TTT – Telephones, Taekwondo and Tortillas: Exploring the Journey of a Madrid Telecom Engineering Student

We are sitting on a bench in the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Maya López is right next to us, her face illuminated by the bright sunshine. She has just finished today’s driving lesson. She can’t wait to have her license and to finally drive around beautiful Madrid.

Maya not only studies, she also teaches Taekwondo to 6-year-olds. She invests her time in many different things and still she has time to be active in her college life.

As we are relaxing on the bench admiring the view, we dive right in into the questions pressing in our minds.

How is life as a Telecommunication Engineering student in Madrid?

I am the busiest, most stressed, and yet, happiest, I have ever been. Getting out of my village to study in the big city has given me the opportunity to actually get to know the amazing place that Madrid is. I now master not only algebra and physics, but the metro lines as well.

What are your favourite things about it?

One of my absolute favourite things about my programme is the way people look at you when they discover this piece of information about you. Plus, I am never scared to share my struggles because everybody knows it is one of the most difficult programmes out there. They don’t know the mark cut-off is actually quite low, though. I would say the hardest part about my path is being persistent and organised and, funnily enough, this discipline is one thing I really enjoy, too.

Was that your first option when choosing your major?

It was my first official option, yes, but not my real first. I originally wanted to be a guardia civil (Spanish civilian police). All my life my parents, who are part of the military, passed on their values and sparked my interest in that field. However, the cut-off mark was completely inflated because of the few positions offered every year, so I enquired about other engineering majors and ended up here.

Are you planning on changing your major in the future or would you like to get a job in the telecommunications sector?

There is always a possibility of joining the military as a graduated engineer, but I don’t think I will follow that path. Now that I am experiencing a new-found interest in telecommunications, I will most likely continue to work as one, although there are many options available. In the nearby future, I am at least sure that I want to complete my education by going overseas to do my Master’s.

Would you recommend people to choose this major? Why or why not?

Without hesitation, yes. The summer I finished high school, everyone was telling me, ‘Be prepared to not find university as interesting, fun and fulfilling as you may have seen in movies’, and such. That made me a little bit insecure about my decision to not pursue my guardia civil aspirations. Not even a month later, the amazing atmosphere of my uni had me floating in air. The people here are amazing and there is no toxic competitivity. Moreover, I really enjoy most of my subjects.

Is your college far from where you live?

About an hour with public transport.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced concerning your studies?

Keeping up with the rhythm of every subject, without neglecting my other personal responsibilities.

Do you feel people from your class like what they’re doing?

Half do, a quarter don’t but they persist, the rest have been here a long time and have forgotten already.

How’s the atmosphere like in your university?

Amazing. Everyone is there for each other. We organise lots of parties.

If you could change anything about it, what would it be? 

The professors, they are horrible.

And lastly, are you more a dog or a cat person?

I would say a dog person only because I like that they are caring, usually, no matter who you are.

Dunia López / S4ESA / EEB1 Uccle

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