You acquire skills that prepare you for tackling social and environmental issues
I am Alina, a second-year student of 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 cliché 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, wanting 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 during my studies I noticed that I liked the organizational aspect of managing a clinic more than the practical work at the dental chair itself, so I looked for a new programme in the field of international development cooperation. I was very dissatisfied with the studies I found in Germany and it took me many days to find this programme, but when I did, it clicked immediately. I did not even have a look at Zwolle before, I just moved here and this feeling in my gut that this is the right thing for me did not disappoint!
I met amazing people from all over the world
I am about to start my fourth semester and with every semester the subjects get more and more interesting. I'm really looking forward to the third and fourth year. Over the last three semesters I've met amazing people from all over the world and even got a job at the university in recruitment and communication, meaning if you peeps are interested in our study we are very likely to meet somehow. In general, there are several employment opportunities at the university. If you are very good at a subject, teachers might approach you to ask you to be their student assistants, or you can apply for other opportunities that are sent out via the weekly information email by our amazing staff.
You acquire skills that prepare you for tackling social and environmental issues
Global Project and Change Management is a social relevant study that keeps evolving, something I couldn’t find anywhere else. You are not becoming what we call in Germany a “Fachidiot”, meaning an idiot in one subject, but you acquire skills that prepare you for tackling social and environmental issues from different angles. With every assignment you can dive into different topics and 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.
Lot of group work
Challenging about the programme is that it has a heavy work load. It is a full time study with a lot of group work, and managing work and private life next to it is sometimes challenging and can get overwhelming at some point. To stay mentally and physically healthy, I am still learning to not try to do everything perfect and to say no sometimes (which is hard as there is a wide range of great opportunities here).
The community around our programme is a bubble, so it is important not to forget that when you get out in the world many people won’t share the same values and beliefs. Sometimes the world reminds me of this, which is like what I imagine a kick in the face by a Thai-Boxer must feel like. 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, and 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. Even if things don’t work out or you have issues with your client or team mates, in the end you will learn from it. When I imagine that other studies don’t provide their students with that much practical experience, I wonder how they must feel when they enter the work field. I am glad I get to learn how to deal with the essentials and more right 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, have the feeling that they “don’t acquire enough theoretical knowledge.” One of my high school teachers told me once 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 am personally interested in with my assignments.
It feels like we are friends with the lecturers
What I love here at Windesheim is that there is almost no hierarchy between lecturers and students. Compared to my previous dentistry study, where I am used to assistant doctors and professors being able to destroy your career when they have a bad day, this is absolute heaven! It feels more like we are 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 where our study is located, is absolutely beautiful and feels like a big greenhouse with its big triangularly shaped windows. The walls of the classrooms are made of glass, enabling you to share a smile with your more or less happy looking friends who are in the middle of a lecture even if you have different schedules. One thing that definitely needs improvement is the cafeteria.
The organization is perfectly imperfect
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 throughout the semester or get lost in translation with the lecturers but in the end it always works out. If something is unclear just ask several times until it becomes clear. You can also ask in the semester group chat.
There are a lot of things that Germany could learn from this country
Zwolle feels a bit like the Dutch version of my hometown. It is a student town that has the perfect size to me. It is not too small, as it offers everything you need, from bars, cute little local stores and community activities like the Stadsfestival, and also not too big in the sense that you always feel safe and you can really get the Dutch experience as it is not overrun with tourists like Amsterdam. Apart from that it is perfectly located in the middle of the Netherlands and with the Weekend-Vrij ticket for € 30 a month you can explore the Netherlands at the weekends if you seek an adventure. And if you don‘t like Zwolle, you will be abroad exploring the world for 2.5 semesters anyway.
And how do I think about the Netherlands? There are a lot of things that Germany could learn from this country like the train system or the digitalization of the municipal system. Also, Dutch people 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! On the other hand, there are also some things that I don‘t like: almost no glass bottles/jars in the supermarket, the missing deposit system for bottles, the high food prices and the discrimination of the 1- and 2-cent coins. I mean, you keep stealing money from me by rounding up, Netherlands! The Dutch food is also not that great, especially if you are a vegan. If you hear AVG, it is a combination of potatoes, veggies and meat, stay away from it, haha. And for all the Germans: you will miss a good, real bread very soon or you will learn to love untoasted Toast with peanut butter and hagelslag.
Housing is the biggest problem
The biggest problem here in the Netherlands for international students is housing. I am 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 sometimes hard and led to some misunderstandings. We figured things out in the end and I am really grateful to have her as a friend and for what she and this experience have taught me: Communication is key. Sometimes it is just nice to have your personal space, so just see together how you can make things work for the both of you and be open to compromise, starting with who gets the bed at the window, hehe.
Then about finding a room in the second year. Just so that you understand how tough the situation is: even Dutch people here sign up on waiting lists and take months if not several 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: sign up on SSH(opens in new tab) now! I am not kidding. People here start signing up for these progammes at 16 years old when they have not even finished school yet.