Confessions of a UG graduate
|Date:||25 April 2019|
While I was writing this blog post I was sitting on a terrace in sunny Greece. You guessed it, I’m back home. The truth is that when you are studying, your schedule is unimaginably busy and you feel that time is standing still (at least I had this feeling). But guess what? Time is flying! When I think about the beginning of my UG journey, it seems almost unreal that now I am back in Greece with a master’s degree in my pocket.
Generally, I am not a person who is emotionally attached to places. For me, it’s all about the people. After graduation, most of my friends decided to move to different cities or countries because of their job. So, when the time came to make a decision about staying in the Netherlands or going back to Greece, I didn’t include the possibility of missing Groningen in the decision-making process. But after a month of being back in my home country, I found myself reminiscing about Groningen and its little treasures. My “bike lifestyle” for example, is something that has radically changed when I came back to Greece or, as the weather gets warmer, I found myself craving for a coffee under the sun in the Noorderplantsoen park. After what felt like a never-ending month back in my home country, I understood that there is an interesting bond between Groningen and me. I know this is getting too emotional, but the point I’m trying to make is that when I made the decision to study abroad I imagined one of these coming-of-age experiences teenagers have in the movies. It never crossed my mind that the town, in which you're studying, could also play such a significant role in shaping this experience. So, my advice to all of you is: make the most of your time being a student in Groningen. Be grateful that you have had the chance to know different people from all over the world and expand your network.
The next step
Now you might say: “Well Stelios, so why did you leave Groningen (and the Netherlands) if you like it so much?”
There are times in everyone’s life when you have to make some serious decisions. For me, this moment came when I received a job offer in Greece before I even submitted the final draft of my thesis. This was a major reality check for me. To make a long story short, I’ve accepted the offer and now I’m working at an office, writing proposals to promote different agricultural products. This is my area of responsibilities and expertise. More specifically, the company where I work now is finding potential producers and thanks to EU funding, we create PR campaigns for their products. In this job, I have the opportunity to work in one of my favorite areas of marketing - branding and communication. Speaking about communication, I love social media and always wanted to turn this into a career. I can proudly say I have added this to my portfolio: I successfully manage Facebook and Instagram pages for different shops and individuals.
Even though I made the difficult decision to leave Groningen, I’ve always known I wanted to stay connected with the University and the city. While writing my master’s degree, I worked with the University’s marketing department in many different ways. We made a promotional video for students from Greece and I did a few Instagram takeovers. I think that if you want to work for the University while also studying it’s rather easy. The difficult part is when you graduate and eventually, you have to move on. For me personally, one of my greatest experiences after my graduation was a collaboration with the University at a student fair in Athens. The Dutch embassy in Greece holds an annual university fair “Study in Holland,” at which more than 10 Dutch universities are present and promote their study programs to prospective Greek students. I was there as a Greek alum and had the pleasure of collaborating with three great employees who represented the University. During the fair, I met hundreds of prospective students who passed by our booth to ask questions not only about the University but also about everyday life in Groningen. Finally yet importantly, if you want to stay connected with the UG, a good way is to become part of the faculties’ alumni associations or UG’s alumni circles. This is also a good way to expand your network and keep your acquaintances close. You might not get such an international experience wherever your workplace is, so make the best of it, make it count!