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  • Writer's pictureHumans of International Studies


I have been a student for a long time. Initially, I did molecular science and technology, and after that, I did a year of China Studies, which I found too specific. I kind of signed up for International Studies on a whim, but it turned out well. I really enjoy the area-specific courses; it helped that my cultural background is connected to East Asia. I’m Dutch-Taiwanese, and my mother is Taiwanese. I grew up in the Netherlands, but because I grew up here and my mother is not traditional, I have been missing out on more Taiwanese culture. I would like to argue with someone who disagrees with my Dutch or Taiwanese identity. Identity is dependent on the context you are in at that moment. In day-to-day interactions, I’m Dutch, but on Saturdays, at the center where I teach, I’m Taiwanese. In my youth, I felt this specific institution played a crucial role in my identity formation because you learn the language there, engage with other people from Taiwanese backgrounds, and learn more about the culture. There is this shared sense of community. After high school, I didn’t really think about doing a cultural-related program because I still saw it as something you did if you didn’t want a job. But IS is a really big switch. Throughout the years, I recognized my bigger interests in humanities-related subjects. Now I recognize that the humanities aspect of life is a really undervalued side of our society. There is this Asian stereotype, which in my case is only my mother, of parents being really strict about their children doing one of the three big jobs (lawyer, doctor, accountant), but my mother is happy enough if I find a job. Families in Taiwan would cook their rice with sweet potatoes to make it last longer; for my mother, this was only at the end of the month, but for other families, it would be the whole month like that. But this may be an aspect of my mother's hope that I just find a stable job and not waste my time having fun. It does make me sad sometimes that my mother had to say move here. She is quite well educated in her own country. I really hope that I will be able to give her support back.

(Josefien, 2nd year, Netherlands)

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