Amsterdam School of International Business

Life@AMSIB - Maya Lutfi


For our latest life@amsib we interviewed Maya Lutfi who had a dream and accomplished it despite all the hurdles that came her way. Maya’s story begins in 2015 when she arrived in the Netherlands from Damascus in Syria. Getting to AMSIB was no easy task but Maya pushed through all the cultural and language barriers in her way and never let anyone tell her she couldn’t succeed in reaching her dream school. She is now in her second year at AMSIB and living proof that hard work and determination are the ingredients to a successful future.

Stay focused, work hard, go after your dreams, and believe in yourself as you keep moving toward your goals.

Maya Lutfi - 2nd year IB

How did you find out about AMSIB and why did you apply to this school?

It all began when I started high school here in the Netherlands, in Syria we don’t have economics courses at the high school level. I discovered I was truly passionate about it, the second thing was that because of my background I know that I truly enjoy different cultures. I was therefore looking for a university that would form me both in economics but also have different languages and cultures together in a program. When I came to visit the school in Amsterdam, I felt very comfortable and decided it was the right choice! It’s so nice to study with the people from other cultures from all over the world.

What is life like for an international student? How do you cope with being so far away from home?

Being far away from home is for sure a difficult thing, because I miss my country and my family there so much, but on the other hand, I do like being here and I already made a lot of friends. In the end I found my place here and I consider the Netherlands my second home.

What were some of the hurdles you faced when applying and how did you overcome them?

I didn’t have any difficulties applying at AMSIB, it all went very smoothly! The major hurdle I had was with my previous education, initially when I first came to the Netherlands after arriving in Syria, I faced some difficulties and some didn’t believe I could make the HAVO level education but I was keen to show them that I could achieve the same high grades that I had back in Syria. With hard work and determination I accomplished my goal and reached the level I knew I could. I ended up passing HAVO 3 within three months and made my way through HAVO 4 and 5 to graduate in 2019 with high grades in economics. I truly could not have done it without the support and motivation from my teachers, mentors, family and friends and with their encouragement I have made it to the second year at AMSIB and am now dreaming of the future I can make for myself.

How did you experience your first months here at AMSIB? Did the school help in your transition from a Dutch school to an English school?

I won’t lie, it was a little difficult at the beginning, mainly because in high school I was really focused on learning Dutch properly, leaving English on the side (even if I previously learned it in Syria). So having to speak English was a new thing for me, I also speak Arabic, of course, so there was a bit of confusion with all these languages, fortunately I sorted it out eventually and my English got way better, and I made so many new friends.

AMSIB’s environment has helped me remarkably in my transition, the fact that there are many people who do not speak Dutch at all had me in a position where I was forced to use English all the time to make friends and communicate, and I am so grateful for that!

What was your favorite course of these first two years? Where do you see yourself in the future?

Marketing is number one on my top list! It’s the field I want to specialize in as I find it very interesting. I’m also liking Business Spanish a lot. These also reflect in my future choices. For the short-term, I'm planning to go to Spain for my exchange because I’m curious and thrilled about experiencing the culture directly. As for the long-term, I definitely want to pursue a career in marketing, as it is my passion and I would say it’s also a good choice right now with the businesses trying to find new marketing strategies to go online, or to differentiate in a more and more globalized world.

Of course, we can’t help but ask how has the pandemic affected your experience at the school?

I felt the transition to online pretty hard on us students, I love to go to campus as I imagine most other people do too, and I had to get used to it. On the bright side, this situation has thought me how to manage my time better and at least we had six months of physical classes before covid! I can’t think about those poor first-year students who started online this year but we’re all looking forward to the reopening!

Thank you so much for your time Maya! One last question, can you tell us your mantra?

“Stay focused, work hard, go after your dreams, and believe in yourself as you keep moving toward your goals”