Interview with our former student Stuti Chhabra, who graduated in 2023.

Tell us about your learning journey at Park Lane.
The self-studying and having to manage multiple deadlines at once at Park Lane and in IB really prepared me well for university. This is because although you might not have that many deadlines at the same time at college, there is still a lot on your plate with all the other chores that you have to take on along with the amount of content and studying going on side by side. Time management becomes really important to be able to balance studying, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, having a social life, making time for yourself, and doing all the work around the house such as groceries, laundry, cooking, cleaning etc. The years of self-studying and self- revising really fit in well with the independence that comes with university as you’re already aware of what study strategies work for you, how you can teach yourself best, and how to motivate yourself to do the work and get it done on time.

If you could give IB students 3 pieces of advice, what would they be?
Start revising well in advance so that you can balance out the studying. I started around February-March.

Balance out the studying with fun things. What worked for me was studying with friends, it was really refreshing and recharging to take breaks together and keep each other on track. Ntk and some cafes around Prague became my second home in those months. Some days we even stayed at each other’s houses where we would study all day with some small coffee and lunch breaks in the middle and then we would watch some movies or a show in the night, then wake the next day and do it all over again – those were some of my most productive days.

This is a pretty standard one but: go through all of the content with active recall and then do tons of past papers!! Especially in math!! Their style of questions is reoccurring so it will help a lot and you’ll feel less stressed going into the exams because you’ll know more or less what is to be expected.

Describe what it was like for you going through the university research and application procedures.
It was a process full of hurdles, the opposite of a smooth ride. With my course being numerus fixus, it was already extremely hard and nerve-racking in the beginning to narrow down my choices to 2 universities only in the Netherlands. My final decisions were a result of extensive research, multiple comparison tables on Google Docs, talking my options through in length with friends and family, and even stalking the universities on almost every social media platform I could find them on. Even after I had decided, self-doubt and overthinking was the next problem. I went to Miss Emerich with panic once where I considered changing not just the universities, but the actual course I was planning on pursuing. I had to constantly remind myself and have the people around me remind me that I made these choices for well-thought-out reasons. That talk with Miss Emerich really helped me out and the next steps became easier, as even though some of the application portals weren’t always the most user-friendly, I was always able to figure it out in the end – whether it was by spending time exploring the portals, seeking help from Miss. Emerich/classmates or emailing the university.

Why did you decide upon Psychology at Erasmus University Rotterdam? Why was it a good choice for you?
My sight had been set on the Netherlands from the start due to a variety of reasons such as the proximity to Prague, the student-friendly life-style, the minimization of a language barrier because of how much English is used there, and the tuition fees. I knew Erasmus University Rotterdam would be a good fit for me because of how international the university is and how the psychology course is built. Their course overview excited me the most and I also really liked the city and the campus when I went to visit in the summer of 2022.

What has your first few weeks been like at university?
They went a lot smoother than I expected. The university has a strong emphasis on community so we already had large group chats filled with soon-to-be freshmen and then orientation was also great for bringing people together. After having to adapt to new environments and ways of going about things in essentially every aspect of life, I could already feel myself growing and developing in the first week! However, I was a bit surprised at how we dove straight into a lot of content the first official day of classes, but I was able to get used to it soon and build a routine. I’m enjoying the adventure of learning new things, adapting, and figuring it all out as I go.

Is there anything you miss about home / school / Prague?
Moving away makes you feel nostalgic about the smallest things. I do miss school at times, not in the way that I want to go back, but in the way of looking back at it with fondness and nostalgia, because it feels strange that something that became so familiar as it was a part of my life for so long is now done forever. I have built some great friendships in Rotterdam but I do miss my friends from back home. The bond I have with them is not really one that you can compare to the newer friendships because these are people I’ve known since I was 11 and have grown up with. I’m really glad that I’m still just as close with them, if not more. The frequent video calls and all the thousands of voice messages really help ease the sad feeling of missing home a bit. I also miss my family but fortunately being just a few hours away helps as I get to see them every once in a while.