The first English bachelor graduates (2): Psychology

19 Nov 2019

The first students of the English bachelor programmes are receiving their diplomas these months. Some of them are staying, others are flying out all over the world. What are their experiences? This time: Aysha Akhtar, Psychology.

As early as the time of her Abitur – the German version of the final high school exam – Aysha Akhtar (23) was thinking about doing her studies abroad. The place she had in mind at the time was the UK. ‘Ideally, doing medicine,’ she says. In the end, she ended up coming to the Netherlands, to Nijmegen. ‘I had actually never heard of Nijmegen or Radboud University before. The first time I got to know the university was during an ambassador event at my school.’

The reason why Akhtar wanted to study abroad was because of the opportunities that brings. ‘I wanted to have options to work in an international environment after my studies. Radboud struck me because it was offering a psychology bachelor entirely in English. Plus, the Netherlands don’t require a high high school grade average, but rather a good study performance during your first bachelor year.’

Speaking German

Aysha Akhtar

Before she came to Nijmegen, Akhtar imagined her study experience to be very international. But actually, half of her fellow students were German. ‘I was really surprised to see that. Sometimes it felt like I was studying in Germany but then in English.’ This led to a certain pattern in student groups: Germans mostly stayed in groups of other Germans, while the remaining international students would mostly form their own groups. ‘At times it felt weird to speak English because I was talking to other Germans, so even though I was abroad, I spoke German quite a lot during my bachelor.’

Considering the fact that she did not follow a Dutch language course, connecting to Dutch people proved to be difficult. And since she was part of the first English-taught psychology track at Radboud, not everything went smoothly. ‘Sometimes our professor’s English was hard to understand during lectures. There were a lot of students who were outraged and complained about this, but I thought it was understandable,’ she says. ‘I mean, these professors probably didn’t teach in English before, it was also their first time. And after all, we were in the Netherlands. But I think they should work on this issue in the future.’

Terminology

‘I do feel more prepared for the world now’, says Akhtar. ‘Studying in English has helped me to acquire a lot of English terminology, so that now, I can really imagine myself working somewhere abroad.’

Would she do it all again? ‘Yes, I would! I think Radboud is a very competent university. I especially liked the way of teaching: several times I had to conduct research myself that was based on the newest international findings in the topic, something that I consider as very important for any research. But we also learned about things that were only relevant for the Netherlands, so people that were interested in staying here for work also got their share.’

Tips for starters

Akhtar’s tip for anyone starting out at Radboud as an international: ‘Good planning skills can get you a long way, as I have learned over the years. Also, take your time looking at all the things the university has to offer. For example, the Sports Center has a huge number of courses, you don’t even have time to try out everything in your 3 years! But it really helps to go and work out in stressful phases to get your head clear again.’

Aysha also has some advice about the living experience in the city of Nijmegen. ‘Explore the city as much as possible! It has so much to offer, from cozy study places to cultural events like the Four Day’s Marches in summer. You can get a pretty nice picture of the laid-back lifestyle of Dutch people, but Nijmegen is unique in the sense that it’s very international and a student city.’

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