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Ewout and Nicole discover the world with Area Studies

Middle Eastern Studies, African Studies or International Relations: all examples of studies that are part of Area Studies at the Faculty of Humanities in Leiden. Within Area Studies you study a region and immerse yourself in (complex) subjects of that region, such as cultural uniqueness, conflicts, migration, politics and economics.

Ewout Jansen

Ewout Jansen immersed himself in Japan during his bachelor's degree in Japan at Leiden University. During his master’s degree in Asian Studies, he learned more about Indonesia. ‘During my studies, we formed an image of the environment, the gender roles there, philosophy, economics and what makes the area the way it is today. We looked at it from different perspectives'. Alumna Nicole Jular Manugas chose the International Relations master's after she had studied the region of South-East Asia during her Bachelor's in International Studies. ‘Within my studies I had the opportunity to learn about a very large region or just a very specific area. I chose the latter, namely the Philippines,' says Nicole.

‘Get to know the world’

Some will recognise that when certain continents were spoken of at school, it was actually done in a stereotypical way. It is important to get to know the world better, to avoid prejudice, Ewout thinks. ‘Many of today's students come from Europe, they have never had the opportunity to learn about areas outside Europe’. According to Ewout, when you do learn about them, you find out that they are more complex than you think. You then ask yourself the question: is what you learned at school correct? Nicole agrees: 'I learned to see the difference between different regions and cultures and to be context bound without using a universal approach.’

Nicole Jular Manugas

'The most special thing I could think of'

At the time, Ewout's choice of training in Area Studies was a gamble. ‘I myself have a theological background and come from a Christian environment. I didn't feel very much at home there, so I decided to do the most special thing I could think of: Japan Studies’. Ewout: 'I have never regretted studying this, it has positively influenced my way of thinking. I now look at the world in a totally different way'. 

Combination of knowledge of language and culture

The combination of a bachelor's degree in International Studies and a master's degree in International Relations has ensured that Nicole has found an interesting job. After graduating, she started working at Nature Box, a company that makes shampoo and counteracts the use of palm oil. Nicole was pleasantly surprised to get this job: 'They were actually looking for someone with a technical or business background, but what attracted their attention was my experience through the many internships and my interest and knowledge in the field of sustainability'. After a master's degree at Leiden University, there are many opportunities for students. The combination of knowledge of language and culture regularly makes students attractive to international employers, as our most recent labour market research has shown.

In a study that is part of Area Studies, you study a country or region in relation to the rest of the world. From Asia to the Middle East. Master's programmes offered by the Faculty of Humanities include African Studies, Asian Studies, International Relations, Middle Eastern Studies, Latin American Studies, North American Studies and Russian and Eurasian Studies.

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