Step 4 in "Get yourself to Holland": preparing for a new life in the Netherlands

Probably by now a lot of you have already received an admission letter, and some may be still waiting for scholarship results. I was in your shoes 5 years ago, so I understand the anxiety and excitement that you are going through now. Therefore, today I m gonna share with you some tips that help you gear up and get a head start for your new life in Netherlands.

Posted by Chung Thanh Le at Mar 26, 2017 03:15 PM

Try to learn a bit bout your city and university

(Amsterdam frequently hosts a lot of food markets and fairs like this)
 

The first few months can be pretty daunting for new comers. Homesick. Cultural shock. The cruelty of the Dutch cold and windy weather. Language barrier. Getting sick. You name it. As scary as these things may sound, you can definitely reduce their impacts on your enjoyment of the new life in Holland by getting to know what the city and the university has to offer. For example, it is important to know how the house doctor system in Holland works, where you can find your home food in town, what student associations there are, what other non-study-related fun stuff you can do, where to get a cheap bike, which gym is cheap for students. It is even better if you can already start making some contacts and friends before arriving. Nowadays, often universities creates a facebook group for every new batch of students of every study program around the start of the summer, so people can get to know each other before the start of the semester. Make good use of it, as students often ask for or share plenty of tips and tricks in these groups.    

Learn some Dutch

 

my effort of learning Dutch
After postponing learning Dutch for more than 4 years, at the beginning of this year, i start to learn some Dutch.

 

As much as we have to praise Dutch people for their openness and fluency in English, knowing Dutch will help you go a long way in this country. A lot of Dutch friends agree that sometimes it is very hard for international students to improve their Dutch here. It is simply because the second a Dutch person sees that you are struggling with spitting out the little Dutch you know, they will quickly switch to English. That gesture is of course very kind to rescue you from being brain-fired by thinking about the word order of the Dutch sentence you are trying to say (yes word orders in Dutch is ridiculously hard to master, at least for me haha); but not so much for our poor Dutch language skills. Knowing Dutch can help you a lot with landing a part time job while studying or even a full-time professional job after you graduate. Also if you really want integrate into the society and hopefully become a citizen here, mastering Dutch is inevitable. There are several you can learn basic Dutch before coming here, such as the app duolingo or a short Dutch language course in your home country.

Pick up some sports


(Wintersport trip is very popular at student associations and companies in the Netherlands)

 

I think it’s so important to live a healthy lifestyle, and that is even more important for international students who live far away from home. It really sucks being sick without your mom around to pamper you, so having a regular workout schedule helps boosting your immunity system to fight back those nasty bugs. Besides, it is super fun and relaxing to play some sport after stressful and exhausting hours of studying. Sitting in a sauna for 15 minutes after a 1 hour bootcamp workout with your friends will give you back all the freshness and clear mind to tackle whatever ‘monstrous’ deadlines you are facing.

The university gym and sport complex are usually the ones to choose, as they are often very cheap for students and offer a wide range of activities. It only costs me 150eu for a whole year access to the state-of-art gym, classes, and sauna at university. Also, doing sport is a great way to socialize and make friends, which are all important to shoo away the feeling of homesick and loneliness. I find Dutch people quite sporty on average, as they love sport student associations, sport clubs and big scale non-professional sport events like Amsterdam marathon race. So if you don’t want to miss out on fun sport event stuff at your university or your city, it may be wise to pick up a few sports before you come here.

At my internship, my colleagues join the awesome annual Mud master run challenge as a team in April and they plan to train together a few days a week after work for the event. And this is not a special thing of my company, as I know that a lot of other companies in the Netherlands do similar things or even have their own internal inter-department sport tournament. Anyhow, it really kills me inside to not be able to join or cheer for my colleagues at the Mud master event due to other commitment I have on the same day.   

Volleyball, basketball, soccer, badminton, running, swimming, etc are all good choices and don’t matter too much. It is the sporty spirit and the will for a healthy life style that you should learn to embrace and incorporate into your daily life.  

Learn to play some musical instruments

Self-teach myself how to play a guitar
I bought a second-hand guitar 2 years ago and have tried to self-teach myself how to play it.

Just like sport, knowing how to play some instruments helps you in so many ways. Firstly, wouldn’t it be relaxing and fun to strum a guitar and sing along your favorite songs with your flat mates? I think music is a perfect way to grow a bond with people and develop a friendship, especially when you first move to another place. Moreover, the ability to play an instrument gives you more choices in term of choosing extracurricular activities to do outside of studying. During my bachelor at Amsterdam University College, I knew a lot of friends who did really cool stuff with their musical ability. Some formed bands, some joined the city orchestra, some got to perform at big events of the University, some also traveled around for small gigs, some even gave occasional workshops to other students, and others just annoyed their neighbors at the dorms with loud music when they practiced. Haha I was mostly joking with the last one. In my opinion, a guitar or a ukulele may be an ideal instrument to learn.

In conclusion

So my point with this blog is that studying abroad and living far away from home can be tough and lonely at times, especially when it comes to finding a niche in a new environment. I did go through a period of questioning my happiness and figuring out how to start making Amsterdam my second home. And the last five years have given me the answer: all you need is to open up yourself to people, not be afraid of stepping out your comfort zones, and dare to try new things. Only then, I started making friends, seeing the cool sides of the city, and enjoying my life here. But you guys haven’t started your journey yet, so make wise use of this time before departure to make yourself ready for a cool ride ahead of you. 

I hope this blog helps you in one way or another. For those of you who are new to my studyinholland blog channel, don't forget to check out my other blogs for some more tips and stories of my life in Holland. 

To have a more instant update on what i am up to with my life, you can follow me on instagram chungle92 or subscribe to my recently created youtube channel

That is it for now. Seeee you in my next blog :D 

Posted by Chung Thanh Le at Mar 26, 2017 03:15 PM
Tra says:
Apr 05, 2017 05:26 PM
Hi anh,
I just came to know you through your Youtube channel about AUC. I am an applicant to AUC this Fall too. However, I'm having some problems with the assessment of my high school diploma from AUC admission office. I've sent you a message on Facebook, can you check it out for me? I'd really appreciate that ^^
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