Nieuws - 25 augustus 2016

How to survive Wageningen

Romy Appelman

The start of the new academic year brings a lot of new students to Wageningen from all corners of the globe. They face a new country, the Wageningen approach to studying, and Dutch culture. What can you do to make your introduction in Wageningen as smooth as possible? More seasoned international students talk about their experiences and give tips.

Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek

22-New Internationals - Giovanny (1).jpg

Giovanny Romero, Ecuador, MSc Environmental Sciences, here since September 2015

‘My first impression of Wageningen was good: a nice calm city, friendly people, and good transport services. Of course there are big differences with my own country. We have mountains and here everything is flat, the food is very different, and here everyone moves around on bicycles. For me the biggest challenge was not the studying – although the language is a problem – but the fact that I was far away from home experiencing so many new things on my own. I missed my family and friends and at first I felt very alone. Going to ISOW for salsa lessons or playing soccer really helped me. To people who are lonely I would like to say: go out, grab a beer. The loneliness usually starts at home and if you stay in, your room gets like a jail. So go out, meet new people!’


22-Bohan Hu groot.JPG

Bohan Hu, China, MSc Environmental Sciences, here since September 2013

‘I think the Netherlands is beautiful: clean, fresh air, cows walking in the fields. I am from Beijing so I loved it. The hardest thing about studying was the language. It was hard to follow everything in English. Group work with people from all over the world is another challenge. Everyone has different backgrounds so sometimes it is hard to express your feelings. My tip is: don’t be passive, be active. Also, be humorous and don’t be too serious about little details. For getting in contact with other students it really helps if you have a certain talent or hobby. I fix computers and that got me in contact with the whole Chinese student population. So if you play music or sports, definitely use that to get in contact with other people. Practical tip: bring an induction cooker. It is hard to find good ones in the Netherlands.’

22-Felipe Lobos (2).JPG

Felipe Lobos, Chile, MSc climate studies, here since September 2015

‘Before I arrived here, I had worked for four years. Therefore it was hard for me to start studying again. You have to be quick and smart and everything is English. What I really like about Wageningen is the horizontal contact with teachers. Here professors are not like gods and you can easily speak with them. Also I like that this university is truly international and international students are really integrated in the student life. To new students I would like to say: be patient. The language and culture are very different and it takes time to understand how the Dutch are. You have to be tolerant of the differences. Practical tip: get a bank account and a bike as soon as possible. With this you can survive.’


22-Lugas de beste.jpg

Lugas Lukmanul Hakim, Indonesia, MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management, here since September 2015

‘When I first got here I thought it was really cold. Even though it was summer, I was wearing long jackets and I turned the heater on. Firstly, you need a bike so save some money for that and get help from your fellow students to buy one. Second, prepare for the new academic culture: it will be tough. I was not used to the period system and it pushed me to study every day. But when it got difficult I reminded myself of my motivation, why I wanted to study here, and that helped. The Dutch can be quite intimidating and they talk a lot, but once you get to know them better they are actually nice and friendly. I learned a new daily rhythm from them and I adjusted myself to that: to work during the day and take time at night to relax and enjoy life.’

22-Patience Chindong.JPG

Patience Chindong, Cameroon, MSc Applied Communication Sciences, here since September 2014

‘What really struck me about the Netherlands is that everything is so structured. It is very clean and organized here. People take turns in shops and restaurants in an orderly manner. I felt very uncomfortable about it at the beginning. I also made some mistakes. I would, for example, go to the hospital and walk straight to the desk, while other people were waiting. I think the Dutch are too individualistic; it is difficult to interact with some of them at times. You have to make appointments for everything and be on time. However, with time I got used to it and now I feel much more comfortable. Before I came to the Netherlands, I was very afraid that no one would speak English and I wouldn't be able to buy any food. Therefore I brought a lot of food, even some salt. When I arrived here I found out how ridiculous this was. I gave the food away to friends. My tip: keep asking questions. Every time you have doubts about something, just ask, and if the first person cannot help you, ask the next person.’

22-Daniele Lixia.JPG

Daniele Lixia, Italy, Erasmus student doing an internship in Health & Society, here since April 2016

‘I had both good and bad impressions when I arrived here. My room in Bornsesteeg was horrible and dirty, it took me a week to clean it. But I loved the university, the buildings, friendly students and teachers. It is all very relaxed and comfortable. The Netherlands is very different from what I’m used to. Here you see little children going around on bikes by themselves, looking very happy. My advice to people who get a room in Bornsesteeg is to find a place somewhere else. The Bornsesteeg building has no common space and therefore no social life. However, there are a lot of other activities you can do in Wageningen. I would also like to advise my Chinese and Indian fellow students of this. They seem to interact mainly among themselves.’