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Meet Foteini Tsigoni: ‘My role will be to help improve interactions between international and Dutch students’

Starting September 2022, Foteini Tsigoni is tasked by the Faculty of Archaeology to bring the different nationalities within the faculty community together. Herself an international student, she experienced culture shock wile adapting to the Dutch way of life, and is committed to help out new and current international students.

Both specialisations

Originally from Greece, Foteini now has been almost 4 years in the Netherlands, for the extent of her Bachelor's. ‘I did both specialisations for my Bachelors here at the faculty, World Archaeology as well as Heritage and Society. That was fantastic, a lot of work, but really nice. Through my interaction with the Cultural Anthropology BSc, in the Heritage and Society track, it was evident to me that archaeology could be many different things theoretically. Doing two theses for my Bachelors was of course not easy, but it really pushed me to interact with different concepts at the same time at a very limited time frame.’ At the moment, she is focused on Social Archaeology, looking into how national identities of the Mediterranean, mostly Italy, Greece and Turkey, engage with their antiquity and how that interaction has formed national narratives.

Foteini Tsigoni

Comfort zone

Foteini describes studying abroad like being always a bit out of your comfort zone. ‘In a way everything is a first. It can be extremely overwhelming. It took me 6 to 7 months to get used to the different cultural aspects here in the Netherlands.’ She experienced a culture shock due to the difference in social life. ‘People here do not speak with each other a lot. There is a lack of interaction, for example I have had many interesting and spontaneous small talks in the Athens metro. However, I understand now the cultural rhythm of the Dutch; in a way I am a bit too Dutch now for my Athenian friends.’ She noted that international students tend to connect mostly with other internationals with the same nationality, which is very understandable. ‘I view those groups as trying to find a comfort zone of people, while understanding your role abroad. My role is to help those groups interact with the Dutch part of this faculty, and vice versa help the Dutch groups incorporate those international groups.’

Her own experiences led to her having ideas how to improve the faculty community. ‘My role will be to help improve interactions between international and Dutch students of all years. I would like to make it easier for them to make social connections within the University environment.’

Storytelling and events

Embedded in the Faculty's Communications department, Foteini has several ideas to develop in the following months. ‘We will focus on storytelling, about the experiences of both international as well as Dutch students. Moreover, we are going to organise events that will help the community and bring students of different nationalities together. She has started already with the Round Table lecture series, that will take place once a month. A main speaker will talk about their research and this main presentation will be responded by a student. The goals of this lecture series are to provide the space for a relaxed interaction between the different disciplines of the faculty, and give the space to the students to express their ideas.

‘Aside from our academic achievements, I would love to help create new experiences as well in the post-pandemic world.’

Contact Foteini

Foteini is looking for people to share their experience in their faculty and how interaction between students could improve.

Please contact Foteini via e-mail: f.tsigoni@umail.leidenuniv.nl. And keep an eye out for the events that she will initiate in the following months.

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