Lisanly Vanblarcum (24, Curaçao), Master in Fiscal Economics
I found another family in the Netherlands

“At high school on Curaçao, I only spoke when I was spoken to. I was very shy. Even so, I chose UM because of its Problem-Based Learning approach. Being active in class seemed a lot easier in theory than it turned out to be in practice. I was insecure, constantly compared myself to others and didn’t ask for help when I started getting stuck. So my first year, in a different economics track, wasn’t exactly a success. I didn’t make any new friends either.

I started over with the bachelor’s programme in Fiscal Economics, thinking: what am I going to do differently in order to succeed? For starters, I took a part-time job at Domino’s Pizza. This gave me something else to think about and it taught me how to chat with strangers. Now I call the people who were my colleagues there my Dutch family.

I also started to be more active in the tutorials. Even if I wasn’t sure my contribution was going to be valuable, I’d speak up anyway, figuring I’d be able to learn from the feedback. At first that feedback felt like harsh criticism, and I’d clam up. But I learnt that it contributes to your personal development. I’m no longer as shy and reserved as I once was; instead I’ve become more open and confident.

Towards the end of my bachelor’s programme I did an internship at the tax authorities on Curaçao. Theory and practice turned out to complement each other well, and I had a fantastic time. Then, during the master’s programme in Fiscal Economics, I took a course called Cross-Border Taxation of Human Capital. I’d never even heard of it, but my first thought was: Wow! It involves informing companies or expats, for example, about the tax issues that come with working abroad. It’s all about international taxes and interacting with people, helping them. That really appeals to me.

After that I took part in a masterclass at a large accountancy firm, where we worked on a case study alongside professionals. I loved it; I’m hoping to find a job like that. Maastricht is a beautiful and quiet city, so I’d be happy to stay here, but I also wouldn’t mind going somewhere else. I won’t be able to find a job in my specialisation on Curaçao, but I’ve got over the homesickness a bit. I have a family in the Netherlands now as well, not just at Domino’s but also from my programme. We became close because we took classes at both the economics and the law faculty, which other students considered a bit odd. I’ve built a life for myself here.”