‘It’s all about giving back in life’

| Michaela Nesvarova

In the series The International, UT students from all over the world talk about their lives, studies, choices and passions. In this episode: Blondina Leopolda Massunda (21), Bachelor’s student of Communication Science from Germany. ‘You need to go away to truly understand where you come from.’

‘I have a long African name, but people just call me Dina. Because “Blondina” is a bit contradictory to my appearance. My parents come from Angola, but I was born and raised in Germany, in a small city with many different nationalities. I do feel connected to Angola, but I have never been there. We are planning to have a big family gathering there soon. At home my mother is still African, but I also grew up around European norms. That is a good thing about not being fully native – you get to know so many different cultures. That is why I say “I’m not the country, I’m just me”.’

‘At home we speak a mix of Portuguese and German, because that is easier for my mother. She came to Germany when we were born. Now she speaks five languages though. I only speak German, English, Portuguese and basic Spanish. But I’m learning Korean now. I love languages. I want to learn all languages well enough so I can always be fully myself, to express myself fully.’

Big family

‘I come from a very big family. My mother has nine siblings and my father has seven siblings. They are spread all across the world, but I have good connections with most of them. We are always calling, praying for each other, we have family gatherings.’

‘I have a twin sister, who is one minute older, and a younger brother – he is actually living with me right now. He is the complete opposite of us, calmer but still lovely. My twin sister studies the same programme here at the UT as well. We see each other in class, which is weird because since kindergarten we never wanted to be in the same class. Now we live together and study together. It works, but I honestly didn’t expect that. My sister and I are really close. We are identical twins and what they say about twins is true. We don’t have to talk, we just understand each other. We are good friends but blood related.’

Close to home

‘When I was deciding about my future after high school, I originally wanted to be more independent, get away from my family and be far away from home, but you know…  I discussed it with my whole family, of course, and my mom said it would be easier for her if we were in one place. So now I’m here with my sister about one or two hours away from my hometown.’

‘I really like it here in the Netherlands. Moving here was easy and natural for me because I was already familiar with the Dutch. Yet, you have to come here to understand the country properly. I grew up in Germany, so we are neighbors, but I never thought that any other country could be as great as my own country. You need to go away to truly understand where you come from, to appreciate where you are from but to also appreciate the differences. I’m only one hour away from home, but that already helps me to understand how the world works.’  

Flavors of the world

‘For me it was easy to integrate, but many people from Africa have told me that they felt alone. That is just sad because this country is nice and has a lot to offer. So I decided to co-found Afrisa, the African association at the UT. We felt that the flavor of Africa was missing here. Also, I still don’t know much about Africa and I want to discover my roots. We are not limited to Africans, though. Whoever is interested, can join. We are African international. We are making one big family of cultures.’

‘I really enjoy meeting people from different cultures. When I arrived here, I started hosting people at home for dinner. We’d have discussions on different topics and it was so interesting to see the different perspectives. It really enriches your world. It gave me so much meeting all these people. That is what the university is all about. University is the people.’  

Grateful

‘My church here is also very international. It is so cool to see people from so many different countries, who still have the same connection in Christianity. I go to church whenever I can. When I got here, I took a bit of a step back in religion. I used to pray at home, but when I got sick I came back to religion. I was really sick in the past year, but my mind remained very healthy during the illness. And if your mind is positive, you can overcome anything. Once you are ill, everything else becomes worthless. All you want is to be healthy again. I could recover and I’m really grateful I can continue my life.’

Giving back

‘I’m studying Communication Science because it has so much to offer. I’m international, I’m communicative and I wanted a field where I can empower others and spread an important message. I’d like to work in media marketing or PR. I want to specialize in something where I feel confident and comfortable.’

‘What I really want to achieve in life is self-love and self-respect. I’m already happy with the person I am right now. I hope I will not change too much. I want to grow into a person similar to my current version but with more experience. I’m a bit of a crazy person and I like that. I want to be a crazy person with experience. What I truly want is to give back as much as I have received. My family has helped me so much and I want to repay them. Once I have a stable job, my dream is to buy a car for my mom and give back to my family, to the people who have always been there for me. It’s all about giving back in life.’  

‘My journey won’t stop in the Netherlands. There are so many opportunities! I want to go to other countries and get to know them properly. But you never know what will happen. God has a plan.’