We asked numerous first-year students of the IRO program about their first semester of university and their future in 2022. Here are their responses…

What has been the best thing about moving to the Hague and starting university?

The freedom. Both in terms of education and personal choices. This is the front door of my studio, the shipping container I live in, to be more precise. I chose this picture to describe the best thing about moving to The Hague because this is where I have been spending the most time with the friends I bonded with here. They are, indeed, the best part of the whole experience. Although I also got to try many exciting things for the first time, and I was also able to travel to a plethora of beautiful places, all the late-night talks and parties my friends and I had in 95 are what I am most grateful about, and what I cherish the most. – Marina

The best thing about moving to The Hague is visiting many different art museums. Through appreciating the arts, I can also learn about the culture of the Netherlands, which I personally think is amazing. – Marina

Being born in Jakarta, the best thing about moving to The Hague to start University has been how new everything is: from the people to the new surroundings. It was a welcomed change in pace, especially regarding the very international environment in university but also in the city in general. Being exposed to various different cultures has led me to break my bubble and it has been a very eye-opening experience. – Jacklyn 

Starting a new journey where I have met and continue to meet new people from different paths of life. – Pera

Meeting people from all around the world. It’s interesting to be able to listen to so many different perspectives on the issues of the world. I’ve also found out about problems and experiences I had no idea existed. – Basia

The best thing by far has been making new connections and finding my place within a new community. It’s all-around a new dynamic, living with others who aren’t family, and going out, meeting new people in a mutual new environment. It’s been exciting growing into other people’s life, expanding your own circle and having it enriched by all the new people I am meeting, whether that is in Uni or through my babysitting job. It’s my first time being alone and fully building a community around myself. – Bea

What was the most challenging thing you have experienced during the first semester of university?

Adapting to new environments and experiences has been the biggest challenge of this academic year for most first-year students. The change from “high-school” to “university-level” education and shift in the method of studying has been hard to understand because of the difference. In high school, the teachers see when you might need help, while in university you have to “take matters into your own hands, ask for help if you need it, and take more responsibility for your own successes”. There is this “fear of failing and the increasing levels of stress” which accumulated as the semester courses got more challenging and the workload becomes heavier. Everyone can agree that the number of readings that need to be done daily for each course is “overwhelming for their mental and physical wellbeing”. After all, “balancing between academic life and social life is something that all students learn to achieve” through time. Furthermore, “cooking and managing meals” was also found to be a popular answer as many students are “not fond of or skilled at cooking which might be difficult at first” to get used to and enjoy doing it. Finally, “being away from home has meant that their sense of community has faded”, which might be hard to acknowledge but knowing that many are feeling the same as you can be comforting and you learn to help each other. 

What are you hoping that 2022 will bring?

“In 2021 I learned that I am capable of things I thought were impossible for me to do previously. That had a positive effect on my self-esteem, and I hope that in 2022 I get the chance to push my limits even further and to create an even better, stronger version of me.” – Marina

“In 2022 I want to do more exercise and I hope 2022 will bring me a healthy mindset. I spent a lot of time home during 2021 so I’m sure forcing myself to go out and do exercise will make me get out of my comfort zone.” – Marina

“I hope 2022 will bring me more opportunities to meet some new people because I am not really a people person so I want to try to challenge myself to talk to more people. I hope this brings me something new.” – Marina

“I’m hoping 2022 will give me more opportunities to meet people and have fun. As I now got in the rhythm of studying, there is still time for some entertainment. Also, I’m planning on learning another language to give me more places to travel to and more people to talk to.” – Basia 

“I hope 2022 will bring more revelation about the world and my sense of self.” – Pera 

“ In 2022, I am hoping for opportunities and open doors. Coming out of 2021, I felt like not a lot had happened, mostly having stayed in the comfort of my bubble, however, that is something I want to tackle in 2022. I hope to challenge myself more and get more out there, academically, with many future events with the social committee of CIROS (stay tuned for that) and just growing into a better person and constantly challenging myself to become better. ‘Manifesting many good days in 2022’” – Jacklyn 

Bea is hoping to be better and learn from the mistakes she made but also learn from her successes in the first semester. She wants to optimize her study routine and grow from the experience of the first semester. She is hoping to establish a routine, as a lot of other students can relate, the first semester tends to be a lot with the process of moving and adapting to studying at University. Oh and also she doesn’t want to end up in the ER again, which is another story, but hey, at least now she knows the dutch health care system works…! 

2022 will be the year that…

… I learn to study less, but more efficiently

… I visit at least one new city every two months

… I visit European countries with my family 

… I find a job that empowers me

… love finds me

… I meet more people 

… I live the true university experience and travel far 

… I will discover more in order to create my imprint

… I evolve to become a better person, mentally and physically

… I figure out how the bike lanes work !!!

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