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Making a profession out of his interests

Matthijs Herrie from Nijmegen in The Netherlands combined his interests for math, geography, physics, biology, language and technology to fly into a pilot career.

– In the third year of secondary school I had to pick the subjects I wanted to study for the rest of my time in school. I was just fifteen years old, so it was hard to make a balanced decision. I had to ask myself the following questions:

What do I want in my life? What motivates me? What drives me every day? What are my interests? Which subjects do I like the most?

After thinking about all of these questions Matthijs ended up following almost every available course during the last three years of high school.

– I came to the conclusion that I’m interested in a wide variety of things like: math, geography, physics, biology, sports, language, technics and economy.

Aviation had been an interest all his life

When getting close to his high school graduation he started thinking about how he could fit these interests into a career, when he suddenly realized that aviation had been an interest through all his life. He had actually never thought that being a pilot really was an option, but when starting to think about a pilot education he also saw that several of the subjects he had studied before matched the pilot profession. For example, a lot of things from biology come back in human performance and principles of flight is all about aerodynamics and physics.

– I decided to sign up for a Dutch flight school. Unfortunately, after completing an intensive selection process with a positive result the school decided to reduce the annual number of graduates. As I had no plan B with aviation at this point in time, I decided to start studying economics at the VU university in Amsterdam. Already after two months I came to the conclusion that this was not the challenge I was looking for. I think I already got the “flying virus”, because becoming a pilot was the only thing going around in my head.

Matthijs started looking for pilot education outside of The Netherlands. Since the profession is highly international, then why not also study abroad, he thought.

Matthijs Herrie - student pilot in cockpit of training aircraft. Photo.

– After days of research I found out about Pilot Flight Academy, an international school with modern facilities, aircraft and great career opportunities. The first thing that came to mind was: “exactly what I need!” I decided to sign up for the admission test and was admitted into the academy. Now one year later, I’m about to finish my theory, Matthijs says with a smile.

It makes no difference if you are Norwegian or from another country

– I feel like being a foreign student at PFA is equal to be a national at PFA. Everyone is equal here and we all struggle with the same challenges during the studies. Everyone is fluent in English, so there is no such thing as a language barrier, which makes it easy to make new friends from all around the globe. We are all in the same boat, with the same challenges and opportunities, and everyone is helpful both on and of school, says Matthijs.

He has a tip for everyone wondering about a career as a pilot:

– If you have the dream of flying don’t wait any longer! Today is the right day. I highly believe in the fact that hard work will eventually pay off. Everyone that really wants this can do this.

– My dream is to fly one of the big jets for one of the well-known and renewed airlines in Europe like SAS, KLM or Air France or any other airline with high safety standards and good training facilities. Honestly, I will be happy with any airline job that makes me smile every day I come to work, says the happy student.

Studying to become a pilot is hard, but the reward is great. Matthijs shares some great tips on how to make the most out of your time studying:

– Every day my alarm rings, a new challenge starts. Today I’m going to learn a lot of new things. Is it easy? No. Is it achievable? Yes! If you are really determined and you want to pursue your dream, you will manage. If I feel demotivated in class, I just look outside and see a big bird taking off. That reminds me of why I am here.

Matthijs Herrie studying in front of computer. Photo.

– Every time you encounter something that you cannot understand or does not make sense to you, you have to push yourself to look at it over and over it again. If you manage to deal with this, you will succeed, says Matthijs.

Enjoys life in Norway

– I think my mum is happy for me being in Norway, smiles Matthijs. Norway is a beautiful and safe country which is great to explore during the weekends. In the summer me and my classmates are having barbecues in the fjords with stunning crystal-clear water. Last winter I went to several alpine skiing resorts just a one-hour drive away from the campus! In short, there’s enough to see and the explore here, which makes it great.

Matthijs thought it was a nice challenge coming to Norway to study, being on his own and having to do everything by himself, not having his mum looking after him.

– I had to get used to new routines and a new way of life, going to the store myself, preparing a proper meal and so on, but it`s all a part of growing up.

So far Matthijs really enjoys his stay in Norway and has a lot of positive things to say about student life in Norway.

– Norway has been a really good place to do my studies so far. Everyone speaks English fluently, which makes life much easier. Everything in this country is well organized and everyone is very helpful. The Dutch and Norwegian culture share a lot of similarities so I do not think that any other Dutch person would have any problems adapting to the life here in Norway, explains Matthijs.

The biggest challenge studying abroad is the fact that you have to say goodbye to friends and family for a little while. FaceTime and Skype help him stay in touch with the people back home.

– Besides that, there are two daily direct flights to Amsterdam from Torp Airport where the school is located. During the holidays I can easily go home and visit my friends and family and have a great time. Some of my friends have also visited me here in Norway, and I showed them the best spots in the capital city of Norway, Oslo.


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