‘Going International’ inspires students to venture abroad

"If you’re unsure, just go for it!"

28 Nov 2019 13:50 | Student Affairs

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences recently organised Going International 2019. The Kohnstamm building was buzzing with activity: fascinating speakers, diverse workshops, a student meet & greet and an information market. This annual event offers AUAS students plenty of inspiration and practical tools to help them make decisions about studying abroad or doing an international internship.

Clock or compass?

Successful pro-football player, Merel van Dongen, who plays on the Dutch National team, was the event’s guest of honour. Her energetic and homourous speech impressed the attendees, as she talked the crowd through the decision-making process that has helped her make important choices so far. During her life she’s often come to a crossroads where she had to choose between playing it safe or going for her dreams: stay with her trusted girls football team or switch to the boys team, which was more challenging? Choosing between two sports that she equally loved: football or basketball? And studying abroad in the United States, or pursuring studies at home in the Netherlands?

According to Van Dongen, you can make decisions with your ‘compass’ or your ‘clock’. Your compass provides direction towards your goals and dreams, based on your values and concrete plans for the future. We also make daily decisions based on our clock – what we feel like doing in any given moment. However, this does not always align with our goals. She challenged the room to write down two things: ‘Where do I want to be in 5 years’? and ‘What are 3 things that define me as a person’? Articulating this can help you to make better decisions about your future. Also when it comes to deciding whether to study abroad!

Merel van Dongen spreekt met enthousiaste studenten tijdens Going International 2019

Merel van Dongen (centre) interacts with students during Going International 2019

New insights about one’s own country

Lecturer of the Year 2019, Robert van Mulligen, kicked the event off on 13 November with personal stories about his international experiences in North India, where he worked with the exiled Tibetan government. According to Van Mulligen, it’s important to leave your preconceptions at home. “When you live abroad, you don’t only learn about your new country but also about your home country. You come to appreciate it in a whole new way.” After his speech, AUAS Rector Geleyn Meijer took to the stage. “Globalisation is a fact and jobs are changing quickly. At the AUAS we try to educate our students to be prepared to face these developments. Studying abroad is an excellent choice and I’d like to wish everyone much success,” he said.

‘Best decision of my life’

Jonli So, an enthusiastic final year Communications student at the AUAS, also shared his experiences of studying abroad. His inspiring talk brought his exchange to life through fun photos and videos showing how much he enjoyed his minor in Brisbane, Australia. "This was the best decision of my life!” said Jonli. He made friends for life and is still engaged with the internationalisation theme through his involvement with the International Student Network. “Of course there are challenges when you do an exchange, but arranging all the practical matter is actually easier than you’d expect. And it makes your more independent in the process,” he said. He wrapped up his talk with a clear message, which has stuck with him following meetings with his International Office at the AUAS: ‘If you’re unsure, just go for it!’.

Sfeerbeeld tijdens de plenaire sessie in de Kohnstammzaal

Students soaked up insights during the plenary session

Tools and tips for going abroad

After the plenary session, students could choose from a variety of inspiring workshops. These interactive sessions aimed to show the benefits of doing an exchange or internship abroad and to provide them with practical tips and tricks. There was plenty of choice, with topics such as ‘Travel security: ninja skills’, 'Being International', 'Personal Branding’ and more. While Going International is focused on Dutch students interested in doing an exchange abroad, there were also a few English-language workshops on offer. Being International was organised by the AUAS’ very own international exchange ambassadors, who shared their personal stories and tips about their current incoming exchange experiences in Amsterdam.

Workshop Travel security: ninja skills

Workshop on travel security

The afternoon wrapped up with festivities in the Kohnstammzaal, where students could have professional headshots taken for their CVs or LinkedIn profiles. An information market was also organised this year, where students could get to know the International Office from their faculty. A Meet & Greet with students who have already gained experience abroad was organised for the first time in this year’s edition. “It was great to hear stories from students who have been on exchanges and to be able to ask them questions in a one-on-one setting,” said a student who attended Going International 2019.

Studenten maken een professionele foto voor CV of LinkedIn

Students could have professional photos taken for their LinkedIn profile/CV