What position do you hold at Study Abroad in Amsterdam? What has been your career path so far?
Sanne: I’ve always wanted to work in study abroad, therefore being the director for the Amsterdam Summer School certainly is a dream job. Right after completing my Master’s degree I started looking for jobs within study abroad, but it took a few years before I got here.
My last job was as a project manager organizing business trips for entrepreneurs to emerging markets. And although it was an exciting job that gave me the opportunity to travel and see the world, I really felt may heart lay with students more than businessmen. It has now been five years that I have been working for VU University Amsterdam, and over a year that I started with the Amsterdam Summer School.
Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Sanne: Yes, and I couldn’t get enough of it! Which is certainly an important reason why I wanted to work in the field. I did a language course and later on also a summer course in Spain. Both triggered my interest for more, therefore I decided to study abroad in the USA for a semester and later on do the research for my Master’s thesis in the Philippines. The more you travel, the more confident you become in going abroad on your own, and the more the world really starts to feel like your playground.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Sanne: During your college years you will of course learn a lot about your subject matter of choice, but it is also a time in which you really get to know and develop yourself as an individual. Studying abroad in a country with a different culture and language can be like a mirror, it is really enlightening to see how you react in new surroundings, rather than staying in your comfort zone. It may feel a little scary before you go, but it is a wonderful confidence builder that you will cherish for a lifetime.
What was your favorite traveling experience?
Sanne: It is difficult to choose between my study abroad experiences and also other travels. Studying abroad for a semester in the USA gave me the real American college experience, and it was a really fun and enjoyable time.
Doing my research in the Philippines was more of a challenge, because I didn’t have the safety net of a university setting and because the Philippines is in many perspectives far more different from the Netherlands than the USA. But at the same time that is exactly what was so special about it, I was able to see a completely new world and from it get a better understanding of the whole world.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Sanne: All students that return from studying abroad talk about what a great experience it was for them personally, which is a wonderful reminder of why I love this job. But my favourite stories are, I just cannot help it, when students return and tell me they have found the love of their life abroad!