a Master of Engineering course, so my programme is four years long and has a BSC + Masters all included. The 4th year counts 50% toward the final grade of your degree, so it’s the most important one. It’s divided in 4 different periods and each period lasts 6 weeks.

During each period you are recommended to take not more than two course units in order to have enough, but not too much work. I have already selected my courses and for this first period I am doing: Cryptography and Data Engineering.


1) The first choice was led by one of the main trends in startups, which will definitely grow in the next years, Security (that’s why in Period 2 I am also doing Cybersecurity ;)).

2) The second one was obvious, everything is driven by data, so if you don’t know how to process it, you are pretty much doomed.

I still don’t have a clue of what the outcome (my next stop after Uni) will be, but I am pretty confident, because I know what interests me, people.

I do have an interview with Bloomberg for a Software Engineering position next week, so I’ll update you on that. I have also just applied to EF, a startup accelerator that takes people based on your curricula and makes them build something over a six months period.

I am pretty sure I’ll do a startup or work for one, because I think the next few years will be still part of my learning experience. Although startups are though, low budget and the salary isn’t great, the value is probably 30x bigger than any other tech giant or bank can offer.

ps: I am leaving you with some cryptic sentences, but the truth is I am working on another side project, again. Hopefully I won’t shut it down before I am bored.

ps1: I’ll write another update at the start of Period 2 with my course units choices and a few more updates about my project.

Speak to you soon!