From law student to permanent resident of the Netherlands
In this new series, we ‘travel through time’ with UM alumni through their working lives. What was their childhood ambition, where are they working now and where do they see themselves in 10 years’ time? This time: Lydia Liu (Chinese name: Yueying Liu), a graduate from China who decided to stay in the Netherlands after her studies...
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lydia: ‘‘I was born in Chongqing, China, as the only daughter in my family. In my childhood, the Chinese economic boom took place, which made my parents work harder than ever before. It was a tough time, but because of their hard work, they could save some money. After all, education is the most important for Asian parents to focus on, so eventually they decided to use that money for supporting me in studying, preferably in a country with a good education system. That is how I ended up in the Netherlands, at the age of 20, with two big suitcases and one ‘Dutch dream’.’’
‘‘I have always been passionate about helping others and contributing to society. Therefore, I decided to study public international law and human rights in The Hague, followed by the master’s programme European Law at Maastricht University. However, my very first dream as a child was to become a writer! A few months ago, I started to pursue that dream by starting my personal blog. I want to share my life and experiences with people, I hope it can present them a different view or interesting experiences. In addition, it is nice for me to get to know other people/readers via my blog.’’
What has your study time been like in Maastricht? And where do you currently work?
‘‘The master’s programme European Law was great, but my study time hasn’t always been easy. My English was not so good at that time, so in order to keep up with the rest of the class, I had to prepare every lecture and tutorial very extensively in advance. On the other hand, I felt a lot of pressure to graduate on time, because study delay is expensive and many Asians consider it as a shame to the family. In the Netherlands, just doing your best is fine. Asian countries, however, have a ‘be your best’ kind of culture – people expect you to reach your goal, whatever it takes. Failure is no option, and parents, teachers and bosses do not like to hear excuses.’’
‘‘I am very happy to say that I managed to graduate successfully and… on time! After my graduation, I decided to stay in the Netherlands and started working and saving some money there, in order to prove myself that I could find a job in a foreign country. First, I worked for a Taiwanese company in the Netherlands, but after I while I started searching for a more challenging job. However, I entered a tough labour market and the fact that I am not a Dutch native speaker nor an EU national made my job search even more complicated. Eventually I was hired by Vanderlande, which is a global market leader for logistic process automation at airports, the parcel market and warehouses. The main tasks in my role as International Mobility Officer are related to management, HR and (policy) advising. After six months of working there, I even got my permanent working contract!’’
‘‘Next to my job at Vanderlande, I am doing some part-time activities. For example, I coach international students in the Netherlands in finding a job, writing CV’s and motivation letters, dealing with cultural differences, and so on. I want to be valuable to others and share my strengths and experiences with them.’’
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
‘‘In my 10 years of living in the Netherlands, I got my diplomas, a nice job, a permanent residence permit and my driver’s license. Moreover, I can speak good Dutch now, I have met a lot of wonderful people and I am well-immigrated in the country. Nevertheless, I miss my family in China very much, especially during this corona crisis.’’
‘‘In the future, I would like to benefit (more) from the globalisation; working and living in different countries and travelling the world. Maybe I will start my own company one day, which focuses on overcoming European and Asian cultural barriers. And I hope to write a romantic book someday as well… Anyway, I am not sure where I will live or where I will work in the future. It does not matter, as long as I am happy, I am able to grow as a professional and I can live by my motto: never give up, keep trying and learning, and make the best out of everything!’’
Text: Milou Schreuders