So, I read your biography and I saw that you started a PhD here in Russia, but then you got a grant to go study abroad. So, how did that happen and why did you decide to go to the Netherlands?
Why the Netherlands? Well, after graduating from my faculty I decided to enter the PhD. On my second year I heard about the Erasmus Mundus program and decided to participate. I completed the interview successfully and won the grant. Erasmus Mundus is an international scholarship for students around the world funded by the European Union.
And you chose to study in the Netherlands?
Yes, I had the right to choose and I chose Wageningen University because it’s well known for its developed programme in research and innovations in the agricultural sphere. Moreover, Dutch education is well promoted in Russia and I always liked Dutch culture, history, and landscapes such as the green hills, the North Sea.
Had you been to the Netherlands before studying there?
No, I had never been to the Netherlands before and had never actually travelled abroad. I had never even travelled far from my parents or my university. So, it was my first time and everything was quite new. Dutch culture is very friendly to foreign people.
Was there something about Dutch culture that you learned from for your daily life?
If there’s something I learned from Dutch people, it’s time management. I think that it’s one of the best things that I got from them and I still use it in my life. I started to calculate my time, because Dutch people value their free time and use it properly. If they have free time, they always do sport, read, generally, spend quality time. But, I have no free time now, because I spend a lot of energy at my job and am deeply involved in NANR activities.
So how has your experience in the Netherlands helped your career? Would you have been able to get a job at a Dutch company without Dutch education?
It definitely has a connection, as education abroad, especially in Holland, sounds quite attractive to employers, especially if you want to be hired by a Dutch company. My course of study was in the Business Economics Group department, Wageningen University. I studied the economic effectiveness of poultry farming and visited poultry farms and consulted with experts there in this sphere and got a sense of how this all works in Holland. And this has certainly helped me in Russia as I work at an agricultural company.
When did you get the job that you have now?
I found this job immediately after coming back to Russia, very quickly. I have been there for three years and I like it very much. I have grown professionally, gotten more responsibilities, and my salary has grown. The staff of our company is young and creative and I think that I have grown personally.
When did you get involved with NANR?
It was in January 2013 when I was invited to attend the NANR Alumni Board (Netherlands Alumni Network in Russia). It was like another stage in life when I entered this Board and joined NANR. It unites about 1000 members. The Moscow Board consists of 8 board members and each of us is responsible for a certain area: media, communication with the Embassy, the Russian-Dutch Bilateral Year and others. My role as a Chairlady is to give speeches at main events and act as a representative.
All of our members are very active and had study or work experience in Holland and some occupy top positions at leading companies. We organize seminars and master classes with the participation of leading Dutch companies’ representatives in Russia. Recently I represented our Network at an international agricultural fair in Moscow and met with leading Dutch companies to attract their attention to the NANR. Of course, we need their support and involvement. Especially, within a frame of The Russian-Dutch Bilateral Year 2013 and it is important to be connected and enlarge ties between our countries.
Is there anything that you miss about life in Holland?
I miss a lot of things: friends, cycling, and the interesting student life. I have many friends there. Luckily, we keep in touch and one day I will come to this amazing country again!
However, I always knew that I would come back to my motherland. I would offer this advice to Russian students studying in Holland: come back and contribute to Russian society. I achieved what I wanted, expanded my horizons in a multi-cultural environment and, surely, my life has changed. Now I divide my life into two parts: before studying in the Netherlands and after. It was one of the best times in my life!