We Are Essex

Camila's story

Camila Comunello headshot

"I’m the first in my family to study abroad, and the first to get a higher education too."

I first got into Economics because I love how it explains human behaviour without getting personal in the way something like Psychology does. You study a lot of incentives and how things actually work, then you put that in models and it makes it easier to understand.

I really want to work with economic research. I’m on the MRes Economics course. My area of research is the economics of education. I study mainly developing economies which is still relatively new to empirical research in economics for education. I find it really interesting and I love that they do it in Essex. I like to see the results, like ‘education increases productivity’, ‘education increases happiness of people’. It’s difficult to measure the total impact of education. But that’s what got me curious and led me here.

Education has a lot of spill overs. I think everyone benefits from an equal offer of education. It would equalise opportunity for everyone and it would increase productivity. Education would be the most impactful change a nation could have, to give everyone equal opportunity. I have some personal involvement in my research. Brazil is very different to here for your graduate studies. In Brazil, before you graduate, you often work. It’s very difficult to just study, it’s not affordable. So a lot of people end up dropping out – they can’t pay for their education. So I have a lot of life experience that proves why education is so important.

Getting here, to Essex, made me very proud. In Brazil we’re not led to believe that we should study abroad, so I think getting here is one my biggest achievements. I’m the first in my family to study abroad, and the first to get a higher education too. My parents are very, very proud. They miss me, but they understand that it’s for a bigger purpose. I chose Essex because of my line of research. I plan to get a PhD after this, and the person who will probably be my supervisor is someone I always wanted to work with. I read about him in my textbooks back in Brazil. That’s the reason I am here, because I got the opportunity to work with him. I’ve been here since September. It’s a really nice campus, the classes are interesting. I love staying here.

As a foreign student it can feel quite overwhelming. You can feel like you’re not good enough, there’s a language barrier and a cultural barrier even. The educational system from one country to another can be very different so that can make you feel like you’re not good enough. I think you just have to remember your purpose and be true to that, but that can be hard. All of my flatmates are great. We are all foreigners so we kind of all understand each other. We all struggle at some point and it’s very grounding to talk to them. Sometimes you feel like you don’t want to talk about your struggle when everyone else is doing so great. You can feel ashamed to talk about it. But then if you do talk you realise that other people feel it too, you’re not alone.

If I could give someone starting their journey any advice I would say; be united with your purpose, and don’t compare yourself to others. The first because you have to know what you want, even if sometimes it looks really difficult. And the second well, I have classmates here that went to really good universities that I never had the opportunity to go to so sometimes you feel like you’re not good enough. Sometimes things just look too big for you, so don’t compare to others. You have your own path, your own life. Do your best, your own best, and that might not be the same as for others.


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