Just a stone’s throw away from the Dutch parliament is the most remote of the Erasmus schools: the International Institute of Social Studies, a graduate school made up of mostly international students. So who will you run into when you wander around the school? This time: masters student Ubongabasi Edidiong Obot (26) from Nigeria, ‘Uby’ to her friends.
How did you end up here at ISS?
“At secondary school, I volunteered at an NGO to help rehabilitate sex workers. After I graduated, I worked at various NGOs, mostly on human rights. I also did a bachelor of Law in Nigeria. When it was time to choose a master programme, I couldn’t find the option I was looking for. I eventually found the ISS through Google. What got to me was the diversity. There are so many nationalities here! The Hague is a beautiful city. And the people here are the tallest I’ve ever seen!”
Are the students different here compared to regular universities?
“I’ve been here for two months now. And I truly haven’t met anybody I disliked so far. I’ve been to Rotterdam too, for the opening. But this is the place where everybody knows everybody. We live together and every night, somebody cooks a meal from a different country.”
What is the ‘ISS feeling’ for you?
“Here, you can learn first hand about so many different cultures. For example, I say ‘Tikkie’ now instead of okay. You have to move your hand while you say it. I’ve learned that from an Indian. At first, you have to get used to each other. Where I come from, people are really warm and friendly, and start asking a lot of questions: how are you, how is your family. Other cultures might feel this is a bit too intrusive. So I’ve learned to become more sensitive about that.”
What does your future look like?
“My husband lives in Nigeria. We’ve been married since 2014. He’s the most supportive person in the world. Before the wedding, I told him I wanted to chase my dream and become a scholar. And he told me he would support me and he kept his word. After my studies, I’ll probably move back to Nigeria and work on human rights and women’s rights during conflicts. There are so many problems there: we have the conflicts with Boko Haram, the Niger Delta militants, Biafra. I feel I should help the people where I come from.”