Humans of IBCoM – Vidhi Chaudhri


Earlier this week after a long and exhausting day full of classes, Mrs. Vidhi Chaudhri kindly agreed to be part of our Humans of IBCoM and sat down with me for what was supposed to be a quick interview. We ended up talking for almost an hour, and by the end, were joined by Mrs Chaudhri’s colleague Assistant Professor Mrs. Wang.

Since IBCoM is all about international backgrounds, I assumed that Mrs Chaudhri’s story was a noteworthy one, and I was not mistaken. When I asked her to tell me more about where she is from and what her origins are, Mrs. Chaudhri told me that “the question ‘where do you come from?’ is always very challenging,” and that “one should never ask someone where they come from, but ask where they are local,” – a quote that stuck in her mind from one of her favourite TED talks by Taiye Selasi.

An India native, Vidhi Chaudhri studied history at Delhi University and worked as a public relations consultant before moving to the US to initially get her Masters and then her Doctorate, both from Purdue University, where she spent almost 9 years, to then move to the Netherlands in 2002. Considering the many places she has lived in, Mrs. Chaudhri said that “moving around really makes you understand what being international is about; you make every place your home while staying grounded to your own roots”. When asked why she moved away from India, she told me it was first to follow her husband – who wanted to pursue his Masters degree in the US – but also the desire to be an academic. Life therefore surprised her with all kinds of new opportunities she never thought of, so when asked whether she has any advice for me and my fellow IBCoM students who are still not sure what they want to do with their future, Mrs Chaudhri’s response was: “Stay curious! Don’t be limited, think of communication as a larger part of society, politics and organizations and be open because the skills you are learning now are not narrowly linked to your current discipline”. This was a word of advice which she also mentioned in the recently held Media and Business Symposium that she helped organize along with her colleague Mrs. Wang – yet another international lecturer (and former Erasmus student) in the Media and Communication department who moved here from China twelve years ago.

Both Mrs. Chaudhri and Mrs. Wang agreed to briefly explain what the symposium was about for those of us who could not be there. Its main goal, as Mrs. Chaudhri mentioned, was “…to look into what the future holds when we consider all the developments in the digital communication landscape and how organizations can leverage the opportunities that come with digitalization,” as well as to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of the Media and Business program. “We had guests like Mr. Pascal Beucler from MSLGROUP, who explained how digitalisation has changed the communication field in terms of projects and people that organizations are [currently] looking for,” added Mrs. Wang. The symposium also included a breakout session and an alumni panel, ending with a prize awarded to the master thesis that best reflected the essence of Media and Business as a program.

We concluded our interview with talking about how friendship formed between Mrs. Chaudhri and Mrs. Wang, in the “friendly and supportive environment” of the Media and Communication department, and how pleasant it is to work when there is mutual concession and collaboration; not only among staff members, but also between students and lecturers.

Thank you both for your time, and precious advice!


Humans of IBCoM – Meet Sebastian Brock


Amongst the chatter of students in the Starbucks on campus, I talked to Sebastian Brock, a BA-2 student with interests in many fields. Our conversations, along with me learning a lot more about him, digressed to sociopolitical issues in the world, and of course, food.

Sebastian, along with many European international students, might seem to have the upper hand in comparison to others moving in from outside this continent, but there are still many things he had to adapt to. “Having to integrate with this in the Netherlands might’ve been easier for me than some others to an extent, but things like the price of food, housing, and traveling card did take a while. I don’t like soft breads that much and the Netherlands has a lot of it, for example. Also, the OV transportation card system doesn’t have any discount for students, which does make traveling for international students expensive in the long run, whereas in Germany, even international students have free travel cards. It would be helpful if they eventually have some sort of discount at least, but I also understand there are economic reasons as to why it hasn’t been implemented yet. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but sometimes I miss the German grocery stores with the items that I can easily recognize. I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, there are definitely a lot more positive things in the Netherlands than there are negatives, in my opinion.”

“Because you’re in a different space – definitely mentally, and it can easily feel like you’re alone during the first year.” he explained, when discussing first year IBCoM students. “At least, for me at times I felt like I was the only one feeling all alone – which isn’t, and wasn’t true at all. It just isn’t something you really discuss with others and for many people, it is the first time being far away from home and having to be a lot more independent.”

Sebastian is also part of the IBCompanion Program. “I applied to be an IBCompanion because I like the idea for being there for someone – I do prefer one-on-one caring more than a group, but I thought it was a great idea, and I would want to be treated the way this program [treats] the first years. Because of my experience earlier, I also understood that new students might like the option of having someone to talk to about IBCoM related issues they might not really be able to talk to lecturers about. Of course, some of them might be a lot more independent and be able to deal with it themselves, but it is nice that there is an option to have someone there for you. Also, personally, I thought this experience would challenge me more – something that I like to do.”

There is a huge difference in the ratio of male to female students in the IBCoM program, and when asked about this, Sebastian commented, “It might have to do with the societal gender roles and the societal label on the social sciences as a ‘female’ science in comparison to the natural sciences and engineering as more “masculine”. Of course that isn’t true. I can’t say I know why this exactly happens, but not that many people – male or female – really get into the Communication Sciences because of many stigmas.”

Initially pursuing journalism, Sebastian decided on the IBCoM program because it was the most most appealing to his personal criteria. “I can’t really choose a favorite course in IBCoM so far. I think they’re all great in their own way. I tried to choose subjects that challenged me as well as interested me. I geared more to the political and business administration side of IBCoM, because that’s what interests me. I haven’t really decided what I want to do exactly after IBCoM, but I wanna pursue a Masters – I don’t know in what. That’s the great thing about IBCoM, it doesn’t really constraint you into one field, but rather gives you a lot of options.”

“Just remember not to stress out too much.” Sebastian advised, especially first year students. “Often we, even I, start concentrating on the grades rather than the performance itself. Sometimes when you keep thinking about the 8s or the 9s, you’re too frustrated and stressed about reaching that grade itself, that you don’t concentrate on your performance, and in turn your grades suffer. Of course, a healthy amount of stress is good, if it motivates you to work harder, but at a certain point you might be doing yourself more harm. Just work as hard as you can, and have a little fun along with it!”


Finding a Side Job as an International


As we all know, December is here which also means that Christmas is right around the corner (I was already excited in October!). Gift giving is also a big part of the festivities, so the month of December also calls for a lot of Christmas shopping. However, we are generally broke students, so getting a little more cash around this time of year is always good.

As an international, it is notoriously difficult to find a part-time job here in the Netherlands, as most of them require you to speak Dutch. But there are options out there for those of you who want or desperately need to earn some money this coming Christmas season. Here’s a list of tips of how to get a small job as an international!

*Side note: for those of you who are non-EU students, I’m sorry to say that the process is a bit more difficult. You need a work permit in the Netherlands, which is a lengthy process to go through if you are already here on a student visa. Given this, perhaps start looking for side gigs in the earlier months, don’t let that discourage you from reading on, you might be able to help another fellow international out!

  1.     Learn to speak Dutch

This is of course easier said than done. Learning to speak Dutch (which might be really hard and unnecessary if you’re not planning on settling in the Netherlands) is considered the most obvious way to find a side job. But there are so many options out there for English-speaking only students that this seems a little excessive.

  1.     Recruitment companies

If you hadn’t noticed yet, the Internet is a good place to find vacancies for part-time work. However, the key to this is that you need to know where to look to find those jobs that are geared towards non-Dutch speaking students.

Undutchables is a website that seeks to provide international students with full-time jobs, part-time work and internships in business in as many languages (aside from Dutch) as possible. Just fill in your preferences and where you live and they come up with matching results for you.

Erasmusu and College Life are also sites that do the same thing, and post job offers and part-time as well as full-time vacancies on their channels for internationals. You can again specify where you live and what field you would be interested in working in.

  1.     Global Data Collection Company

I chose to feature this organization as a tip, as the websites mentioned above frequently post vacancies from the Global Data Collection Company, so I felt that they were worth looking into. Their main job on offer is a telephone market researcher where you will be phoning organizations within specific countries to gather market research data for big, international companies. As they need native speakers to do this, they have a variety of vacancies in terms of languages spoken.

  1.     Jobs at university

Lastly, there is of course the maybe not as obvious option to work at university. The facilities around campus such as the café’s and bars can don’t mind hiring non-Dutch speakers, as a sizeable amount of people walking around on campus are international anyway.

Next to that, you can also become an ambassador for your course, faculty or year group. Or, join the organization team behind a student society, which is also a social opportunity on top of being a job!