Chapter 3: My Parents Meaning of Perseverance - academic experience Worldwide e.V.

Chapter 3: My Parents Meaning of Perseverance

I think for many families who immigrant to the west, one of the main incentives of relocating centers around providing an education for their children. This was certainty the case for my parents and even until this day, education is an important topic in our family.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980's. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980’s. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

Our childhood was ingrained with reading and frequent trips to the library. My parents were obsessed with how well we performed in school. Forget about watching television shows during school nights. We came home from school, ate a home cooked meal, and went straight for the books. Strict rules and constant studying was important not only to my parents, but was also a common characteristic held by other Eritrean parents. Like my parents, they had relocated hoping to provide their children with an education they never had.

By comparing how well someone’s child performed in school, parents could attest to their working habits. Through their children’s success in school, they too lived the American dream. But sometimes they were to competitive, which seems funny now looking back as an adult. For example, birthdays were somewhat atypical for us. It comprised of the usual festivities including cake, homemade food, candy, soda, decorations, music, and games. But sometimes we had math competitions and spelling bees. I know what you are thinking, crazy right! Nothing better than to showoff how smart your child is when everyone from the community is invited over to your house. All of the parents got into it, and as kids we looked at them with disgruntled expressions every time they requested us to solve another problem. We were just kids, we just wanted to play and eat cake.

Although it might sound crazy, those years definitely taught me a lot of valuable lessons. We did not just learn new information by heading to the library, but acquired a strong work ethic which shifted into adulthood. It taught me to never settle, and to always find ways to challenge my own abilities. When the environment around us becomes stagnate, our lives becomes too comfortable. This hinders ourselves from approaching new challenges, which could potentially aid our skill sets. By pushing us as children, we learned how to push back when life got tougher.

Quite famous on campus, the bookman sculpture stands right in front of the main library at Washington State University. Each day, students and visitors can be seen taking photos next to this iconic piece.

Quite famous on campus, the bookman sculpture stands right in front of the main library at Washington State University. Each day, students and visitors can be seen taking photos next to this iconic piece.

For any parent, watching their child enter university as a freshman is an exciting moment. Everything my parents had worked for my entire life had finally paid off. I spent my undergraduate years at Washington State University. Those years were the most memorable times of my life. But during my senior year, I was looking for a new challenge.

I always wanted to study abroad and wondered what it would be like to live in Europe. I received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study in Germany. Next thing you know; I was onboard an eleven-hour flight heading overseas. Similar to the moments my parents constantly pushed us beyond our limits, I was now pushing myself for a new challenge.

Studying at Jacobs University in Bremen was a great experience. I had the opportunity to conduct research, meet new people from all over the world, and most importantly travel all over Europe. My time as an undergraduate was finally coming to an end. Not knowing what to do after college is a daunting feeling for most students. At this point, the future becomes uncertain and you realize the course of your life is determined by your next move. Soon after graduating, I was faced with a new challenge, and I was ready to tackle it head on.

The Town Musicians of Bremen is a classical tale, and the sculpture symbolizes the city.

The Town Musicians of Bremen is a classical tale, and the sculpture symbolizes the city.

After visiting my family in the states, I returned back to Germany, this time to Frankfurt. I began a two-month internship at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. I began a research project dealing with avian magnetoreception which I found fascinating. My lab supervisor, Dr. Leo Peichl, taught me varies laboratory methods. Every day we discussed aspects of the brain and his guidance throughout those months triggered my interest to pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience. Immediately, a new challenge was lurking in front of me. For the next two years, Frankfurt was home and I had to readjust my entire life.

The neuroscience master’s program at Goethe University involves a combination of varies disciplines all sharing a common interest, which is to understand the complexities of the brain. Frankfurt is perfect for researching the brain due to the vast amount of resources it contains. The program offers students the opportunity to participate at numerous institutes in the city. Students select modules they find interesting and rotate between research groups throughout the year.  One project you deal with brain tumors, and the next you are computing digital models of neurons in order to understand its connectivity in the brain. I enjoyed my first year, and learned valuable tools which will aid my future research interest when investigating how the brain works. Although I learned a lot, it was the most challenging year of my entire life.

Readjusting to a completely foreign society was the hardest part. Being unable to communicate in order to navigate the city was most difficult. Not to mention the frequent morning trips to the foreigner’s office to obtain a student visa. When I landed in Frankfurt, I was still searching for a permanent flat. During this time, I was starting the winter semester. In the morning I worked on experiments, and frantically searched online for potential flats at night. Luckily, three months later everything worked out when I finally found one.

The most nerve wracking aspect about being a neuroscience master student deals with being surrounded by scientist and doctors who acquire knowledge far beyond your capabilities. Hearing them discuss their ideas during meetings was extremely intimidating. The language they use is completely foreign, and I quickly realized how much I needed to learn just to hold an adequate conversation. You begin to question, “what on earth am I getting myself into?”

As I pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience at Goethe University, I consider Frankfurt as my home for now.

As I pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience at Goethe University, I consider Frankfurt as my home for now.

One of my favorite professors, Dr. Roeper, always referred to us during lecture as neuroscience babies. Completely lacking the basic knowledge pertaining to the brain, his funny description of our intelligence was in a way accurate. One thing I appreciate about Dr. Roeper was his encouragement. His teaching style was exciting and motivating. He made his lectures entertaining and easy to understand. One day he made a good point, that neuroscience was a brand new topic to all of us. And like any new topic, it would require time to fully comprehend its contents.

As the year went on, I built up confidence, and found those above me less intimidating. I felt comfortable discussing my ideas with fellow classmates and supervisors. Finally, another challenge was now behind me and I was ready for the next one. As the first year came to an end, I began thinking about what I wanted to do for my thesis the following year. I found an interesting topic, one geared towards my research interest. Soon I will start my thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (MPIBR) dealing with retina cells and visual pathways.

One of the busiest areas in Tokyo, Shibuya is a vibrant shopping district filled with bright lights and attractions. After a long day in the lab, one of my favorite things to do is grab a quick bite at a local sushi restaurant.

One of the busiest areas in Tokyo, Shibuya is a vibrant shopping district filled with bright lights and attractions. After a long day in the lab, one of my favorite things to do is grab a quick bite at a local sushi restaurant.

Summer vacation was finally here, so I traveled back home to spend time with my family. At this point, having lived abroad for almost two years, I found it difficult to sit still. I was accustomed to constantly being up on the go; I needed another challenge. This time, I had my sights on Asia, which I never traveled to before. I had the opportunity to connect with a scientist at the University of Tokyo in Japan. After leaving Dr. Peichl’s lab a few years ago, I still had many questions regarding biological magnetoreception. By visiting Dr. J. R. Woodward’s lab in Tokyo, I was hoping his unique microscope would offer some answers. Currently in Japan, the information I have gained during this internship has broaden my research interest. Hopefully, I can expand on such ideas in the future.

Looking back, I understand why they were so hard on us. My parents were just trying to open up doors for my siblings and I, and having an education was the key. Pushing us was their way of preparing us for the challenges we would encounter in the future. The biggest lesson they taught me, was that if I wanted to achieve my goals, I needed the perseverance to invest in myself. Whatever you choose to do, nobody is going to care more other than yourself. As a young individual faced with challenges, I think it’s important to take risk as well. All of my accomplishments so far attest to this statement. If I did not take the risk of leaving home when I was 18 years old to attend university, I would have never been awarded the scholarship to go abroad during my senior year. While studying at Jacobs University, it was here when one of my professors referred me to the MPIBR in Frankfurt, leading to an internship with Dr. Peichl. After growing strong interest for the brain, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience. The new tools I learned during my first year helped me generate ideas suitable for my time in Japan. Over the years, I have learned that its better to embrace a new challenge instead of running away from it. If I had ran away each time, I would not be where I am today.

Whenever I tell people I am from Seattle, their first association with the city is the Space Needle. Located in the heart of Seattle, this large structure always reminds me of home.

Whenever I tell people I am from Seattle, their first association with the city is the Space Needle. Located in the heart of Seattle, this large structure always reminds me of home.

I think for many families who immigrant to the west, one of the main incentives of relocating centers around providing an education for their children. This was certainty the case for my parents and even until this day, education is an important topic in our family.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980's. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980’s. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

Our childhood was ingrained with reading and frequent trips to the library. My parents were obsessed with how well we performed in school. Forget about watching television shows during school nights. We came home from school, ate a home cooked meal, and went straight for the books. Strict rules and constant studying was important not only to my parents, but was also a common characteristic held by other Eritrean parents. Like my parents, they had relocated hoping to provide their children with an education they never had.

By comparing how well someone’s child performed in school, parents could attest to their working habits. Through their children’s success in school, they too lived the American dream. But sometimes they were to competitive, which seems funny now looking back as an adult. For example, birthdays were somewhat atypical for us. It comprised of the usual festivities including cake, homemade food, candy, soda, decorations, music, and games. But sometimes we had math competitions and spelling bees. I know what you are thinking, crazy right! Nothing better than to showoff how smart your child is when everyone from the community is invited over to your house. All of the parents got into it, and as kids we looked at them with disgruntled expressions every time they requested us to solve another problem. We were just kids, we just wanted to play and eat cake.

Although it might sound crazy, those years definitely taught me a lot of valuable lessons. We did not just learn new information by heading to the library, but acquired a strong work ethic which shifted into adulthood. It taught me to never settle, and to always find ways to challenge my own abilities. When the environment around us becomes stagnate, our lives becomes too comfortable. This hinders ourselves from approaching new challenges, which could potentially aid our skill sets. By pushing us as children, we learned how to push back when life got tougher.

Quite famous on campus, the bookman sculpture stands right in front of the main library at Washington State University. Each day, students and visitors can be seen taking photos next to this iconic piece.

Quite famous on campus, the bookman sculpture stands right in front of the main library at Washington State University. Each day, students and visitors can be seen taking photos next to this iconic piece.

For any parent, watching their child enter university as a freshman is an exciting moment. Everything my parents had worked for my entire life had finally paid off. I spent my undergraduate years at Washington State University. Those years were the most memorable times of my life. But during my senior year, I was looking for a new challenge.

I always wanted to study abroad and wondered what it would be like to live in Europe. I received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study in Germany. Next thing you know; I was onboard an eleven-hour flight heading overseas. Similar to the moments my parents constantly pushed us beyond our limits, I was now pushing myself for a new challenge.

Studying at Jacobs University in Bremen was a great experience. I had the opportunity to conduct research, meet new people from all over the world, and most importantly travel all over Europe. My time as an undergraduate was finally coming to an end. Not knowing what to do after college is a daunting feeling for most students. At this point, the future becomes uncertain and you realize the course of your life is determined by your next move. Soon after graduating, I was faced with a new challenge, and I was ready to tackle it head on.

The Town Musicians of Bremen is a classical tale, and the sculpture symbolizes the city.

The Town Musicians of Bremen is a classical tale, and the sculpture symbolizes the city.

After visiting my family in the states, I returned back to Germany, this time to Frankfurt. I began a two-month internship at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. I began a research project dealing with avian magnetoreception which I found fascinating. My lab supervisor, Dr. Leo Peichl, taught me varies laboratory methods. Every day we discussed aspects of the brain and his guidance throughout those months triggered my interest to pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience. Immediately, a new challenge was lurking in front of me. For the next two years, Frankfurt was home and I had to readjust my entire life.

The neuroscience master’s program at Goethe University involves a combination of varies disciplines all sharing a common interest, which is to understand the complexities of the brain. Frankfurt is perfect for researching the brain due to the vast amount of resources it contains. The program offers students the opportunity to participate at numerous institutes in the city. Students select modules they find interesting and rotate between research groups throughout the year. One project you deal with brain tumors, and the next you are computing digital models of neurons in order to understand its connectivity in the brain. I enjoyed my first year, and learned valuable tools which will aid my future research interest when investigating how the brain works. Although I learned a lot, it was the most challenging year of my entire life.

Readjusting to a completely foreign society was the hardest part. Being unable to communicate in order to navigate the city was most difficult. Not to mention the frequent morning trips to the foreigner’s office to obtain a student visa. When I landed in Frankfurt, I was still searching for a permanent flat. During this time, I was starting the winter semester. In the morning I worked on experiments, and frantically searched online for potential flats at night. Luckily, three months later everything worked out when I finally found one.

The most nerve wracking aspect about being a neuroscience master student deals with being surrounded by scientist and doctors who acquire knowledge far beyond your capabilities. Hearing them discuss their ideas during meetings was extremely intimidating. The language they use is completely foreign, and I quickly realized how much I needed to learn just to hold an adequate conversation. You begin to question, “what on earth am I getting myself into?”

As I pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience at Goethe University, I consider Frankfurt as my home for now.

As I pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience at Goethe University, I consider Frankfurt as my home for now.

One of my favorite professors, Dr. Roeper, always referred to us during lecture as neuroscience babies. Completely lacking the basic knowledge pertaining to the brain, his funny description of our intelligence was in a way accurate. One thing I appreciate about Dr. Roeper was his encouragement. His teaching style was exciting and motivating. He made his lectures entertaining and easy to understand. One day he made a good point, that neuroscience was a brand new topic to all of us. And like any new topic, it would require time to fully comprehend its contents.

As the year went on, I built up confidence, and found those above me less intimidating. I felt comfortable discussing my ideas with fellow classmates and supervisors. Finally, another challenge was now behind me and I was ready for the next one. As the first year came to an end, I began thinking about what I wanted to do for my thesis the following year. I found an interesting topic, one geared towards my research interest. Soon I will start my thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (MPIBR) dealing with retina cells and visual pathways.

One of the busiest areas in Tokyo, Shibuya is a vibrant shopping district filled with bright lights and attractions. After a long day in the lab, one of my favorite things to do is grab a quick bite at a local sushi restaurant.

One of the busiest areas in Tokyo, Shibuya is a vibrant shopping district filled with bright lights and attractions. After a long day in the lab, one of my favorite things to do is grab a quick bite at a local sushi restaurant.

Summer vacation was finally here, so I traveled back home to spend time with my family. At this point, having lived abroad for almost two years, I found it difficult to sit still. I was accustomed to constantly being up on the go; I needed another challenge. This time, I had my sights on Asia, which I never traveled to before. I had the opportunity to connect with a scientist at the University of Tokyo in Japan. After leaving Dr. Peichl’s lab a few years ago, I still had many questions regarding biological magnetoreception. By visiting Dr. J. R. Woodward’s lab in Tokyo, I was hoping his unique microscope would offer some answers. Currently in Japan, the information I have gained during this internship has broaden my research interest. Hopefully, I can expand on such ideas in the future.

Looking back, I understand why they were so hard on us. My parents were just trying to open up doors for my siblings and I, and having an education was the key. Pushing us was their way of preparing us for the challenges we would encounter in the future. The biggest lesson they taught me, was that if I wanted to achieve my goals, I needed the perseverance to invest in myself. Whatever you choose to do, nobody is going to care more other than yourself. As a young individual faced with challenges, I think it’s important to take risk as well. All of my accomplishments so far attest to this statement. If I did not take the risk of leaving home when I was 18 years old to attend university, I would have never been awarded the scholarship to go abroad during my senior year. While studying at Jacobs University, it was here when one of my professors referred me to the MPIBR in Frankfurt, leading to an internship with Dr. Peichl. After growing strong interest for the brain, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience. The new tools I learned during my first year helped me generate ideas suitable for my time in Japan. Over the years, I have learned that its better to embrace a new challenge instead of running away from it. If I had ran away each time, I would not be where I am today.

Whenever I tell people I am from Seattle, their first association with the city is the Space Needle. Located in the heart of Seattle, this large structure always reminds me of home.

Whenever I tell people I am from Seattle, their first association with the city is the Space Needle. Located in the heart of Seattle, this large structure always reminds me of home.