Jun 6, 2017

The challenges of studying abroad

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 Thomas Siekman, a second year HZ Delta Management student. Here's what he shared:

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
"My name is Thomas Siekman, I am 19 years old and was born in Canada. I was raised on the west coast of Canada close to Vancouver, but my parents are Dutch from the south east of the Netherlands."

Why did you decide to study here in The Netherlands instead of Canada?
"Well, there are a few different reasons. The first one is that I wanted to see the country that my family comes from.  Also, because I have a Dutch passport, studying here is cheaper for me than in Canada.  But the main reason is that the study I found (Delta Management) is quite unique."

What was the hardest thing to do when you moved?
"Initially the thing that might have been the most frightening or seemingly more challenging was meeting new people. Mainly because I came here and I knew absolutely nobody in Vlissingen. I do have family in different parts of The Netherlands but nobody in Vlissingen, which made that a challenge. But in the end it was comparatively easy, you meet new people right away. Now I think the main challenge is structuring my own life, living away from your parents, and not always having their advice."

Do you still find planning your life hard?
"I think this year it's actually harder in a way.  Because the study is a lot different from last year - there is less guidance. And there are other things to plan for in the future like what I'm going to do next year.  Those decisions are not always easy.  Also, I am trying to do a couple of things at the same time. This year I'm working a few hours next to my study, trying to earn some extra money. Besides that, I'm looking for an internship, which raises questions like “How am I going to make connections in the business world? How do I find an internship that gives an advantage in the workforce?” There are a lot of things going on, which I have to think about."

Do you think these problems can be overcome?
"I definitely think it's just a part of the learning process. One thing that I found to be very important is that if I get stuck, I should reach out to different people for help, my parents for example. And also communicate with teachers more to try to get things solved before they become a big problem."

What do you like the most about studying in the Netherlands?
"I really think this is a great country, except for the weather. Although this year has been a lot better than last year surprisingly. The summer is really nice in Vlissingen, the winter not so much, just like in any part of the Netherlands. What I like the most about studying here is being able to see different parts of Europe. Even though Vlissingen is comparatively far away from other cities, it is still really close by Canadian standards. 

What do you miss the most about Canada?
"There is obviously my friends and family, but from Canada itself I definitely miss the nature. Here you don’t really have forests, you don’t have mountains. When I was in Canada I was in scouts and I was always doing hiking and other activities in the nature." 

If you could take something from the Netherlands to Canada, what would it be?
"The beautiful cities, I think the cities look better here. Part of it is the Dutch planning system. In the Dutch cities you are much more aware of the people living in it. I think that the big American and Canadian cities feel much more like a big business. There is a Dutch word “gezellig” which means cozy, pleasant and having a good vibe. Here you have a lot of people walking on the streets, a lot of markets, you see people riding their bikes outside, etc. I think that’s great. Here you see people interacting with each other more."

If you meet a prospective student from Canada, what advice would you give him/her?
"I would tell the person that he is going to have a great time, and learn how to text while riding a bike."

Are you happy about your decision of studying here?
"Yes, I am. I am enjoying my study. Sometimes it is challenging but that is with anything in life, it is never perfect."

As you just read, according to Thomas studying abroad is not always easy, but it will give you so much in return! 

Still have some doubts? Read this whitepaper to find questions to your answers: 

The Dutch Education System explained: studying abroad.

 

Reactions