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.

Let's change it up a bit and take a look at the native perspective on studying in the Netherlands. This time Hedzer Spaans, a true Dutch, will share with us his thoughts on the topic.

Tell us something about yourself.

My name is Hedzer and I'm 21 years old. I come from a small town close to Utrecht. I studied in other places before coming to Vlissingen. Now I am studying Water and Delta Management. This is my third year here in Vlissingen.

What do you like the most about studying in the Netherlands?

Well, I don’t have much reference about what studying in other countries is like. But what I like about the Netherlands is that it's very accessible and affordable. You pay around two thousand euros for a year of education, which is not that expensive compared to other countries, like America. Also studying here feels good, you feel you learn a lot.

What do you think is the strength of the Netherlands, when it comes to studying abroad?

I think our universities have a lot of connections with other universities, so you can pay a Dutch tuition fee and study in another university for your minor. Also, almost everyone speaks English very well.

What do you think is the weakness of the Netherlands in the same aspect?

Well, it's not only the Netherlands, I think it's more the school systems in general. It's sometimes bad that it's more focused on academic learning. For example there are a lot of people who are very smart, but not when you put a book in front of them. So if you give them a book and make them read they won’t learn anything from that, they learn from interaction. I think we are focused a lot on academic learning and no other methods of learning. But I don’t feel it is a weakness only for the Netherlands but rather worldwide.

Why did you decide to study here and not abroad?

I did not consider studying abroad in the first place. But I decided to study at the HZ because after studying at other places before, I discovered that this school was way better. I am doing way more and learning way more as well. But no, I never really considered studying abroad.

Is there a reason why you didn’t consider studying abroad?

Well, I have always loved international life. However, when you're a high school student in the Netherlands you never really have contact with internationals, so it feels kind of distant. Now that I am studying at the HZ, I'm spending more time with internationals than with nationals. It feels like the borders disappear and it's way more accessible in this way. Now it feels more comfortable and realistic for me to go abroad as well, because I am surrounded by people who are abroad themselves.

What advice would you give an international prospective student about studying in the Netherlands?

I would tell them to just do it, because they are not going to regret it. The worst case scenario is that your study program is not what you wished for. However, you will still gain a lot of experience by just being all on your own. You come to a new world, the language is not the same and you don’t know anyone, so you have to start from scratch. You just have a small international community within school and from that you have to rebuild your own life. I have done it twice by starting to study in a different city. But in the end, the experiences you get outweight the fears you might have.

Tell us one thing every student should do when they come to the Netherlands.

Don’t limit yourself to Amsterdam, everyone knows Amsterdam. If you look further into the country you realize it has so much more to offer, which is more reflective on how the country really is. We have many beautiful towns that are very nice to visit, and you would definitely miss something if you don’t.

Stay tuned for more insightful interviews!


Last modified on: 10-07-2024
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