It was great to see and try out the Dutch approach to education. It was very practical and interactive with a high value placed on discussion and exchanging opinions. I might have sometimes felt a slight deficiency of theory as compared to what I was used to in Russia, but I was always able to catch up using other forms of communication. Additionally, being in an international environment, seeing methods and the styles of colleagues from all over the world and learning more about Dutch culture and values, was priceless. Participating in this programme helped me to further develop my professional skills and take my networking abilities to a new level.
Our tasks were always relevant and practical: go to an exhibition and write a review, or do an interview with a person in the Netherlands. During the period of study there was always time allotted to discuss everybody’s ideas, help each other out in different ways and approaches and get information from various sources. As a final project of our study we all were asked to go to a European city (the theme of the year was European cities) and bring back three different stories from certain genres, which we would all make into an online magazine. And we ourselves were the editing board, image editors, deadline makers and the journalistic team. So, it was a truly “learn-from-life” (and from each other) experience.
What I did after the programme
I’ve been connected to the Netherlands for many years, as I started learning Dutch at Moscow State University in 2002. But this was my first long-term stay in the country, which of course was breathtaking and enlightening. After coming back to Moscow apart from my other activities I started a project called Much Dutch. It operates as a Dutch club in Moscow and tells people about the Netherlands, helps them learn the language and meet like-minded people. It has existed for more than three years and we are proud to be an important part of the Dutch scene in Russia.
What I like and have learned from Dutch people
I appreciate the straightforwardness of Dutch people. They manage to say things directly without hurting a person’s feelings and supporting and encouraging him or her at the same time. Moreover, it’s very impressive how active and efficient Dutch people are in the international arena, putting their small country on the world map and taking a leading role in certain areas.
My advice to others considering study in the Netherlands
Be very active, take every chance you’ve got and build your own educational happiness. There is support and advice at your disposal, but it is up to you what to make of it and what you want to pursue further. Also it is very important to negotiate with the programme staff at a university to discuss your case in depth if necessary. For example, I wanted to practice my Dutch, but I ended up at an English-speaking programme. However, the programme management was very helpful and helped me find several group classes where I could be among Dutch students and cooperate.
What is the most interesting project at your work? Why is it so interesting?
I’m now a freelance teacher and a co-founder at Much Dutch, and the most interesting part of my job is that I get to meet a great variety of people, mostly motivated and open-minded professionals. Languages are more than we often think of them: they are a doorway to psychology, knowledge, perception and philosophy. Every day I’m thrilled to see how a person opens up while learning a language or talking on a subject they are interested in, how words and sentences can bring to life the past, present and future of different nations and what they tell us about how similar or different we are.
I also see how innovative the Netherlands is, how many breathtaking, cutting edge projects are started almost every month. I really get the sense that Dutch people think that “nothing is impossible”.
What is your biggest professional ambition?
I would like to build a project connecting Dutch and Russian professionals in different fields and help Russia become one of the main partners of the Netherlands in other fields besides agriculture. I would consider myself very successful if I were to start an innovative hub where these cutting edge projects I mentioned above would be invented and developed.