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You acquire skills that prepare you for tackling social and environmental issues

Alina Global Project and Change Management
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I am Alina, a second-year student Global Project and Change Management from Germany. After I graduated from high school, my partner and I travelled through Southeast Asia for six months in 2018-2019. I seriously don’t want to bring up the clich√© of the life-changing travel. It didn’t change my life. I am still the same person with the very same privileges. But what has changed is my perspective on the issues that we face globally.

When we got back, I started studying dentistry. I wanted to combine being a dentist with international educational work on dental hygiene and prevention combined with free mobile treatments. When working in a dental clinic, I noticed that I liked the organizational aspect of managing a clinic more than the practical work at the dental chair itself. I started looking for a new programme in the field of international development cooperation. The studies in Germany disappointed me, and it took me many days to find this programme in the Netherlands. But when I did find it, it clicked immediately. I didn't even have a look at Zwolle, I just moved. This feeling in my gut that this is the right thing for me did not disappoint!

People from all over the world

I am about to start my fourth semester; every semester the subjects get more and more interesting. I'm really looking forward to the third and fourth year. I've met amazing people from all over the world and even got a job at the university in recruitment and communication. This means that if you're interested in our programme, we are very likely to meet! There are several employment opportunities at the university. If you are very good at a subject, teachers might approach you to be a student assistant. Or you can apply for other opportunities that are sent out via the weekly email by our amazing staff.

Tackling social and environmental issues

Global Project and Change Management is a socially relevant study that keeps evolving. Something I couldn’t find anywhere else. You're not becoming what we call in Germany a “Fachidiot”, meaning an idiot in one subject. Instead, you acquire skills that prepare you for tackling social and environmental issues from different angles. With every assignment, you can dive into a different topic. Once you have found your path, you can focus on this. Especially in years 3 and 4 with the Value Creator, electives and internship semester. Next to this, you can earn credits by choosing something that contributes to your personal and professional development. And something that makes this study absolutely unique: personal counselling, guest lectures, workshops and many extracurricular activities.

Lots of group work

The workload is heavy. It's a full time study with lots of group work. Managing work and life can sometimes be challenging. To stay mentally and physically healthy, I'm still learning to not do everything perfect and to say no sometimes (which is hard, as there's a wide range of great opportunities here).

The community around our programme is a bubble. It's therefore important to not forget that many people out in the world won’t share the same values and beliefs. Sometimes the world reminds me of this, which is like a kick in the face. Although we learn how to debate and be open-minded, I feel like we miss how to engage others. But maybe this will still come.

Knowledge is a tool, not a goal

On a personal level, I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid of new challenges and tasks, and that I am much more capable than I think. You'll learn from everything, even if things don’t work out or you have issues with your client or teammates. When I imagine that other studies don’t offer that much practical experience, I wonder how their students must feel when they enter the work field. I'm glad I learn how to deal with the essentials and more now, and not after graduation.

On a professional level, I learned that knowledge is a tool and not a goal. Many people in our study, including me, sometimes feel that they “don’t acquire enough theoretical knowledge.” One of my high school teachers once told me that university is called university because you learn the whole universe, while in the end the majority of what you learn is not needed for your job later. This is in accordance with what other adults I've asked about this have said. So I really like gaining skills in this study and I can still dive deep and acquire knowledge in the field I'm personally interested in with my assignments.

No hierarchy

What I love about Windesheim is that there is almost no hierarchy between lecturers and students. It's absolute heaven! Especially compared to the dentistry course, where assistant doctors and professors are able to destroy your career when they have a bad day. At Windesheim it feels more like we're friends. We can ask even the “stupid” questions and joke around, which is needed as the challenges we discuss can lay heavily on your mind and heart.

Windesheim Campus, specifically the X-Building, is absolutely beautiful. It feels like a big greenhouse with it's big triangular windows. The walls are made of glass, enabling you to share a smile with your friends in a classroom when they have different schedules. One thing that definitely needs improvement is the cafeteria.

Perfectly imperfect organization

The organization of Windesheim Honours College itself can be described as perfectly imperfect. You get a lot more information than at other universities on how the semester and study is structured, for example via semester and course manuals as well as year and semester schedules. Sometimes things change during the semester or get lost in translation with the lecturers, but it always works out. If something is unclear, just ask around until it becomes clear. You can also ask in the semester group chat.

A perfect-sized student town

From bars to cute little local stores and community activities like the Stadsfestival, Zwolle has everything you need. It's a perfect-sized student town where you'll always feel safe. You can really get the Dutch experience as it is not overrun with tourists like Amsterdam. It's perfectly located in the middle of the Netherlands. With the Weekend-free train ticket, you can explore the Netherlands for € 30 a month in weekends if you seek adventure. And if you don‘t like Zwolle, you'll be abroad exploring the world for 2.5 semesters anyway.

The Netherlands

Germany could learn a lot from the Netherlands. Like the train system or the digitalization of the municipal system. Dutch people also seem a lot more chill and happier than Germans. You will learn to love their directness. As an EDM-lover, I feel very much at home. The Amsterdam Dance Event is great! There are also some things that I don't like, such as a lack of glass bottles/jars in the supermarket, a missing deposit system for bottles, high food prices and the discrimination of 1- and 2-cent coins. The Dutch food is also not that great, especially for vegans. If you hear the term AVG (a combination of potatoes, veggies and meat) stay away from it, haha. And for the Germans: you will miss a good bread very soon or you will learn to love untoasted toast with peanut butter and hagelslag.

Housing is a problem

The biggest problem here in the Netherlands for international students is housing. I'm glad that in the first year the students of our programme were accommodated at Talentenplein. But I want to be honest with you: sharing one room for sleeping, eating and studying as well as finding a room after the first year can be tough.

My Talentenplein-roommate and I came from completely different cultural backgrounds, which made communication hard and led to some misunderstandings. We figured things out in the end, and I'm grateful to have her as a friend. This experience taught me: communication is key. Sometimes it's just nice to have your personal space, so find a way to make things work for both of you. Be open to compromise, starting with who gets the bed at the window, hehe.

Housing in year 2

Then about finding a room in the second year. You have to understand how tough the situation is. Even Dutch people wait months or years to get a place. The Dutch government even called for a reduction of the number of new foreign students. So if you are thinking about studying Global Project and Change Management: register on SSH(opens in new tab) now! I'm not kidding. People start signing up to these progammes at 16 years old.

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