(Ilse van Klooster, 23, Student international economics)
“When I was 17, I went to live in Hong Kong. I hadn’t given it too much thought. I just wanted to learn Chinese and see the world! When my parents flew back to the Netherlands a few days later and I was sitting alone in my apartment, that’s when it hit me and I shed a lot of tears. And then I started to enjoy myself!
Between the age of 17 and 20, I lived alternately in England, Spain and in various places in China. It was mainly to learn the languages – although I’m not particularly gifted in that respect and I had to work very hard. Now I’m learning Japanese. My boyfriend is Japanese – I met him during a language course in China.
I’m now in my third year of my studies and I work for the Chinese Student Association at Erasmus University. Eventually, I hope to fulfil my dream. I want – no I’m GOING – to start my own company linking up European interns and big companies in China and Japan. Really big companies – dream big! These countries are becoming increasingly important in the global economy, but at the same time, students find it difficult to go there. I’m going to change all that! I already have a name: Dutch Asian business council (DABC).
I don’t have much of a problem with culture shock – I’m very open minded and down to earth – but you can have some strange experiences in China. Like the time in Hong Kong when my water pipe broke and the whole apartment was flooded. Compensation? Nope, they don’t do that in China! I was just given a mop and a bucket and sort it out. Mind you, it’s a wonderful country.
I got the travel bug from my parents. We weren’t a family which went on holiday to France – we went to Vietnam! My father’s an entrepreneur too; that’s also encouraged me to start up my own company.”