Starting with my overall experience in Indonesia, I can say that I had an absolutely great one throughout the entire period of my stay. Although writing the thesis is seen as boring and pointless task by many students, it has been the best period of my time as a student. An international research project like this within a significantly different culture immensely enriched my life and contributed to both professional and personal development.
Starting point of this adventure was an e-mail sent by the academic director of the Master Strategic Management, Tilburg University. Given my work experience in various countries in Africa and was thus used to adapting to different cultures, he frankly asked me: ‘Hi Paul, are you interested to apply for this scholarship?’. Well, you bet I am!
The first time I visited the university I honestly didn’t know what to expect. For this reason, I decided to slowly explore the university and told myself to properly introduce myself the next day. Not knowing that the university requires students to wear trousers and closed shoes, I walked around the campus in flip flops and shorts.
Literally moving too fast, I sat down – sweating profusely – in the courtyard of one of the buildings and decided to buy an ice-cream to cool myself down. While I enjoyed my ice-cream and came to one’s senses, two employees of the International Office recognized me and started the conversation. Given their genuine friendliness and hospitality, they invited me for a campus tour. The next thing I knew I was standing face to face with the faculty directors. Exactly – in my beach outfit and holding a melting ice-cream. A bit out of comfort, I jokily introduced myself as Paul Ice, uhh Paul Weiss. Well, someone’s got to break the ice, so why not me?
Afterwards, I was given a very warm welcome by all staff members who showed me around the surprisingly green and sustainable campus. The genuine friendliness and kindness of all the people I have met there have extremely facilitated the adaptation to my new environment so that I truly considered Indonesia as my new home after a few days already.
As I worked from my desk in a shared cubicle in the middle of the staff room, I was able to interact with the staff members with whom I formed special friendships. In particular, I would like to point out the help of Setyo Hari Wijanto and Sari Wahyuni for their support, supervision and friendship during the thesis process. Pak Setyo’s book on Structural Equation Modelling is stored on a special place in my personal library.
The topic of the research project was Entrepreneurial intentions among Dutch and Indonesian university students. The paper sought to add to our knowledge about forces that positively and negatively affect an individual’s decision to start a business. The comparison of Indonesian and Dutch university students showed significant differences as well as similarities. Overall, the study gained insights in how to take away the barriers to entrepreneurship as well as how to foster entrepreneurship among university students. For more information, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon entering Indonesia the first seemingly insurmountable barrier that I was faced with was the language. However, little by little and under the expert tutelage afforded to me by the teachers at Universitas Indonesia I began to make progress. In one month time I was able to not only ‘get by’, but to engage with the people that I lived and worked with on many varied and interesting topics. I can vividly remember the sense of pride I felt when returning from a dinner one evening and realising I’d spoken nothing but Indonesian – and that this had been a normal night out with friends. Bagus!
Therefore, take time to talk to locals. Try to strike up conversations with supermarket employees, kaki lima chefs, or people sitting on the side of the street. Many are curious about foreigners and wouldn’t mind chatting at all; you might even find them doling out recommendations about their favourite local haunts.
This experience opened the door to so many opportunities in my life, and it was time to return that favour. For this reason, I joined the Indonesia Nederland Youth Society (INYS) which aims to connect young Dutch and Indonesians. Following completion of the scholarship I secured a job at Accenture where I have been working as a management consultant.
Finally, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Frans Seda Foundation for everything they did to facilitate this experience. I sincerely hope that the Frans Seda Foundation Scholarship programme will continue to exist and grow even stronger and further globally. I wish all future Frans Seda Foundation scholars the very best on their adventurous journeys! Although it may sound like a well-worn cliché, I really would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Frans Seda Foundation.