Taufiq -  afstuderen beursstudent

Taufiq Nur reinvented himself in Tilburg

University Fund 4 min. Melinde Bussemaker

Half a century ago, lack of money forced his maternal grandfather to stop his studies at the University of Indonesia. Twenty years ago, his father did succeed: he was the first in his family to earn a Bachelor’s degree at the same university. And now his son has achieved even more: Taufiq Nur has completed his Master’s at Tilburg University thanks to a scholarship of the Tilburg University Fund.

If you want a good job in Indonesia, it is important to study at an advanced level. “That will increase your prospects,” Taufiq explains. “Indonesians think that studying abroad will improve your self-confidence, your analytical skills, and your command of English. And they would be right. I have changed. I have reinvented myself. In our culture, you do not talk about what you want to achieve. It is simply not done. Because suppose you fail! Now I dare to express and pursue my ambitions.”

Government scholarship

Taufiq grew up in the bustling metropolis of Jakarta, where he continues to live, together with his parents. His sister is 33 and works as marketing communication manager at a private school. His father works in the financial and accountancy sector in Jakarta, his mother is a homemaker and a member of a women’s empowerment organization. Is it special that he was able to study abroad? “Until a decade ago, it was quite unusual. That changed when the government began to offer students a broader scholarship. Nowadays, more of my peers are going abroad.” “Except that so many people were interested that the government tightened the conditions: it was no longer possible to a apply for a scholarship twice. So I had to find another solution because I couldn’t afford studying without a scholarship.”

Taufiq  - student grants

Taufiq Nur graduated from the Marketing Analytics Master’s program on July 7, 2020

Twenty-five universities

His dream of studying abroad started in 2014 when he completed his Bachelor’s program at the University of Indonesia. “I shared my plans with my best friends only. In five years’ time, I applied to 25 universities. It worked out in the end: I was admitted to the Master of Marketing Analytics program at Tilburg University in the academic year 2019/2020.” He had in fact been admitted as early as in 2018. “But then I was only granted half a scholarship. I didn’t know how to secure enough funds so I couldn’t follow it through at the time. I was very excited that I was still able to come to Tilburg on a full scholarship from the University Fund a year later. That allowed me to come to focus fully on my studies and the experience of living abroad.”

Marketing research

Since graduating from his Bachelor’s program, Taufiq has worked for a research institute at the University of Indonesia. “My interest in the research side of marketing grew as a result of my work. Initially, I looked primarily at study programs in England but, given my focus on research, the Netherlands presented itself as an option. The choice was between Groningen and Tilburg, whereby Tilburg was the best fit for me because of the interest in the subjects and curriculum.”

Living on your own

He had been abroad before, on holiday or to go to conferences. He visited Germany and Antwerp, but he had never lived on his own, far from home. “Since my parents lived quite near the places where I was educated, there was no need to strike out on my own. Now I suddenly had to, and on the other side of the world. I lived near the campus, together with other international students from Germany, Portugal, Brazil and Indonesia. It was very instructive to interact with these fellow students and learn each other's customs. Sometimes our ideas about cooking and cleaning diverged. I was used to preparing highly spiced Indonesian food, the odor of which, lingering in the house, was not always appreciated. We had to adapt to each other.”

Learning to schedule

Taufiq had to get used to planning his activities. “Buses and trains are running according to schedule. If you miss them, you’ll be waiting for half an hour. And most shops close at 18:00 hrs. in the Netherlands. In Jakarta, you can get what you need at almost any time of the day. It was very helpful that there is a community of approximately 50 Indonesian students in Tilburg. You can ask each other questions if you have any problems. At the same time, I felt very safe in the Netherlands, also on the streets at night. I noticed that there are few homeless people here. That is different in Jakarta: there you need to know what areas to avoid.”

I wanted to continue to focus on my studies


When the intelligent lockdown came in March 2020, Taufiq decided to stay. “I didn’t think it would last very long. Studying from home was hard work. We were all confined to our rooms and had nowhere to go. I found it very stressful. My boss called and asked if I wanted to come back so I could combine my work and studies in Jakarta. But I wanted to continue to focus on my studies and I still wanted to see some sites in Europe. In June, I took a holiday and went to Luxemburg and Germany for a week. In the last month, before I left in October 2020, I visited Denmark and Poland. And I visited many Dutch cities between whiles.”


In that last month, the dreaded phone call from home came: his father, mother, and sister had become infected with Covid-19. “My mother and sister were not very ill, but my dad had serious symptoms. He couldn’t go to hospital; there was no room. Fortunately, he recovered at home. I did not return to Indonesia at that moment because it was almost time for me to go back and because there was nothing I could have done for my dad anyway because they were in quarantine. But I was very worried. Shortly after I came home, it turned out that I had also become infected. Fortunately everybody is in good health now. In Jakarta, people work and study from home as much as possible now. The streets are busy, but not nearly as busy as before corona hit.”

Do not be afraid to pursue your dreams

Taufiq Nur

Taufiq -  afstuderen beursstudent

Substantiating choices

He now regularly uses the knowledge he obtained during his Master’s in Tilburg in his day-to-day work at the research institute. “It is a good thing to be able to substantiate choices with research. I was already familiar with some of the terms and methods, but now I also know the theory behind them.” At the moment, he is busy preparing a PhD Study. “I want to pursue a PhD in America. If I’m successful, it is my dream to become a decision-maker in Indonesia. I want to work for the government, as a policy maker or advisor. I want to give people the same kind of confidence, let them profit from the mistakes I made, and teach them that sound planning is crucial. That they should not be afraid to pursue their dreams and to talk about them, if they do not inconvenience other people.”


Taufiq is extremely grateful to the alumni who donated to the University Fund to make scholarships possible. “My experience abroad has helped me to improve my self-confidence and analytical and English language skills. I have become a different person, in how I behave and think, and in what I want to achieve. This has mainly to do with my mindset: I now express my ambitions. I have greatly enjoyed my time in Tilburg and I have fond memories of my days as a student here and of my visits to the cities here.”

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