Lars Berndt

“I do like the idea of going to work as policy advisor in Brussels, if possible for Foreign Affairs.”
Lars Berndt
Student European Studies

Lars Berndt (24) has been interested in politics since secondary school and, after completing catering college, he decided he wanted to carry on studying. He was strongly drawn to European politics and Brexit was a hot topic, so European Studies seemed a logical choice for him. He’s set his heart on a place with the European Commission in Brussels and studying at NHL Stenden means that over the last three years he’s been able to take the necessary steps in the right direction.

Lightening start in politics

“I started studying in 2018 and the European Elections took place in the same academic year, in 2019. It made it a great year to start. I signed up straight away with the Europe House in the Hague and so got to help out with various election events. For instance, in Leeuwarden I campaigned to get people to vote. And it worked out well and I’m proud of that. It also got me some good connections. Like I got the chance to go to Brussels for three days for the European Youth Week. There were thousands of students there from all the member states and I was representing the Netherlands. Networking is an important part of your studies.”

European law and geopolitics

“I’m interested in lots of different subjects. Take European law for instance. I’ve learnt how to read treaties and understand what they mean. In the second year, we studied geopolitics and we were able to pretty much choose the topic we wanted to cover. I looked at the EU’s relationship with Russia: how it is now and how we can improve it. And I wrote a plan for it. China is an interesting and tricky subject too and a lot has changed over the past few years. The last trade treaty has given European companies a little more freedom to operate in China. In the past, they always had to work with a Chinese partner, but the playing field is now far more even. It’s all just like a game of chess. I think it’s fascinating and I like being in the discussion.”

Studying in Lithuania

“I wanted to spend six months studying abroad in my third year and someone I knew had been to Lithuania and had had positive experiences there in beautiful Eastern Europe. So I thought, why not? Although I admit I did at first have a bit of an Eastern bloc feeling about it, it really wasn’t that bad. Vilnius is an old city with lots of culture. I got talking to someone immediately on the first day which meant I quickly had a group of friends. The uni was different to what I was used to though. NHL Stenden has really nice buildings and luxurious facilities, so it took some getting used to there. That’s when you really miss the study landscapes. Apart from that, the relationship with the lecturers is more or less the same as in the Netherlands, but the way of teaching is a bit more one-directional.”

“NHL Stenden has really nice buildings and luxurious facilities”

Off to Brussels

“I do like the idea of going to work as policy advisor in Brussels, if possible for Foreign Affairs. I can see room for improvement, you know. Take for instance how we interact with the United States, Africa and China. It would be nice if I could help improve relations. The refugee crisis is an interesting issue too. We’re dealing with it now in the Cross-border Migration, Governance and Security minor. It’s linked with a project and we get to choose the topic. Of course, I want to do something European but it’s hard because that makes it top-level and very broad. My lecturer said “Lars, choose something smaller and more tangible. They’re already trying to solve this EU issue in Brussels and it’s not something you can do just like that in six months.”

To find out more about this programme, visit the programme’s website European Studies