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How I ended up joining the Semester in Amsterdam program

Our Academic Excellence scholarship winner, Augusto, writes about his expectations and why he choose our university. About the unknown and the exciting, at the same time. If you want to know what "going Dutch" means for Augusto, keep reading.

Life-changing experiences promise to be both exciting and, well, terrifying. Nevertheless, there seems to be something extremely compelling and attractive about the unknown, especially after two years that somehow have simultaneously managed to be chaotic, unpredictable, and hectic as well as strangely monotonous. But, before I get ahead of myself and spoil the whole story about how I ended up joining the Semester in Amsterdam program, let me tell you a word or two about who I am.

Hello, my name is Augusto. I am from Uberlândia (no, it does not have anything to do with Uber), Brazil, and I currently study at the State University of Campinas (“Unicamp” for close friends). I am a fourth-year student majoring in Economic Sciences, which mixes the hard mathematical side of economics with the far more amicable, though equally complex, social and historical disciplines. I am an in-between of the bookworm, introverted stereotype, and the talkative, awfully curious person. My main hobbies are reading anything from world literature (Brazilian, Polish, Mozambican, you name it…) to Cold War diplomacy books and a recently discovered taste for running.

I decided to apply for a free-mover exchange program a few months ago when it became clear that my home University’s international relations department would not be opening any time soon. As I took matters into my own hands, I started searching for countries and colleges that combined first-rate education with a receptive, multicultural environment. I doubt there was a more perfect fit than the Netherlands, a nation whose very foundations are values such as industriousness, tolerance, and freedom, and VU Amsterdam, which is consistently ranked among the top 150 universities worldwide.

Besides Amsterdam being a globalized and stunning city (have you seen the canals? It’s almost unfair for the competition), its central location within Europe and outstanding connectivity offer the opportunity to visit multiple neighboring countries. For those living (literally) overseas, it’s a combination of characteristics hard to turn down (I see you, non-European students). VU Amsterdam, for its part, strikes the right balance between openness, retaining the Dutch identity, and forward-looking research. There I hope to learn more about the outsized Dutch influence on sustainability, foreign trade, and immigration policy.

So, summing up, what do I expect from the coming months? As you must have guessed, a lot of things. To meet people from all the four corners of the world, make friends, and have an active social life (let’s hope that the pandemic will eventually end). To go Dutch, not by splitting the bill, but rather by learning about the culture, speaking the language (how hard can it be?), and cycling a lot. To go the extra mile in my academic journey, develop a more profound understanding of economics, specifically international development. To visit museums, art galleries, tulip camps, flea markets, restaurants, etc. In five words, to have a good time.

That is all for now. See you soon at VU!


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