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Student Laura Martens

"I went to Japan for half a year and it’s safe to say I had the best time of my life (I know how cliché this sounds, but it’s a cliché for a reason). I feel that LAS really prepared me to live in another country for a semester, as I was used to study in an international environment."

foto Laura Martens
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Bachelor's program: University College Tilburg: Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Started in: 2014
  • Extracurricular activities: Exchange to Japan: I went on exchange to study in Tokyo. Public Speaking Program: This program sharpened my public speaking skills in 5 sessions. Spanish: As Tilburg University offers its students free language courses (vouchers), I decided to take up a beginner’s course in Spanish just for fun. Active member of Study Association Extra Muros: I help organise events, design posters and hang out with other members.
  • High school diploma: Pre-University, International Baccalaureate Higher Level with focus on life sciences
  • Languages: Dutch and English

Did you always know what you wanted to do?

When I was little, I wanted to be like my grandmother and become a teacher. As I grew older I realised that I wanted to help people rather than be a teacher. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor, but I figured child psychology would suit be better. Liberal Arts & Sciences gave me the opportunity to check out different fields. Thanks to that experience, I now know that I want to go into management and/or consultancy. That way, I can help people in my own way.

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

[I am Dutch and I chose to stay in The Netherlands]

When I was looking for a bachelor program, I knew I wanted to stay in the Netherlands. I like how everything is set up here, I love bitterballen and I would miss my family and friends too much if I were to study in another country. However, like most, I am a passionate traveller. One requirement for my bachelors was that it had to have an opportunity to study abroad for a semester without study delay – and that is exactly what LAS offered me!

How did you reach the decision to study University College Tilburg: Liberal Arts & Sciences?

I guess you can call me broadly oriented. In high school, I loved biology. I found it so interesting to get to know how my body works, what processes take place and so on. At the same time, I had a profound love for Latin and Philosophy. Both pushed me to think about things beyond the human body. As I was in the bilingual department, everything international always caught my eye. So, naturally, I had a hard time picking my bachelors. I went to visit every university in the country, searching far and wide. With all study programmes I visited (and let me tell you there were many), I came to the same conclusion: I found it truly interesting and captivating, but I would probably be bored after half a year. The programmes made me choose between subjects, rather than incorporating all of them. When I came across LAS I realised that this study had all of my favourite subjects, and even taught them interdisciplinary (rather than multidisciplinary).

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

As I have an IB (HL) degree and was in the bilingual department, I’ve had 6 years of studying in English prior to LAS. Of course, that gave me a major advantage as it was super easy for me to accommodate. Studying with international students is honestly so much fun. We teach each other things about our culture without it ever feeling like a lecture, it really broadens my horizon.

What is your favourite subject?

In high school, I loved Biology, English, Latin (I know I’m such a geek), Geography & Philosophy. In university, my favourite course has to be ‘Modernity, Identity & Evil’. This course basically brings together criminology, victimology and what evil actually is. It takes you on a tour through history to examine certain cases that we now see as evil.

What sort of teaching styles do you encounter in your program, and can you say something about this?

THE teaching style of LAS has to be team-teaching. This is where two lecturers with different backgrounds teach the same course at the same time. For example, my favourite course ‘Modernity, Identity & Evil’ was team-taught by a criminal psychologist and law philosopher.

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

YES! I went to Japan for half a year and it is safe to say I had the best time of my life (I know how cliché this sounds, but it’s a cliché for a reason). Also, I feel that LAS really prepared me to live in another country for a semester, as I was used to study in an international environment.

Wat sort of student is a great fit for your program? And who is absolutely not?

You’re a good fit if you tick these two boxes:

  1. Like working in an international atmosphere
  2. Like working interdisciplinary. This means you like working on the edge of disciplines, and combining them to gain new insights.

I guess if you miss either one of these two, perhaps you should reconsider your choice.

Do your studies take a lot of time? Do you have any time for activities besides your studies?

Personally, I don’t find it takes a lot of time – it’s just right. I have time to work two side jobs and still find time to hang out with friends every now and then.

Are there any prejudices about your program, which turned out not to be true after you started studying it?

I know that many people either see LAS’ers as elite students, or the odd ones out. Neither one is true, I found that LAS is really diverse.

Do you have any advice for prospective students considering this program, or studying at Tilburg University?

Choose something that you love doing, you need to endure it at least 3 years - might as well enjoy it!


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