Catalina (23): “In this digital age, it is adapt or die”
Who are the new students at Tilburg University? What are they looking forward to, and what is it they fear in the upcoming year? How will they survive on the social distanced campus? In the series ‘Studying in times of corona’ four students introduce themselves. Today: Catalina Amengual Ripoll (23), premaster student Management in Cultural Diversity.
It didn’t matter to her whether she ended up in Lithuania or the Netherlands. Catalina Amengual Ripoll would have gone anywhere to study Management in Cultural Diversity. But now that the Covid-19 measures force her to remain on her home island Mallorca, she regrets that she cannot come to Tilburg.
Adapt or die
“Due to the Covid-measures I finished my bachelor’s degree at the University of the Balearic Islands only a month ago. The academic year was prolonged, so that every student had enough time to finish their research. I handed in my thesis already. Therefore I had a couple of calm months. I’m happy to study again, even though it is from a distance.
“When I found out that practically all education in the premaster will be digital, I decided to stay in Lloseta, my village on Mallorca. We only have one physical meeting every two weeks, and it is possible to attend that meeting online. I find it silly to have an apartment in Tilburg and pay rent when there is so little to do. So, I’ll make the best of studying online. You have to adapt, or die.”
“I enjoyed participating in the TOP Week. I didn’t expect it to be fun, since the event was completely digital. But it turned out to be super informative and I appreciated how well everything was planned. I also met quite some people online. A lot of the other international students are also studying from their home countries, just like me.
“But in some ways the introduction week was a bit disappointing as well. Like the big pub quiz, one evening, with questions about the university. I can imagine this would have been a big success if it had happened in real life. But now it was like watching a quiz show on television.
“Only a couple of the students in my premaster moved to Tilburg already. They attended one or two physical meetings during the TOP Week and surprisingly they told me they were shocked. A lot of the new students were not careful at all about Covid. So, they actually stayed at home during other activities, can you imagine?!”
“The whole Covid situation is such a shame, I really was looking forward to study abroad. Unlike a couple of years ago, when I studied in Euskal Herria (Basque Country) for half a year. It was not even that far from Lloseta, my hometown on the Isle of Mallorca, but then I felt homesick almost all the time. This time I wanted to do it differently.
“I really hope that face to face education starts again soon. The university will inform us about this in October. If it does, I definitely want to move to Tilburg from January onwards. Student life is about meeting people and having discussions and conversations. In class, but also on informal occasions. Intellectual contacts create another room in my mind, a space that helps me seeing other perspectives.”
Managing cultural diversity
“I did my bachelor’s in Catalan Language and Literature. Catalan is one of the many languages that are spoken on my isle. Catalan, Spanish, English, Moroccan, you name it. One of the reasons is tourism, but it’s also because of immigrants, who have been arriving since the end of the 20th century. There is a lack of cohesion between the different languages groups in Mallorca: they don’t understand each other and get annoyed with each other.
“I feel this social question is badly handled on Mallorca. And that’s why I decided to enroll the Management in Cultural Diversity-premaster at Tilburg University. When I found this master’s program, it offered everything I needed. To learn as much as possible about the social aspects of language diversity and how to manage it.
“After I graduate, I want to play a part in solving the problems on Mallorca. I hope to contribute to a society that respects diversity. For example by developing courses or workshops about mutual respect. Looking back at the lectures I attended so far, I think I made a good choice. I’ve already learned so much!”