Hola, my name is Diego and I will tell you a bit about me and just like all my stories I will start from the beginning: It all started in 1987. September 18th was a Friday and, to be even more specific, it was 15h45 when I was born in that corner of the continent called Colombia. Some people call it now Polombia but that is another story.
Then I grew up, went to school, went to another school, then I got accepted to college and got a job as a teacher at the lycée français Louis Pasteur in Bogota. I could tell you all the details that my mind can recall about the thing I call “my life” but I will spare you the burden and I won’t waste your time. Even though, if you really want to know all about me, I will encourage you to buy my biography (whenever it sees the light in the publishing world) or become friends with me.
Before all this I had my dream job, I lived in a nice flat in probably the best neighborhood in Bogota, I had two cats, I had a steady routine which allowed me to have an active social life and keep practicing my favourite sport. I could travel the world during the holidays and I had enough free time to read, draw and watch movies… I even had the time to fall in love and dive into the whole experience of the emotion. Life was good until it was not.
Then reality was shattered by the unexpected, the unimaginable, the impossible. A pandemic broke out and agape we all saw how our lives crumbled to debris. Most people thought it was a dream, more likely a nightmare, but when reality finally set foot in our lives, we found ourselves deprived of our most valuable possessions, our free will and being social.
Being forced to give up our lives not only made us question our place as species on this spinning rock revolving around the Sun, it also made us ask ourselves what is the whole point of life. Thus there I was, asking myself what to do next to feel alive again, especially when life reached its prime. So this Master in Rare Book story really starts with a COVID trip to the ruins of Machu Picchu and the magical Andes, when a link with a message reached me: “Je sais que tu n’as pas trop envie de reprendre tes études, mais je pense que ce master va t’intéresser. Tiens-moi au courant!”
I didn’t pay much attention to the message in the beginning, so I just left it for later. Back in Cusco I was amazed by the information my friend had sent me. It was a master’s program offered by the UBFC: Master in Rare Book and Digital Humanities. In my mind I would have never imagined the existence of such a program because I completely ignored the whole process behind the production of books. To be honest, even if my opinion might be provocative, books are not appreciated in the same way they are in Europe. In Colombia books are most of the time used as ornamental objects, they can denote wealth and intellectuality even if the owner has never read them… but of course, there are always some exceptions and that is how knowledge strives.
In my life there is not a single day that I don’t read, basically books are my best friends: they are always there, they give me advice when needed; books take me to places I cannot go either because time travelling is still impossible or because the places, characters and events can only exist in the imagination of the reader. Books can be a life’s saver too, can you imagine how the lockdown would have ended without books or any type of art? I cannot even picture the levels of human madness without music, literature or films.
So there it was, the Master in Rare Book hovering in my mind as a possible path to take in the near future. The more I read about what this master’s could be about, the more interested I became and I started to unveil this new chamber of knowledge containing the history of one of my favourite objects ever: the book. Then I made my mind: to leave everything behind and come to France to study books, rare books and books that can be rare.
– Why would you do that?, People asked.
– Why not? I answered back but the real reason is I like learning and I refused to do a master’s degree for ten years because nothing had been able to awaken my interest. So I am doing my master’s in Rare Books and Digital Humanities because of my love for books and all the fun that comes with learning a new thing.
Maybe one day it will help me to explore more professional fields and have a new career. I don’t really want to stress about the future right now because after COVID, it is clear that the future doesn’t exist; for now I want to learn as much as I can, make new contacts and get back on track (even if the rhythm of a student’s life requires a lot of energy and flexibility). Who knows I might try to aim to get a PhD in here.
My favourite part so far is being a student again even if I am not economically independent, but it also reminds me of the importance of being minimalist. It has its ups and downs, however I really enjoy learning new things every day, especially the technological ones because I always hated working in front of a computer and because I thought myself dumb at computers. Maybe I am still dumb, but a little less than before. I also hope to improve my English.
I also like most of the classes and having new friends is spite of the age gap, I also suffer with Latin but at the end all those moments configure this whole new experience, and starting anew in a different country is perhaps the nicest, or should I say hardest?, way to get out of the comfort zone .