Sebastian with his friend group at the London School of Economics, where he took an environmental economics class.
I know you spent some time at the London School of Economics last summer, what led you to pursue that?
I’d never traveled on my own, never been to Europe and it was a little scary and uncomfortable. But I knew the only way to grow and gain experience was to do it, so I said, what the hell, let’s go. When you take these chances, you lose a lot of fear not just about traveling, but trying new things in general. I’m actually going to spend this summer in Argentina working with an economist there, and although my mom isn’t that thrilled about it, sometimes you have to take that leap.
For a lot of first-gen students, going to college makes them more different from their family members. For students who come from immigrant families/are immigrants themselves, this dynamic is often magnified. How do you handle this and remain authentic to yourself?
Number one, you have to know that you’re not alone. Even the kid whose whole family has gone to Ivy Leagues, even she’s probably a little scared. Second, start small. You don’t have to immediately jump in and join a thousand clubs, overextend yourself, and then die. You can do something simple like cooking in the dorm’s kitchen and sharing the food with someone who walks in. Starting really small helps you get comfortable and make the college more of a home.
In terms of your family, I think the trick is to always remain humble, just because I’m going to college doesn’t mean that I know anything or that I’m entitled to anything. A lot of times my parents or friends who didn’t go to college are wiser than I am. I don’t doubt that. I may know something about p values now, but I don’t know everything about love, friendship, or life.
Rapid Fire Round:
Give me one book recommendation: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho—it teaches that lesson I mentioned that wisdom can only be found, not sought.
Something cool you’ve recently stumbled upon: Cubanitos coffee. It's an espresso with a froth of sugar. It’s the elixir of the gods.
Fun fact (about yourself or anything else): I play guitar, I love improvisation, and I really like blues because improvising is so important in that genre.
Study tip: Take your phone, silence it, put it on do not disturb, and then throw it in the river. You have to get into what psychologists call "flow"; it's so important. (We'll talk more about the concept of flow in an upcoming post!)
Many thanks to Sebastian for sitting down and talking with us!