With crowdfunding Lena hopes to stay in Nijmegen

08-06-2018

Serbian Lena Crkvenjakov (20) would love to continue studying at Radboud University next year. But to do that she needs to come up with around 7.000 euros in tuition fees. She doesn’t have the money, so her sister started a crowdfunding campaign.

She only misses her family. And she admits the food in Serbia is better and the landscape is more beautiful. But for the rest? Lena Crkvenjakov would hate to think about having to live and study in her home country again.

Last year she came to Nijmegen to study Arts & Culture. She was one of the ‘happy few’ chosen for the Radboud Scholarship Programme. This scholarship was awarded to twelve talented non-EU students last year. For these students the university reduced the tuition fees from around 7.000 euros to about 2.000 – the same amount that EU students have to pay.

Critical

Lena, who grew up in Zrenjanin in northern Serbia, waxes lyrical about education in the Netherlands: “There’s no comparison between lectures here and those in Serbia. I studied industrial design there and only learned how to cram knowledge into my head. In the Netherlands you are formed as a person much more by being forced to think critically.”

The only problem is that the scholarship Lena received from Radboud University is only for the first year. For the second and third years of the Bachelor’s programme, she has to pay full freight in tuition fees. Moreover, the university decided that as of next year, recipients will be awarded a scholarship for three years. But that’s of no use to Lena.

‘I never take the train. I always hitch a ride’

Her sister, who lives in Delft but previously studied history in Nijmegen, therefore decided to start a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of 1.500 euros. “With that amount, plus what I earn through my part-time job and money I can borrow from my family, I can just make it,” says Lena.

Plan B

In case the money can’t be raised, she came up with a plan B. “At Erasmus University tuition fees are about a thousand euros less. If I go study there, I could move in with my sister in Delft. That saves a lot of money. Only then I have to start over in the first year. I would prefer to stay in Nijmegen.”

Regardless of how and where, in the coming years Lena will be just scraping by. She doesn’t do normal things like take the train. “I always hitch a ride. It’s fine to do that in the Netherlands.” At the moment she is a lodger, but is considering living in an anti-squatting property if she stays in Nijmegen.

However worried she might be, Lena sees a positive side to having little money: “You learn to value the little things. If I go out with my sister, we often check the floor of the pub. Twice already I’ve found 20 euros that way. We have a good laugh about it.”

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