Radboud University

Student story: Marina - Pre-Master's in Tourism and Culture

We caught the last sunny day in November with Marina, an international student from Brazil, to talk about her experience as a pre-Master student at Radboud University, moving to Europe from Brazil, making friends and more.


Marina decided to change her profession from a simultaneous interpreter to a tourism professional because travelling is what she has always loved. Planning trips for herself and others, researching areas and meeting new people, that is Marina. She told us about her very first trip outside of Brazil when she visited New York with her mother. She particularly recalled a scene in McDonald’s.

“Mom, we need napkins,” said the 7-year-old Marina.
“Okay, go and get some from the employee over there,” replied Marina’s mother.
“But I don’t know how to say that in English,” said Marina with a confused look.
“Doesn’t matter, you go and figure it out,” insisted Marina’s mother.

"‘Go and figure it out’ became my motto. If you don’t do it, no one is going to do it for you.  After that day, I never had problems with putting myself out there, trying new things and going to unknown places. I was so excited to move to a new country that is so far away from Brazil.”

Marina was born in a small town that is a 30-minute drive from Sao Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil. She received her Bachelor’s degree there and worked for a while as a simultaneous interpreter. Despite the career perspectives Marina had in Brazil, she wanted to live abroad. “I’ve always felt like a big fish in a small pond .”

The state of Sao Paulo is thrice bigger than the Netherlands in terms of population and six times as big with regard to area size…how is it possible to feel big there? Marina explains this with a comparison with Europe. She finds it funny, but charming.

“Brazil is huge! In fact, sixteen European countries could fit there. Yet, it is a rather united country where the culture and the language don’t vary much in different regions. We all speak Portuguese with slightly differing accents”.

Marina highlighted that the difference is about accents and not dialects. There was a Portuguese student in her group during Orientation Week. The way he spoke Portuguese did feel like another dialect to Marina, but she is sure that wouldn’t happen with a Brazilian. The differences there are solely about pronunciation.

“In Europe, you can get to know so many cultures in such a small space. I love it, but it is also funny to think how Europeans from the past were that angry at each other that in such a small space they’ve created so many countries with differences in language, culture, infrastructure, fashion, manners and so many other things.”


Marina had a chance to learn more about the history of Europe during a course in European Culture that was a mandatory part of her pre-Master’s year. During these interactive classes, they discussed the development of European culture in various historical periods.

Marina could not start her Master’s programme right away because her previous education was not in the same discipline as Tourism and Culture. For cases like this, Radboud University has developed pre-Master programmes, special one-year programmes that consist of Bachelor’s courses. By following a pre-Master’s, students can continue their education in the field they want. That is why Marina took courses with Arts and Culture students.

“Studying at Radboud was nothing like studying in my previous university. For me, the content was a bit heavy, but it’s not only about that. I remember that at 8 a.m no one was in a mood for a lecture, but our professor of City Culture would always use different tools to keep everyone’s attention. It worked pretty well!”

After Marina had graduated from her Brazilian university, she started thinking about where to continue her education. For her, besides the quality of education, the country and the culture were also important.

“In Brazil, I suffered a lot from bullying and judgment because of my style. I find fashion as a way of self-expression, and I wanted to live in a place where people would not look at me in the wrong way for who I am. Freedom was the main reason why I chose the Netherlands. The Dutch are very accepting. They care about each other, but they don’t meddle in the lives of others.”

That is how Marina started searching the web for interesting programmes in Dutch universities. She liked the Master’s programme in Tourism and Culture and then checked out the university rankings and the city of Nijmegen.

“I liked the city a lot. It’s close enough to big cities, but you can have some space here. I’d never go to study in a city like Amsterdam. It would be very hard for me to concentrate because I get distracted easily. Nijmegen is a place where you have time to study, but to go to a party too (before the pandemic).”

Marina had managed to go to a lot of parties right before everything got closed due to the spread of coronavirus. Together with Bojan, her boyfriend and best friend, whom she met during her own Orientation Week, she was a mentor for exchange and Master’s students last February.

“I hadn’t really clicked with the people I met before the Orientation Week in February. It was hard for me to make friends at first, but being a mentor was a great opportunity to meet new people”.

When asked what piece of advice she would give to future students of Radboud University, she said, “Party hard, but study harder”.

Author: Knar Ohanjanyan