Always on the go, laughing, eating, enjoying life and exploring new cultures: meet Theresa (22) who is not afraid of packing her luggage and take the first flight to any country in this world. Three years ago she decided to step into Belgium leaving her homeland Germany to deepen into the world of International Tourism and Leisure in Mechelen.
Theresa had a conventional education in high school back in Germany. While being a wanderer in the world, Theresa still had to open her laptop to search for the right course to pursue a career in Tourism and Leisure. ‘When I found the course at Thomas More Mechelen in Belgium, the description of the program immediately caught my attention. It seemed like so much fun. I decided to pack my bags and move to Belgium for my studies', laughs Theresa.
Belgium – the country of love
Theresa reminisces about her very first day at school in Mechelen and shares how her experience was. 'I remember going to school the very first time. It was the yearly Welcome Day, and I was late', laughs Theresa. 'I had just made my first steps into Belgium and the itinerary plans of the trains were still a puzzle to me. I accidentally sat on the wrong train and forgot my wallet at my dormitory room. I had to rush back and take the train which would hopefully take me to Mechelen', smiles Theresa.
Theresa is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Sustainable Regional and Destination Development in Innsbruck and is without any hesitation missing her life in Belgium. 'I had a great time studying there and making memories. I seek joy in the smallest things in life. I loved being silly with my classmates in class, go out for lunch, buy food from the cafeteria in school and going for walk in the botanical garden in Mechelen', says Theresa.
'The pace of life was definitely more chill in Belgium. I built my life there and even found a student job at Woodcutter in Antwerp. I connected with so many fellow students from around the globe. There were different cultures in my class. I had classmates who came from Nepal, Spain, Portugal and of course Germany, including myself', winks Theresa.
“The way I had to leave Belgium was quite sad”, continues Theresa. “The pandemic took over our lives and our internships got cancelled. We had to do a substitute task which obviously wasn’t as fun as doing an internship. I was supposed to go to Vienna and work at the Novotel Wien Hauptbahnhof. It was overall an abrupt ending, but maybe it’s good it ended like that because if I would have had the chance to say goodbye properly, it would have been a lot more difficult', says Theresa.
Travelling, travelling and more travelling
Theresa’s free-spirited soul will always push her to travel and connect with every country she steps her foot into. 'After I have completed my Master’s degree, I would like to travel to a few countries. I’m still not ready to work and would like to pack my bags and travel to Brazil, somewhere in Africa or anywhere my fate will take me', says Theresa. During her course in Mechelen, Theresa took the opportunity and travelled to Valparaiso, Chile during the second year of her course. 'One of the highest points during my studies will always be the six months I spent abroad in Chile when I was in my second year', says Theresa. 'I attended classes there. It definitely came with its ups and downs, though. I sometimes felt unsafe, it’s just different there, especially as a woman. I’m not going to complain because I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship, which enabled to afford travels around the country. Overall it was a great experience because we went with a whole group of four students from Thomas More. That gave me an assuring community feeling and it felt like home even though we were far from home', shares Theresa.
Always stay true to yourself
'My dream is to see as many countries as I can around the world. I even started my studies in the Tourism field because I went to South America with my friends for a couple of months and came back with an overwhelming feeling', smiles Theresa.
'I really enjoyed my studies at Thomas More. The program is well-executed and there is always room for improvement. The teachers in the course really empower and encourage the students to stay their true selves and we were welcome to pitch any ideas', says Theresa. 'In our final year, we even got a glimpse on how to be an entrepreneur and possibly start our own business with our bachelor project. The practical experience combined with our own creativity made my experience really unique. My own ambition is to manage a ‘green’ hotel, but to work as a sustainability consultant would be a dream come true', says Theresa.
Theresa has a golden advice for future students who are yet not sure of which course to choose: 'For me, it worked out really well to just go with your inner gut-feeling. If something interests you, go for it, try it out and see how it feels. Nothing is set in stone and there are endless possibilities out there – even if you’re scared that you won’t find a suitable job with your degree - you will', ends Theresa.