How did you end up doing this Bachelor’s programme?
'I come from Amsterdam and didn’t want to take a gap year after secondary school, which is why I went to a lot of Open Days. I immediately went from secondary school to university, to the Suva, and also to Media and Information straightaway. Fortunately, I made the right choice. It definitely helped that I had been going to Open Days for two years and was able to check out a lot of programmes. For example, I also went to look at Criminology, the media degree programmes at the VU and Communication Science at the UvA.'
What do you like so much about this degree programme?
'The Media and Information programme is exclusively taught in English. That was not a problem for me, as I had already done a bilingual education at secondary school. My entire life has become largely English-speaking, although I am a Dutch national. Our lecturers are all very enthusiastic about their field. They each have their own specialisation, which also makes the study here extremely enjoyable. What I really like here is that you can do your own thing, you can choose your own courses, follow tutorials, and in this way you can compose your study programme yourself and specialise.
My graduation project was on the TikTok Community Guidelines. TikTok had just taken off then, in the summer of 2020. I was also very active on TikTok myself. I still am. TikTok has become the short video version of YouTube in a short space of time, with all kinds of content. Not only dance videos, but also very short news videos, and all kinds of content actually. I find TikTok very interesting, also because it’s so new.'
What are you doing now?
'My Bachelor’s degree finished at the time of the coronavirus pandemic. I could have taken a gap year, but because you couldn’t do anything anyway, I immediately continued with my Master’s. I’m now in the second year of my Media Studies Research Master's programme. I am specifically interested in online subcultures, including online extremism. That’s not really pleasant, but it is interesting. I come across things where I think: it would be better if this didn’t exist, but it definitely needs to be monitored. My Master’s thesis is about the Manosphere: men online who are very sexist and can often be found on very strange forums. These groups are not being studied properly, often because they are so inaccessible. I am trying to shine a light on that. Why are these men doing this? It is a shame that it exists.'
What are your plans for the future?
'After my Master’s, I hope to do a PhD. I would like to remain within the academic world. I really enjoy conducting research, but teaching too! I am also a teacher-assistant now, so I already teach in my field of study. In addition to my thesis research and teaching, I have my own company: I create and edit videos. I’m also going to continue doing that.'
Any tips for prospective students?
'I would advise every new Media and Information student to focus solely on your study at the beginning. After a while, you will automatically find out whether you can work on the side, or not as the case may be, because it will be at the expense of your studies. I worked on the side from my second year, as a tutor for secondary school students, but only when I knew for certain: this is how the study works and I therefore have this number of hours to work on the side. I knew then: if I go about it like this, I’ll make it.'