The collaboration with the Foundation for Refugee Students (Stichting Vluchteling-Studenten UAF) has been extended. This means that more refugees can study at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Student Hafsa (21 years old and status holder) is studying medicine at EUR thanks to the program. Four and a half years ago she fled from Turkey in her exam year because it was no longer safe for her and her family. She applied for asylum in the Netherlands for political protection.
How do you like studying at EUR?
“I am living my dream. EUR is a prestigious university worldwide and we are taught by top lecturers. Due to corona all lessons are online, but as medical students we could sometimes receive physical lessons which I really liked. Contact with the teachers is also very informal. All the different student organizations make it easy to get to know other students.”
Is the education very different from what you are used to?
“Of course there are differences between Turkish and Dutch education. In Turkey, there is a strong emphasis on the theoretical side of the subjects. Insight and presentation skills are more crucial here. In Turkey, the teacher is at the center, here the students are at the center. Students here do a lot of extracurricular activities and grades are less important. In my country of birth, your grades have to be very high to enter a study.”
How did you end up at the UAF?
“When we arrived in the Netherlands, I had compulsory education. As a result, I was in a class for foreign students (ISK) for two years. There you learn the Dutch language in addition to the regular lessons. My Dutch teacher and mentor from ISK found a track for me at EUR. The trajectory was Erasmus Preparatory Year (VJE) for refugee students. This process is a collaboration between the UAF and EUR.”
How has the UAF helped?
“The UAF has encouraged me to achieve my goals and has supported me financially during the two preparatory years. I really appreciate that, otherwise it would have been impossible for me. I also got a mentor who studied medicine. She helps me with the Dutch language and gave me tips about the selection procedure. The UAF also organized workshops where I learned more about practical matters such as registering for a course and arranging an internship.”
What do you hope to do with your studies?
“My goal is to lead an independent life. I want to become a doctor who values her patients and who can offer innovation for the field in order to give something back to society. Here I was able to build a new life and realize my dream. I am now living my dream, despite all the obstacles I had to overcome. The past four years have not been easy, but I have reaped the benefits of my efforts. My motto is: ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. It also helped enormously that my parents and sisters, as well as my teachers, have always believed in me.”
What kind of future plans do you have?
"I plan to do a research master's degree before starting my internship. I want to specialize in gynecology, pediatric ENT or surgery. I also want to set up a foundation for refugee students who are interested in medical courses. That way I want to use my own knowledge and experience to help them achieve their dreams. As a refugee student you will encounter many difficulties and obstacles. You have to be strong. You also cannot get there without a network and good connections. So I want to help people in a similar situation with a foundation.”