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Choosing the right thing

Updated: Jun 6, 2022

Unlike most students who move to the Netherlands directly after high school, Celine Fingal chose another route and moved to the Netherlands when she was 21, two years after finishing HAVO at Colegio San Nicolas. Celine is a 23-year-old second-year International Human Resource Management student at the Saxion Hogeschool in Enschede in the Netherlands. Besides focusing on her school work, she loves reading books, watching TV shows and movies with her twin sister and doing all things that make her happy.

The process of choosing a study.

When asked about this she said, “after HAVO I was not sure what I wanted to do and I did not want to choose a study just to choose one. I also wasn’t ready to live on my own yet. I am of the mindset that if you are going to do something you have to be sure about it and do it right.” And that is exactly what she did. After HAVO she went to the University of Aruba and did the Academic Foundation Year (AFY) and received her certificate within a year. During AFY she had coaching meetings that helped her decide where she wanted to study, namely in the Netherlands. But, after finishing AFY she was still not sure what she wanted to study. “Because my family did not pressure me to choose a study immediately after school I really wanted to take the time and choose a study I really liked.”

She did not want to stay at home and do nothing while she did her research so she started working as an assistant at praktijk Van Niel to gain experience and save money for when she does start studying. During this year she realized she wanted to do something in the realm of Psychology but was not sure if it was for her. “I asked my sister, who was studying psychology, about the field. She advised me that if I want to do something similar that is not specifically psychology, I could look into human resource management. She told me about IHRM at Saxion University and mentioned that it was an English study. The good thing was that I wanted to study in English and my sister already lives in Enschede. So I saw this as a win-win situation.” So then, she had her choice of study and city and the only thing left to do was pack up her bags and move to the Netherlands.

Celine made the move to the Netherlands with her twin sister in August of 2020. The first few weeks were devoted to preparing her home with her sister. She was lucky that the regulations were not strict and she could still move around and get all the necessities to start building a home in Enschede. “Moving here during the pandemic was not ideal but it didn’t make the move worse either, just different.”

What were you expecting when you moved here and was this different from what you experienced?

“I was expecting to have a lot of freedom to make my own decisions. I was planning on traveling a lot and physically going to school. While these plans were hindered due to the pandemic, I always tried to make the best of it.”

Since she was working when the pandemic hit, she didn’t experience online school so it was a new experience for her. When asked about her experience with online school she said “it was okay, while I, fortunately, made friends quickly, it would’ve been nicer to have met them in person from the start. ” In the second half of the year, she was able to go to campus for a few classes and could finally put faces to the names and it became easier to connect with the rest of her classmates. “The good thing about an international study is that everyone is in the same situation as you, no one knows each other and they are all looking to make new friends.”

First-year in the Netherlands: sacrifices and success!

During the first year, Celine managed to pass all of her classes and received her propedeuse. “It was easier for me because I dedicated a lot of time to school from the start. AFY also helped me a lot with my writing skills and this made it easier when I had to work on projects and reports. Having work experience also helped me to understand the theories better and the materials discussed during class. I was able to understand examples better and even apply theory to my own experience.”

While she dedicated a lot of time to school, she took her free time very seriously. “I gave myself time to rest. I don’t force myself to do school work if I’m not feeling like it and I try not to overwork myself. I schedule some free time to do what makes me happy and this is crucial for my mental health and the quality of my school work. I work at my own pace but I make sure to get the job done. What also helped is that I worked with a group of hard-working students and we had high standards for the reports that we handed in. This pushed me to keep matching these high standards and produce high-quality material and study to get high grades.”

During the second half of her first year in the Netherlands, she got the opportunity to go back home to Aruba with her two sisters and finish the first year remotely. However, she decided to stay and finish her school year in the Netherlands. “Being alone for the first time in 22 years was hard because I have a twin sister and I was never truly alone since we did most things together. I also really wanted to be with my family since I am close to them but I knew that if I left, I wouldn’t be as productive as I was here. I was acing all of my exams and reports and I didn’t want to lose the momentum. Staying here alone was the decision I wanted to make to finish the school year strong. What helped a lot was the support I got from my family back home, my friends at school and even my study advisor who was very understanding of my situation, so I never felt alone.” In the end, Celine finished the year strong with a 10 on her last exam and of course her propedeuse.

Second-year and beyond.

The second year of her study is completely different compared to her first. Almost all of her classes are on campus and so she is finally experiencing what it’s like to go to campus and sit in lecture halls with her classmates. “It was a big switch at first, going from completely online to mostly on campus but I truly enjoy on-site classes. It's fun to get up and go to school and see friends. Compared to the first year, I do feel more tired during the week, which is why I take more time to do school work during the weekend. Again, I do not force myself to do school work after school if I don’t want to and I still take time for myself when I feel the need to.”

School is still going well and she still enjoys her study. When asked about what her goals are later on she said “I am not one to plan or think about the future. I guess I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, which is getting high grades and handing in high-quality assignments. Other than that, we will see what the future holds.”

Regarding the pandemic and restrictions being lifted, Celine wants to travel more and start doing more things outside of Enschede. But to do so, she wants to find a balance first between self-care, outside activities and school.

Advice for new students

  • Don’t feel pressured to go study abroad immediately after high school.

  • Don’t let your age stop you from making decisions. Everyone is on their own path and truly you can start studying at any age.

  • See where you want to study or what you want to study. Take the time to do some research on the study you are interested in and the city you want to live in before you make a decision. Don’t just make decisions because you think you have to make a decision. If you are going to do something, do it right.

  • The first year is the most important year because you gain a basic understanding of the field and it helps you in the rest of the study.

  • Keep track of everything from the beginning, schedule your days to do things for yourself and schedule your days to focus on school to create a balance that works for you.

  • Remind yourself that you are studying for yourself.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Phryme.


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