Martijn Westerbrink, Head of International Office bij Tio, deals with exchange students and international partners on a daily basis. He would like to share his tips and experience with you!
Martijn: "It was Aristotle himself who once said: 'well begun is half done'. Meaning that if you prepare well, it will cost you less effort to succeed in achieving your goal. Something particularly true for the Minor Study Abroad."
Prepare your trip
"During the months of preparation for the Minor Study Abroad I notice students all tend to deal with the preparation differently. I see students in their second year, who have read the Manual Minor Study Abroad and know where they want to go already before even being able to apply. And I come across students who do this at their own pace..."
"If I learned one thing during my trips, it is that you need to prepare them well in advance. Not so much the flight and your hotel (also important, but seems to be standard to arrange), but more so “what is the purpose of this trip, and how am I going to achieve my goals.” Especially because in some countries ‘doing business’ is way different than our Northern-European style. If you prepare well, your period abroad can turn out to be great. It can also result in disappointment if the preparations are not done properly."
"The basics of a period abroad can normally be handled by every student. Booking a flight, making some appointments beforehand and book a room or housing to stay in. The culture shock or a communication difficulty in another country is a bit harder to prepare for. How do you deal with changing courses during your period? Or colleagues that keep on saying ‘it is going to be ok’ but nothing is happening? When going abroad you should make yourself pretty well aware of the cultural differences between you (and your ‘truth’) and the culture you are heading to (and their ‘truth’)."
"When a situation occurs try not to get stressed out, but take a minute to oversee the situation and make up your final goal (“Begin with the end in mind”, Stephen Covey). After making up your final goal, try to understand the situation and context of the other person first and only then start the conversation. Working together towards the goal you want to reach is far more satisfying and promising than only ‘showcasing your issue’. This also works within the Netherlands by the way, give it a try!"
"Last but not least: when studying abroad, do realize that you are not only going to another country and culture, but also to another university / school. At Tio the personal atmosphere is very unique, and as long as I work for Tio I have not come across any other university that offers the same kind of service, personal attention and guidance to its students. Tio students are privileged with all these additional services, something you will for sure find out during your minor abroad at another university. Experiencing these differences is not a bad thing, not at all. Once back you will appreciate your own country and culture more for sure. And maybe even appreciate the service level of Tio more…"
Experience of a lifetime
"Go and explore the world, make sure to be prepared and willing to adjust and you will see it’s an experience of a lifetime."
Follow Martijn Westerbrink on LinkedIn.