The first three months as a student in the Netherlands
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Together with many other students from Estonia, Kerli started school in the Netherlands this autumn. She chose to study at the Breda University of Applied Science.
We met up with Kerli on a sunny Friday afternoon on the campus of Breda University. Kerli has spent the last three months in Breda and is very happy with her decision to study in the Netherlands. Throughout our conversation, she has a smile on her face and is happy that she can finally have a long conversation in Estonian.
Kerli is studying Tourism Management at the Breda University of Applied Science. Overall there are a lot of international students at the university, but on her course, there are only four. "We have a small group of people in each class, there are about 10 separate classes of tourism students, but there are only 13 students in my own class. At first, it was very unusual, the students spoke Dutch to each other, but now they are used to having international students in the class and we do all of our work in English."
At the university, they study in blocks. This means that they have finals every 5 weeks. When Kerli first came to university, it was very unusual that there was a lot of independent work. Everyone is responsible for their own work, you have to remember all the assignments and deadlines so that everything will be done on time. There are a lot of group projects in our program, which is very unusual for her. If Kerli had known that there are so many group projects and presentations, she probably wouldn’t have gone to the Netherlands. Every new beginning is hard, but now she has gotten used to it. According to Kerli, the group projects are effective and fun, everyone contributes equally.
Kerli was used to eating a warm meal for lunch from the school cafeteria. In the Netherlands, everyone brings their own food in a box. In addition, for the first time ever, she is living completely alone. She needs to find time to do the laundry, washing the dishes, cook. She has a room with a kitchen in the dormitory and she shares the bathroom with another girl.
Kerli said that most of her friends from Estonia have come through recreational activities. Universities always have an introductory week at the beginning of the year, most students find a friend group during the first few weeks. Kerli said that they are very close with everyone in her class and that they do everything together. While attending Kristjan Jaak Peterson Gymnasium in Tartu, there were 36 students in her class, but she didn’t have a close relationship with all of them. Compared to an Estonian school, working with a smaller group is much smoother and easier.
According to Kerli, Breda is a bit like Tartu. There is always something going on, there are different events, parties, etc. When the weather was warmer, there were a lot of music events that took place in the local park. Breda is definitely a university city because all events and companies want to contribute to students' leisure activities.
Some tips for new students starting school in the Netherlands:
If possible, go to the Netherlands at the beginning of the summer and find a place to live. It is better to pay rent a few months in advance and have a decent place to live in the autumn. Kerli also recommends getting a place in a dorm rather than moving into an apartment with a stranger.
Public transport in the Netherlands is quite expensive. Local students travel for free, international students need to pay for public transport. For example, a one-way ticket to Amsterdam costs about 20€. Kerli recommends traveling with a Dutch student because you will be able to get your ticket for 40% cheaper.
Don’t start a part-time job at the beginning of the first school year. Getting used to everything takes some time, and it's nice to focus only on studies because the amount of independent work is quite big.
Life in the Netherlands is more expensive than life in Estonia. For example, Kerli spends 600-700€ per month on her everyday living costs, including a 30-40€ fee for a school, which includes various field trips.
A cinema ticket costs € 9.50 for a student.
Join an ESN student organization. They have a lot of different social events, field trips, etc. At the beginning of the year, you can make a card for yourself and with it, you can attend different events. For example, Kerli went on a trip through the Netherlands with ESN. In addition, they organize pub nights, pancake mornings, board game nights, etc.
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