ELISA (3rd year)
"I met my now-husband when we were both studying International Business Studies in 2015. Some people think it’s very young to be married at 24 years old, but I would not have wanted it any differently. Also, because it is definitely more common in our culture with my husband being Turkish and me being half-Eritrean/half-Dutch. Despite the cultural traditions both our cultures share, we wanted a relatively small wedding. Perhaps also because I choose to focus more on the religious traditions within Islam than the cultural traditions that come with it. I love my Eritrean heritage, the culture, the people, and the country itself. My mother, having fled to The Netherlands when she was just 15 years old, was raised in Eritrea where big weddings are more common, whereas my dad never really saw the necessity of big weddings. Both my husband and I wanted to marry young but agreed that big weddings were not our thing.
Having my mother’s side of the family living in Eritrea really shaped who I am today. Things that I sometimes take for granted in the Netherlands are things some of my family members have never had in their life, and possibly never will. It humbles me whenever I visit them that, despite the difficulties they face, they always remind me to help and be there for other people regardless of their background. I feel very fortunate as I am aware that I did not do anything to be born in a country like the Netherlands, where multiple opportunities are there to pursue your dreams and live a life you love. I am not sure yet what my plans are after International Studies, but I do know that I want to help other people, especially refugees. Having my mother as an example of how difficult it is to flee from your country to survive, and how much impact this has on the rest of your life, makes me even more motivated to work hard and be able to help others."
(Elisa, 3rd year, The Netherlands)