Humans of IBCoM: Kayla’s story

As the first signs of spring began to show, I sat out in the sun and interviewed exchange student and fellow IBCoMmer, Kayla. Fascinated by her constant enthusiasm and open mindedness I witnessed during the classes we had together, I knew she would be a great candidate for this edition of humans of IBCoM! Here is Kayla’s story.

Kayla is a 3rd year exchange student from Washington 9 - KaylaDC in the United States. She decided to leave her home and travel all the way to The Netherlands to obtain international experience, be exposed to a variety of culture, widen her worldview, and avoid the somewhat ethnocentric tendencies some Americans have.

When asking her why she specifically chose Ro
tterdam, Kayla explained “It was on a whim!” In the US, she does a double major in sociology and public relations and she was looking for a University that allowed her to do both courses at the same time. Erasmus University was the only one that offered this possibility, so spontaneously, with no other questions, she packed her bags and left!  “I’m open minded and I really want to be here”, so luckily, from day one she was able to adjust really quickly.

In regards to how she felt about the student life here, Kayla reflected on how people here seem to drink and party a lot more than her friends back in America. Interested by the fact that her experiences were not like the stereotypes of sororities and fraternities that we see in movies and TV shows, I asked her how her student life at home was. Kayla replied: “I’m in a fraternity (both boys and girls combined) and it’s not like the stereotypical frat life. We don’t have random school hosted parties on Tuesday night. We don’t go out during the week actually – we mostly go out on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, while the rest of the nights you’re at home studying.”

Kayla also stated that student life here varies from America regarding student associations: “At home, since most people live on campus, there is more interaction. There are over 350 student organisations there, but here there are a lot less and as an international student, only speaking English, you have to factor out the ones for Dutch students or the ones that are not too long. So, yeah student life has been a little tricky.”

Inquiring more on the difference she experienced here compared to back in the US, there was not too big of a culture shock as Rotterdam and DC are quite similar. The biggest difference Kayla did notice, however, was in regards to the elections: “We recently had our elections and the Dutch did as well. Back home, people were campaigning like CRAZY, my friends and I would go door knocking, there were flyers everywhere, there was so much discussion in all the different student organisations, everyone was hosting different talks about the candidates and their issues. Whereas here, I hardly even knew elections were happening.”

Asking her more about her difficulties, Kayla expressed how she would have periods of feeling lonely as a result of feeling insecure about talking to different people. “I don’t want to assume that they speak English and so I feel this really big barrier even though I know so many people do speak English. At home, there’s a lot of criticism around asking foreigners to speak English and so being here and being a foreigner, I don’t want to impose my language on anybody. I feel bad asking people to switch from Dutch to English!”

Apart from language issues and limited student associations, two of the best things Kayla has experienced so far have been going to a cheese farm: “I went to a cheese farm in Gouda! I love cheese tasting and especially hearing about how cheese is made and the differences between them – I thought that was pretty cool!”

The second thing was, Stukafest! “I went to Stukafest where you apartment hop and listen to different music – it’s the coolest concept! I always wondered what Dutch homes were like and through this I was able to go into people’s homes, it was so nice. You also get to talk to the musicians and get to hear stories that inspire them. It was definitely not an event I would have found back at home.”

Another thing that Kayla thoroughly enjoys is IBCoM! Asking her how she felt about the programme, Kayla said she would 100 percent recommend IBCoM! “I love how the classes are set up in terms, because it allows you to focus more on your classes and delve more into your work compared to home. I also like that there are different types of classes: workshops, seminars, lectures and tutorials, as it’s really effective, more hands-on and interactive. You get to immerse yourself more in what you’re learning than you would in the US. It is more real life oriented.” Kayla also stated: “The IBCoMpanions were really helpful. I asked my IBCoMpanion a million questions before I came here and it made me feel better about arriving.”

To finish off, we talked about life lessons, which could serve as a tip to any of us! Kayla reflected that after almost two months of being an exchange student, the biggest life lesson she has learned is to “be true to who you are and being bold in that, because it is easy to get caught up in your circumstances here. Find other people who you can associate with, but also make sure you interact with other people who don’t value the same things so that you’re not missing out!”

Thank you Kayla for sharing your story!

Studying Media & Business

What master to choose? It’s a question that drives many third-years crazy around this time of the year: the application deadlines are approaching, but how do you know if you’ve found “The One”? In our latest magazine issue, we helped you answer this and other future-related questions. We discussed careers, masters across the Netherlands and gap year options around the world. To finish off this chapter, let’s zoom into some of the options a little bit closer to home – the masters Media Studies at our very own faculty.

If you’ve done a little research on your own already, you’ll know that ESHCC offers four Media Studies masters: two international (Media, Culture & Society and Media & Business) and two Dutch (Media & Journalistiek and Media & Cultuur). When asked which programme you wanted us to cover, you overwhelmingly voted for Media & Business (M&B). To get an idea of what this programme involves, we talked to Programme Coordinator Lidewij Radix and current M&B student Sem Oerlemans, who graduated from IBCoM last year.


Media & Business in a nutshell

In Lidewij’s words, “This master is about how for-profit and not-for-profit businesses use media. Think about, for example, crisis communication at KLM or media use at the municipality of The Hague. Depending on what they are interested in, students can focus more on Media Industries or International Business, or combine the two.” To add to that, Sem mentions that these tracks are not set in stone. “You can craft your own track by choosing courses and a thesis topic that interest you personally. I’m doing what I call a CSR track, and I know others who are doing an entrepreneurial track. This master really is what you make of it.”


Careers after Media & Business

If you’re anything like me, every master evaluation tends to start (and end, in the less fortunate cases) with the question “what on Earth can I do with this?” The career opportunities after this particular master are very broad, but most students (82%) opt for jobs in Marketing, Advertising and Sales or Communications and PR. Given these prospects, I asked Lidewij when students with ambitions in these areas should choose this master over Marketing Management at RSM or Corporate Communication at the University of Amsterdam. According to her, the breadth of the M&B programme makes it Post22.2attractive for students with broader and more diverse ambitions, whereas the Marketing Management master, for example, might be more suitable for students who specifically aspire to work in Marketing. She also stresses the importance of looking at each programme to see which courses fit your interests more. Different masters can help you enter the career that you aspire, but the courses determine which master will eventually suit you best. Sem nods at this last statement: “My other option would have been Marketing Management at RSM, but that master focuses a lot on Statistics. Marketing for me is more about storytelling, and this master prepares me better for the kinds of jobs in Marketing that I am interested in.”


Unique approach

The Media & Business master is unique in its focus on media use by businesses as well as its practical and personal approach. Lidewij explained that it doesn’t have many big classes and instead uses workshops and guest lectures in small groups, company cases, and fieldtrips. Additionally, all Media Studies students can attend the career days in April and participate in one of three practical Honours projects, one of which Sem will be doing next to his thesis. Besides giving students the chance to get familiar with their possible future careers, these activities provide plenty of opportunities to build a professional network. It is not surprising, then, that at least 77% of the students who graduated last September already started their career. According to Lidewij, this is the highest number of all Media Studies masters. When asked how he perceived his chances at the labour market, Sem said he isn’t worried. “I do and always have done a lot of relevant jobs and projects outside of my studies, and I think that is really important for students in this industry. You don’t get hired just for your degree anymore, especially in Communication and Business. The industry is constantly evolving, so the only way you can learn is by doing.”


A note on your Master’s thesis

Sem is currently in the middle of writing his thesis about CSR, which already starts in October with the Media Studies Master Thesis Market. At this market, students can meet the supervisors and discuss their ideas with them, to make a good decision on their thesis topic and the teacher that they will be collaborating with. “This is something I absolutely love about our programme, and I didn’t even know this existed when I applied.” Like about a quarter of all M&B students, he does his research at a company in order to increase the practical value of the programme and thesis. Lidewij: “It’s quite a challenge to ensure that research at a company remains independent, but we have established strict rules to make sure that students have this opportunity.”

Thanks to Lidewij and Sem for teaching us all a little more about the Media & Business master!


IBCoM Awards 2017


Thursday night, I got the opportunity to attend IBCoM’s own, Oscar inspired, award ceremony, known as the IBCoM AWARDS. ACE’s 7th edition of this red carpet event took place at a cosy theatre located in Rotterdam’s Bibliotheek, where seats were filled with ladies and gentlemen dressed in fancy suits and beautiful dresses, excitedly waiting to see if the nominees they had voted for were going to win awards.


The night began with the hosts Bjorn Merckx and Anouk Bosman, performing their own rendition of High School Musical’s Breaking Free to welcome and hype up the audience. In between jokes, banter and anecdotes, and just before the multiple award announcements, audience members got to enjoy live performances from IBCoM students who got to showcase their singing talents.

The first award of the night was “Life of the Party”, which was went to first year student France Preechawitayakul. Her thank you speech gave a shoutout to her parents who used to be party animals as well. The award for “Most Inspiring Course” went to International and Global Communication and the award for “Best Summary Maker” went to second year student, Clement Taffin, who won for the second time in a row. Another nominee who celebrated her win for the second time, was Marguise Stearn who won the award for “Midnight Warrior”. Though she still has to get her “shit together” and not study last minute, she felt like a winner as she took her trophy home.

The first act of the night was Zazala Quist, another first year student’s performance of “Feeling good”. Since her pianist unfortunately could not make it, she sang acapella whilst the clapping and stomping of the audience members served as a background beat. Her soulful and raw performance led to her winning an award at the end of the night for “Best Talent”.

The other performers, Lisa Stam & Syarif, Monica Spelbrink and the band Sailing, all did an amazing job as well. There was also a surprise act from the winner of last year’s Best Talent award, Jarek Pietas, who Facebook livestreamed his performance of a song he wrote six hours before the event.


The remaining awards of “Most Local Exchange student” went to Miguel Majo Boter and the “Rising Star lecturer” award went to Julia de Vogel who was happy to have won the award, but considerately shared it with nominee Willemijn Dortant. The “Creative Media Genus” went to second year student, Joshua Kruter, the “Fashionista” award went to second year student Samar Ahmed and the “Mr. Sunshine” award went to first year student Peter Moane, who gave a shout out to his dog. Lastly, the “Alumni Award” went to Christoph van Rosenthal, who came all the way from Barcelona. Not only was he happy to have won an award, but he was also grateful and pleasantly surprised that this award ceremony that started 7 years ago in 2010 still continuous today.

The event ended with an after drink at Bokaal Rotterdam, where winners were congratulated and celebratory pictures could be taken. Winners as well as the other nominees went home happy and guests left feeling inspired to join the IBCoMmitee and make the event spectacular for next year.

Did you attend the IBCom Awards!? If so, what was your favorite part? If you unfortunately could not make it, make sure you do so next time!