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International blog Valeria Olshevska

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  • 5 minuten (970 woorden)

Hi everyone,

My name is Valeria Olshevska, and currently I am almost at the end of my Masters in Technology and Operations Management (TOM). I am from Latvia, probably some of you know it by Letland or Letonia - country with a funny shape between Estonia and Lithuania. And before you start wondering, yes, the official language is Latvian, and no, it is not similar to Russian.

I did my bachelor in Business Administration at the University of Latvia, and went on two exchanges, spending one semester at Copenhagen Business School and another at the University of Groningen. So my journey in the Netherlands started a long time ago, during which I have already managed to overcome my drop and stroopwafel addiction (now I am going through the cheese phase). So when I came back for Masters it already felt like home here. I decided to study at the RuG because of several reasons. TOM is the program in which I was truly interested and not much other universities offer something similar. The reputation of the RuG and easier acceptance procedure for former exchange students also played a role, and since my bachelor was four years I wanted to finish studying as soon as possible and a one year program seemed a perfect choice (gosh, someone should have warned me what a one year of Masters means).

I will not write about the TOM, since my TeMa fellows already shared a lot in previous blogposts, but I will just say that at some point my mum stopped calling me because she got bored of my talks about deadlines. But a good thing is, she doesn’t need to worry about me because she can always know with a pretty high probability where I am, it’s either in a library or at the campus. Being on exchange at the RuG and studying full-time Masters is completely different. I think the best birthday gift for me now would be a lazy Sunday in bed. When you are on exchange it is more about meeting people and getting to know lots of new cultures, seizing every single opportunity to explore, travel or have fun. I wouldn’t finish even the first block of Masters if I lived here like I did on exchange. Nevertheless I should say that I discovered the Netherlands from different sides after I came back.

Once I got asked what the most shocking thing was for me in the Netherlands and I couldn’t come up with something immediately. This question got stuck in my head for a long time, so here is a small list of some of my daily life observations that can perhaps partially answer that question:

·         This country is against single people. So pretend that you either live with six people more or just eat toothpaste for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between, and buy a pack of six, because it’s just insanely cheaper. Yes, I know these are marketing tricks and we should fight excessive consumerism, but you will always need a toothpaste or shampoo or tea. So now I am fully prepared for apocalypses with my accumulated survival supplies.

·         Everything is made for tall people – tall and not single. And I should not complain coming from the country with the tallest women in the world according to one recent research. But in Latvia I don’t need to be on tiptoes to be able to see my full face in the mirror or while hanging a coat. I should admit I even jump sometimes to see in the mirror if my clothes are fine (people entering the bathroom sometimes get confused). Once I was on the interview here and the guy said something like “oh you are so small I even don’t know how I should shake your hand to not break it”. Well, small doesn’t mean weak. Actually short people might be even stronger than tall, because we do a lot of stretching while trying to reach that last item on the highest shelf in the supermarket.

·         I am sure there is a special type of memory which refers to remembering where your bike is parked. I have a really bad memory but after some time I noticed that I go straightly to my bike without thinking where I parked it. But remembering where your bike is, can also be an indicator of how tired you are, at least when I am completely exhausted I can walk through several parking stands, or stare at my bike for 5 minutes without noticing it.

·         When someone asks about whether we cycle in Latvia, my reply is always that there is too short season to cycle till it starts raining and snowing. After that I usually receive “so what?” look. Well, I should admit, it is a lame reason to avoid cycling. As far as it is not colder than minus three  degrees it is totally fine to cycle. Latvians for sure should learn that. However, once, while cycling on a piece of ice, I developed a full startup idea of the self-heating saddle. Sadly, it seems eBay is already full of them. Didn’t check though if there are self-heating handlebars…

As any foreigner I compare everything with how it’s at home and how it’s done here. Of course I miss some things from Latvia, but I am happy about my choice to study at the RuG and I love the city. I am amazed by how many different things happen here. Groningen is run by students and you can feel that immediately once you arrive to the city. It is a city driven by enthusiasm and young spirit, and I cannot imagine saying goodbye to this place that became my home any time soon.

Groeten,

Valeria


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