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Student Semra Woldemikael

"What attracted me most to Tilburg University was its slogan “Understanding Society”. If you really do aspire to creating any type of social impact, you can incorporate this way of thinking in what you study. I met purpose-driven people that share this same interest as myself and as cheesy as it might sound, it really is empowering to know that you are not alone and can actually make a change together."

foto Semra Woldemikael
  • Nationality: French-Ethiopian
  • Bachelor's program: International Business Administration
  • Started in: 2013
  • Extracurricular activities: I have a soft spot for football (not American football!). I stopped when I came to Tilburg but I am thinking of picking it up again. I am very passionate about music. I absolutely love being surrounded by musicians and I enjoy singing. I have had the chance to meet great musicians in Tilburg, who have become dear friends and with whom I jam often.
  • High school diploma: I followed the French education system before coming to the Netherlands. I graduated with the French Baccalaureat with a specialization in Economics and Social Sciences (BAC ES).
  • Languages: English, French, Amharic and I have an A2 level in Spanish

Did you always know what you wanted to do?

Absolutely not. In high school, I was very lost in regards to what I wanted for myself in terms of jobs. My interests were football and singing and I thought I would head towards studying something related to international relations/politics. To be completely honest, I think I am still figuring out what I want exactly, but I now know better than I did 3 years ago.

Why did you choose to study abroad, and how did you decide to study in the Netherlands?

Having hopped around different countries while growing up, the only thing I knew when choosing a university was that I wanted a new environment to immerse myself in. I did not want to go to France or the US like most of my friends. I thought I could challenge myself by going someplace where I did not know the language, the culture, the people.

How did you reach the decision to study International Business Administration?

I hesitated between International Relations and International Business. The only thing I was certain of was my aspiration to have some kind of social impact regardless of what I would do in the future. I figured (with the wise advice of my mother!), that having business skills would come in hand for whatever I would want to do, so I went for it. 

What is it like to study completely in English, together with international students? Was the transition from high school difficult?

The transition was quite smooth for me. I had always studied in a French system until high school but did not face any big barrier language wise. I have a few friends that might have struggled the first weeks but these same friends speak and write very good English now. Being surrounded by so many international students also benefits the ones that want to practice other languages.

What is your favorite subject?

I think I would say Introduction to Corporate Entrepreneurship. I discovered and learnt about the processes by which organizations can be turned into fun, stimulating and successful environments by garnering innovative approaches both in structural and behavioral terms. What I find cool about this is how such dynamic environments create pleasant jobs that allow for individuals to grow not only professionally but also on a personal level.

What do you like most about studying at Tilburg University?

The fact that the university is quite compact and how green it is. I think we often overlook how refreshing and nice it is to just be able to walk through a green campus. About the size, as a very outgoing person that is easily distracted, it contains me in some sense and helps me keep my focus together.

Would you recommend studying abroad to a student who might never have thought about it before?

I definitely would! As a foreign student myself, and having lived in 5 countries until now, I embrace change very much. See it this way: you have your own culture from back home, but going abroad gets you acquainted with so many different ways of doing, of behaving, of thinking, of seeing things that at the end you can just take what you think are the best aspects of each culture you come across and be the best version of yourself. To illustrate, I used to have such poor time management and organizational skills but in the past 3 years I have come a long way by simply being around Dutch people that generally are pretty good with such skills. So aside from meeting great people, trying things you would have never eaten or just discover the joys of travelling, you can really improve or discover your skills or lifestyle.

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