Never stop in the middle of a bike path!

City with a view

City with a view

Hey everyone!

I am Pablo from Rio de Janeiro and I am about to get my Master degree in International Business Law. Basically, I can define my time at the VU and in Amsterdam as a life changing experience, both personally and professionally.

Selfie

Selfie

Back in Brazil I was working as a lawyer and my career was proceeding at a rapid rate. I graduated magna cum laude (GPA 9.3) in one the five best Universities in Latin America. I was also one of very few students to pass the Brazilian Bar Exam before finishing my degree. I was part of the infrastructure department of one of the biggest law firms in Brazil and I had the opportunity to participate in relevant infrastructure projects developed in the country. However, I was (and continue to be) strongly convinced that learning is a lifelong process, especially in a continuously evolving subject such as the Law. I was born and raised into a poor, but hardworking family, where every penny earned was invested in a better education. From a very young age I learned that education is the key to success. Having that in mind, I started a long and burdensome process of searching for the best universities, gathering the necessary documentation, translating everything, doing a TOEFL exam and applying for a master abroad.

#vuamsterdam

#vuamsterdam

*If I could go back in time, I would do everything again because it is worth it. Step out of your comfort zone! It won’t be easy, but it will change your life forever!*

Back to the point. I was admitted in all the universities I applied for and got excellent scholarships. After balancing out all the possible pros and cons, I decided to take VU’s offer. Goddammit, it was definitely the best decision I could have made. VU and Amsterdam combine the necessary elements of high academic level and life quality (ps. the weather is not as bad as people pretend when complaining here).

  1. The day of arrival was overwhelming but don’t be scared of it. You will likely be tired at the end of the day. There will be several formalities to perform and you won’t finish them all at the end of the first day. Be patient, those things have to be done everywhere and it is quite nice that they try to organize as much paperwork as possible at one place and one day for our convenience.
  2. If you are thinking about housing, I would definitely go for one of the apartments arranged by the university. It is hard to find something here, even if you are a local and I have heard several bad experiences from friends. Think it through and decide if you want to live close to the Uni (with most of the other students) or if you prefer to live closer to the city centre. This is a difficult decision to make and both have pros and cons. It is a personal decision at the end of the day. Save some money to buy something (secondhand or at Ikea) to make your place more like home. It is very easy to buy and sell things online here. Secondhand markets have many platforms in the Netherlands and it is very common to use them! Soon you will see my stuff going on the market as well hahahah.
  3. If you are thinking about costs, the city is a bit expensive, but it is totally possible to live under the budget that is estimated by the University. There are also several activities you can do for free. There are also many cheap restaurants and supermarkets. You can reach most every place by bike. You will find your way around.
  4. If you are thinking about the program, I can talk only about my own course. However, I think other courses at the university have similar quality standards. My program was great! Really good teachers, high quality education. The facilities are also amazing when I compare them to my university back in Rio. One very important thing, teachers are very strict in grading here and you will have to study a lot! It is extremely difficult to get high grades, but it is not impossible. I even managed to get a 9.5, but it took me much time and work. Be prepared for this! You will learn a lot and definitely overcome your own limitations.
  5. If you are thinking about having fun and enjoy your time as well, Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands are very good places to be. Rio de Janeiro is a hard city to beat in this aspect, but I had as much fun here as I would have had back at home and it is always great to open our horizons and do something new. I made many good friends, I did a lot of parties, cultural activities, I even jumped into the cold sea to celebrate the New Year (Nieuwjaarsduik), celebrated carnival in Maastricht and went to Brussels with friends from the student association and everyone was wearing onesies (crazy trip!), among many other things. Above all, I met a partner for life!
Almeida onesy party

Everybody needs a onesie

Almeida nieuwjaarsduik

New Year’s Dive – Nieuwjaarsduik

Almeida partner

For life

One nice thing about the Netherlands: it is much more than just an incredible country to have fun in and to lead a great life; it is also a great place to do business and/or to study. There are several opportunities for those who are qualified and willing to work hard. Since the beginning of April I am doing an internship in one of the most highly regarded law firms in the country. I have been working (besides my study) for two days per week in the offices of Amsterdam and Rotterdam with the Latin America Desk. I have also participated in the weekly social activities from both offices (borrels). It has been an incredible opportunity to grow professionally and personally. It has enabled me to exchange knowledge, broaden my legal perspective and establish relevant network for the future.

Zuidas - The Amsterdam Business Centre

Zuidas – The Amsterdam Business Centre

I also got my A2 Level in Dutch (IT IS SOO HARD) and, finally, on June 17th I presented my thesis and got a nine for it! I couldn’t be happier and I am so glad I was able to overcome so many challenges! Despite the difficulties, it is a great feeling to have it done and I grew so much with this experience. If you have a chance, do it!

NT2 Dutch Exam

NT2 Dutch Exam

My final remarks for those who are considering moving here for studies.

The university is great, the Dutch are cute, it is a very open society and there is space for all types of cultures, sexual orientations, skin colors, religions and humors. Enjoy yourself, love, be loved, have fun, study a lot, respect the others and be happy, but NEVER****, never stop in the middle of a bike path!

Good luck!

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International Student Barometer for VU Students

International Student Barometer for VU Students
VU University Amsterdam always works on improving services for students to make sure you are having an amazing international learning experience. Student views about VU are therefore very important to us. The International Student Barometer (ISB) is a worldwide online survey that assists us in finding out what we’re doing right and where we can make improvements. And of course it gives students the chance to tell us what they think.

What improvements have we made already?
Career Services
One of the elements we have improved at VU, based on student views, are our Career Services. VU already invests in Career Services for a couple of years. However, due to the current economic climate we noticed that students need and expect  more support from VU and would like to gain more in depth information to make career plans. By renewing our Career Strategy and developing more activities in this field, we hope to meet your wishes. So, what is new:
– Workshops ‘How to write your CV;
– Interview Training;
– Business tour on Zuidas, the international business district of Amsterdam;
– International Career Event with a full day of workshops, presentations and a job fair.

Soon more information to be found on our Facebook Page.

How do you help us improve our services and compete for prizes?
As stated earlier, your views count! So, if you are a VU student, please take the time to fill out the ISB questionnaire you received last week, and will receive again this Wednesday the 4th of December. To thank you for helping us, a €1000,- cash prize will be given away amongst respondents worldwide. VU University also gives away an IPad amongst VU respondents. The prize winner of the Ipad will be announced during the ‘borrel’ on the 19th of December at the VU International Office. The official invitation will be send in a later stage. Please, keep in mind you have until Friday the 6th of December to fill out the survey (and win prizes!).

We are looking forward to meet you – at the ‘borrel’ and during one of our Career Activities in 2014!

VU delegation visited South Korea and China

From 21 to 28 September a VU delegation headed by René Smit visited South Korea and China. The mission was part of a broad Amsterdam delegation.

In South Korea, the delegation visited five universities ( KAIST , Sogang , Seoul National University , Korea University , Yonsei ) and the company Saltlux . With KAIST ( top 100 university ) a memorandum of understanding ( MoU ) has been prepared for research cooperation in the IT field , after which student exchange can follow . With Korea University ( top 200 ) , the existing contract has been extended to a VU broad level . During a ” study and work in Amsterdam” seminar over 200 enthusiastic Korean students were informed on studying at VU. Continue reading

Study in Amsterdam? Start smart and Learn Dutch!

NT2 Academy - Avondcursussen

Kick-start your study in Amsterdam and join a Dutch language course at VU University Amsterdam! After a short while, you can use Dutch for every day purposes. You will be able to live here comfortably and to communicate with the Dutch people at the university or in the city! Continue reading

International Job Fair in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Although hard to imagine in the current economic climate, particularly with the growing unemployment rate in the Netherlands, the shortage in the skilled and highly-educated work forces is expected to grow in the coming year(s). With this in mind, Expatica and Together Abroad introduce the International Job Fair, the event for pursuing an international career in the Netherlands.

Continue reading

Amsterdam praised for its start-up scene – I amsterdam

Silicon Valley veteran and others praises Amsterdam’s start-up scene!

I amsterdam
7 Feb 2013 – Source: iamsterdam.com

According to serial entrepreneur and Silicon Valley veteran Dan Harple, Amsterdam is a hotspot for internet start-ups. In an interview earlier this year with the Dutch newspaper Het Financiele Dagblad (in Dutch) he describes the start-up scene in Amsterdam as “cutting edge” and “state of the art”, even going so far as to say that in comparison with Berlin and London, Amsterdam “rocks”. Continue reading

Masterclass Successful Career Management for our International Students was a success!

300px-WTCAmsterdam2On Friday May 24th, the Office of Career Services hosted a Masterclass for international students in collaboration with the International Office. The Masterclass was part of the event ‘Get Ready For A Dutch Career’, which took place at the WTC Building at the ZuidAs. Continue reading