A Fruitful and Rewarding 'Study and Life Experience Sharing Session'
The 'Study and Life Experience Sharing Session' held online by Wittenborg's Amsterdam campus proved to be a fruitful and rewarding event for new students. The session, hosted by Senior Lecturer Dr Dadi Chen, was to help new students fit in the Wittenborg family sooner and better. The 'speakers' invited were current EBA students Luuk Ornstein and Lilly Seijffert, master's students Milad Goudarzi (MBA) and Kejsi Hoxha (MBM), and MBA graduate Gauhar Kassymbek.
The session opened with a brief introduction by the host, speakers and the new students who were present. The first question posed to the speakers was 'What has been the most interesting part of your experience at Wittenborg?' To that question, Kassymbek replied that the international environment at Wittenborg was the most fun part for her. Having graduated in October 2020, she is presently working as a Salesforce Business Analyst in an energy company in Amsterdam. She finds that Wittenborg has both students and staff from all over the world with different perspectives, mindsets and cultures, all driven to progress further in their education and personal development. Ornstein, who is Dutch, pointed out that Wittenborg is not like other universities where you are one of thousands of students. He added that at Wittenborg, there is better one-to-one attention from the lecturers and staff and there is a lot of room for discussion and consultations.
Hoxha, who is from Albania, said that she was initially rather sceptical about Wittenborg but soon, after moving in to Wittenborg student accommodation, she found that everybody was so friendly with each other and they mingled well. All speakers agreed that the lecturers and staff are very approachable, friendly and they feel more like family members than strangers. Seijffert reiterated this point and said that there is no power distance between students and lecturers, making it easy to approach and consult them.
When asked what were the main challenges faced, the speakers not only recollected their experiences but also provided valuable advice and recommendations to the newcomers. For Kassymbek, her main issue was that of the English language. Being from Kazakhstan, she found it challenging to understand friends/teachers who have different accents and styles of speaking. She also found the level of English in the textbooks challenging, but she overcame that by not being afraid to make mistakes and resorting to the dictionary for references. Goudarzi, from Iran, agreed with her and said that writing academic assignments was his biggest challenge. He solved his problem by reaching out to 2nd-year students who provided him with guidelines on how to write an academic paper. Apropos of language, the speakers also pointed out the advantage of learning Dutch, as it is basically one of the pre-requisites to finding an internship and a job in the Netherlands. Besides, they will feel more integrated if they learn about the Dutch culture and people.
Tips for Exams & Employment Opportunities
A very useful tip from Ornstein was how to study for exams. He told students not to memorise or study for an exam per se, but to try and absorb information and understand the module or topics as best they can. This is because the modules/topics learnt in the first year will form the basic understanding of the whole course and are often referred to in subsequent modules or years. The speakers also spoke about the importance of taking every opportunity to learn new skills besides their current programmes. With a more competitive and versatile job market nowadays, these additional value-added skills will differentiate one from other job candidates. Kassymbek recommended taking freelance jobs, participating in voluntary activities, going places, talking to people in supermarkets or cafes and widening connections instead of remaining in one's own bubble.
The session was a great overview for new students and provided a good impression of what Wittenborg looks like in the eyes of our current students and graduates. Indeed, it was seen as a welcome prelude to the Meet and Greet Lunch held at the Amsterdam campus.
by Hanna Abdelwahab with contributions from Xiaoli Wu