Ten young universities throughout Europe work together to offer students an opportunity that goes beyond their own degrees. This way, they get to develop professional skills, learn new languages and grow on a personal level. All this in a cross-border programme they can shape themselves. Miek Bruggen takes part in the Student Journey, which has sparked much more than her interest in academic possibilities.

After finishing her degree in social work, Miek Bruggen started a master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Antwerp. “I am always looking for new ways to obtain knowledge, and share my own experiences”, she says. In the YUFE Student Journey, she found the challenge she was looking for: “YUFE is a very clear addition to my academic life. You learn a lot because of its focus on four pillars: civic engagement, professional skills, academic skills, and languages.” She got access to these opportunities after signing up via the YUFE Virtual Campus. All she needed to do was upload a motivation letter, and provide proof of her proficiency in English as well as her grades for that academic year. “After being selected, I got to pick courses and activities from the four pillars. My student counsellor helped me in this process, making sure the courses complemented my curriculum.”

An international future
Since Miek studies International Relations and Diplomacy, she is likely to end up working in an international setting. “This is where I hope to reap the benefits of YUFE. Learning new languages, and working together with students from different countries will help me as I’m probably going to work abroad in the future.” At the moment, she is learning Italian by taking an online course at the Tor Vergata University of Rome. “I never had a knack for languages, but through YUFE, I got to pick the way I learn a new language, which works really well.”

Learning in a different way
As part of her Student Journey, Miek follows courses all over Europe. She studies ‘Global Governance and the Rule of Law’ at Copernicus University in Poland, and ‘Which Political Form for Which Europe?’ at the University of Cyprus. “It’s interesting to see the differences in academic approach between countries. I am writing and reading a lot as part of these courses, which is quite different from how we learn at my home university”, she says. Miek also takes part in a YUFE challenge team about hate speech in Europe. “We did research, organized a focus group, and at the moment I’m working on a policy paper. It’s great to combine both my interests: social work and international relations.”
Taking matters into your own hand
The YUFE Student Journey allows students to shape their own curriculum. Taking matters into her own hands comes naturally to Miek: “It’s great to get in touch with students from all over Europe. I am used to approaching people and making connections, something that is valuable now and later on in life. Most opportunities arise from connections within your network.”

The interaction with other people is one important aspect of YUFE that makes it worthwhile for Miek, but there is much more to it. “I am sure that YUFE will bring me long-lasting friendships. But perhaps even more amazing is the fact that I have the opportunity to study in ten different countries. Who else can say that?”

In the future, she hopes to contribute to the programme even more, perhaps even as a part of the team behind YUFE. “I am thrilled to be part of the Student Journey for now. My dream job would be to help others experience the same and work together with other universities to make the Student Journey even more amazing!”