Letitia Ross (21) studies Fashion Management and worked for O’Neill during her internship. Although she was born in London, she studies in Nottingham and moved to Leiden to work as a garment technician for one year, regularly visiting Chabad on Campus in Amsterdam.
How was your childhood in London?
I had a lovely time growing up in London, my family has a loving nature and I had the privilege to grow up within a really warm Jewish community as well. I have two older brothers, one of them has recently married. Although my family is modern orthodox, my brother never was very religious, but he surprised us all when he announced that he is going to start yeshiva soon.
During my childhood, I went to a Jewish primary school and a secondary school. My primary school was very religious, but I always had the desire to mingle with others. That’s why I really enjoyed my secondary school, where all denominations within Judaism were welcomed.
However, because I grew up within a very safe Jewish environment, which others would call “the bubble”, I was ‘afraid’ to leave that protected environment when I had to go to university.
You decided to study Fashion Management, why did you choose this subject and how did you experience leaving London for Nottingham?
Regarding my choice for Fashion Management, I had an interest in fashion from a young age, when I, already, criticized clothing for its (lack of) quality. When I followed a business Alevel course, I felt that it wasn’t exciting enough for me, and I started thinking about what I wanted to do. Knowing that I always had this attraction to the fashion industry, I looked for a way to combine business with fashion, and I ended up studying fashion management.
My parents were always very supportive, for which I am very lucky. Originally, I wanted to study midwifery, but they did talk me out of it because of the long hours and the impact of work on your private life.
Moving to Nottingham, however, was quite a challenge. As I mentioned earlier, I was ‘afraid’ to leave my protected bubble in London. As I was quite shy and nervous at that age, leaving my family behind – even though it was only a two-hour distance by train – made me very homesick and scared.
But, the presence of Chabad at my university helped me get through it. Chabad provided me with that exact family feeling that I missed due to leaving London. Although I didn’t really visit Chabad during my childhood in London, the Chabad house in Nottingham rapidly turned into a second home for me.
Did you endure the same problems when you moved from Nottingham to Leiden?
Actually, I didn’t. I changed a lot during my years in Nottingham, and my complete mindset changed. Instead of fearing to leave, I saw moving to the Netherlands as an amazing opportunity to work in another country and meet new people and make friends. I was extremely excited about my internship and all the experiences that would come along with it.
At first, I was mostly impressed by the beautiful architecture and nature in this country. The people, however, could be quite blunt, and I did have to adjust to that. But, I quickly made friends, also thanks to Chabad on Campus. Going to Chabad and meeting amazing people, who have become some of my best friends, was truly my most memorable experience in the Netherlands. I met so many different types of characters and people with different life stories, and I’m very grateful for that.
As a result of my experience in the Netherlands, my plans for the future also changed. I would now want to live in many different countries, also because I know that (almost) everywhere I could go, there is a Chabad welcoming me. The welcoming atmosphere at Chabad helped me to stay involved within the Jewish community, to be a mensch, keep traditions going and help people out.
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