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Belgian student Charlotte: ‘Associations truly add value for students'

Published on 09-02-2023 17:45
It is no coincidence that Charlotte Vanderbemden is pursuing 2 Master’s in European law. As a toddler, she attended the European school in Brussels and grew up with children of parents working for the European Commission or the European Parliament. She chose to study in Amsterdam to improve her Dutch.
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Charlotte is following the Master’s programma European Private Law and has just handed in her thesis for the Master's programme European Union Law.

'If I want to become a lawyer, I have to learn to work together and speak in public'

Charlotte finished a Bachelor's degree in European studies at the UvA. In her search for a Master's in European law, she found the Master's programme European Union Law. 'What I found interesting at the UvA is the Amsterdam Law Practice,' says Charlotte. She saw the combination of theory and practice as a bonus. 'I was always shy and thought: if I want to become a lawyer, I have to learn to work with others and speak in public.' The Amsterdam Law Practice offers Moot Courts and simulations. 'That seemed like the perfect way to learn those skills and it worked out quite well.'

You can choose subjects you find interesting which gives you a more specific profile.
Charlotte VanderbemdenMaster's student European Private Law

Another advantage of the Master's in European Union Law, Charlotte thinks, is the way the study programme is built. ‘You can choose subjects you find interesting, which gives you a more specific profile. That helps if you are looking for a job.' She herself chose the Intellectual Property Law elective because she would like to work in fashion and property law later on.

'I learn hands-on work here'

At 14, Charlotte was already a member of her secondary school's student council. She is now on the board of study association Eu-rekaExternal link. Charlotte feels that being a member of a study association truly adds value to your studies. 'It gives the opportunity to be in contact with lots of different types of people and to see many perspectives. Also you learn to discuss with prominent professors and you visit different institutions.' Charlotte has met some of her best friends at Eu-reka events. About her board position, she says: 'I learn very hands-on work here.' For example, she has organised a writing competition. 'I had no idea how much work goes into something like that.'

'You discover the city and it takes the pressure off making friends'

It was easy for Charlotte to make friends in Amsterdam. Her tip: 'Visit the festivals organised by the city of Amsterdam, the university and the student associations. There are music and food festivals, as well as events like National Tulip Day and Museum Night. Go there with a group. You'll discover the city and it takes the pressure off making friends. At events, you have something to do and something to talk about. That's how your interests come out and you discover who suits you and who doesn't.'

'Learn Dutch'

Charlotte started studying in the Netherlands to improve her Dutch. Her parents are both from a different part of Belgium which means that only her father speaks Dutch at home. She knows many international students who would like to work in the Netherlands but are rejected because they do not speak Dutch. Her second tip for International students is therefore: 'Learn Dutch.' It increases your chances in the Dutch labour market. 'Companies want you to at least be able to have a chat at the coffee machine,' Charlotte says. (You can take a Dutch language course through UvA TalenExternal link, ed.)