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Meeting the locals

Meeting the locals Meeting the locals

Jennifer Sellin, a Dutch PhD student at the department of International and European Law who has seen 12 per cent of the world

 

One of the advantages of her job is that she can travel abroad regularly. Jennifer Sellin carried out research in countries such as South Africa, Uganda and India, and taught in China. “I try to combine it with a few days' holiday and in South Africa I did voluntary work in a children’s home for a month.” That was actually her first trip outside Europe. “I wanted to take the chance to stay longer. It is useful for my research if I get to know the country itself and not just the academic world. I am doing research into the accessibility of medicine, mainly for HIV/AIDS, and I look at the situation in each country. The problems in Uganda are very different to those in India, for example.”

From a cultural point of view too, the differences are gigantic. “Everyone speaks about Africa as if it is one big country, but Uganda is very different to South Africa. In the latter country, the contrast between rich and poor is extremely great. In some areas of Johannesburg there are beautiful villas, while just a few kilometres further on people live in the worst kind of poverty. I think that is why there is so much crime. Cape Town was very different; I was able to use public transport there. Everyone said I was crazy, but I felt it was quite okay. In Uganda I also felt very safe; there is more equality there.”

Uganda is one of the countries that Sellin wants to go back to (“I did not see much”), as well as India. “I only went to New Delhi. That is a huge city. One block of houses after the other. The sheer number of people was amazing. What hit me was the aromas; the one street smelled different to the other. I absolutely loved the food. I have never eaten such delicious dishes as I did there. It's hot, but you get used to that.” I really liked China as well. “The people were so kind and helpful.”

The United States and South America are beckoning. “I have never been there. It doesn't really matter what country in South America. If I get the chance, I will go. I would prefer to go by invitation from someone who lives there. Then you see completely different things in a country. Fortunately I have an international circle of friends. Of course I want to see some of the tourist attractions as well, but it is the meetings with locals that stay with you.”

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