Studying abroad is not an easy step to make. Many questions arise at the moment of making this decision: "Will I like my studies?", "Am I ready to live away from my parents?", "Will I be able to adapt?" and many others.

Coming from Latin America, my biggest concern was if I would be able to socialize with people from different cultures. Moreover, I was scared of not being able to adapt to the lifestyle of a country a whole ocean away from my home. However, all these fears faded away in the first month after moving here. I made friends from different parts of the world right away and found myself quite comfortable with living away from home. But not everybody experienced moving to the Netherlands the same way as I did. If I have learned something as an international student, it's that people from different cultures tend to handle situations differently. Therefore, I decided to interview people from different countries about their experience of studying in the Netherlands.

This time we meet Noria Kabagwira from Burundi. Let's see some of the challenges she faced when coming to study abroad.

Could you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Noria and I'm 19 years old. When I first moved to the Netherlands I was 18, so now is my second year here. I am studying Chemistry and living in Vlissingen.

What do you think was the hardest thing to do when you moved to the Netherlands?

For me personally it was hard to think that I was going to be around people that I am not used to, people whom I don't know, neither the way they think or view things. I was afraid of the cultural change.

Are you still afraid of that, or do you feel more comfortable now that you’ve been here for a year?

Yes. I feel more comfortable. Actually it's a great experience to face those cultural changes between us.

What is your favorite thing about studying in the Netherlands?

Surprisingly, the fear that I had before is what I like the most now. Because there are so many different cultures and I really like it. I have learned a lot from it.

What do you dislike the most about studying here?

Being away from your family, that is the main down point. I have a second home, apart from Burundi, which is Belgium. It kind of makes things easier because they come to visit me once every three months. That helps a lot!

What do you miss the most about your home country?

I miss my friends and family. But the thing is that now most of my friends are studying abroad, too. So when I go home I can only meet a quarter of my friends.

If you could take something from Burundi to the Netherlands, what would it be?

The social life there, because here it's not the same. In Burundi you can’t really differentiate Fridays from Mondays. There, socially speaking, there's a lot happening and here it's more like studying, working, studying, working. Even on Mondays you can go out and find people on the road and chat as if it were a Saturday. I would like to bring that.

If you could take something from the Netherlands to Burundi, what would it be?

The organization. People in Burundi tend to have more fun rather than plan for the future. And I think it happens a lot in Africa that people don’t think as much about the country, its development and things like that. Whereas here they are more professional and think more about the important things in the long run.

If you meet a student from Burundi who is thinking about studying in the Netherlands, what advice would you give them?

I would tell them to learn to be independent, even at home. Learn to cook, to organize your stuff. Because it is hard to come out of your comfort zone. Girls in our culture usually learn how to cook at an early age, but boys don’t. So I would tell them to learn how to cook and be organized.

Is there anything you would like to tell the prospective students?

I would tell the prospective students to come with an open mind and be ready to face other cultures. In the beginning it may be hard to do so. Some people tend to hang out with others from their culture, but instead be open to everybody. Take the risk to talk to somebody who is not from your culture, you will learn a lot from it.

Stay tuned! Dahae Kim from South Korea coming up next.


Laatst aangepast op: 10-07-2024
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