Denisa and Denisa

Denisa and Denisa's study experience

Denisa Oprea and Denisa Bereş are two 20-year old Romanian students, who study International Hospitality Management (Fast Track) at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. We asked them about their experiences with their study programme, and the Netherlands.

Denisa Oprea (DO): ‘Just to be clear, yes it is a coincidence that we are both called Denisa, are both from Romania, the same age, and in the same class. We are from different parts of Romania and live about five hours apart!’

Previous education

DO: ‘I came here straight after high school. My focus in high school was on languages, so this was a natural step. I found out about NHL Stenden through a university fair. I applied for a few different universities, and one day I got a call from my placement coach telling me NHL Stenden was hosting an international weekend. He asked me if I wanted to go, and I said yes. I actually missed my high school prom, which was held during the same weekend. It was all worth it, though. We spent a great weekend working with students and visiting hotels in Amsterdam. After that weekend, I was set on NHL Stenden. I thought: If I don’t get in, I don’t know what I will do.‘

Denisa Bereş (DB): ‘My previous education revolved around Tourism, but after I had finished, I decided to switch directions and study Hospitality Management. I applied for three different universities, and when I got accepted into NHL Stenden’s course I actually burst into tears. I was so happy.’ 

Study programme

DB: ‘The Fast Track version of the IHM course is a bit challenging. You skip a few modules but still have the assignments for them. Without the classes, this makes it a bit harder. You do get assistance from tutors to help you complete them, though.’

DO: ‘Going to a university is quite a big change from going to high school. The study level, the workload, getting used to Problem Based Learning, etcetera. Fast Track has the advantage that you graduate one year earlier than a regular course, though. You get to put what you learned into practice earlier than others.

When you hand in your assignment, it’s like: ‘Here’s my baby. I worked hard for this.’ You get a sense of accomplishment. What’s also great about Fast Track is that you get to study Chinese. The teacher we had was really motivating. She not only taught us the language, we also did tai chi and had a traditional tea session. We learned a lot about the culture.’

DB: ‘And of course the fact that you study with the same people throughout the three years. You don’t switch groups every module like the regular courses.’

Minor and Grand Tour

DO: ‘With Fast Track, you only do one minor instead of the usual two. I went on the Grand Tour to Bali, where I did the ‘Spa Business Strategy’ minor.  We went to these really high end, luxurious spas and got a taste of Balinese culture. There were these traditional villages that were still completely intact, and really showed the differences in culture between here and there.’

DB: ‘Unlike Denisa, I stayed in Leeuwarden. I did the ‘Room Division Minor’. I don’t like to travel and besides, I don’t like the heat. She’s used to it, but I’m from a mountainous region in Romania. I much prefer the weather here over tropical temperatures. Apart from the wind, of course. The Room Division minor was really helpful. We visited a lot of hotels, so we really got to see what it was like in the real world.’

Student life

DB: ‘I’m more of an introvert than Denisa. I’m into gaming and drawing and don’t go out much. If I do, I usually go to a bar instead of a club.’

DO: ‘I’m always asking ‘Where’s the party at!?’. At first, I was afraid that I would just go out and not focus on my studies, but I think I found the perfect balance. Leeuwarden offers places to go and things to do. I live very close to NHL Stenden, so I can just go for a walk around the park anytime I want.’

DB: ‘I live pretty far away, close to the hospital. I take the bus to university because I still haven’t learned how to ride a bicycle. I have a bike, I have just never got around to using it.’

DO: ‘I’ve made friends for life in Leeuwarden. During my first year, I lived in the Student Stay campus, so I knew everyone. I don’t think there is ever a time I come to university or go to the city centre without seeing people I know.’

Future

DB: ‘I want to stay in the Netherlands when I’m done with my studies. I would love to get a job in Human Resources. I really like the country, it’s very peaceful. I also have a Dutch boyfriend, so I have plenty of reasons for staying here.’

DO: ‘I want to travel some more. I haven’t found my ‘forever’ place yet. After my internship, I plan to go to London. I’m not sure where I want to go after that.’

* Please note that, while PBL is still used in the majority of our courses, all study programmes work towards implementing the new Design Based Education system.