Kiwi looking for bacon in Eindhoven

During the ‘Week of the International Student’ (November 13th-17th ) Bron puts the spotlight on foreign students. Why did they choose to study in The Netherlands and specifically at Fontys? Today’s story: Ayden Kelly from New Zealand. “Internationalization is definitely what you make it.”

How is life in Eindhoven?
Ayden Kelly (21): “I enjoy staying here. I’m living in a student house with 15 other people. Besides studying and socializing, I try to do some sightseeing. I went to Amsterdam and also visited Germany and Belgium. Last weekend I went to Paris to see The All Blacks beat France 38-18. So, I’m making sure I’m doing the travelling, as well as the studying.”

“I think Eindhoven is nice and quiet, a bit like your average New Zealand town. In fact, The Netherlands is nothing like a big culture shock. Of course there are no hills and at first biking was a bit of a thrill because of the right hand side traffic. Another thing to mention is the meat section in the supermarket. In New Zealand the meat section is massive. Over here there’s just one refrigerator and I can’t even seem to find the bacon.”

What are you studying?
“Back home I studied Sports at the Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin. Till January I’m doing a minor in Sports Performance, which focusses on elite level training. In short: anything that has to do with training schedules, development and planning. My sport of choice is hockey. Currently I’m working with pupils in the age 12-18. That is a lot of fun. I really love the practical side of training, and if you cannot work with people, what’s the point…”

Why Fontys? How did you get here?
“Otago Polytechnic and Fontys have some kind of partner program. One day I was asked if I would be interested to come to Sporthogeschool during the last six months of my study. It was pretty much like: Would you like to go? and me saying Yeah, fine. Once my application was approved, I could get a grant to pay for my flight tickets. It was just the spirit of the moment. But I always wanted to travel. So, during my first trip ever I end up at the other side of the globe.”

And, does it match your expectations?
“Yes, I think so. One thing that strikes me is that the two schools are quite different. In New Zealand you get a display of all the things they want and expect from you. Over here it is much more loose, so as a student you can branch out in different study programs. I’ve been told that this is a typical Dutch thing: having the freedom to choose your own direction and outline. Don’t get me wrong, this is something that suits me. It just takes a while longer to find your way around things.”

How do you feel about the Fontys Internationalization Program?
“Every international student gets assigned to an older student or ‘buddy’. This system definitely works great for me. I always feel comfortable to ask my buddy Roel, because he is quite the same age and knows his way around Sporthogeschool. We talk about lectures or all kinds of practical issues. We can bounce ideas of each other on writing papers without all the guidance that I got back in New Zealand.”

On the Internationalization Program, is there anything that Fontys could improve?
“The housing bit: it would be nice to live with other international students that are in the same course or program. My housing situation is fine, but there are no other Sporthogeschool students living there. If that was the case, automatically there would be more interaction outside of the classroom, which is good for both the international students as well as Fontys. But otherwise, the program is quite good.”

What is your opinion on internationalization in general? Is it mainly a prestige thing for schools to have like 10 per cent international students or does it really add value to your life and studies?
“I know what you mean, but for me the internationalization concept is just great. You get to experience another culture and put something special on your CV. In terms of internationalization: it is definitely what you make it. Getting a good grade is just one side of it. Meeting people and going places is another. So, if you really want to you can make a lot out of it. Reach out and get your special experiences! There’s lots of room for that.” [Frank van den Nieuwenhuijzen]