Learning from the Dutchies

Viktoriia Lesiuk from Ukrain: "Education in The Netherlands is all about personal development"

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: Viktoriia Lesiuk from Ukraine: “At first, I didn’t know how to feel.”

How is life in Eindhoven?
(Because she is currently staying in Kiev for her internship we spoke to Viktoriia (19) over the phone. In reaction on this first question she laughs and rapidly takes a few large steps back in time): “O my God, I still remember when I first arrived. I was only 17 and didn’t know how to feel, really. It was such a big adventure for me. I was just a little shy girl that graduated high school in Kiev and never once cooked a meal by herself! But now ‒ two years later ‒ all turned out so well. I find Eindhoven is a very inspiring place which feels a lot like home. Shortly after I arrived I went on an extended bike trip and learned my way across the city. I also like Rachelsmolen campus because it’s so well organized. Like 70 per cent of the students in my class are Dutch, but they are so respectful and, of course, everybody is fluent in English. Over the years I became best friends with a girl from Kazakhstan- it’s nice to speak Russian together.”

What are you studying right now?
“It’s my third year of International Business. In fact, I’m back in Kiev for five months to do an internship. I’m working at a company that builds gas tanks and all kinds of related components. Next January I will be back in Eindhoven.”

Why Fontys? How did you get here?
“When I was still in high school in Kiev I decided that I would love to do something with an international focus, like business or law. And, of course, I wanted to go abroad. Because of the English language, I was thinking of Great Britain. But then I spoke to a friend of my parents, who is from Eindhoven. He introduced me to Fontys, and some of the educational programs over there. I started to check out the web sites and ultimately applied for International Business.”

And, does it match your expectations?
“Definitely. I really like the applied sciences-approach. Almost everything you do has a practical component, or at least a link with real business situations. Education in Ukraine is much more theoretical. At Fontys you always try to make the connection with the company floor. Some time ago I did a project at Philips Healthcare Systems. I always felt I could make a relevant contribution to their business. For students, this is an important concept, because you feel you are taken seriously and really learning something. Another thing: education in The Netherlands is all about personal development. You learn about business but you also learn to grow as a person. The latter is something that you don’t see that much in Ukraine.”

How do you feel about the Fontys Internationalization Program? Are there any things that Fontys could improve?
“There’s already an international focus in IB and surely that is of help for the international students. I think the teachers are doing good work: most classes are a real asset. Every foreign student has a tutor (one of the teachers) allocated to them. This works great for me. And last but not least: after every exam there is an evaluation round, in which we discuss all kinds of problems or difficulties. Till now, these things are sufficient for me. In my view one of the things that Fontys could improve is the information stream concerning internships and minors. The info on that is a bit vague sometimes. It’s also scattered and incomplete, you don’t always see the forest despite the trees. Maybe it would be good to build some kind of portal where you can collect all the necessary information.”

What is your opinion on internationalization in general? Does it add value to your life and studies?
“Sure. Living in a strange country, and having to handle things on my own- it really changed my life. I’m not that shy anymore! And just there the Dutchies helped me. As you know Dutch people can be quite outspoken and give their opinion out loud in as many awkward situations as possible. I must have picked up some of that. I think at 19 I’m quite mature.” [Frank van den Nieuwenhuijzen]