Vice-president of the School Council: 'More psychological help for international students'

Sofia Aparicio González (22) is a third year Life Sciences student at HAN University of applied sciences. She’s from Panama, but decided to study abroad. “At first I wanted to go to Australia. But the year that I applied not only the forest fires happened, but also covid-19 struck. So I had to rethink where to go.”

Life Sciences-student Sofia Gonzalez is studentlid van de Academieraad van de Academie Toegepaste Biowetenschappen en Chemie

She made the decision to go to the Netherlands, because her aunt lived in Amsterdam and told her that universities in this country were highly ranked and had a lot of specializations in life sciences. Sofia chose Nijmegen. “Because they had a major in Biomedical research and it was very practical. I liked that.” At the moment she’s specializing in skin and skin diseases. “People don’t know the impact, when something is wrong with the skin. I like to research the diseases, the impact on people and I like to help them.”

People don't know the impact, when something is wrong with the skin

Last year she decided to join the Student Council at HAN. She is the vice-president of the council now. “I always liked to help others, not only with my research. I also like to debate and talk about choices a school or university makes.” She tells she also did these things in Panama.

One of the things she’s pleading for in Nijmegen, is more psychological help or someone to talk to for international students. “They are here without their families. If something is wrong, they can turn to friends but not really to professionals. That’s because they have no insurance. I would like to give them the opportunity to seek help when they need it.”

Nice combination

The Panamese student has lived in Nijmegen for three years now. And she’s enjoying the student life as much as she can, even though she missed a lot because of covid. “I didn’t have an appropriate introduction to the city and the student life in general. But I had always people I could reach when I needed help or advise. That was very nice. And Nijmegen is a nice student-city with a lot of internationals. It’s a great combination of Dutch people and people from other countries.”

Even though she likes studying in the Netherlands, she does miss Panama and her family. “And especially the weather and the fact that without too much travelling you could be in a rainforest or at a tropical beach.” But she likes Nijmegen a lot. “Everything works here. That’s different from the place I come from.”

Want to know more about the School Council, or join as a student member: e-mail

Foto Roos Teunissen