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People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, Innovation Origins has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.

Name: Val Moon
Country of origin: Cameroon
Study: Marketing Strategy Master at Erasmus University

There is some time between the first contact with Val via e-mail and our actual meeting. He was swamped with events and commitments for his study, so we scheduled after the dust has settled a bit. After ordering coffee we start talking on what is like to live in the Netherlands as a non-EU student. Val is very clear: “I can say it is not easy here as a non-EU student, to be honest, it is horrible at times.” Val says it with a smile, but there is a story behind this strong statement.

“When I was studying at the university in Cameroon, I was looking for a more challenging study abroad. I started to scan countries for its possibilities. I did a SWOT analysis for America, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. The Netherlands came out best and that’s how I ended up in Eindhoven. According to my research, I would be allowed to work 10 hours a week next to my study. That is correct, but my student visa says I’m not allowed to work. Employers face a high level of struggle and inconvenience should they be want to hire a non-EU student! Besides the time it takes them to apply for a working permit, they also have to wait for a reply which is likely more than a month. I can’t blame employers for not being that eager to do employ non-EU students given this harsh labor law.”

The rules make it very difficult for Val to get by. “Without a job, I don’t have money. Luckily my family can help me. I have been in several debates with most Dutch friends trying to emphasize the disparities existing between us as students and our means to persist and survive. There have been days I started with the question will I have breakfast instead of what will I have for breakfast. But it also makes me determent to achieve my goals. I can be a bit pushy to other people, this is because I don’t have the privilege of being entitled. I’m on a mission. After my second bachelor, I decided to pursue my first masters and after, I started with a second masters as well.”

“Besides my study, I work on different projects. I use my knowledge and skills in marketing and strategy by helping entrepreneurs with web design and social media. If focus with them on branding strategy, on how to grow. I have also two projects this summer. The first is dance related. With AfroMoon World I organize summer dance courses for children and adults. I grew up with dancing and love to teach people afro-dance. We have 18+ groups and groups for kids. Afro-dance combines a lot of dance styles. You don’t need to have any experience, you will learn along the way. Having fun it’s the most important thing. At the end of the course for the children, we are going to shoot an official video with all the kids to commemorate the closing of the summer course.”

Val’s other project originated after he read an article about loneliness with elderly people. “I didn’t realize how critical of a problem that was. We don’t have such an issue in Cameroon. We take in our elderly and let them be part of the family. It got me thinking. These people need more interaction. As you know, I like dancing a lot. It is social and fun and can be done by anyone, maybe with a little help. I would love to start a project in Eindhoven and offer the elderly dance lessons with a lot of fun. I’m looking for ways to get this project up and running. I hope the care homes and municipality would like to join forces with me. So for the people who read this, is you know how we can make the elderly dance a little more, get in touch!”

Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel
Read more stories of internationals here.