Interview with Dwayne Van Haasen, master student in Central- and East-European Affairs at the University of Groningen

1. Why did you choose your current Master's program?

I wanted to continue on my specialization in the third year on Central- and East-European Affairs, and there was a program at the RuG, in which I could do both history and IR courses, as long as it was in that context, so I decided to stay in Groningen.

It turned out it was also highly flexible how you fill in your Master, as I could have also gone abroad on an exchange to the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. It is good to know that before applying, as you can plan your studies accordingly.

Lastly, the obligatory internship was a valuable aspect for me. In that context, I worked for a semester at the Dutch embassy in Cyprus. As you can see, you can build up your master completely to your needs and interests, even studying and working in three different places in just two years!

2. Why did you choose the city / University you are studying?

When choosing my Bachelor, Groningen was the only city offering a full Bachelor in IR. However, it was also a very (international) student city and coming from a small city in the south of the Netherlands, that seemed like an attractive new place to live.

3. How would you describe the University environment and student life of your city?

With 1 in 4 people in Groningen being a student, you can get an idea of how student life looks like. Everywhere you see students on a bike strolling the city. Besides, that nightlife is awesome without any closing times, student life has so much more to offer through the many student organizations in Groningen. For example, I wanted to do more with diplomacy outside of my studies, after which I joined the Board of Directors of TEIMUN (The European International Model United Nations) and organized a seven-day international conference in The Hague to simulate the UN, NATO and the EU.

4. How would you describe the city you are living in? (International/local, open-minded/closed-minded, vibrant/quiet, modern/historical, artsy/sober) What is there to do?

It sounds a bit cliché, but it really depends on which reality you live and choose to be. I can honestly say I experienced both sides of the dichotomies. I am a Dutch student, who worked in the Albert Heijn, lived in a mixed-neighborhood, and did an international study with people from all ranges of life. Also the city, besides being vibrant, is a place where you can retreat and be by yourself.

5. What are the backgrounds of your fellow students? (What did they do as a Bachelor and where)

This is very mixed as well, some people came from the same Bachelor, but others study sociology, history, law or any other study at the RuG. Others came from different countries. In one seminar group with only 12 people, had over 6 different nationalities.

6. Would you recommend your Master to IR students?

I would definitely recommend this Master, as you can construct your Master completely to your interests and needs. However, don’t think this will be offered to you on a silver platter. You need to think beforehand what you want and make sure to pull the strings to get there. But if you do, I’m sure you will do great!

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