VALERIA (3rd year)
“Moving to the Netherlands and studying IS was a turning point in my life, as I came from a place, where I kept hearing that I didn’t belong. So, I remember being very nervous about moving to a different country, since I had no idea what the country looked like or if the people were nice. The acceptance I experienced here was something very new to me. In a way, it was even a personal win for me.
To have some backstory: I grew up the first eight years in an environment that was quite open-minded and outspoken but then eventually ended up moving to a smaller town in the Northern part of Italy. When moving there I realized quite quickly that the people there were quite different. I never felt like I fit in and people made sure I remembered that. An example would be the professors, that would doubt my ability to go to good schools later in life. However, I am quite stubborn and when somebody says: “you cannot do this, or that”, it triggers something in me, and I want to prove them wrong. So, I ended up going to a well-regarded high school, but it turned out to be a very posh and uptight environment. Again, I didn’t turn out to be very popular there. The bullying from my classmates got to the point, where I had to report it, but the professors did not believe me. This environment affected me significantly and I started to develop anxiety about going to school.
With that in mind, the comfortable and inclusive environment I found in International Studies helped me to get better again. I am finally doing something that I like with real friends and kind professors. I no longer needed to hide who I was or repress my identity. School no longer feels like a prison but a place in which you can flourish. Thus, the last couple of years made me realize that there is space for me too, in which I am allowed to be myself.”
(Valeria, 3rd year, Argentina/Italy)