The Dutch Experience: A Student’s Journey in the Netherlands

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Picture this: strolling alongside serene Dutch canals, the gentle sun reflecting off the water’s surface, surrounded by bursts of purple and yellow blooms. A traditional windmill dots the horizon and the air hints of sweetness. This idyllic scene might distract you from having just landed after a long flight, lugging two suitcases, and trying to navigate with an unreliable phone signal.

This was my in Journey in the Netherlands, where I embarked on an incredible journey as an international student. As a Vietnamese student on exchange, I was eager to immerse myself in a new educational system, culture, and lifestyle.

The adventure began long before my flight. It started when I chose to spend a semester at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU Eindhoven), driven by my passion for aerospace engineering. Selecting the right university involves careful consideration. Due to a summer project commitment in Germany, I had constraints, necessitating proximity for monthly training sessions.

Europe was the logical choice. After consulting with my university’s exchange advisor and evaluating my options, I narrowed it down to TU Eindhoven. It met my criteria:

  • Located in mainland Europe for easy travel.
  • Offered courses in English.
  • Boasted a strong aerospace program.

Thankfully, TU Eindhoven facilitated the visa process. My only tasks were securing accommodation through the Dutch housing portal and demonstrating financial sufficiency to the university, a sum that would be reimbursed upon my arrival. After that, it was just a matter of navigating the charming yet confusing Dutch streets to reach my new home.

Upon moving into my apartment, I was warmly welcomed by diverse housemates from across the globe. Living in a mixed-gender setting, a European norm different from my home experience, was an eye-opener.

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Adjusting to a New Academic World In My Journey in the Netherland

The Dutch educational system posed the most significant challenge. Unlike the frequent homework and multiple mid-terms I was accustomed to, TU Eindhoven focused on a single, all-encompassing final exam. This approach was liberating yet daunting; I had never experienced such a high-stakes testing environment.

My initial academic venture could have been smoother, including failing an exam due to unmet prerequisites. However, this experience taught me resilience and a more forgiving perspective on failure, contrasting starkly with the academic culture back home.

This unique academic schedule afforded me an unprecedented amount of free time. I embraced this, exploring the local culture with friends through bike rides, enjoying budget-friendly drinks at student bars, and frequenting the lively town centre’s farmer’s markets.

I learned the power of saying “yes” – whether it was a spontaneous trip to the beach, a weekend getaway to Belgium, coffee with a new friend, or late-night conversations with my roommates. This exchange experience taught me to slow down and savour life’s moments.

A Journey of Self-Discovery and Connection

Studying abroad was more than an academic pursuit; it was a journey of self-discovery. I gained a newfound sense of independence, navigating life thousands of miles away from familiar comforts. Simultaneously, I developed a sense of interdependence, realizing the interconnectedness of our world.

I forged international friendships, travelled extensively, and even enjoyed a memorable road trip through Ireland with my flatmates. This adventure reshaped my view of my culture and allowed me to integrate aspects of Dutch culture into my life.

Reflecting on my semester in the Netherlands, it is one of my life’s most transformative and enriching experiences.

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