International students in Groningen and other Dutch student cities report suffering from more stress than Dutch students, according to research by several Dutch national student organisations.
Translation by Hans de Preter
In an annual survey, forty percent of international students report experiencing “moderate to extreme psychological problems during their stay in the Netherlands”. DutchNews.nl reports that three in four out of the 1,002 students who responded to the survey reported being frustrated by the lack of contact they have with their Dutch classmates, stress due to searching for housing and limited opportunities to learn Dutch.
Lies Korevaar, a student counselor at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, told the Dagblad van het Noorden that he is not surprised by the results. Korevaar says that foreign students are extra vulnerable for a variety of unique reasons.
“They are often under great pressure to perform. They are often the only ones in the family who are allowed to study, and then you do not want to say that it is actually not going well. But they are also often lonely, because they have trouble making contact with Dutch students,” Korevaar says.
Korevaar, who has been is one of three nominees for the national Lecturer of the Year 2019, provides guidance for students with mental disorders and stress. He was nominated due in part to developing a method to ensure that students with psychiatric disorders remain in the classrooms.
According to Korevaar, one of the most important tips he can give is that students should keep talking and be open about their feelings. “What helps is to talk about it with others. I recommend foreign students – just like Dutch ones – to seek help. That is why we also have an Alliance group here at Hanze University.
“Talk about it!”‘
According to Korevaar, it seems easier nowadays for Dutch students to talk about their problems than foreign ones, because in some countries of origin, there is still a taboo on having psychological problems. “That is why it is important to help these students to be open about how they feel,” said Korevaar.
Korevaar also believes that the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the University of Groningen should do everything in their power to bring foreign and Dutch students into closer contact with each other, such as assigning foreign students to group projects with Dutch people, encouraging them to join sports clubs with Dutch people or provide guidance in finding a part-time job.