Why did you choose to do a Master’s in Nijmegen?
“I fell in love with its compact layout and green surroundings on my very first visit to the campus. In lots of other cities, the faculties are spread across the city, but in Nijmegen everything is together. It gave me the warm feeling of a student community. I was also immediately handed a flyer for a student party. I thought that was absolutely fantastic.”
You come from Russia, studying in Moscow. Didn’t you find Nijmegen a bit small?
“Moscow has a lot to offer students, in terms of culture too. But it took me an hour to commute to uni from home. I actually really liked how small Nijmegen was. You quickly get to know people here who you can meet up with and run into everywhere in between. Wonderful!”
How do you look back on your Master’s?
“I was warned it would be difficult. For example, I barely had any experience with reading academic articles. I had to learn how to capture the gist without reciting entire documents. I also wasn’t used to being allowed to have a different opinion from the teacher and being challenged to argue. That doesn’t happen in Russia. But I got the hang of it after six months, and I allowed myself a more lenient study regime. Once I did that, I was able to enjoy it - and also get a social life again, haha.”
Which teacher will you never forget?
“Vera Blazevic, who I took the Digital Marketing course with. Aside from the content, her personal approach really stuck with me. She involved us in the lectures, let us speak a lot, which also meant we could learn from each other. And she told us about herself, about her children for instance. In Russia, you keep work and private life separate, so I thought that was special. I was reminded the other day that this has been a great lesson for me. The more you open up, the better you can understand each other and the more effective your communication. I decided to challenge myself in those regards.”
What did you start doing after your Master’s?
“I started as an online marketer at Pearl Music Europe, a large distributor of musical instruments. After a year and a half, I switched to Office Depot, where I became a search engine advertising specialist. These positions taught me a lot, but I couldn’t express my creativity. I started the Instagram account @tastenijmegen in my spare time. And while I was working on that, I saw my dream job coming up: international online marketer at HAN. Now I deal with SEO, advertising, social media management and optimising web content to attract foreign students.”
And in the meantime, @tastenijmegen is growing fast.
“It's really nice that so many people want to keep up to date with the food and drink options in Nijmegen and the surrounding area. I work four days at HAN and visit restaurants and eateries on my days off. Sometimes I go out for breakfast with a friend, other times out for dinner with my husband Jaap. During the visit, I take photos and videos of the surroundings, the decor and, of course, the food and drinks - luckily, I am getting faster and faster; previously, our food was often cold before we could take a bite. Back home, I sit down to edit and write for a few hours and put together an Insta post. This is often positive, but not always. I think it’s important to be honest with my followers and with the hosts.”
Do you earn anything from @tastenijmegen?
“Basically, the deal with the restaurant owners is this: we don’t pay for the food, you don’t pay for the attention you get through @tastenijmegen. But now, the account is so successful and I put so much time into it, that I’d still like to get paid something, at least for the editing hours. Hence, I came up with the idea that the first visit is free, by way of introduction. If I like it and am invited to come back again, my second visit will be a paid assignment. But I’ll also keep working at HAN, you know, I’m enjoying it so much there!”
Do you have any advice for current students?
“Never waste a good opportunity. For example, when I was a student, I often thought: next month I’m going to enjoy sports. The range of things on offer at the university sports centre was SO great, I wanted to try out all sorts of things. But I didn’t. Which I now regret, if only because I can no longer take advantage of the student rates. Another example: do you see a great job opening soon, but doubt whether it's really for you? Apply! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Be curious and eager to learn. If it turns out not to be for you, at least you’ll have learned that.”
Text: Jolanda van den Braak