moving to the netherlands

I remember, a couple of months ago, I was binge watching YouTube videos about student life in the Netherlands. These videos indeed shared a great deal of practical tips and tricks that proved themselves useful later, but I have not seen any videos about what really matters the most: Finding your new home in a new country. In this article, I aim to share some tips, that will hopefully facilitate your adjustment period, and helps you to quickly adapt to your new life in the Netherlands.

- Dóra Anna Szeles

Throughout the introduction week, I have heard so many second- and third-year students mentioning how they found their best friends during this event. I do not doubt that this indeed happens for some, but I felt like this put a lot of pressure on all freshmen students. The truth about introduction week is the following: You will meet about two hundred people, and by next week, you will not remember the name of most of them.

If you pressure yourself by trying to find your best friends, you will not enjoy the week as much as you should.

Everyone is trying to make as much friends as possible, so do not be afraid of not sticking with the same person the whole time, try to meet as many people as you can, since you will never know who is the one you will truly connect with.

Did you miss introduction week? No worries. Universities in the Netherlands provide so many opportunities to meet people and try new things! Most Universities have many student associations you can join. Personally, I am a member of International Students Rotterdam (ISR), a student network organizing amazing events for international students in Rotterdam. Joining this association helped me a lot, especially in the first few weeks, where I did not have my long-term friend group yet. I made a lot of friends within the association, and it helped a lot to see the same familiar faces at each event. There are a large number of student associations revolving around many different interests (e.g., sports, fashion, travel, business etc…) so do not hesitate to check out the list of student associations on your university’s website. Do this as soon as you can because application deadlines are in the beginning of September.

You can watch all the videos you want (I do not blame you; I did the same), you will encounter problems sooner or later. I do not consider myself very extroverted, so I understand if you find it hard to go up to strangers or even your new classmates. However, from my personal experience, I must say, the Netherlands is a very open and friendly country. I befriended so many people by just asking for their help. You do not have to worry about language barriors either, most Dutch people speak perfect English.

Finding the right balance between your studies and your social life can be tricky, especially during the first few months, since you are not yet used to the workload, and you do not have that stable group of friends. My lifeline was befriending second year students on my course. They know exactly what you are going through, and they can help you a lot. At university, the workload can be quite overwhelming, and sometimes you must sacrifice one
thing for another, in other words, you must set priorities. Second year students can help a lot with that since they not only have lecture notes and summaries, but they also know what is more or less important for the given course. Even though, summaries and notes can save you a lot of time, I do not recommend you to “take it easy” when it comes to your studies. Especially in WO programmes in the Netherlands, they put a lot of emphasis on the
importance of self-study. They will provide you with a lot of materials (books, videos, exercises) to learn from, but the lectures often only cover a small part of the course, and you need to be disciplined enough to learn most of the course material on your own. I also do not recommend leaving it until the last minute, because even if the workload can seem lighter at the beginning, you will have to learn a lot.

Finding housing in the Netherlands is the biggest challenge of them all. I will not elaborate on the process, because you can find a lot of helpful websites and videos about the topic. However, if your course starts at the beginning of September, I recommend you start looking at least four months before moving. Unfortunately, living with the chosen people is not always an option here, but if you can choose, it is very important to find the right fit. If you get along with your flatmates, you will have the best time, but if you do not, it will cause you a lot of trouble. So at least try to have at least one meeting with them before signing anything. Also consider that when adjusting to a new country, it can be very helpful to live with other people, because you can support each other a lot. However, I know many people who chose to live alone, and they are very happy with their decision.

In conclusion, moving to a new Country can be challenging, and the adjustment period is not always smooth. But if you stay open towards other people, you will receive a lot of help from your surroundings. University is not only about working towards your goals, but also about redefining yourself as an individual, learning how to be independent, and mostly, about having fun.

Your international family!

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