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“You not only get experience abroad – you also experience yourself abroad”

“You not only get experience abroad – you also experience yourself abroad” “You not only get experience abroad – you also experience yourself abroad”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Glenn van Lieshout and Kate Surala

Students go to Asia for Honours Summer School

MAASTRICHT. “Life starts at the edge of your comfort zone.” This is what Kate Surala, a third-year student of European Law, took from her time in Hong Kong for the Netherlands–Asia Honours Summer School (NAHSS). With four students from Maastricht and 95 students from other Dutch universities, she visited different cities in Asia last summer to conduct research for several public and private partners as well as the Dutch Financial Times. As of this month, students can apply for the NAHSS 2015.

The overarching theme of 2014 was urbanisation. The students could choose from a wide range of topics. Kate Surala and her group looked into the processing of food waste in Hong Kong, which the city wants to make more sustainable. “They have huge problems with it, since so many people live in such a small area. It’s very complicated, lots of different parties are involved and there’s no clear legislation. People may have solutions, but there’s no push to implement them.” Her biggest challenge was juggling four languages. “I’m Czech, the other students spoke Dutch, the programme was in English and I was learning Chinese. It got confusing in my head sometimes.” Surala is planning to go back soon. “I was part of a student protest, but a very quiet one. When the big protests began, we were already back in Maastricht. I’m curious to see how the atmosphere there is now.”

The group of Glenn van Lieshout, now a master’s student of Health Food Innovation, was asked by the Dutch education agency Nuffic to explore the possibility of Sino-Dutch Living Labs in Beijing. In these labs, students of Dutch universities of applied sciences, lecturers and researchers apply their sector expertise to research questions from participating companies. “We quickly discovered that the labs were an unrealistic prospect in China. There you have to bond with a company before they’ll do business with you. Yet students would be there for only five weeks as summer interns. So instead of promoting the concept, we talked to Chinese companies and asked what they would expect from such a concept.” Van Lieshout found it interesting to work on a project with students from different programmes. “They have totally different views. I loved how someone would know everything about something I knew nothing about and vice versa.”

Third-year International Business student Anna Schulze Tilling spent her time in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, doing a case study on a local organic tea farm. “It was interesting to see how entrepreneurial the lady who ran the farm was. Her father just made tea, but she realised there’s a big market for organic tea in Europe, so she made all kind of contacts to sell her tea.” Schulze Tilling feels that the experience taught what her boundaries are, but also what she’s able of. “You not only get experience abroad – you also experience yourself abroad. And funnily enough, it also meant a crash course in Dutch culture for me. Kate and I were the only non-Dutch students, so unlike here in Maastricht where most people speak English, we spoke a lot of Dutch.” 

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