My studies at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences: International Relations B.A.

An experience report from Oliver

My name is Oliver, and I studied International Relations at Rhine-Waal University in Kleve. After school, I had been living in the Republic of Ireland for eight months, where I worked with teenagers during my European Voluntary Service. I started my studies in September 2012, self-assured about my English and convinced that studying IR would help me understand the world and be able to explain it to everyone. A little hint: it does not always work this way, but understanding the complexity and messiness of things is part of the experience.

The first semester was the hardest for me, up to the point where my flatmates told my visiting parents that they rarely saw me as I was studying so much which resulted in irritated laughter and confused looks. If you should get to that point, I recommend hanging in, it got better afterwards. Because in the second semester, the sun comes out. Literally. The semester starts in March, and suddenly, you might realise that Kleve and the whole Niederrhein area have changed. Everything is green, and if you are lucky and ride your bike to university through the fields like me, every morning becomes a nice little „Radtour“. In classes, this is accompanied by moving up to the European level. You have hopefully passed all courses of the first semester, even the dreaded Micro- and Macroeconomics exam, and can now focus on the concepts of regional integration and on the economic and legal aspects of the EU.

In the third semester, you start dealing with the international organisations such as the United Nations in depth (but don´t worry, the UN features in every semester at random points in random classes), the NATO (same here), and many others. You learn about the workings of the IMF and the World Bank and can debate whether they are tools of American-Western imperialist aspirations or useful instruments of financial stability and development. I would say that in the third semester, I really started realising that I had developed a routine of studying, going to lectures, taking the exams, starting all over again...thus, that I had become a full-time student. Of course, you can take a different approach, but my impression is that whatever it is you do (studying, going abroad, daily trips to Nijmegen), you will be devoted to it by now.

All of this forms the fundament on which you continue in semester 4 and 5. I found that I was drawn to Economics and chose many electives from that field, a joy that not that many of my colleagues in IR did share. Strangely, not everyone seems to enjoy Business Mathematics, and many rather focused on political crises and the United Nations´ response to civil wars. I found that subconsciously, many of the things we had studied in the first semesters almost formed part of our general knowledge in these later semesters. This is actually a nice thing to recognise. In the sixth semester, I did my semester abroad. I went to study International Relations at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, a choice that I would recommend to everyone.

I do not want to bore the reader with any details about my Bachelor thesis, but if you should feel the need to get into derivative trading on food commodities and want to know how this could possibly violate someone´s human right to adequate food, I am your man to talk to. Also in writing my Bachelor thesis, I was very happy with my supervising professor and the administration. What this makes clear is that, all in all, I really enjoyed studying International Relations at Kleve.

For many students, the location of the university is a challenge. Kleve is not a big city. While I was there, going out was only possible if events were student-related, and if you went out, you most likely met the same people. A remedy for that is going out in Nijmegen (take the SB58 for 45 minutes and share a taxi back) or Düsseldorf (for the tough guys, take the train for one and a half hours, stay out until 6 and take the train back). Another good thing is your Semesterticket which allows you to travel freely through the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia. However, if you enjoy the tranquillity and the possibility to be out in the nature in 10 minutes, you might really enjoy Kleve. Studying at Rhine-Waal University in Kleve certainly means to bring a relaxed attitude of taking things as they come, making the best of it, and looking out for the opportunities, both on and off campus, which are there.

Oliver, 2012-2016

The content of this page was created by Oliver