Name: Yermek Aubakirov
Course Studied: LLM Law and Economics
Studied at: Utrecht University, the Netherlands
What made you decide to study in the Netherlands?
Well, I started searching for an abroad study programme together with one of my best friends half a year before my actual graduation in 2002. It was spring time when we accidentally visited the exhibition on education held in the Science Academy in Almaty. The Embassy of the Netherlands were presenting their Nuffic Programme, which offered full scholarships to successful candidates covering all expenses for their chosen university courses in the Netherlands. I had been admitted to four universities in the Netherlands. However, Utrecht University developed one of the best courses on the interdisciplinary studies of Law and Economics. That was my favourite choice and assumingly was decisive for Nuffic Committee to award me with the scholarship. And it is hardly possible to describe my emotions when I knew I was going to study in Utrecht.
Why did you choose to study Law and Economics at Utrecht University?
As said earlier I liked the Law and Economics course, because it was relatively new and still developing science. And as I got to know later it was very interesting and challenging too.
What did your family and friends think of your decision to study abroad?
Back in 2002 it was quite rare for Kazakhstani students to go and study abroad. There was tough competition for scholarships and programmes among candidates. So obviously my family and friends were very proud and happy for me, when they heard the news.
What were the main differences you found between studying in your home country and studying in the Netherlands?
The main differences were in the lecturing methods. Our educational system may be not catching up quickly enough with the best in the market. The first thing that was quite different was an open exam. It was completely new experience when the lecturer officially allowed students to use and look in the books and the textbooks. And I think the open exams should be used more widely and consistently.
In general it was totally new experience and at that time our educational systems were completely different in terms of international exposure and educational methods and culture. The Netherlands were probably 10-15 years ahead in this regard.
How did you adapt to living in a different country?
It was quite easy. Our class was 90% international and we supported each other very much. It was a bit difficult in the beginning, but social and cultural differences were not so hard to overcome. In two months I was feeling myself very comfort in the Netherlands.
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
I enjoyed just being and studying in the Netherlands and Utrecht. Everything was great and convenient. And there were many good things like (to name a few) international friends, University atmosphere, challenges and new experience.
What advice would you give students thinking about studying in Europe?
Just go for it. It is definitely worth trying and will boost your career, self-confidence and knowledge greatly.
How do you think your time abroad has helped your studies and/or your career?
At the time there were not so many young specialists with foreign education. So it was obviously a competitive advantage in 2003 and 2004. International corporations and firms were clearly looking for candidates with Western education, who shared the same values and knew English very well. I think it is still the same view on the market. And the Utrecht diploma played a significant role in my career helping me to get the job that I really wanted.