On family holidays there’s family members from the US, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria. We’ve always spoken English with each other. Therefore, I wanted to do an English-language programme. My parents taught me the lesson that ‘if you want something, then you’ll have to get a job’. So, I’ve been working since I was 15. My summer job as a North Sea fisherman was the most exciting job. After that I was a waiter at a few places in the Wachau region. I’m also working alongside my full-time studies: at a supermarket where I stock the shelves in the fruit and vegetable department for 15 hours a week. It’s hard work, but I enjoy it.
Strong practical and international focus
If you want to go into the export business, then you have to be open-minded. Take the course on foreign trade techniques, a key part of my programme: most of the lecturers are from business or industry, so they bring with them their experience and provide examples. This makes it much more interesting and leads to those ‘aha moments’, when you realise how everything fits together. This is what stands out about my degree programme: the strong practical focus, the international perspective. And you learn to accept other cultures.
Becoming more independent
Now I’m in my final year. During this programme you really learn how to become independent; I studied in Taiwan in my third semester and then was straight off again for my internship in the Netherlands at W. van der Zwan & Zn in Den Haag. I was really able to apply my theoretical knowledge in practice there. You also learn a lot from working; they gave me much support and pushed me. After I’ve graduated I’d like to spend a couple of months in China to practise the language I learnt during my studies. Then I want to work, but the country isn’t important, I’m totally flexible in that respect.
If you want to do an international business degree, you have to be 100% open-minded, as well as flexible and focused on your goals. The programme is wideranging, and nothing is given to you on a plate. But you build up the foundation to be able to deal with pressure, and there’s always someone in this special “export community” to help you when things aren’t going to plan.