Liliya’s student experience

Liliya (26) is an Ukrainian student who grew up in Austria and speaks five different languages. She moved from Vienna to Leeuwarden to study International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) at Stenden University of Applied Sciences.

Why Stenden

‘After finishing school in Vienna, I worked at a logistics company for three years before I decided to continue studying. It was always clear that I wanted to study abroad, because the courses in Austria were very theoretical and I prefer to ‘learn by doing’. I also wanted to improve my English, so I decided the best way was to follow a course in English. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the Netherlands.

One day, I was at an education fair in Vienna at which a hundred universities or more promote themselves. I had been walking for around three hours before I saw the Stenden stand. I saw that it promoted English courses in the Netherlands, so I decided to check it out. After learning about the practical-oriented way of studying and doing a bit of online research, I decided to sign up for International Business and Management Studies (IBMS).

I spent the entire summer traveling, so when I got back home I had very little time to find a room. I was very lucky to find one last-minute on Facebook. Because I was still in Vienna, it meant I had to use Skype to introduce myself and talk about the room. I got the room and I still live there.’

Study programme and different cultures

‘My previous education was financially and economically-oriented and I have experience working for a logistics company, so IBMS was the perfect choice for me. Due to my experience in the field, I already knew the challenge of working with people from different countries. Though, I only had experience with Austrians, Russians and Ukrainians. Studying at Stenden meant I had to learn how to work with people from very different cultures than my own and I realized that this was harder than I had expected. I learned that it is very important in business to get to know the different culture and customs of a country, before you even start dealing with them. That is one of the biggest realizations I have gained from my course.

Stenden basically puts you in a room with so many different nationalities that you have no choice but to learn how to deal and work with them. By the time you’re almost finished with your studies, you don’t even realize anymore how good you’ve become at dealing with different cultures. Sometimes I notice that I take a very different approach speaking to a Dutch person as opposed to a German person.

They ask a lot of you at IBMS. You have to be proactive and figure things out yourself. The lecturers want you to learn that to get the right answers, you first have to ask the right questions. I think people need to be aware of the fact that a lot comes down to your own responsibility and that postponing everything is not the best course of action.

I also participated in different student associations within my study, such as the IBMS Events committee. Here, I could develop my planning- and organisational skills and help to improve my study programme from a student’s perspective. I was very proactive and motivated to work for my study programme, as we got a lot of freedom and ability to implement our ideas within IBMS.

I am not going on Exchange or on a Grand Tour. Instead, I will be looking for a company to start an internship at in June. I would love to stay in the Netherlands as I really like the country and its culture. The people are very open-minded and you have a lot of opportunities here as well. It’s also not very far from home, so that’s ideal.’

Life outside school

‘In my first year in the Netherlands I used the weekends to travel around the country and see the different cities, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The Dutch railway company offers deals and arrangements that give you a discount when you travel on a Saturday or Sunday. This is very useful when you want to experience more than just Leeuwarden. What is very nice about Leeuwarden and Stenden in particular is that the gym is literally across the road from campus. I took kickboxing classes there and regularly go there to work out.’