Igor Trujnara is from Warsaw and is a first-year student of the Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics. In this interview, he shares how the experience of following the BDBI as an international student is going.
Igor Trujnara is from Poland, he is 19, and this is the first time he has moved abroad to study. He enjoys music –both listening to it and singing–, playing video games with his friends and sailing.
For those who do not know his home country, Igor says Warsaw is a pretty cool place to visit, especially for hanging out with people. He also mentions Wrocław, a city in the southern part of Poland with incredible views.
After finishing his high school and the International Baccalaureate (IB) in Poland, he decided to enrol for the Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics at ESCI-UPF. One month after his first day in the BDBI, Igor explains why he chose to study Bioinformatics and move to Barcelona.
1. Have you ever heard of Bioinformatics before discovering the BDBI program?
I had already heard about Bioinformatics. I became aware of it at high school as well as during the IB Program. Back then, I knew I wanted to study Medicine but rather more research-oriented. I first thought about Biotechnology, but then I discovered that there is something called Bioinformatics that also incorporates programming, which I also like, so I decided to look for courses related to it.
2. How did you get to know about the Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics?
I found the ESCI-UPF Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics searching on the internet. I think it was my dad that found it a bit before I got to it. He sent me the link to the website and I checked the program, which seemed really fine. So I just decided to apply.
3. Why did you decide to enrol in the BDBI?
I knew I wanted to study Bioinformatics and, before enrolling in the BDBI, I also considered other options. I applied to a few universities in the United States –I even got accepted into UCLA– but the BDBI turned out to be the best option I could find.
The reason I chose the BDBI is that it is hard to find a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics –I think there are just a few in the world. Also, because it is in English: other programs I could find offered the courses in the native language of the country. And the last important factor was the price, which is quite reasonable.
4. Was it difficult to follow the admission process to apply for the Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics?
As an international student, the admission process was really confusing at some points. I think there is no single instruction –at least easily available– that would explain step by step what you need to do to enrol on the BDBI. I only found out that I needed one accreditation to gain admission to a Spanish university.
In my case, I just needed to complete the form to obtain the accreditation that translates my grades to the Spanish scale, enter the Catalan system through the University Admissions Office, fill out another form and choose the university I wanted to apply to. To sum up, it was not difficult: the main problem was finding the information about the process required.
5. When you started the degree, did you already meet or speak with some of your classmates?
The first preparatory session was the first time I met anyone from the group because, actually, I could not find out who was about to start the degree when I came here. Anyway, I found no issues communicating with my classmates –I know English and Spanish, so it is easy to interact with them. I already know some people and, so far, I am enjoying the BDBI.
6. Is it easy to follow the BDBI courses? Are you adapting quickly to the university system?
As of now, it is easy to follow the courses. I am learning some new knowledge, although I think it will get a bit harder later on. It is helping me so much that all the information is available and the professors explain everything clearly. Also, the ESCI-UPF website is nice and I can easily find everything I need.
From my experience, the way of working at the BDBI is not that different from what I was used to. In the IB Program, some teachers would explain the most theory in class and then would give us the practice to do at home, so we did not waste time because the schedule was quite tight.
Besides, the university system here is a bit different from the Polish one. In Poland, we have another grading system and a different way to sign up for subjects. Furthermore, the schedules are not so integrated, often students have a lot of free time between classes. I really like the way timetables are arranged in the BDBI because they are so organized and classes always start at the same time.
7. How is the experience of living in Barcelona? Was it hard to find accommodation?
Up until now, I enjoyed the experience of living in Barcelona. The weather is really fine –I love the fact that it is so warm and nice here. I also like Barcelona architecture. Warsaw also has a beautiful old town, but it is far from my home. Here I live in the city centre and I find it is so well integrated, architecturally speaking.
I tried to get a spot at a RESA residence but when I applied it was already full. So, finding accommodation was not very easy, but I finally found an offer for a flat through the RESA housing website. Now, I am staying alone in an apartment I am renting.
8. What would you like to do when you finish the degree? Which are your future expectations?
I hope I will be able to do a Master’s Degree in Bioinformatics, perhaps somewhere in Barcelona, perhaps somewhere else in the world. I want to continue my studies to, eventually, pursue a PhD in Bioinformatics.
9. Are you aware of the status of Bioinformatics research or Bioinformatics related enterprises in Poland? Do you think you would have job opportunities there once you finish the degree?
I know there is some research done in the field –two universities offer courses in Polish in Bioinformatics– but I don’t know how advanced it is. On the other hand, I am not aware of specific Bioinformatics firms, but I know there are pharmaceutical companies in Poland that also have bioinformaticians employed.
When I finish with my studies, there should be good job opportunities in Poland for bioinformaticians. However, I am still not sure if I prefer to work there or look for jobs in other countries like Spain –as this field is really developed here– or the United States.