A survey of 300 students by national student organisations found that foreign students often feel depressed and left out in the Netherlands.
By Matthijs van Houten and Traci White / Translation by Traci White
In the Annual International Student Survey, out of 300 students who were surveyed, one in three students reported feelings of depression while studying in the Netherlands. Three other main issues were identified by the survey, all of which contribute to a sense of exclusion: housing, insufficient interaction with Dutch students and a lack of English translations for important information. The results of survey, which was carried out by national student interest organisations ISO, LSVb and ESN, were reported on by Dutch national broadcaster NOS.
The language barrier cannot be underestimated: many students reported difficulty in finding places where they can learn Dutch, and having opportunities to practice it is also a problem. Student housing often reinforces the separation of Dutch and non-Dutch students, since the foreign students are placed in housing exclusive for internationals. Events like drinks catering to international students may seem like a helpful gesture, but it can also contribute to further limiting their social circles to non-Dutch students.
If you are currently a student at one of the academic institutions in Groningen, Leeuwarden or Emmen, or elsewhere in the north, what have your experiences been? Have you struggled to make social contact with your Dutch classmates? What do you think the Netherlands could do better to make foreign students feel less isolated? What do you wish that Dutch people knew about what it’s like to be an international student in this country, especially in the north? Let us know in the comments.