Erasmus and me: James Kunhiak Muorwel (South Sudan)

"My undergraduate degree was in Business from Makerere University in Uganda. I have a friend who went to Erasmus University. She did her master’s degree at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and she enthusiastically talks about her time here. My plan was to study in the UK or the US, but because of her advice and encouragement, I decided to come here."

"In South Sudan, where I am from, I first worked for the United Nations, then for a local NGO. When I suggested that I would like to do a Master abroad, they were willing to let me go as long as I promised to come back. I am technically employed, but I am not on their payroll currently. To finance my studies I applied for a scholarship, which was granted through Nuffic’s Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP).

What I like about the Netherlands? I only arrived last September, but apart from the weather I just love it here. Having worked for the United Nations, the diversity of cultures at ISS is not new to me. At the UN’s Department for Peace-keeping Operations you always work with lots of people from different nationalities. What is new to me, however, is how quiet it is here unlike my former university in Uganda which had a huge number of students in its campus. Campus was packed with students and professors. Compared to that, The Hague is such a quiet haven. I like the quietness here.

"Being from South Sudan makes me feel odd sometimes."

"Meeting new people was a breeze. I am a sportsman and sports really unite people. This also helped me when I was running for a position at the Institute Council because I got to know a lot of colleagues there quickly than I would have done in another setting. So far we – me and my IC colleague – have so far raised students’ concerns related to housing, mental health, and other academic-related issues."

"My short time at the Institute Council has also helped me get to know more people, not just my fellow MA students. Being from South Sudan makes me feel odd sometimes. Quite a few times people mistake South Sudan with Sudan. I sometimes take the time to explain the difference between the two countries, but if I know I will never get to see someone again I just don’t bother.

My Master is in Development Studies. Quite different from my background in business and economics. I haven’t yet decided on a subject for my thesis. It’ll be either on early education for girls, or on governance. I am interested in bilateral investment treaties. In the trading between countries, it’s often said that the multinational companies that make more money than the local producers and I want to explore that field. Investment treaties are based on agreements between governments. So my thesis will be either that, or on education for girls. Luckily, I have some time to decide about that.

Who Erasmus was? Haha, not sure yet, but I have just noticed a free little booklet on his life that I should probably read."