The journey of an international student in the Netherlands
Exciting but also challenging
Studying abroad may be considered as one of the most exciting experiences that you can imagine. Besides, the Netherlands is a dream destination for many international students. As an international student in Groningen (the northern part of The Netherlands), I feel how studying in the Netherlands supports me to study and achieve my goals.
However, behind a memorable experience also exists a difficult experience. Firstly, I will share with you how I love Groningen with its pros and cons. Moreover, I will also elaborate on how challenging it can be to be an international student in Groningen. I believe that this is a significant topic to discuss to manage expectations if you decide to go out of your comfort zone and study in the Netherlands as an international student.
Why I chose the Netherlands
At the moment I pursue my master’s degree in Geopolitics at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Before I came to Groningen, I also received a Letter of Acceptance from Glasgow (Scotland), Gothenburg (Sweden), and Aalborg (Denmark). I decided to study in Groningen since I found that the Netherlands and its history are one of the best study destinations, especially for Global Politics or International Relations. In addition, I also received a scholarship from the Orange Tulip Program. After my bachelor’s program in International Relations, I developed an interest in several specialties such as Security, Green Politics and Geopolitics.
Also, the city of Groningen is very suitable for students. You can easily walk, ride your bike or take public transport to stroll around the city. Since it is a small city, it is very compact and you can do anything in Groningen; groceries in the market, pub crawls, find the best study spots, join sport events, listen to (live) music, and much more. My colleagues also mentioned that you can speak English everywhere here in Groningen. However, you can also attend a free Dutch course at the language center. It is free for students and you only need to purchase your book. How lucky I am to have this great experience.
Finding accommodation in a student city such as Groningen is quite challenging. You will need to make an extra effort only to find a room for your student period. Therefore, be prepared and ready for a rejection from the landlord.
Another challenge of being a student here is adaptation. Somehow you have to be independent, especially if you live in Groningen. Friends are a good thing, but very often you will also have to work individually. In addition, the transportation in the Netherlands may be a challenge. You will often see roadwork and you would need to find an alternative way to get to your destination.
To sum up, studying abroad is a great experience. As I learned in my course in Geopolitics, studying abroad create a new space of possibilities and connection between yourself and a new world (experience). However, the output of this connection (study abroad) cannot be predicted. Even if your first intention is to study, studying abroad will produce a certain emergent feature. It will open multiple challenges and we have to be ready for the unpredictable event (rejection from the landlord, roadwork or individual work).