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Week of the International Student: ‘I had never been to Europe before I moved to Breda’

Melisa Rodriguez

Melisa Rodriguez moved from Mexico to Breda, to study Environmental Science for Sustainable Energy and Technology (ESSET). Now that she is in her second year, Punt asks her all about the experience of being an International student in Breda.

How did you find Avans University?
“I get asked that question a lot! I was looking for a county in Europe that offered high-quality study programs taught in English. The Netherlands caught my eye, because of the many English options. When I narrowed down the possibilities, Breda stood out to me. The ESSET, Environmental Science for Sustainable Energy and Technology, program suits me, because it has a lot of fieldwork and an internship. I’ve always wanted to study actively and variously. So even though I had only seen pictures of the city centre, I knew that Breda was the place for me.”

Do you still think that, now that you live here?
“Absolutely! Before I moved here to study, I had never been to Europe. I was nervous when the time for me to move across our planet had come. The first few months were hard. I missed Mexico. It was winter, so for the first time, I was in a cold climate, whereas I was used to the heat in Mexico. I didn’t understand the Dutch language and had to arrange many things such as moving to a student house and opening a bank account. Luckily, things fell more and more into place later on, when I made more friends who helped me and took away the lonely feelings.’’

What has it been like for you to study from home, because of the coronavirus?
“For me staying at home has its pros and its cons. I study with my housemates, who are all studying ESSET. We motivate each other to keep studying, while we follow the online classes together. I do miss the contact with other students and the small talk you have in between classes.”

The holidays are coming up, are you going to your family in Mexico?
“Sadly not. When you go to Mexico, you have to quarantine there for two weeks after you arrive. When you return to The Netherlands, you have to quarantine a second time. That’s why I’ve decided to celebrate the holidays with my boyfriend.”

What could the Dutch learn from the Mexicans?
“Mexicans are friendlier I think. I don’t mean that the Dutch are unfriendly, but Mexicans take more time to have small talk. For example, they would have a conversation with their cashier. When you meet someone for the second time, Mexicans behave as if they are the closest of friends. The Dutch are more distant.
And food! The Dutch food isn’t as spiced and delicious as the Mexican dishes are.”

Is there something your classmates have learnt from you?
“I think that as a Mexican, I’ve seen more of the impact of climate change. Mexico has endured hurricanes for example. With group projects, I believe my point of view can be valuable. I am also tutoring some classmates in Spanish, that’s something that they asked me to do for their internship abroad.”

Will you stay here in the Netherlands after you graduate?
“I don’t know yet. I think Mexico could use Environmental specialists. On the other hand, I enjoy Europe so far, so who knows where I might end up!”

Lees ook: Week van de Internationale Student: ‘Ik wil Nederlanders adviseren wat meer te relaxen’

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