YOU THERE! HALT!
Are you an international student or a prospective one?
Do you want to know more about why international students study here? Or what they think of the Netherlands? Are you perhaps looking for some tips and tricks?
THEN I HAVE THE ARTICLE FOR YOU!
SSMS prides itself on being a very internationally minded course, with roughly a fifty-fifty split between Dutch students and international students. But why do International students come to the Netherlands? We interviewed five international students from different years within SSMS: Naomi (1st year, Curacao), Chantee (1st year, Aruba), Anfisa (2nd year, Russia), Luis (3rd year, Germany), and Ghoryka (4th year, Nigeria).
Why did you choose the Netherlands?
For most, the Netherlands provides opportunities that were not available in their home country, or they found our lovely SSMS and decided to study it. The Netherlands also made the most sense for what they wanted to do and what they were looking for in further education. Some wanted more practical experience than universities in their home countries could offer, and some found the system here the easiest to navigate.
Favorite thing about the Netherlands?
All five agreed that the open-mindedness of the Netherlands was at the top of their list, with the multicultural aspect of the Hague being an excellent bonus. After all, for most international students, we study abroad in order to experience something different from what we have back home. There's also a freedom to being somewhere new and anonymity that comes with living in a big city. It also helped that the Netherlands has a very good public transport system, an added bonus for any international looking to explore the country outside of the Hague or whichever city you're based in.
Least favorite thing about the Netherlands?
In this corner, we have the reigning champion of unpleasant things! The weather! No surprise to anyone who has lived here for more than a few weeks. Dutch weather is notoriously unpredictable, with sunshine, rain, and wind all possibly happening on the same day.
And in this corner comes the challenger! Dutch food! To be quite honest, I was very surprised by this answer. All five interviewees agreed that Dutch food apparently leaves much to be desired? Some expressed disappointment in how restaurants water down spicy meals when compared to the original dish or raised questions about how "everything is fried." So be warned spice lovers, you might have to do more homecoming than you're used to.
Dealing with culture shock
Now, this largely depends on what culture or country you've grown up in and whether you've traveled or moved around a lot in your life. If you're from Germany like Luis, then you wouldn't feel as much of a shock as compared to other students like Naomi, Anfisa, Chantee, and Ghoryka.
One of the best ways to deal with culture shock is simply to keep an open mind, be open to any corrections, and observe the people around you. As Ghoryka pointed out when in Rome, do as the Romans do. You can adapt to a new culture without compromising your own values or morals.
As most of us are aware, and as what feels like every travel blog, expat blog, and student blog has pointed out, the Dutch are known to be very… blunt. To some, this bluntness can be borderline rude at times. The best method for most is to simply try not to take it personally. It's a "them, not you" type situation.
Another thing to keep in mind for many of us is the difference in how teachers and students interact. Of course, there is still strong professionalism inside the classroom and on campus, but outside well. Take me, for example; I'm often shocked when I hear stories about how friendly many of our lecturers are, as in the Philippines, there is a very strong line between teachers and students. Here in the Netherlands and in SSMS, that relationship is much more friendly and casual.
(That said, please don't act all buddy-buddy with the lecturers. They are still our teachers, so treat them like it. You don't want to be used as an example of what not to do in Professional Skills or Professional Writing, now do you.)
Now for the nitty-gritty and more practical things. Studying outside your home country isn't all sunshine and rainbow after all. If you want more specific details, you can check out Finding a part-time job for a student in the Netherlands by Taiisia and Life in the Netherlands – what you would like to know also by Taiisia. Both are available here, on the Centuria blog.
Unfortunately, education is not free in most countries, and it's definitely not so for international students. So how do you finance your studies? This varies from student to student and is often a personal choice. You can apply for a load, you can work for a scholarship, you can get a job, ask your parents to help out etc., etc.
For all those looking into scholarship options, I shall direct you to the Study in Holland website. They have a pretty comprehensive list of possible scholarships and are a very useful resource for international students. Definitely worth checking them out!
All five students (and me) agree: Don't get a job in your first year (full or part-time). Sure, it sounds like having an income that no one can tell you how to spend. But realistically, in your first year, you are going to be getting used to the course load and trying to figure out if this course is a good fit for you. Once you're figured out a schedule for yourself and once your feel that you've got a good grip on your studies, then you can start looking for a job. Or just work during the summer if you don't have any plans.
The recommendation is you find a job with flexible hours. Students can keep weird hours, especially around exam week, and you need a job that can accommodate that.
Oh, and if you can, try to pay your tuition all at once. It's easier in the long run.
The housing market in the Netherlands is extremely competitive. If you're even considering studying in the Netherlands, the overall recommendation is to register and sign up on housing websites like ROOM NL. Some advice from our interviewees: remember, you're looking for a student room or studio. This isn't going to be your dream apartment or forever home.
(Also, if you have parties at your place: REMEMBER YOU'RE A STUDENT AND HAVE NEIGHBOURS - POLICE WILL BE CALLED IF YOU DON'T TURN DOWN THEE MUSIC. This has been a PSA by Centuria)
Learning extra languages is always useful, especially for our study. However, only learn the language if you're sure you are gonna use it. If you don't keep practicing a language, you end up forgetting it.
Some last tips from the author
Check out Study in Holland and NUFFIC for the equivalencies of the different education systems when compared to the Netherlands. If you don't have a high enough degree, you might need to be a foundation year. Some universities offer foundation years within the school, and some might have a partnership with a different institution. If you have a university in mind, reach out to them to see what they offer.
I hope this article helps and that you might have learned something new! Till next time dear reader.
(All statements made here are opinions expressed by individuals and do not reflect Centuria's stance on anything. So please don't come yelling at us if you like Dutch food or the weather.)