Student portrait: Annastassia Schwan - "Not because I have to, but because I want to"

2020-06-11 Raised in Indonesia, she moved to Europe to study. With the Studium Individuale at Leuphana University Lüneburg she does not only want to answer specific questions. She likewise wants to develop herself personally. This semester, the Open Day of the Studium Individuale online takes place on 18 June.

Sociology? Psychology? Or philosophy? None of the departments alone can answer Annastassia Schwan's questions. "I am interested in the ever-changing social dynamics that exist around us. Through intercultural research, sociology and psychology, I want to understand human sexuality better. How and why it is so diverse? Why they are such taboos in our societies? How they can impact the way we see ourselves and others? And how we transform this taboo discourse into a more fruitful and open one?", explains the 22-year-old undergrad. She learned about Liberal Education through friends. The term stands for an intensive, independent course of study that is geared towards individual learning. Width and depth should complement each other. Students are responsible for choosing their own learning content, which leads to a certain catalogue of questions, which they want to answer to the greatest extent possible during their studies. The individual study programme means more freedom of choice for students, but also more responsibility. For Annastassia, this combination is both exciting and challenging: "Sometimes I wish for a ready-made timetable. Choosing from so many different options is at times an obstacle, but small setbacks are worthwhile if I get closer to answering my central questions. I attend a course not because I have to, but because I want to." 

Since she has been studying in Europe, she rarely sees her family. Her parents and brother live on Bali. Her father is German and emigrated to Indonesia 30 years ago. There he met Annastasia's mother. "My family misses me, but understands that the opportunities here are better suited to my interests. The Netherlands is one of the pioneers in Liberal Education, which is why Annastassia Schwan started her studies there: "I liked the course, but the city wasn't right for me.” Her search led her to Leuphana: "The university is not too small, but not too big either. It is a close-knit community, and everyone is motivated and committed."

Now in her fifth semester, Annastassia is involved in the student council of the Studium Individuale, amongst other things. She was also a "Peer Advisor”. In this programme students from higher semesters support those entering the programme to understand, settle in and get acquainted to the unique course of study. Therefore, she can imagine working as a coach and advisor. Nevertheless, before that, she would first like to acquire a master's degree in social sciences, if not even go further.

Last autumn, she was spending a semester abroad at the University of Warwick in England. "There I had the opportunity to do other subjects, which is very enriching for my studies." At Leuphana, as German is a newly acquired third language, she mainly studies in English: "When an exciting seminar is only offered in German, the lecturers are usually very accommodating," she reports. Nevertheless, the time at Leuphana is not only of academic benefit. "The world is not black and white and categorical, everything is intertwined and individuals are all very diverse. The Studium Individuale awards me with various perspectives, whilst keeping to a central theme. This not only gives me an insightful academical perspective, but equally on my worldview. It makes me take a critical approach in everyday life and re-evaluate what I think to be true.”

Student Annastassia Schwan ©privat
Student Annastassia Schwan