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  • Dora Takacs

JULIANE (2nd year)

The most challenging moment in my life was when my former future plans went off the rails and I had to take the leap and change them entirely. To give some context: after I graduated from secondary school I wanted to get out of my usual rhythm and familiar setting, so I spontaneously decided to work as an au pair in Scotland, with no specific plans for the future. Then I realized that I liked living abroad and somehow, I don’t even remember how I ended up finding Leiden University and IS. So, I decided to apply spontaneously. However, as Covid hit I had to rethink my plans again and decided to defer my studies and go back to Germany to work for another year and to be closer to my family. To some people, this story might feel like a journey with unnecessary detours. It does not to me, though. Getting my priorities straight during this time, helped me a lot. This is a lesson I’ve learned mainly from my older sister, the person I look up to the most. I believe, that if you don’t know what’s important to yourself, you’ll fall into the trap of wanting to only live up to society’s expectations. So, you’d end up rushing into things, you otherwise wouldn’t do and end up living a life you otherwise wouldn’t live. I think young people, especially university students, are caught up in their fear of failure and tend to forget how much they’ve already accomplished and that they still have ample time to accomplish more. Stressing about the future or ruminating on the “what-if“ for instance takes precious time away from spending it with your loved ones instead. To me, their expectations are the ones that matter the most because they want me to be content with my choices while knowing that finding my way to happiness is my own responsibility. Consequently, I think we shouldn’t hold everyone to uniform standards, but instead have more genuinely inquisitive interactions to appreciate people for who they are and what feels right for them. This also plays into us needing more open discussions where there is room for disagreeing with one another's perceptions. This requires paying attention to each other and being honest – the two things I value most in my relationships. (Juliane Lang, 2nd year, Germany)

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