Teodora Stirbat, Leiden University
Teodora Stirbat is a UNIVERSALIO applicant who is currently studying International Studies at Leiden University, on the university’s Hague campus.
What made you choose the Netherlands as your study destination?
To be honest, I chose the Netherlands for its reputation as a country open to students from around the world. Gradually, all my expectations have been met. For instance, getting a credit card for students takes only a few minutes and requires a minimal number of documents. Similarly, renting an apartment or getting utilities takes a minimum of effort and stress, as the institutions meet the needs of international students.
How did you choose Leiden University and this study program?
I’ve always been interested in studying diplomacy and international relations, as these were my passions during high school. Therefore, this study program was easy to find; and, in choosing a university, I went for the best-known one – Leiden is among the top universities in the Netherlands.
Did you look at other alternatives? How did you make the final choice of studying at Leiden University?
The alternative at that time was studying in Romania, at the University of Bucharest, the Faculty of International Relations and European Studies. The final decision came when I realised I preferred accepting the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone and studying abroad.
How did your application process go? Were there any particularly difficult parts or stages that represented challenges for you?
The process was easy, but it required constant work; it was perfect for the workload of my last year of high school. I was never overwhelmed by the amount of information or work, thanks to the counselling. Nevertheless, a significant obstacle was identifying my qualities and aptitudes, and how to highlight them in a CV or letter of motivation.
How did you overcome this obstacle?
One way of overcoming this was to reflect upon my experiences, both academic and informal, in order to realize what I learned by being involved in them. As far as arranging them in a CV, the key to success was the written exercise.
How would you describe working with Silvana, your counselor? What do you feel was the contribution of UNIVERSALIO and of Silvana in this process?
The experience was incredibly useful. I enormously appreciated the meetings with Silvana, which were characterised by teamwork and organisation, so I never felt lost. Moreover, with her support, I discovered how I could convey my qualities in writing, something that will definitely help me in future academic contexts.
Do you believe there were elements from your background that gave you a competitive advantage in the application process?
I believe one of the most significant elements was my public speaking experience, which demonstrated not only a desire to get involved, but also an ability to organise ideas in a speech.
How do you find the student life at Leiden University?
The student life is wonderful, as I’m in Hague, a city that’s very well-organised when it comes to transportation and its institutions. Plus, I’m lucky to have a “freshly” built building, very similar to the universities in the movies. The courses are organised and I appreciate that all the information needed is at hand, but I find the workload lower than expected. That means you have time left for the activities organised by the university, such as debate, photography or cooking courses.
From your experience until now, what tips or recommendations would you have for someone who is considering studying at Leiden University?
Lots of encouragement! Leiden University is the perfect environment for studying and having fun at the same time. Expect a truly international community!
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