The South and Southeast Asian Studies bachelor programme is taught in English. This year almost 40 per cent of the first year intake consists of international students. Andrea Remes from Mexico is one of them. Why did she choose South and Southeast Asian Studies at Leiden University?
How did you come across the programme of South and Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS)?
The way I came across the SSEAS programme is quite peculiar. The husband of our family’s yoga teacher is Dutch and he has various acquaintances in the Nuffic office in Mexico City. He told me that in The Netherlands there were a lot of different programs in English so international students could attend Dutch universities. I started doing some research on the Nuffic page and I came across this program.
Why did you decide to study SSEAS, and especially why a course that studies Asian in the Netherlands?
Since a very young age I have been fascinated by this region. To be very precise, I have been keen on this part of the world since I was 5 years old. This love for the region was induced from a girl who lived in India and ever since then I have wanted to go there. I told my parents I wanted to go to India and see their culture. At first, they thought it was an idea that would go soon out of my mind, but it didn’t. Since then, I wrote in every single New Year resolution card “go to India”. At this point of my life, I realized that I wanted to do something related to India in the future.
I studied in the French school in Mexico. There were many sons and daughters of diplomats, including people from SSEA. Even if these people had to switch country every three years, I had a couple of good friends coming from there as well as Mexican friends who were Buddhists and Hindus.
What made you decide to study in Leiden?
I decided to study in the Netherlands for various reasons. At first I wanted to study in the US because it is closer to my home country; however, the colleges that have this type of program are way too expensive because they are the Ivy League ones. It is also very complicated to get in and I could only study there with a scholarship and maintaining it is extremely hard. Besides the US, there are two more countries that provide this type of study. They are: England and The Netherlands. England just like the US has excellent colleges but have the same unaffordable fees. On the other hand, The Netherlands has excellent education and a price that is accessible to all. Also, Leiden University is rated as 1° in the country and 64° in the world university chart which makes it an excellent institution. In addition, Leiden has a very long tradition in this type of study, so it was the best option for me.
How are the processes of arranging a visa, housing etc? Any difficulties?
As I am half French, I didn’t have any problem with arranging any visa because I am a European citizen. On the other hand, finding a house is a bit more complicated. I decided to arrange housing by myself. Leiden is a city which finding an accommodation is quite chaotic. Because it is a student city, people are hunting for places. I was very lucky because I found where to live really quickly. It took only two weeks to do so. I was renting during the first semester a room from a girl from our study. In fact, she was subletting her room because she was doing her exchange semester in Indonesia. Her name is Rosalie Krebber. It was very nice living there because even if we didn’t live together, we get along very well and before classes started she gave me lots of different tips and advice for the study.
How did you experience your arrival in Leiden?
The welcome that Leiden University did was very nice. I arranged all housing and introduction week on my own. As I said before housing was a bit complicated but I managed to find a nice place to live. On the other hand, introduction week was really easy to enroll. I had a wonderful time at el CID week. I met a lot of new and interesting people. Most of the time, people stop keeping in touch with the people from introduction week, however I still see a couple of people from time to time. Our mentors were really patient and showed us very well how Leiden student life works.