"What surprises me, in the positive sense, is that the university really helps everyone to feel welcome. You can immediately tell that the EUR is very internationally oriented. There are many different associations, and there's a bright mixture of cultures and people. That feels really nice."
During the Week of the International Student (16-21 Nov), we will introduce you to five different international students who studied at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Today, we'd like to introduce Franziska Golibrzuch who is doing a BA in Liberal Arts & Sciences at Erasmus University College.
The real world
Academic careers do not always follow a linear path, and many of us have to find that out the hard way. That is definitely not the case for 24-year old Franziska. When she finished her high school in Munich, she wasn't sure yet what she wanted to do. She took a gap year to travel and think about her future, only to decide against studying the year after. First, she wanted to move something in the 'real world' and applied for an apprenticeship as an event management assistant. During the 2,5 years she spent in this business, however, studying was always still on the map.
"I did have a hard time deciding what I wanted to do. My aim was to not only get a bachelor degree, but also add value to myself - to my personal development. I couldn't really find a suitable programme in Germany, and during my gap year I met a girl who told me about the Netherlands and the study programmes that are offered here. Once I looked into that, I found Erasmus University right away and the Liberal Arts & Sciences programme shortly after that. That's when I knew: this is what I want to do. It will help me connect important parts of my life and academics. And it's good for my English too!"
Moreover, Franziska liked the challenge of moving abroad for her studies. She contemplates that, if she would have stayed in Munich for her studies, she would have probably stayed home with her parents. Moving to the Netherlands was a fun experience, but definitely challenging.
"For the first year of our studies we stayed at Lucia Living, student housing for EUC students next to the Town Hall. That for me was one of the reasons to choose this programme: I didn't have to find a flat in Rotterdam from Germany, and have to deal with the stress of being able to find an apartment. After about six months two fellow students and I knew we wanted to live together for a longer period, and we started looking for a place in Rotterdam. Now we live together in the city centre of Rotterdam!"
The challenges of an international student
Having her housing secured for the first year of her studies, Franziska could focus on getting her feet on the ground in Rotterdam. We asked her if she could describe what it's like, to be an international student in Rotterdam.
"What surprises me, in the positive sense, is that the university really helps everyone to feel welcome. You can immediately tell that the EUR is very internationally oriented. There are many different associations, and there's a bright mixture of cultures and people. That feels really nice. Moreover, the city itself seems really open-minded. Apart from a single incident, the experience is really positive."
.. a single incident?
"Once I was sitting on a terrace with some international friends, and we spoke English. Some Dutch people on the terrace were being really rude about international students coming here. I guess they didn't know I could understand them. But really, that is the only instance I've experienced that! Especially in the classes everyone is super inclusive and friendly. Rotterdam is really starting to feel like home and I love living her with my roommates."
In her studies, Franziska has chosen the direction PPE: Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She was doubting whether to choose the Business direction or PPE, but her interest for politics and the philosophy behind it helped her make that decision.
"Actually, I already felt I had a bit of a business background due to my working experience. Right now I wanted to choose the major I was most interested in. For me personally, I'm interested in understanding the philosophical context of our contemporary society. Politics is highly influenced by that, and understanding economics is at least as important. They all play a huge roll in today's decision-making."
We wondered: does Franziska also feel that learning more about these perspectives is supported by the university?
"I definitely recognize there's a focus on societal impact in the messages that EUR is sharing, over their social channels and over e-mails. There's attention on for example sustainability, and the university manages to get across a lot of social impact by helping out it's students. In that sense, EUR is more modern than most German universities. There really is an ambition from the university's side to make the best out of their students."
We are, of course, very glad to hear that. We wish Franziska the best of luck in finishing her studies, and a lot of inspiration and success for whatever follows after!