Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you study? How old are you? Where are you from?
My name is Florencia Edgina, and I come from Indonesia. I was born and raised in the capital of Jakarta. At 18, I moved to London and then when I was 19 years old, I moved to Groningen to study for my bachelor's degree. I'm doing a bachelor’s in International Relations and International Organizations. I joined the Honours College in my first year (second semester) but now I'm in my third year, althoughI actually already officially graduated this summer. Hopefully I will be moving to the UK next month. Unfortunately, my visa hasn't arrived yet and so, I'm in a bit of a panic. I am planning to do my Master's at LSE with a specialization in conflict studies thereby studying interstate conflicts and politics.
Do you think being a part of the Honours College helped you to get into the LSE?
I think it really helps a lot because universities, like LSE, look for students who are passionate, not only in their studies, but also who have a lot of extracurricular activities and show that they care for more than just their grades. The Honors College helped me with that and prepared me for what's to come. I now have organisational experience; I know what it is like to be in a leadership position; and I have public speaking skills. So I am a bit less scared!
What made you decide on the journey to Groningen? How did you find out about the University of Groningen?
That is very interesting. I took several wrong turns before I decided to do my Bachelor's degree here. When I was back home, I did a year of studying Architecture because I like to draw. There was also a lot of societal pressure from my family and everyone I knew, because studying Social Sciences in my country is something that is looked down upon. However, then I realized that Architecture was not what I wanted to do with my life. I did not like what I was doing and this is my life. I wanted to venture out a bit. I have always wanted to study in Europe, so, I looked at some programmes that teach what I wanted to do, in English. I found that the Netherlands is one of the best countries in Europe to study, in English. There was also an educational fair for student recruitment that I attended and then I choose to come here.
Do you think that your previous experience with drawing and architecture helped you to be a better PR person for the Honours College Social Association (HCSA)?
Good question. Architecture is not just about artistic beauty, but it is also about function. So, when you design something, it always has to have a function, such as: what do you want to achieve with this? That is what I found really helpful, not only in doing PR for the HCSA, but also in my career. Something might look nice, might look good, but then what do you want to say with that design? I also learned a lot about designing software which is definitely helpful now.
Continuing in line with this idea that seemingly unrelated disciplines and knowledge actually can build upon each other and sort of give an insight in different fields: would you say that broadening modules and /or skills modules at the Honours College helped you to do better in your main study?
I think what really helped me a lot is the skills part. In the first year, I took a debating module and then also a course from the Faculty of Arts called ‘Power of Words’. These courses were both about rhetoric and making speeches. This really, really helped me, because in my line of work, I need to be able to convey my ideas to a lot of people. I did not have a lot of chances to practice that before; because I am kind of an introvert. I usually find it hard to talk to strangers and that is a bit of a disadvantage in my line of work. I feel like in my regular programme, it is very theoretical at times. They do give us, for example, in-class situations, but in real-life situations, you might encounter other problems that you don't encounter in class settings. I sort of had a fear of public speaking before, but after I took the debating course, it went away little by little.
And what made you apply to the Honours College in the first place? And then to join the HCSA?
I have very, very broad interests. I like everything. That is why I muddled my way a little bit in the beginning, because I could not figure out what I wanted to do. Then I decided to choose my current programme because it is kind of a very broad multidisciplinary programme. I like to learn a lot of stuff and I figured that when I go to university, this is sort of my last chance before I enter into the real-world. I think the Honours college is perfect for that. In my home country, when you study at the university, you can just study one subject correlated with your major. Here, it is much freer, and I really enjoy taking classes from a lot of different fields.
About the HCSA, before I became a board member, I was actually a part of the lecture committee that I joined in my first year. I had a blast because it was so much fun! We invited a lot of keynote speakers from all over the world. At some point, we even invited the guy who discovered the first black hole picture. Chances like that made me realize that this is a golden opportunity for me to get to know all these amazing people and connect with a lot of specialists from different fields. The problem that I found in my Honours classes is that I see a lot of people, but then I do not see them anymore after the class is finished. Sometimes you just take one or two classes with them, and then you do not meet them anymore. Therefore, I wanted to branch out a bit and meet more people in the Honours community.
How was it being on the board of the HCSA during the pandemic? How did you manage with a covid related problems and do you think you did a good job?
I hope we did a good job. For me, I think, it was not that much different than doing it in real life. I was also PR in the lecture committee, before pandemic, and now it was just a bit of changing tactics. We did however have a couple of difficulties, for example, when some people wanted to do physical events and we could not because there were Government restrictions.
I think because of the mostly online format, we had more time to really prepare the digital materials. I also then had more time to work on the designs and to focus more on digital campaigning instead of in-person promotion.
What would you say is the main lesson you took from being on the HCSA board?
Communication. Definitely. Not just because I am responsible for PR but also because of being a board member. You are like part of a bicycle: if you do not work together, it does not really move. We had a lot of miscommunications in the beginning because there were no clear guidelines. Therefore, we had to split the work. We learned early on to make sure we clearly communicate on all bases and ensure that there are no miscommunications. It was also a bit difficult, because we did not see people face-to-face therefore, we had to increase the number of digital talks and messaging in the whatsapp groups. I do not think it would work if we did not talk to each other.
What was an unexpected benefit of being part of the Honours College and then being a part of the HCSA?
This is a little bit personal but I also think it applies to all members of the HC. It is much easier to connect with experts in the field when you are part of the Honours College. I feel like just by bearing the name of the Honours College, the people that we contact know that we are very competent and motivated students. Therefore, professors also want to engage with us and want to learn from us, so it is much easier to build a relationship from that. I know for a fact, that some of my board members found opportunities to connect with professors on their own, because they were already interacting with professors for the HCSA. For example, if a professor wants to hold a talk and then you have a personal discussion on how to organize it. I think that is what I really appreciate the most: that the Honours college indicates how motivated you are as a student. This allows other people to also recognize that and to want to connect with you. It also makes it easier to connect to people in the field that you are interested.
What are your hobbies and did the pandemic have an influence on them?
I really like art. I have played music since I was a kid: the piano, then the guitar, and then the maze. I used to play in band when I was in high school too. We were a rock band, but unfortunately we did not get anywhere.
The name of my music course was something really cheesy. You would usually spend an hour or so practicing piano or guitar. That does actually help me to calm down a bit these days. I feel like music is something deeply intimate and personal. For me, it is a way to channel my emotions and frustrations. But it is also a lot of fun. I of course like to draw in my spare time, but mostly, my favorite thing is just playing music. I feel like, because I went into Architecture straight after high school, I regretted it because I spent a year there, depressed and not liking what I was doing. It kind of made me hate drawing. I could not pick up a pencil or paper for like, a year after that because I was traumatized. However I started drawing again, just like simple pencil sketches and now we will see. I am just taking it slow.
Well, the pandemic definitely demotivated me to do anything and to be fair it just kind of made me lack inspiration. I think, in the first few months of the pandemic, I was really only cooped up at home and did not do anything. I was not feeling productive at all. But after those few months I got used to working from home and spending more time at home. I tried out some new stuff that I did not dare do before: learned some new songs and made some covers.
What is your advice for a person who thinks about applying to the Honours College?
Grades are obviously important but I felt like my grades were not that great in the first year. I think the most important thing is just showing who you really are, which is kind of a cliche. It does however feel like that is the kind of what the Honours college is looking for. They seek motivated individuals, of course, but also unique individuals. So maybe in your motivation letter just tell them more about yourself and why you are passionate about applying. I think if you can show your passion, then everything else is secondary. I really believe this because I have gotten into a lot of opportunities, not by being the best candidate, but because I was the most passionate and the one who wanted it the most. So have fun and do not study too much! Just make connections, not because it is going be good for your career but because you will get a chance to connect with a lot of people that you normally would not meet. When you reach the third year, you will see that people will end up in different parts of the world and it is so nice to be able to see where people are going. It is also nice to be motivated by people who are equally passionate about what they are doing. So definitely try and make those long-lasting connections.
|Last modified:||30 November 2022 6.34 p.m.|