Tag: tilburg

Anita, a bright and talented girl from Latvia

Today we have met a young smart and brilliant Latvian girl, her name is Anita, she lives in Nijmegen and she concluded her first master in Linguistics one month ago. After it she has just started a Research master in Language and Communication which is part of a new joint master program offered by the Radboud University Nijmegen and the Tilburg University.

Anita, you have a very intercultural education background, I know you speak fluently four languages, respectively, Italian, English, Russian and of course Latvian…

« I took my bachelor degree in Latvia, but at first I did not know what to study exactly after high-school.  I was interested in Journalism and at the same time there was a very interesting bachelor program on Intercultural Relations between Latvia and Italy. The same year I finished high-school a new cycle was about to begin – it was something totally different and challenging so I decided to do it. »

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Anita with her former housemates

 Get a very multicultural education seems to be a very strategic choice made by several European students who decide to invest in their future moving abroad, getting used to new habits and lifestyles. Why did you decide to move to the Netherlands for your master ?

«Well, my sister was studying in the Netherlands before me, she could vouch for the high level of education since I was looking for Universities with high standards in terms of  education and research. Especially the latter aspect was very important for me and it turned out that Radboud University was also a great university for research »

Leaving your own country for new challenges abroad is not always easy as may appear, there are several aspects which must be taken into account such as the new culture you are living in, the new habits and also the new lifestyle of that country. How is you daily life in the Netherlands ? Is there something you miss the most from your own country?

« If I don’t have to attend lectures I usually go to my office at the MPI (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics ) to keep on working on my current research. If I have to compare my lifestyle here to my Latvian one, I would say that here I am a bit antisocial in the sense that I am really focused on my studies and research so I cannot invest a lot of time in establishing new friendships which require time. Culturally speaking I really miss my Latvian tasty food, I also miss going out because the way of partying is completely different from the Dutch one. However, the thing I miss the most is that feeling of belonging which is the result of years and years spent in your own country, the feeling you have when you cross a bridge you know since you’ve been six, the mental association you have when you travel through a path you know perfectly. »

Anita during a conference
Anita during a conference

It clearly appears that you’re investing time, efforts and money in your education, as previously mentioned this type of choice is driven by the added value that such experience can bring both from the personal growth point of view and for the educational enrichment itself. What are your future plans? After your master degrees would you like to remain in the Netherlands?

« I would like to apply for a PhD after my master, I want to become a researcher in the field of Language and Communication. From the very start my main interest was Multimodal Communication but for my PhD I would like to link it to Developmental psychology. Well,  it all depends on the chance to find a PhD position suitable for me, I wouldn’t mind changing country since I believe it would be extremely valuable to change setting in order to grasp more knowledge from a different perspective.»

 Apart from your deep interest in Communication, Language, and Psychology, I know that you are also an active photographer. Few of your works are available here www.anitagigante.blogspot.com . Could you tell us a bit more about it and when exactly you started with photography?

 «I’ve always liked to take pictures, I started with a basic digital camera, the cheapest one you buy before a trip somewhere. I was always trying to make better and more artistic pictures, that was the challenge. In 2011 I went on Erasmus to Italy, there I realized I wanted to move to a higher level  so I started taking pictures of landscapes and architecture because I was hesitant  to ask people to pose for me when my skills were not that good yet. I experimented first, trying to improve my technique every time till my transition from landscapes to  portraiture began. It was in 2013, precisely in Sicily where I realized my first “real” artistic  photo shoot with my Latvian friend .  From that moment onwards I only focussed on working with people. The main important thing for me is that the models are happy with the pictures I am taking; they have to recognize them, like them, and identify themselves. Moreover,  when shooting my personal projects I never pay to the models, it ‘s always a collaboration; so I want to make sure they love the end product and they feel proud to have participated in bringing it to life»

Anita’s first photo shoot with her friend  Anna
Anita’s first photo shoot with her friend  Anna

Latvia entered the EU in 2004, exactly 10 years later move a step forward to the Eurozone. How was perceived this change by the public opinion? Which is the general sentiment about it ? How do you perceive the European Union?

«In my opinion, the entrance in EU was perceived like something  that has just to be done and it seemed like a logical step forward for a small country like Latvia. As regards the adaptation of the Euro currency there was a fair currency change campaign; the state promoted a fair change, so the public opinion appeared to be rather satisfied. It was pretty funny the fact that I came back and I could use the same currency I was using here. Thankfully we didn’t have to face problems like Italy when the currency was changing.

When I think about the European Union I think about this great initiative to gather different  European countries and making it possible to gain experiences all around Europe. This is a great chance for young people to discover new cultures and to broaden their horizons. What I find really interesting is that when I was younger I was amazed  by meeting people from a different country, you hear a foreign language and you try to guess the nationality, maybe you chat with them and you discover they are from Portugal.Well this kind of surprise effect doesn’t happen anymore because nowadays our countries are so multicultural and open that several languages and cultures coexisting at the same time is absolutely normal. I would say that we are the transition generation, the one which noticed this shift to a more globalized reality.»

Nemo propheta in patria

Sempre più spesso si sente parlare del fenomeno dei cervelli in fuga, giovani laureati, motivati e con ottimi risultati accademici che purtroppo non trovano spazio nel tanto amato et odiato Bel Paese.

Che cosa spinge questi giovani che rappresentano il futuro di una nazione a lasciare famiglia, amici e un luogo a loro caro dal punto di vista emotivo per nuove realtà? Sembrerebbe una scelta dettata dalle maggiori possibilità lavorative che il paese ospitante offre ai nostri connazionali, ma oltre a questo vantaggio quali sono gli altri aspetti connessi a questa scelta ?

Francesca, venticinquenne originaria di Padova laureata in Giurisprudenza presso l’Università di Bologna che poi ha conseguito un master LLM in International Business Law presso la Tilburg University ci aiuterà a rispondere a queste domande.

Francesca durante una tipica serata Olandese che prevede il famosissimo Beer Cantus

«A metà Agosto 2014 mi sono trasferita a Tilburg. Essenzialmente mi ha spinto la necessità di specializzarmi in Diritto Commerciale Internazionale. Oltre a questo, avendo iniziato la pratica forense, mi sono resa conto delle poche prospettive lavorative per i giovani laureati. Di conseguenza, non potendo fare progetti neppure a breve termine sia a livello economico sia a livello personale, ho deciso di investire nuovamente sul mio futuro scegliendo un’ulteriore esperienza all’ estero. »

Sorge spontaneo domandarsi per quale motivo proprio nei Paesi Bassi e non in altri stati dove il sistema universitario è spesso sinonimo di garanzia lavorativa una volta concluso il percorso accademico.

«La mia scelta è stata dettata dal piano studi offerto dall’Università di Tilburg, poiché corrispondeva alle mie esigenze, ovvero specializzarmi in diritto commerciale non Europeo ma Internazionale e al tempo stesso l’idea di maturare questa esperienza in un ambiente multiculturale e altamente stimolante. »

Francesca appare pienamente soddisfatta della sua scelta, vivendo all’estero le si sono aperti gli occhi sul fatto che i Paesi Bassi, pur non essendo il suo paese d’origine, le stiano dando quelle possibilità che la sua nazione le avrebbe dovuto dare. Ha lasciato l’Italia non per mancanza di amor patriae, bensì per l’impossibilità di fare progetti futuri, quali famiglia e carriera. Il primo impatto con gli standard olandesi non lascia dubbi sull’ efficienza di questa nazione.

Francesca con amici in Lapponia durante il suo periodo Erasmus ad Helsinki

«A livello universitario il metodo è molto simile ai paesi nordici, periodi costantemente intensi per via degli individual/group assignments richiesti prima di giungere all’esame finale. Avendo fatto l’Erasmus in Finlandia non ho trovato difficoltà ad adeguarmi al modello universitario olandese. Per quanto riguarda lo stile di vita, diciamo che ho fatto un po’ più di fatica ad abituarmi al clima rigido e agli orari Olandesi: pausa pranzo alle 12:00 per non più di trenta minuti, cena alle 18:00 e tutti i negozi già chiusi al ritorno dal lavoro. Pienamente positivo il giudizio riguardo agli olandesi, sono stata accolta nel mondo universitario e lavorativo con estrema cordialità in un’atmosfera dove si percepisce il lavoro come un dovere ma al tempo stesso coesiste con un profondo rispetto della vita privata e dei ritmi personali. Infine, oltre alla splendida integrazione culturale e sociale che include tutti i benefici dell’essere cittadino di questa nazione, mi piace l’estrema gentilezza che cambia davvero la giornata, sali sul bus l’autista ti sorride, cerchi un’ informazione e subito qualcuno si rende disponibile per aiutarti, ti rechi semplicemente a fare le compere settimanali e tutti sono felici, sorridenti e cordiali. »

Ovviamente Francesca trasmette una piacevole impressione riguardo alla sua esperienza all’estero, quasi come se il paese ospitante fosse il paese di Bengodi. Tuttavia, il suo ritmo di vita per affermarsi nel sistema olandese, molto competitivo e professionale, dimostra la determinazione necessaria per poter godere degli aspetti positivi offerti da questa nazione.

«La mia settimana tipo inizia con la sveglia alle 5:50, prendo l’autobus per la stazione dei treni, colazione veloce e orribile, treno diretto a Eindhoven dove inizio a lavorare alle 9:00 sino alle 17:30. Finito il lavoro torno a Tilburg, vado a fare la spesa, ceno e sino a poche settimane fa mi dedicavo per tutto il resto della serata alla stesura della tesi. Il sabato e la domenica sono sacri in Olanda: riposo totale e momenti di relax che trascorro a Bruxelles con il mio ragazzo Joris »

I progetti futuri di Francesca appaiono chiari, rimanere in Olanda o comunque nel Nord Europa e continuare a lavorare per aziende di rilievo a livello internazionale, viaggiare e perseguire le stesse soddisfazioni che riceve ogni qualvolta porta a termine nuovi progetti lavorativi.

AEGEE Summer University will change your student life : Simonas can vouch for that!

As you already know AEGEE gives you several chances to integrate in the international University social life, today we have a special guest to interview, a young Lithuanian guy who has just become vice-president of AEGEE Tilburg.

Hello Simonas, we have heard that now you are involved directly with AEGEE Tilburg but first tell us something about you.

 Hello, my name is Simonas Valionis, I am 25 years old and I come from Lithuania. At the moment I am doing a master in Communication and Information Sciences at Tilburg University with specialization in Digital Media and Business Communication. During my previous education I studied to become translator from Lithuanian to English and vice versa .

Why did you decide to leave your own country and apply for a master in the Netherlands?

After finishing my translation studies I was offered a job in the same college I was studying, the job was related to communication and international relations, I was responsible for the Erasmus programme in my institution and I also supervised several European projects in high education. For instance, there was a large project called ADUQUA which was related to adult education and whose main goal was to help immigrants all over Europe to integrate better in their countries. After working in this position for two and half years I felt that it was time to move on, find new challenges and change my environment. Why the Netherlands? Well, I started applying for MA degrees in several countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands because I was always fascinated by the Western part of Europe. Finally, I got accepted by two different Dutch Universities, respectively, Radboud University Nijmegen and Tilburg University. After reviewing them both I decided to go with the latter one.

Simonas and his friends during AEGEE Summer University in Spain

So far so good in the Netherlands?

Absolutely ! I have been here for one year only and I feel that this country has become my second home, I do really enjoy living here. However,  after graduating I am planning to explore other continents and countries, most likely USA.

We also know that last summer you had a great experience with AEGEE, could you please describe your experience ?

I participated in the biggest project of AEGEE which is the summer university . It was the best summer I have ever had in my life, I spent 18 wonderful days in the North of Spain travelling and experiencing  amazing cities like Zaragoza, Burgos, Leon, Madrid. I met a bunch of amazing people from all over the Europe who became close friends and we continue to keep in touch until now. This summer university was the reason that I decided to become an active member of AEGEE Tilburg because I wanted to return the favour to the organization which gave me this incredible chance to widen my horizons. I contacted the previous board members of AEGEE Tilburg to ask if could join the new board that was expected to be elected in the coming weeks, after several interviews I was appointed  as a vice-president of the student association.

Dionne, Tsvetelina, Nikki, Simonas and Ruben respectively the board members of AEGEE Tilburg

Would you recommend the same experience to young students then?

I would definitely recommend everyone to join AEGEE and participate in a summer University for several reasons : ability to experience new cultures through their local food, heritage, and citizens , have the chance to meet the most incredible young people from all over the Europe who want to exchange their knowledge and talents, finally have the time of your life.

Let’s change topic, Lithuania has been part of the European Union since 2004 at the beginning of this year more precisely the 1st January 2015 joined the Eurozone by adopting the euro currency. What is your impression about this decision?

There is no doubt that it is a great achievement for Lithuania to be part of the EU since 2004 and the option to adopt the EURO was a main topic from the very beginning. However, it required a lot of systematic hard work and many years inside the country in order to be ready to change the currency. The reason why this process took so long it was basically that in order to change the currency the economy of a country must be stable, back in 2004 Lithuania was still a growing country  not yet ready for such big changes. After three governmental terms and an improved economical situation it was the right time to embrace the Euro currency. Well, my impression is that this change was inevitable and it happened at the time when the country and the people were already prepared for that. Even though, it can be noticed that the prices have increased a little bit, the benefits carried by this decision in the long term period will outweigh this aspect.

Simonas and his friends enjoying Amsterdam during the Queen’s day

Do you  perceive the EU as a whole entity or given the recent events such the Greek referendum and all its implications you think that this great project is still far from being achieved ?

 For me personally, the EU project is what makes the whole Europe unite. There will always be challenges and difficulties for the complete and equal integration of the continent, but if we all think about other people, not only ourselves and systematically work towards the same goal, we will overcome the darkest times, setting the life quality at the level which satisfies everyone. In my opinion, Europe should be borderless and available to all who are interested. Some call it Europe, I call it home!

Project Simba : a students contribution to young African children

Young, motivated , and willing to change the world : these are the main aspects of five Tilburg University students who have decided to start a new project in South Africa, in the local municipality of Emfuleni more precisely in the area of Sebokeng and Vanderbijlpark. The non-profit organization they created is called Lend a Hand (facebook page) and the project which has taken place this  summer is called  project Simba.simbaLet’s meet the members of such a great NGO!ImmagineName: Walter M. Pasquarelli
Education: BA Liberal Arts & Sciences: Law Major, Tilburg University/ Instituto Técnologico de Monterrey
Future projects : Expand Lend A Hand and make it a permanent institution by providing project on annual basis and empowering new members to join the mission
Name : Livia Kaiser.
Education : BSc International Business Administration.
Future projects : Keep on working for Lend a hand NGO.cName : Maximilian de Vreeze.
Education: BA Liberal arts and Sciences, Major: Law in Europe exchange: Sciences Po Paris
Future projects: Expand “Lend a Hand” and further develop it into a sustainable and international NGO.
cName: Berry Sonnenschein
Education: Tilburg University – Bachelor in Liberal Arts & Sciences. Majoring in International & European Law.
Future projects:
African proverb – “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If     you want to go far, go together.”At this present moment, I have not given much thought on future products I would like to conduct in the same manner as I have dedicated much of my attention to Lend A Hand. Any project which I could possibly be a member of in the future will be joined in respect of the African proverb.cName: Doreen Verbakel
Education: BA Liberal Arts & Sciences: Humanities Major
Future projects: Contributing to the development of Lend A Hand to make a difference for adolescents in South Africa.  In addition to this I would like to invite other people to get involved in this initiative to put in their own personal contribution.

Explain Pequod’s readers which were the most important aspects about Project Simba.

The most important aspects about Project Simba were the promotion of social inclusion and economic development, organizing activities, and inspiring adolescents to grow over themselves to build a better future. The main thought that we had in conducting our project was “we cannot change where somebody is coming from; but we can try to influence their final destination”. In addition to this we used our time in South Africa to network with local organizations. Our central aim is not to do a one-edition project, but rather to make it sustainable by having local partners to deploy volunteers at least on annual basis.

An article about Lend a Hand written on a local newspaper in South Africa
Livia, Max, Benny and Walter with young students who were provided new shoes

During your experience in South Africa did you find any cultural obstacles to deal with? Which was the most challenging  part of the project ?

Obviously South Africa is a place completely remote from Europe. Cultural differences are present in almost every aspect of everyday life. A notable difference was for example the concept of “African-time”. If you arrange a meeting at 2pm, you shouldn’t be totally surprised if in fact the meeting starts at 3.30pm. The philosophy in this case is not “I am late” but rather “I have been delayed”. Of course being foreigners and thus guests it is something we adapted to very quickly.

How  many activities did you organize over the period spent in South Africa?

Over the time we were in South Africa our schedule was dived mainly in two parts, during the morning we had meeting with children from various schools, we also had several motivational speeches in front of 40/50 students in each school. The main aim of these meetings was to  persuade them that primary education and University is the only way to improve their future. Moreover, we tried to establish new networks with local businesses and organizations in order to build new possible partnerships. The activities we arranged in the schools ranged from inspirational speeches to judo- dance- and soccer training. The afternoon, however, was entirely dedicated to the children of the Emfuleni Shelter House, which is an orphanage we decided to work with. Besides physical activities, our aim was to share with the kids some of our values and ideas but also to give them an image of how life can be from the countries we come from. We tried to bring this close to them by providing interactive lectures mainly focused on multiculturalism, sustainability and human rights.

Motivational speech in front of more than 40 students
Motivational speech in front of more than 40 students

Are you satisfied with the results you achieved with your first project in South Africa?

Yes, we are totally satisfied especially because of the enthusiasm shared by the young students during the majority of the activities we organized. Secondly, as our main aim is to make the Project Simba as sustainable as possible we had several meetings with organizations and companies in order to look for financings and subsidies. For instance, a company specialized in engineer training supported us to buy shoes and uniforms. In the end, thanks to their help we were able to provide new shoes to five schools and uniforms for all the children in the orphanage. During the last day we also had a meeting with two different local associations, respectively, SEEDS and NOT FORGOTTEN. Both associations work for the whole year in South Africa, they teach to young students and children different tasks and skills in order to learn specific types of job. With them we have established a partnership, as a matter of fact next year there will be an exchange of partners, we will send 4/5 volunteers there.  The aim is to send more volunteers and strengthen this partnership in order to enlarge networks there and give more support which will be composed on local support combined with  our European support.

From Mexico to the Netherlands : what a great experience!

Today we have interviewed Rodrigo, a young Mexican guy who decided to move to Europe after his bachelor in Mexico. Rodrigo is really open minded and easy-going, he loves to travel as much as he can and get in touch with new people, especially with European students. According to his first impressions about living in the Netherlands, we might say «so far so good».


Hello Rodrigo! Tell us something about yourself, please.

Well, my name is Rodrigo and I am Mexican, which is one of the first things that people should know, I guess. I am currently studying in Tilburg, NL, doing a master’s in Communication, but right now I am doing an internship in Amsterdam, which is pretty cool.

Why did you choose the Netherlands?

Because it’s the gateway to Europe, it has one of the best education systems in the world, also the fact that ninety percent of the people here in the Netherlands speak English helps a lot.

Describe your life in the Netherlands.

As I said before I am a student, in a normal day I go to class, after that to the library to study, trying to catch up with the deadlines. I always try do to as much as possible because you have to get it together if you want to pass the course, which means that there are hectic periods when you have several deadlines and all of them need to be done in a very short time. As regards social life, in the beginning it was difficult to socialize and go out because of the deadlines and group projects, but working together was the first step towards having a proper social life. Now that I have my own group of friends it’s easy to go out and enjoy our free-time. Our favourite spot is Kandinsky, a great pub in Tilburg where you can get several different types of beer, which is perfect to warm up before getting to the city centre and going dancing in some clubs.

Rodrigo is seriously enjoying Tilburg social life, including dinners!
Rodrigo is seriously enjoying Tilburg social life, including dinners!

How is living in the Netherlands different than living in your country?

I’d say there are few differences. Of course here I’ve started to enjoy sunny days as I have never done before, because in Mexico it’s always sunny, while here you definitely appreciate the sun, especially after some rainy days. Another difference regards the food – I have not missed Mexican food that much, I guess because here there are other delicious products like frikandel (a Dutch and Belgian snack, a sort of minced-meat hot dog – editor’s note) kassouflet (cheese croquettes, editor’s note), croquettes, kip corn (chicken nuggets, editor’s note). Also, people here are more open and direct with their feelings, while in Mexico they tend not to be so straight-forward… At the beginning this was quite a difference for me, something I had to get used to, especially when I started working with international people.

Each country has different tradition. Rodrigo seems to respect the local costumes, here he's celebrating Dutch Carnival with his friends.
Each country has its own traditions. Rodrigo seems to respect the local costumes, here he’s celebrating Dutch Carnival with his friends.

Which is the biggest challenge of moving to a new country? Have you had any regrets so far? What do you miss the most?          

The biggest challenge in my opinion is leaving everything you have behind you, friends and family, and starting everything from scratch . I cannot say I have any regrets, I would say that now I have done the right choice but at first I was hesitant about deciding to live far away from home. The thing that I miss the most from my country is my family, I was used to talk with them everyday and, even if today technology allows us to communicate everywhere and at any time, it’s not the same as having a real contact with the person you are talking to.

Especially in this particularly tough moment, what do you thing the meaning of Europe is? Do you perceive the existence of Europe as a community? If you were born here would you feel part of it?

I was used to a completely different world – probably if you ask a Greek student or a Spanish one, who have actually been living the European issue, you might get a better answer. What I am trying to say is that they experienced that situation and they are able to tell you more, and that is really fascinating. I feel that nowadays Europe is a little bit puzzled, given the recent events which are forcing Europe to be divided or more cohesive. Of course, if I were born here I would perceive myself as part of a multicultural community, therefore European .

Would you suggest your Mexican fellow students to have an experience like yours in Europe? If yes, why ?

I would one hundred percent suggest them to do it, there will be no regrets of doing such a choice, it’s a challenging one but it opens your mind and broaden also your job opportunities – thanks to an international environment you can experience more, get in touch with several people and enlarge your network.

Michael, a Dutch student with an entrepreneurial aptitude

Today we have met Michael Spikmans, a Dutch student from Eindhoven who is doing his MSc at the Tilburg University.During his previous studies he mainly focused on ICT, what makes Michael a different student in the domain of Information Technology is the strong awareness about the pivotal role of human aspects. His main goal is to bridge the gap between  technology illiterates and digital tools which enable people to be more competitive in the job market.


So Sir Spikmans, could you introduce yourself to Pequod’s readers ?

Hello, my name is Michael, I am from Eindhoven and studied Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for four year, graduated cum laude, worked for Philips and PinkRoccade (a health care organization). Right now I’m doing a master degree in  Communication and Information Sciences. I really like travelling, sightseeing, cycling and swimming, going out with my friends. I am also an amateur photographer and generally I take pictures during the summer. My favourite spots are desolated urban sites and I also have my own flickr profile.


Describe your country with three adjectives and mention what you like the most and the least about your own culture

OVERCROWDED, RAINY, LIVELY .  The aspect about my country I like the most is the cultural diversity, high level of tolerance and the innovative technology represented by the majority of the companies.

What did you study before applying for this master?

As I have already mentioned before, I studied ICT, more precisely my major was multimedia design which is basically developing websites and cross-media campaigns, also social media strategies. I also specialized in interaction design and user experience, the former is mainly focused on the user interaction with the product while the latter is more about the overall user experience.

Why did you decide to study at the Tilburg University?

Because they offer a master which gives you more insights on the human aspects of information technology. In addition, no matter how advance a product is, there is always a user behind it with no prior knowledge about it.  Here it’s my main aim, combining technology and humans aspects and trying to bridge the gap between them.

I have heard that you have an entrepreneurial aptitude, could you please explain more about it?

Yes, I have a sort of entrepreneurial aptitude, one year ago I founded my own online company, vector-licious.com, with  a former university colleague . Our primary business consists of developing websites, creating social media campaigns and customizing companies corporate identity.


In my spare time I also work as a volunteer in the Eindhoven library because I am interested in books, people and education. One year ago I started a new project with them, it is called digital café, because we have 43000 digital illiterates, which is a paradox since Eindhoven is the high-tech companies headquarter of the Netherlands. The goal of this project is to help people to use technological and digital tools. For example, I teach people how to use tablets, smart-phones, Windows and other types of software.

At first it was meant for elderly people but there was so much interest also from younger people that we decided to broad our target group by giving social media, online safety, and personal branding workshops.

Which are you plans after your master? Would you like to stay in the Netherlands or move abroad?

My plans change every week, at the moment I am really focused on applying for a PhD after my master because I would like to stay in the research and academic domain. However, even if I change my mind about the PhD I still have several plans such as developing more awareness about the crucial aspect of technology nowadays but always taking into account the central role of the human beings. Of course I would like to move abroad for a while, I would say USA because I want to get some experience from a major tech company like Google or Facebook.

Let’s change topic, what do you think about the European Union ? Do you feel part of it or you perceive it as a geographical entity only? Would you define yourself an European citizen?

I am always saying that I am European rather than I am Dutch and I like the fact that the borders are open, we are a large community, we can cooperate and build a better environment.  I totally feel part of it but unfortunately in practice it’s still far from the truth, because of the different cultural and economical situation of some countries. Yes, I would define myself as an European citizen to the extent that I was working for Philips (TP Vision) I worked for an European research project which included seven European countries called USEFIL, we had to do research on smart living environment for smart living environment people and I was enthusiastic to present my prototype to the European commission in Brussels.


Eva, a sweet girl half Spanish and half German

Hello EVA! Could you introduce yourself to Pequod’s readers?

Buenos días! My name is Eva I am a 24 years old girl who does not know how ended up in Tilburg. Sometimes when I’m walking along the streets it seems surreal living here.  I am totally into sports, I used to practice karate and now that I have moved to Tilburg I go to the University gym very often. I am always looking for justice and a new way to broaden my horizons which is the main reason why I am keen to become a good journalist.

Eva during the Camino de Santiago
Eva during the Camino de Santiago

Why did you choose the Netherlands?

I did not choose them but the MA program chose me.

Tell us about your life in the Netherlands…

My life in the Netherlands is mostly influenced by the international students around me. In the everyday life I try to adapt to the Dutch lifestyle, I interact with international students and I talk to my Spanish dad, my German family and friends. My social life is related mainly to my housemates, who are 7 girls from Italy, Spain, Albania, Czech Republic and Germany, we are sharing feelings and gossiping about relationships and our life experiences here. It surprises me the fact that I get on so well with girls because generally I do prefer to stay with boys.

Eva with her lovely housemates
Eva with her lovely housemates

How is living in the Netherlands different than living in your country?

LUNCH ! Here in the Netherlands it’s very common to have a toast or yoghurt for lunch but I am used to have more varieties when it comes to food! I need a proper meal, for example some proper vegetables or a delicious main course. Another difference here is that some people like to dress clothes with strange colours like light blue, green, yellow and orange – I have to say I like it and I respect their brave choices even though sometimes they’re not perfectly in shape!

Which is the biggest challenge of moving to a new country? Have you had any regrets so far? What do you miss the most?          

Adapting to the lifestyle is itself a big challenge – having supermarkets closed at 7 pm, finding out how to register for a doctor, getting registered in the Town Hall, even having a mobile phone contract requires some effort, but everyone here speaks English, and this makes it easier. In addition, once I had to ask police for help and it was not easy because I had to set an appointment with the National Police and then get an appointment with the local police, they were very kind but I had to pass through far too many steps to get some assistance.

Yes, I have one regret, I could have gone to Cadiz on Erasmus for one year and I did not , especially during winter time when it was rainy and cold I blamed myself for not having chosen the sun and beach. I miss calling my friends in Germany at any time I would like to, I mean, there are several ways to stay in contact, like skype, but it requires to set a specific appointment with your friend.

Eva with international students during the beer cantus in the Top week
Eva with international students during the beer cantus in the Top week

What does Europe mean for you? Do you perceive the existence of Europe as a community? Do you feel part of it? Do you feel European?

For me Europe means to have the freedom to travel and work with all these wonderful neighbours. I totally perceive Europe as community, I know that there are some obstacles at the moment, such as the current crisis which seems to damage the community, but I still believe in its existence. Yes, I totally feel part of the European Union and I consider myself as a European citizen because of my heritage and the other experiences I gathered in this community called Europe.

Peta, a student – and a free spirit – from the world

Hello Peta! Could you introduce yourself to Pequod’s readers?

Hey my name is Peta, I am 23 years old Australian-Swiss-Belgian student in Communication and Information Sciences and I am currently studying in Tilburg, the Netherlands. I love moving around, discovering new people and places (and food!!) and I would describe myself as being a free spirit, as cheesy as that may sound.

Why did you choose the Netherlands?

I always wanted to study in a different country for my master because I did my bachelor in Geneva and Sydney. I like discovering new places, and I knew that Dutch universities are good. I speak Dutch and my grandpa was from the Netherlands, so moving here was an opportunity to discover a part of my heritage. In addition, I was looking for a country with a relaxed attitude, which I thought I might find here. 

Describe your life in the Netherlands (your occupation, your everyday life, social life, etc.)

I guess that most of my time is dedicated to University because I want to do well and I am very interested in what I am studying. For the rest, I spend time with my new friends, I try to discover some cool new places around the Netherlands and enjoy special beers way too often. At the moment my social life is a bit limited because of University deadlines but I always enjoy having a laugh around some beers!

How is living in the Netherlands different than living in your country?

I grew up in Switzerland which is a very quiet and conservative country, which honestly does not suit my outgoing personality. When I lived in Sydney, I found a country where the relaxed and fun-loving atmosphere really suited me and I guess the Netherlands is somewhere in between both countries. I really miss the Australian weather and the beach, and this country is really, really flat compared to Switzerland. But when I move someplace new I try not to compare it too much to the previous place I lived in because I think you have to try to discover the new aspects of every new place and try to enjoy the best of them.

Which is the biggest challenge of moving to a new country? Have you had any regrets so far? What do you miss the most?          

I think the biggest challenge is not being able to take my friends with me because they are spread out across the world and having to make new friends.

I enjoy deep friendships which are difficult to find when you move somewhere new. I try not to regret the things I do, because I firmly believe that, in the end, you regret most what you do not do. I am not particularly attached to places so if this does not work out I will just move again. I really miss my friends and family obviously, as well as some aspects of the cities I lived in previously (Tilburg is really quiet) but someone told me not to hang on to the past and to enjoy the present, so I try. And who knows what tomorrow brings!               

What does Europe mean for you? Do you perceive the existence of Europe as a community? Do you feel part of it? Do you feel European?

For me Europe is mostly the geographic definition of it. Having grown up in a country which is not European and being born on the other side of the world I do not particularly feel European. I actually do not believe that Europe should be one big community and I know that is controversial . I feel that by focusing on Europe we lose the individuality of the member countries . For me Europe is an agreement or a collaboration but countries should not disappear under the “European Umbrella”.

Reg. Tribunale di Bergamo n. 2 del 8-03-2016 - privacy - cookies
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