The VU Honours Programme: My experience
Student Marie Mink tells us why she decided to apply for the Honours Programme, how the process looks like and why she liked it. Read on if you think it might be something for you!
I have always been a rather introverted person, some might even say shy and in certain situations reserved. Growing up in a small rural town of merely four thousand inhabitants, you mostly spend your life going about the same circles, reliving similar experiences, and not really being forced to step out of that introverted side of yourself. This is exactly why I felt the pressing urge to leave right after graduating high school, and not just ‘leave’ but really go above and beyond by moving across state lines and striking roots in the Netherlands.
The first year of my studies was filled with a residue of Covid, but I had already made unforgettable memories. When discussions about the Honours Programme filled my seminar classroom one afternoon, I was immediately convinced to apply. How you might ask? Well, it was not due to my classmates’ great arguments (even though they were all super excited about applying), but instead because of the feeling in my stomach. I know this sounds kind of weird, but ever since I was so acutely aware of my self-consciousness, and tendency to become anxious, I started listening more to my stomach and my gut. If either one or both of them were to have felt ill at the thought of joining the Honours Programme, I probably would not have done it. But for some reason, it felt right.
The application process is pretty simple: the deadline is always the first of May and for that, you need a little motivational text consolidating your wish to be part of the Honours Programme. When you are accepted, you can visit the Try Out Class in June for the presentation of interfaculty honours courses to further investigate them, before you have to submit a decision of your top choices. The interfaculty courses you choose do not have to be related to your field of studies and the offers pretty much fall everywhere on a scope of interests, which is why I am so intrigued by them and have so far only chosen courses that were not linked to my studies at all.
I was able to make new friends, go on trips, dive deeply into topics that sparked my interests, and slowly but surely overcome some of my anxiety and shyness.
It is safe to say that the Honours Programme has helped me thrive academically. However, not only did it help me and continues to do so in that sense, but it also accelerated my personal growth in a very unique way that I will be forever grateful for. I was able to make new friends, go on trips, dive deeply into topics that sparked my interests, and slowly but surely overcome some of my anxiety and shyness. Obviously, they are still a part of me and I am still introverted as part of my character, but the overbearing anxiousness that was always tagging along is no longer the frontrunner of my (study) life.
In all my life, I would never have thought that I could move to a different country at 18, leave behind my old life, study at a big university, and become an honours student on top of that. But if there is one thing that the Honours Programme embodies, is that motivation and drive are essential to making these big and life-altering decisions and making these with certainty and confidence.