Leiden International Studies Blog

The Final Year: Reflections and Emotions (2022)

The Final Year: Reflections and Emotions (2022)

Ana Oleart Rabanal, recent graduate of the B.A. International, reminisces about her third year in the program.

Looking back at the last year, the first thing that comes to mind is: “We did it!” And suddenly all the memories come back. It’s bizarre to realize that it has really been three years since all this started. A part of me feels like it was yesterday when in small groups we were walking through The Hague seeing the university buildings for the first time and participating in an improv show. Yet in June I submitted my bachelor’s thesis.

Now I can’t help but be overtaken by my emotions when I think of the past three years. It’s a cliché to say, ‘it’s not been easy, but it has been worth it,’ but that is how I feel at the moment. More than half of my university education took place online because of a pandemic—not something I would have ever seen coming when I first started. Yet I still managed to meet wonderful people, participate in new activities, and overall enjoy as much of a normal university experience as the circumstances allowed.

The first semester of the third year was full of new experiences for almost everyone I know. Doing a minor, internship, or exchange abroad meant that for the first time we were not surrounded by International Studies students but branching out into other disciplines as well. I minored in Urban Studies and with that rediscovered my passion for cities and culture in the urban space which coincidentally ended up influencing the topic choice for my thesis. In my opinion, this was a semester for growth outside the bubble that we had created in International Studies. Afterwards, it made me realize how much some people had learned in areas that I did not even contemplate could be related to our bachelor.

And the second semester…Well, this may have been both the best and worst semester of the past three years—it was definitely a stressful one. Writing a thesis while working on PRINS at the same time was not an easy task and it has definitely improved my time management skills. However, this was also the semester in which I realized how much I have learned and finally been able to see how I can apply International Studies to things I want to do in my life. The last few months were full of challenges but also new people, new experiences, new ideas. Time has gone by so quickly and yet so slowly. The thesis deadline could not come fast enough but also none of us wanted it to actually come. And now we are done.

At the risk of invoking another cliché: we have finished our bachelor’s degree and now have the rest of our lives ahead of us. It’s wonderful to see the different routes everyone is taking. Some people are going straight into a master, some are working or doing an internship, while some are taking some time off of studying to travel and see the world. We have all studied the same thing but are taking completely different directions in our future and I think this is the greatest representation of what the last three years have been. We are all students of International Studies but each of us has our own story, and this was just one of the chapters. And personally, I am incredibly excited to read how they all continue!