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  • Anneke Romijnders

ZORA (2nd year)

“I moved the Netherlands to Ghana when I was eleven and there were a lot of culture shocks, to be honest. But still I’m happy I got to experience that. One example was the school system. Mostly because I went from an international school with an American system, to an international school with a British system. School had always been important to me but suddenly it became a real competition. A lot of pressure was added through the use of yearly rankings and giving out prizes to those on top. So, I developed an unhealthy relationship with school during this time. However, when COVID hit, they could no longer give out prizes. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t base my whole identity on what prizes I got. It made me realize that the only person I needed to compete with was myself and no one else. That realization has helped me a lot while studying here. Also, because I have a chronic illness called “sickle cell disease” which means I can’t always measure myself to the standards of other people. At first, it didn’t occur to me that I have a disability and I thought I didn’t need help until my stucco told me about the FENESTRA disability center. This center helps you out if you have any disability ranging from a physical to a mental one. So, they support your struggle with the university, which taught me to be more open about my illness and try to raise awareness because I feel like no one talks about invisible illnesses or disabilities. Recently, my sister mentioned to me that being an adult means advocating for yourself, so that influenced me to be more confident and less afraid to ask for help. These days my childhood friends tell me that I’m becoming the Zora I was always meant to be. Even though I do not think that my high school self and who I am today are not necessarily comparable. I wouldn’t really say that I have become a better version of myself, but rather that I’ve just become a different person. But I think that whenever you go out on your own, you’re forced to confront yourself and figure out who you are. And I think that so far this journey has been really fun for me.” (Zora, 2nd year, Netherlands/Ghana)

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