Martijn de Jonge is a Bachelor student at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen in the Netherlands. He is writing his thesis on intercultural communication. To gather data useful for his research he has come to work in the UW International Relations Office as an intern.
In Groningen he studies international communication and media and has chosen to specialize in public affairs. The internship at the UW International Relations Office (IRO) is not his first time at the University of Warsaw. In 2016 he came here as an Erasmus student. “I was once in Warsaw for a short holiday and I really liked the city. Then I visited Gdańsk and I thought that Poland is a really nice country. I decided to spend my Erasmus scholarship here. A lot of people from my university choose Great Britain, Belgium or Germany, but I wanted to experience another culture, different from my own Because, for me, these countries are similar to the Netherlands,” explains Martijn.
As an Erasmus student he studied at the UW Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies. He took classes on journalism culture, modern history and media systems. He also started to learn Polish language, attending courses offered by the UW POLONICUM Centre (Centre of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners). “Now I am able to have a basic conversation. But I am still learning,” he says.
“I really enjoyed my Erasmus scholarship at UW, which is why I wanted to do my internship in Warsaw. I wrote to the IRO and I was accepted,” says Martijn, who has received an Erasmus grant for his second stay at the University of Warsaw.
One of his tasks is to find new ways to improve communication between the IRO and incoming international students. “I conduct intercultural research for the IRO on how they can optimize their communication with incoming students, and my research shows that visualizations are always more helpful than text. We did a survey and found that some students for example are not aware of how to register for the courses,” explains Martijn. He admits that when he was an Erasmus student, it was also a little bit unclear for him how to register. Now he provides the IRO with simple communication materials, like infographics, which they can put on their website or send to students.
“I take into account that these materials should suit people from different countries. The culture in the Netherlands is really low-context. We like to get straight to the point. Dutch students can receive simple instructions with the deadline and a link and it should be clear for them. But in Southern Europe or Turkey the culture is high-context. Students from these countries expect more detailed explanation,” underlines Martijn.
He will finish his thesis in the next few weeks. After graduation, he is planning to stay in Poland and look for a job. He would like to find something in intercultural marketing. He has visited a few Polish cities, but he prefers Warsaw. “I come from Groningen. It is the 7th biggest city in the Netherlands, but it is more like a village. When you walk the streets, you know almost everyone. My Erasmus stay in Warsaw was my first experience of living in a big city. I was really impressed and enjoyed it” he underlines and adds, that he feels very welcome in Poland. “Polish people are really open and friendly.”