News - December 6, 2018

YOU on campus: 'You are thrown back on your own resources'

Eva van der Graaf

Esther Westervelt (24) is sitting at the window in the Leeuwenborch with ear plugs in. She is in her second year of the MSc in Management, Economics and Consumer Studies, and is currently writing up her thesis.

Foto Eva van der Graaf

Esther does not see herself as very stress-prone but writing a thesis is creating a bit of tension. ‘If I get very stressed, I go and get some exercise. I like running and football. If I want to recharge, I do so by going for a country walk. I’m not the meditation type. I tried it, but I feel as though I’m forcing myself not to think about anything and it doesn’t work.’

Esther took a gap year between her Bachelor’s and her Master’s. ‘I still didn’t know which Master’s I wanted to do and a friend and I decided to go travelling.’ She was an au pair for a while for a family in Australia. ‘Mainly I was there as a helping hand in their day-to-day life, and as company. I cuddled the baby and played with the older children, a boy of six and a girl of five.’

It may be a cliché, but I did learn a lot about myself through that gap year.

‘It may be a cliché, but I did learn a lot about myself through that gap year. You really are on the other side of the world. And the different time zones make contact with home quite a lot harder, too. As a result you are thrown back on your own resources. Not that I felt lonely, not at all, but I really did have to make certain decisions myself. On the other hand, that makes you choose what you want yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s approval.’

Esther’s plan is to take a break from her studies once she has handed in her thesis, and work for a while before she does her internship. ‘Then I can earn some money and apply for internships. I’d like to go back to Australia. Purely because of the country: the atmosphere, the mentality and the beautiful nature. It will probably be a marketing internship with a food company. And if they offered me a job afterwards, I might stay on.’