Amongst the chatter of students in the Starbucks on campus, I talked to Sebastian Brock, a BA-2 student with interests in many fields. Our conversations, along with me learning a lot more about him, digressed to sociopolitical issues in the world, and of course, food.
Sebastian, along with many European international students, might seem to have the upper hand in comparison to others moving in from outside this continent, but there are still many things he had to adapt to. “Having to integrate with this in the Netherlands might’ve been easier for me than some others to an extent, but things like the price of food, housing, and traveling card did take a while. I don’t like soft breads that much and the Netherlands has a lot of it, for example. Also, the OV transportation card system doesn’t have any discount for students, which does make traveling for international students expensive in the long run, whereas in Germany, even international students have free travel cards. It would be helpful if they eventually have some sort of discount at least, but I also understand there are economic reasons as to why it hasn’t been implemented yet. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but sometimes I miss the German grocery stores with the items that I can easily recognize. I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, there are definitely a lot more positive things in the Netherlands than there are negatives, in my opinion.”
“Because you’re in a different space – definitely mentally, and it can easily feel like you’re alone during the first year.” he explained, when discussing first year IBCoM students. “At least, for me at times I felt like I was the only one feeling all alone – which isn’t, and wasn’t true at all. It just isn’t something you really discuss with others and for many people, it is the first time being far away from home and having to be a lot more independent.”
Sebastian is also part of the IBCompanion Program. “I applied to be an IBCompanion because I like the idea for being there for someone – I do prefer one-on-one caring more than a group, but I thought it was a great idea, and I would want to be treated the way this program [treats] the first years. Because of my experience earlier, I also understood that new students might like the option of having someone to talk to about IBCoM related issues they might not really be able to talk to lecturers about. Of course, some of them might be a lot more independent and be able to deal with it themselves, but it is nice that there is an option to have someone there for you. Also, personally, I thought this experience would challenge me more – something that I like to do.”
There is a huge difference in the ratio of male to female students in the IBCoM program, and when asked about this, Sebastian commented, “It might have to do with the societal gender roles and the societal label on the social sciences as a ‘female’ science in comparison to the natural sciences and engineering as more “masculine”. Of course that isn’t true. I can’t say I know why this exactly happens, but not that many people – male or female – really get into the Communication Sciences because of many stigmas.”
Initially pursuing journalism, Sebastian decided on the IBCoM program because it was the most most appealing to his personal criteria. “I can’t really choose a favorite course in IBCoM so far. I think they’re all great in their own way. I tried to choose subjects that challenged me as well as interested me. I geared more to the political and business administration side of IBCoM, because that’s what interests me. I haven’t really decided what I want to do exactly after IBCoM, but I wanna pursue a Masters – I don’t know in what. That’s the great thing about IBCoM, it doesn’t really constraint you into one field, but rather gives you a lot of options.”
“Just remember not to stress out too much.” Sebastian advised, especially first year students. “Often we, even I, start concentrating on the grades rather than the performance itself. Sometimes when you keep thinking about the 8s or the 9s, you’re too frustrated and stressed about reaching that grade itself, that you don’t concentrate on your performance, and in turn your grades suffer. Of course, a healthy amount of stress is good, if it motivates you to work harder, but at a certain point you might be doing yourself more harm. Just work as hard as you can, and have a little fun along with it!”