PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Matteo Cantarello

“Sure, there are things you do with work that are relevant and will influence people’s lives, but I think it’s likewise important the way one behaves in their own life outside of work, what activities you are doing, society, community, volunteering.”

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

Spanish, PhD 2018

Project Support Agent at Europol

Matteo‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss how Matteo’s childhood experiences inspired him to pursue a PhD in Spanish, the importance of forming a community among colleagues and friends during his time in graduate school, and his advice for intentionally looking inward to identify a career path that suits your interests and skills.

Learn More About Matteo‘s Story

Europe and a backpack are my home bases. Regardless of what I am doing and where I am, if I close my eyes, I can picture home; I feel there. And ‘home’, for me, stretches from the coasts of Portugal to the flats of Poland. I am one of those privileged kids who are known as the Erasmus generation, born in a continent that knows no borders, one currency and a mix of languages where English is, in fact, “English”. I visited, lived and loved many places and peoples around the world, but when my plane lands anywhere in Europe, I feel back to where I belong. It also gives me comfort to think that I know, at the same time, so much and so little about my home base. And I never stop learning. I never stop moving. It always feels so good.

I used to detest exercising by myself. Even hitting the gym, to be efficient and consistent, had to be a collective effort for me. Half a year into the pandemic, in 2020, when there were no other options but the outdoors and myself, I left the house and went on a jog. It lasted 10 minutes. I walked back home with intense chest pain, hot flashes and disappointed. I slowly started adding length, then pace. In May 2021, I ran my first 5K at the college where I taught. It seemed never-ending. Fast-forward to 2023 and a friend convinced me to run a half marathon in The Hague. I ran for 2 hours and 21 minutes before crossing the finish line in tears. Jogging has somehow bettered the quality of my adult life—focus, stamina and quality time with myself. A marathon is the next goal.