Thinking from a ‘world union’ perspective
“I’m from Italy and did my bachelor’s in Psychology at another Dutch university, Leiden. After high school I wasn’t sure what to study, so I went to London for two and a half years to improve my English. After that I wanted to study abroad, because I liked the international vibe, the open mind and I think it’s beneficial for your future.”
“After my bachelor’s I was looking for a good programme in neuroscience, and I chose this programme based on the rankings and the teaching method. In Leiden I was in the honours programme, which felt a bit like Problem-Based Learning. I liked the way you go deeper into a topic and discuss what you study.”
How do you like studying in the Netherlands?
“The pros definitely outweigh the cons, but it’s not like being on holiday. There are some challenges, but if you’re open minded and aware of that, it will help you not to be overwhelmed. For me, being from Italy, it was quite challenging to walk around, particularly in Amsterdam,where people are smoking weed on the streets. In this country it’s legal. I also have mixed feelings about the legalisation of prostitution in the Netherlands. I understand the system, but it’s quite different from what I was used to. But I felt at home once I realised that I could be myself here. In the Netherlands, you can talk about anything without being judged for it. People are very open minded and I love that.”
Have you mainly made Italian friends?
“Not only, because it doesn’t seem logical to me to live abroad and create a mini version of my country around me. In Leiden I found a great crowd of people that I hang out with the most. We’re six to ten girls, with our own T-shirts, and we support each other a lot. We have two Dutch members, one Mexican, two Austrian, one Hungarian and me from Italy. In December we’ll be visiting Budapest together. Since my current programme is quite demanding, you end up spending a lot of time with your course mates. We have ten to twelve nationalities in our group and that’s going to add to my current circle of friends.”
What’s your experience with the International Classroom in Maastricht?
“We’re all very open minded and aware of our cultural differences. It leads to deeper and more diverse discussions, without judgements. We’re very interested in one another’s cultures and really think from a ‘world union’ perspective.”
Why do you think it’s important to have international students at a Dutch university?
“It’s widely known that for your own benefit it’s important to organise a diverse community around you. With only homogeneous people you can’t think outside the box and there’s the risk of tunnel vision. I think it’s important for a university to focus on building a diverse community.”
How about your future plans?
“In October next year I’ll be doing an internship, hopefully abroad. I can bring back to Maastricht what I learn there. After that it’s a big question where the future will lead me. I really like the international vibe in general. Being an international student is amazing.”