Start studying the Dutch way

Critical is clever, not nasty

In the Netherlands, like in many Anglo-Saxon countries, it is common that students are expected to think critically, present reasoned arguments, evaluate other people’s arguments and to interact with teachers and fellow students. At times you may even disagree with your lecturer or tutor!

Reproducing knowledge is often not sufficient or recommended

Do you come from a culture that emphasizes acquiring and reproducing knowledge?
If so, you may need to give yourself time to get used to the more interactive approach in the Netherlands and to develop new skills. It can be a good idea to let people at home know that the approach here is different and that your grades may initially be lower.

Asking questions is praised

“There is no such thing as a dumb question” is a saying often used in the Netherlands. It is always important to determine if you understand the study material yourself. If you don’t understand something, ask for an example to illustrate the study material or for a more detailed explanation.

Learn from each other, not only from your lecturer or tutor

Discuss examples from your culture and your point of view. This might be very interesting to your fellow classmates, and you can learn from each other, not only from the lecturer or tutor.

5 Tips to help you succeed

  1. Allow yourself time to adjust to Dutch culture. Be easy on yourself, and at the same time keep active by sharing your thoughts in social networks. You may well make friends sharing the same experience.
  2. Keep on top of your study.
    Do not fall behind. Stay involved. The more involved you feel in your new environment, the faster you will settle into the Dutch way.
  3. Stay in contact with friends and family at home.
    Regular, but not excessive, contact with home can help a lot, especially in the beginning.
  4. Make sure you do not isolate yourself.
    You can call in at the ISN Common Room Mon-Fri between 15.00 hrs and 19.00 hrs to chat with other international students in a relaxed atmosphere.
  5. Seek help and support when needed.
    If you are having difficulty settling in, the Student Counseling Service has trained counselors you can talk to.

Last Modified: 01-02-2010