erica Erica Wagner works in Admissions and Recruitment at Webster Leiden. She has lived in several countries and has obtained her Bachelor of Arts in History and her Master of Arts in International Relations.

 

 

“One of the things that you learn, which I think is something I have slightly in common with third culture kids, is that when you move around a lot you learn how to make that time in that moment your home”, she said.  “Even if it’s for a very short period of time. Whether it’s been to a different county or different apartment, it’s all about this mindset that wherever you are in that moment, it is home.”

Working as a teacher in South Korea for several years, Erica decided to enroll at Webster Leiden campus after traveling the Netherlands for two weeks.

 “I have always loved to travel, but one winter break I traveled to Thailand and felt a total disconnect and I really didn’t like it”, she said. “I remember coming back from that trip and thinking that maybe my ability to fall in love with new places had left me. A week after I got back from Thailand, I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam. I flew out and completely re-fell in love with traveling and experiencing different cultures. I always knew that I wanted to do my Master’s in Europe but my dream had been set aside for some time. Visiting The Netherlands kind of rekindled that. I immediately started looking for schools. I wanted to do something in politics or international relations, because it combines all of my past loves. I love history and I love preserving culture. I decided to apply at Webster the same year.  I visited the campus afterwards and met the Admissions Officer. I liked that Webster is in the center of town and I really liked the feel of it.” When it comes to Webster, Erica explains how the multi-cultural experience has been for her.

“How do you describe a place that feels small but massive at the same time? It’s small, but the diversity creates this feeling of largeness, because I have never been exposed to so many different cultures and ideas in one small place. Americans like to brag a lot about being multi-cultural, but we are not very culturally diverse. There is a very strong expectation in the US that people who come in should conform. Because we do all come from European, African and Asian roots, there’s this high expectation put on anybody immigrating to create their own American identity. I think it’s part of the reason we have such issues with immigration in the US now. It’s because we want people to become American, which is very different. Many Americans are very proud of their European heritage, yet their identity is solely American. So this idea to really celebrate diversity isn’t really as important there. Here at Webster it was great, because all of a sudden there was true diversity and a true melting pot. It wasn’t even melting, but more like meeting, because you’re not losing those essences of yourself.”

After one of her professors recommended her to take the job, Erica decided to start working in Admissions. At the time, there were no other alumni in Admissions, and it did provide a different perspective.

“I understand the ins and outs of the IR program, but I’ve also been through the admissions process”, she said. “I’ve experienced it first hand, so I can give advice to students who are going through it. It was a lot to learn at the time, because there are so many different aspects to the job. I’m still learning, because I do both Admissions and Recruitment. The variety is amazing, because the one thing I do miss about teaching is that one-on-one interaction with kids every day. When I go out recruiting, I get that same feeling. I think I will probably always work in some aspect of education. It just makes sense, and also, I would really like to stay in the Netherlands. Taking the position at Webster has allowed me stay in the education community and still work with international students and it just kind of worked.”

There’s one piece of advice she would give every student who decides to enroll at Webster Leiden:

 “When you get your OV-chipkaart, there’s a plan that you can buy that allows you 40% off during off-peak time and free travel over the weekends. Even if you’re only here for your study time and then eventually going to go back home, use those weekends to just travel all over the country. This is what my roommate and I do. Whenever the weather is nice, we pick a new town. We have free travel and that has allowed me to explore so much more of the Netherlands than what I would have under normal circumstances. When it comes down to it, as long as you use your card two weekends per month, you’ve paid for it. If you’re in Europe, you need to explore. It’s well worth it.”