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Hotseat - Anisa Dijkhoffz

746_OnA_Hotseat_anisaA young, promising St. Maartener studying abroad, Anisa is currently living in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, earning her Master's Degree at Vrije University in Amsterdam. With many of our high school graduates departing soon to continue their studies abroad, Anisa's experience will be a great encouragement for the youngsters to read through. Daughter to Andre and Ursula Dijkhoffz, raised on St. Maarten with her two lovely sisters, Anisa embraces her experience as a student first in the US and now in Holland, which she's happy to share with us.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about growing up in St. Maarten.

I was proudly born and raised on St. Maarten. During my years growing up here, I lived with both my parents and my two sisters Maritza and Bianca. If I could describe growing up on St. Maarten to anyone, I would say it was the best. I couldn't have asked for a better childhood here. Only now that I've been away from home for almost five years do I realize how fortunate I am to have been raised in such a multi-cultural and fun environment. I was constantly surrounded by friends, loved ones and the beach. So what more could you possibly ask for?

Where did you go to school in St. Maarten?

I went to Sister Magda Primary School and to St. Dominic High School.

I understand that you received your Bachelor's Degree in the US and are now in the Netherlands earning your Master's. Please tell me a little more about your educational background.

I got my Bachelor's in Finance at the University of Tampa, which was somewhat a challenge trying to narrow down my choice, seeing that I had no idea at first what I wanted to major in. I took the science package in St. Dominic High School, so it's kind of funny how I ended up in a business-focused study. I'm currently in Amsterdam getting my Master's in Business Administration, specializing in Financial Management at Vrije Universiteit. I was influenced in this direction because my parents own a business on St. Maarten and I would love to settle back down in St. Maarten one day and perhaps even take over the business with my sisters.

Tell me something about your experience as a foreign student studying in the US and the Netherlands.

My experiences so far in both the Netherlands and the US were great. Studying in the US, I adjusted very quickly to my new surroundings and met some of the most amazing people there. I got involved in a lot of school organizations and kept my schedule very busy. So I would say I made the most of my four-year bachelor experience. As for my experience in the Netherlands, it is quite different to the US. My program is a lot more intense and time-consuming. Fortunately, I find time to travel; the Netherlands is conveniently located for this.

You've danced for years with Motiance Dance with Susha, Arlene and Cees. Are you still dancing? Tell me a little about this.

I danced with Motiance up until the age of 17. During my time there, I worked my way up to Company. I also performed in most of their musicals such as The Lion King, Hairspray, Fosse and Chicago. I took classes with Arlene for a couple years and worked as a dance assistant with some of the younger kids. During that time at Motiance, Cees was the director of the school. I will always remember him putting his heart, soul and complete dedication into Motiance and his students.

I've been dancing with Susha from day one. Whenever I visit home, I always return to Dance Theater of St. Maarten, run by both Susha Hein and Ihndhira Marlin. I would most definitely consider it my second home. In the year that I have been in the Netherlands, I have not had a chance to take any dance classes. During my time at University of Tampa, I danced for four years. I participated in annual dance programs and even got a chance to choreograph some of my own pieces.

Do you have any hobbies or interests besides studying? Give us a description of a regular day in your life.

Well, living in Holland has forced me to take up cooking. To my surprise, I enjoy it very much. Besides that, I go to the gym, which is my next alternative if I can't dance. It is a good diffuser after a long day in the library. I live very near to my school and I ride my bike when the weather is nice, but absolutely refuse to in the winter. I also live about 15 minutes outside of Amsterdam, which is very convenient and makes living here even more fun, especially for the nightlife. I live in a student flat and my floor is filled with lots of international students from all over the world, which makes getting through the 364 days of winter a lot easier.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I would like to know myself actually (laughs). But in all honestly, this is always one of the most difficult questions to answer. I can say that in 10 years, I see myself settled in St. Maarten with a job I love doing.

What would be your message to the high school graduates departing to continue their studies this summer?

When people tell you that college/university will be the best years of your life, they aren't exaggerating. Doing my Bachelor's at University of Tampa and furthering my studies here in the Netherlands have been amazing. I would advise future students furthering their studies to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, be it participating in school organizations, meeting new people or travelling... and the list goes on. Most importantly, try not to lose sight on what you are striving for. Even those students who aren't pursuing a tertiary education, the most important thing is that you keep moving forward in a positive direction. You will find a lot of obstacles in your way and things won't always go as you plan, but that's all part of life so keep pushing for what you want.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would be the one question you would ask? And what would you serve them to eat?

Beyonce – I would ask to be her back-up dancer for a day.

My great-grandfather Dr. Vivien Thomas – My question to him would be: "How did you deal with growing up in a time where racism was so profound and still managed to achieve all that you were able to achieve as a black man in a discriminatory society?"

Prime Minister Sarah Wescott-Williams – St. Maarten has something extremely special about it and I feel like it is losing this charm. "What can we as the next upcoming generation do to help maintain this charm that St. Maarten is slowly losing?

I would probably serve them my famous broccoli cheddar soup, a secret recipe for the main course, and dessert (my favourite part of a meal).