| Patricia Reyes

Patricia Reyes – Patyt on social media - is our student columnist. Twice a month she writes about student life, what makes her tick and stray observations.

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

The first event I covered for U-Today was a gathering called ‘African Think-up’. Xavier Ikejemba, a UT researcher from Nigeria, invited African students to talk about issues they found back in their home countries. They reflected on how their studies abroad could exert an influence over there and solve the problems they identified.

The event turned into an intense discussion. Opinions were exchanged with great passion. Students had a unique understanding of how their countries were being misrepresented globally. They were frustrated at the lack of efforts towards designing and executing viable solutions that could address their countries’ issues seriously. These solutions, they argued, needed to be conceived from a local perspective, but backed up and understood at a global scale.

The whole vibe entirely resonated with me. I had held similar discussions with fellow Mexican students that were studying abroad. We would wonder what was the root of the most pressing problems in Mexico and what were the most efficient ways to address them. Passion and frustration would take over us before we would ask ourselves whether we had any power to exert an influence in that adamant system. Would we be absorbed by it instead?

The truth is we became quite sceptic we could find suitable jobs there to achieve our dream careers. Conversely, everybody implicitly recognized how these countries in Northern and Western Europe offered great opportunities for young people. Needless to say, they offered all the perks of living in a first world country. Surely, staying around here would most likely grant us a bright future. But what about home?

Towards their graduation, international students are faced with a difficult dilemma: staying around The Netherlands or returning to their hometown.

For some individuals, it doesn’t seem to be that hard to choose. ‘I hate everything about that place,’ a friend told me about his country. ‘I can’t wait to go back home,’ said another friend finishing her thesis. But for other people, like me, the decision is everything but easy.

I love and care about my country. I’m even proud to mention it in every conversation and I terribly miss everyone back there. But I also love what I get to do abroad. The career paths that would open for me here are quite compelling and exciting. I’m totally split.

Family over career? Traveling around the world over your duty as a citizen? As I’m considering all these factors in this list of pros and cons in progress, I wonder: is there a ‘right’ choice? Is there a thing one ‘should’ do? Or is the future just a free-for-all sea of possibilities?

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