[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”48″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]T[/mks_dropcap]his week, Medium has the pleasure of introducing you to Terézia Pompurová, a second-year psychology student at the VU. Terézia grew up in Slovakia, dividing her time between school, her family and her biggest passion, folk dancing. Currently, she is living in Amsterdam, focusing on her Bachelor’s degree while exploring the opportunities this city has to offer. In our sit-down with her, Terézia told us about her decision to study in Amsterdam and about how she got accustomed to living in a new city.
Chase a challenge, seize an opportunity
Terézia has always been a motivated student who likes to test her capabilities. Because of her love for the French language, she attended a French-Slovak bilingual high school. When she was 15 years old, she spent one academic year studying in France. She appreciated this opportunity to get out of her comfort zone. “I think I’ve always liked challenges. I wanted to as much as possible and at the time, this was the biggest challenge available in my environment. I wanted to show myself that I can do it, that I can get there.” In retrospect, she said it was a great learning experience for her, particularly because of her advancements in the French language.
When deciding on where to pursue higher education, Terézia chose Amsterdam because she wanted to shift her focus from French to English. “I knew French already, so the next step would be improving my English. As I did not want to go far from my family, in Europe, there were not that many options of English-taught programs. Amsterdam seemed like the best choice, like a nice adventure.” She admitted her expectations for the city were high as she expected to meet many “amazing, interesting people with different backgrounds culminating in a mixture of cultures and perspectives”. She added that in many ways, Amsterdam has lived up to her expectations by offering a wide range of possibilities in both the professional as well as in the personal sphere.
It has to be my initiative and my choice to go out there and do something
As a young student, Terézia has encountered certain challenges that come with living in a foreign country. “I learned that it is not just the city that will do something for me, that it has to be my initiative and my choice to go out there and do something.” She laughed and continued by saying that choosing to do something over not doing anything can sometimes be difficult. Nevertheless, the responsibilities that come with the university life help her stay focused and navigate the opportunities Amsterdam has to offer.
Dancing through life
To balance her studies and to bring a little piece of home to Amsterdam, Terézia rekindled her love for dancing. She started dancing traditional Slovak folklore when she was only 6 years old. She thought she would not continue dancing once she started studying at a university but she realised that does not have to be the case. “I was in Amsterdam for about six months, I went to a salsa party and it reminded how much I missed dancing. It started growing inside of me that I actually really want to dance so I googled and I googled a lot because the type of dance I do is not common here.” She managed to find and subsequently joined the international folklore dance group Paloina. She praised the group for their versatility and skill. She mentioned she was surprised that there aren’t more folklore groups in a city as big as Amsterdam, since in Slovakia, traditional dances are widely popular. Although Paloina is not focused on Slovak dances, joining the group brought Terézia closer to her roots while also introducing her the local culture.
Cover: Anna Krueger
Final Editor: Mana Stutchbury