Hello everyone, my name is Marta Dürrigl, and I am a second-year master’s student at Tilburg University. I am enrolled in Research Master in Psychology: Individual Differences and Assessment programme. Even though the pandemic hindered my proper student experience last year, I am hoping to make up for it in the upcoming academic year.
Moving during the pandemic seemed like a crazy idea back in April of 2020, but I applied for the programme anyway and here I am. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in Zagreb, Croatia, I was hungry for new adventures and experiences. Tilburg University and this programme seemed like a perfect choice for me. My decision to apply for this programme came rather late during the application process and I should probably be thankful since the application deadline was pushed for a month because of the pandemic. It was a sign for sure! I found the programme unexpectedly while scrolling on my phone before going to bed and decided to apply the next morning! I submitted my grades, recommendation letters, and a paper I wrote for a study that I did during my bachelor’s. After a while, I got an email for an interview! I was nervous, excited, and happy at the same time. On the day that I finished my final exam for my bachelor’s programme, I got home and found out that I was accepted! It only got better from there.
I moved to Tilburg in August of 2020. Tilburg is a proper student city. It is calm if you want it to be, but at the same time, it can also be amazing for socializing and meeting new people from all over the world. I lived in a student accommodation, in a house with eight other people, which is very common here in the Netherlands. In the beginning, I thought that was going to be a lot, but after a while, I was very thankful to have people around considering the strict lockdown measures and online classes. There were times where I felt lonely since everything was online. Just imagine yourself closing the Zoom call and finding yourself alone in your room (I am guessing for most of you, you do not have to imagine since we have all been there)… But my roommates and I always found something to do to make the current situation more enjoyable.
Online classes were organised very well and since there are only 15 students in the programme, we soon became very close (or as close as we can while trying to connect through the screen). We supported each other, had social nights, and overall tried to make up for the lack of in-person contact. When the measures were relaxed, we took that opportunity to meet in person, have drinks, and just enjoy the student experience as much as possible.
Moreover, our professors were amazing. I think my biggest culture shock was seeing how professors treated us as their future colleagues. They were supportive throughout the year and not just in the academic context. All of them were always available to discuss personal issues. They were always full of understanding. After all, this pandemic has impacted us all in one way or another, so it was nice to have someone from the programme to listen and help us navigate the struggles of the first year, which was quite intense.
I think the most valuable aspect of studying in Tilburg has been the people I have met so far and the connections I have established. I feel very happy and accepted here. At this point in my life, I feel like I have found a place where I belong and where I need to be. I have learned a lot about myself, experienced tremendous personal growth that I will forever be thankful for, and for the first time I see my future clearly. I am not scared but rather excited about everything that is yet to come.
This experience so far has been incredible, and it has become something I will cherish forever. I am extremely happy to be in Tilburg and study what I love. For those reading this blog post, I hope that life surprises you with an incredible opportunity like this one was for me. Diving into something that scares us is probably the bravest and most rewarding thing that we can do. So, I would like to encourage all of you to say “yes” to new experiences whenever you get the chance.
Author: Marta Dürrigl