MECHELEN, CITY OF CULTURES- IBS student Maria: From nursery in Spain to IBS in Mechelen

‘Did I hear adventure?’ Those are the only words which will make Mery Luna take up on any new challenge. Born and raised in Perú, she lived a beautiful childhood surrounded by all of her family and friends. At the age of seven her parents found great opportunities at the other side of the ocean and settled in Spain. In Madrid, María studied one of her dreams, nursery. After she graduated, she felt that there was still a lot to learn and live around the world and that’s when she decided to give her life a 180º turn and study International Business in Mechelen. 


Gratitude for being part of the Thomas More Community

After finishing her nursing studies in Spain, Mery wanted to continue her education in the business section. She chose Thomas More university due to a more interesting study program. According to her, the program is more focused on international business subjects, is more practical and has more touch with international background. She feels very grateful for the opportunity to study at this university. Mery finds this place and professors very supportive. She started her adventure in Mechelen with a welcoming week, where she had the opportunity to meet new friends. Even now she received a message informing about the time change, and that everyone understands that November can be a difficult month to adapt.

“Mery with her friend Paula”

Adaptation and Language

 One of the things that can set you back about if you have made the right decision, is the challenges that may come with the language and adaptation. Moving from Perú to Spain was a big change, but in the end, she thought it was easier because they speak the same language, and they are very similar in a lot of ways. On the other hand, Mery didn´t know a single word of Dutch. Luckily, the university offers a course called Survival Dutch which she claims has been very useful so far. Adapting to a new country comes with many changes. One of the biggest things she had to get used to is the type of life here. ‘Everything happens before it should. They have lunch at 12:00, the sun is over at 17:00, dinner at 17:30 and the shops close at 18:00. For them the day is over really soon. If you were to go on a walk at 21:00, you wouldn’t find anybody outside, and it took me some time to get used to that.’ One of the things that characterizes Belgium it’s their rainy and cold weather, and coming from Spain, this was very difficult for her. She even claims that ‘whenever there’s a spot where the sun hits, I go as fast as I can, and stay as long as I can feel the heat of the rays.’ 

“A sunny day in Mechelen”

‘Whenever there’s a spot where the sun hits, I go as fast as i can, and stay as long as I can feel the heat of the rays’ 

An adventurer at heart, and it’s far to be finish

Mery’s decision to transition from nursing to business reflects her dynamic spirit to explore new horizons. While the cobblestone streets of Mechelen may seem a world away from the bustling energy of Madrid, Mery sees this opportunity as a stepping stone toward a broader understanding of floral business practices. Having successfully navigated the challenges of adapting to a new educational system and cultural landscape, Mery expresses gratitude for Mechelen as a city of passage in her life. However, Mery’s adventurous spirit is far from satisfied. Looking ahead she envisions the possibility of yet another international exchange, this time in either Argentina or Peru. Mechelen, through a temporary home, has become a cherished part of Mery’s journey, and she remains thankful for the experiences and opportunities it has afforded her. 

Mery harbors aspirations of continuing her exploration of the world. She aims to leverage her dual expertise in nursing and business to contribute meaningfully to sectors that bridge the gap between healthcare and commerce. Mery’s ambition is a testament to the boundless possibilities that arise when to integrate diverse skills for a good union future. 

When asked about an advice she would give to someone to encourage them to study abroad, Mery shares the best tip her mom gave her: ‘Don´t stop yourself from doing great things just because you have fear. Do it with fear, but do it. You won’t regret it.’ 

Text: Alicja Gzara, Khoumbaré Semega and Paula Alonso
Photos: Alicja Gzara, Khoumbaré Semega and Paula Alonso
Archives: Mery Luna