Are you interested in doing a minor that studies a certain region, with more insights on terms like capitalism and communism?
Then this article might be interesting for you! Third year Media Studies student Steven Sierink tells about his experiences with the Faculty of Arts Minor Middle Eastern Studies.
What minor did you complete?
I did Middle Eastern Studies, which is a Faculty Minor provided by the Faculty of Arts.
Well, what you see is what you get. You are obviously going to study the region (i.e. Middle East). My expectations were to learn more about what is going on in the region and the context that allowed this to happen. The direct reasons why I chose to do this Minor are wanting to know more about ISIS and the on-going civil war in Syria.
What did you expect from your study beforehand?
What was Middle Eastern Studies about? Can you also share the positive aspects of choosing it?
Since it is a Faculty Minor part of the same faculty as Media Studies, I noticed there was an overlap between the concepts and the subjects which was quite useful for me. This Minor does not cover a completely different study, it’s not like a 360 degree turn from everything a Media Studies student knows. We learned about capitalism, communism which are also the big terms that we hear about in our study. The teachers were so knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I had 2nd year courses which were more in-depth, 1st year courses, which were more about getting a holistic perspective and also courses that were only for Minor students. I think this combination offers a really good programme.
I found some courses a bit too difficult. I had the feeling that for some of the 2nd year courses one had to have previous knowledge from other courses which were not offered. But overall, I had no negative experiences. The whole reason why you complete a Minor is to do something different than your Major.
What were your negative experiences with the minor if you had any?
Was there enough information about the study beforehand?
For now, it might be more difficult because of the covid-19 pandemic, but last year, towards the end of the academic year there was a Minor event. There you could pass by all the desks, look around and see what attracts you, go by the desks and ask for more information or get a little booklet. In plus, the Minor themselves are explained enough on the rug.nl website. The most important thing to bear in mind is that you have to be on-time when applying for a Minor because there are only 30 places. For example, there were some Minors that I could not do because they were already full.
Over the course of two years we were trained to read media texts, to read the same kind of literature over and over again. When you step out of this field it’s a bit difficult at the beginning. A Faculty Minor is not supposed to be too different than your Major, but the kind of readings I had to do were a bit challenging for the simple reason that they were different from what I was used to reading. I had to stop thinking like a Media Student and start thinking like the student you’re expected to be, regardless of the Minor you choose.
Is it too difficult for a Media Studies student to do it? More readings, less readings?
About the specific study: what does it add to your education, what did you gain from it?
I had to write all kinds of papers and essays, but I was free to choose the topic I wanted to write about, which made it a fun experience. I got to combine my Minor with Media Studies. I got the chance to apply the things I already knew to a novel situation, but nothing was really “new” because Middle Eastern Studies are related to Media Studies. The overlap between the two gave me a lot of insights regarding how media work in a non-Western environment and about how societies work in general.
It was quite easy. You apply on Progress, which is the same portal where you signed-up for your other classes in the 2nd year. Because the Minor I chose is part of the same Faculty everything was internal. You just tick all the boxes and then you are done within seconds. I didn’t need to contact the study advisor, but I am sure that if I needed help, I would have gotten it.
How did the application process go? Did you go to the study adviser for help in choosing your minor? How did this go?
If you had the opportunity, would you choose something different? Why?
I am not sure I would choose this specific Minor, but I would still choose a Faculty Minor over a University Minor. I feel like a Faculty Minor is just enough related to your own field of study that when this change of studying something different occurs, knowing the study you chose bears similarity to your Major helps.
For those who wish to apply to Middle Eastern Studies, do all the readings. Ideally, a good student always does the readings, but that is not always the case. You might think “I know what this is about” but you cannot trust this voice in your head because this is a different study and you have to learn to think accordingly. For example, in the readings you do, there are all sorts of Arabic terms you have to learn by heart.
As a general advice, regardless of where you will do your Minor and what that Minor will be, make sure to read all the descriptions of the Minors very well and try to apply on time. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for another one just because there were no available spaces anymore.
What advice would you give to a person signing up for this study?