10 Things You Should Know about Studying in the Netherlands

1. Technical equipment

Dutch education institutions have everything you ever dreamt about in terms of equipment. They have the most modern technical equipment, and they’re not afraid to use. For example, if you need a high definition-camera, there is one. Feel free to ask for whatever you need for your projects/trips/everything school related. If you need it, you get it.

2. Working mentality

They prefer the group work, mostly in small groups 2-8 people. There is no fixed structure of how to work in a project. They focus on the result. They are checking the progress in a weekly meeting. Its your responsibility to accomplish your part of the project.

3. Working hours

In the Netherlands everybody is always on time in the morning and not going home earlier than its allowed. From this perspective they are similar to the Germans, although they don’t like to admit it!

4. Flexibility

Although they can accept a lot of things, they tend to stick to their own rules. As you can see with the working hours, they don’t tolerate the lack of punctuality. Of course, if you have something to do they’ll accept it, but you have to discuss about it first and it has to be an exception rather than a rule. My personal experience, they understood me having to work on Thursdays and Fridays, because they acknowledged that I’m an international student, and I might have financial difficulties and thus need to work.

5. Language

That aspect is really easy and comfortable… everybody speaks English and at quite a very good level.

6. Study groups

Dutch education emphasizes alternative study groups. Small groups of 2 to 5 students work together for a project or assignment. In my opinion, this system is really effective, as it helps retain information and knowledge better and it helps improve you communication and cooperation skills. When talking to one of my teachers there, and telling him that at home I am part of a classroom with 30-40 other student, and the teacher is trying to teach all of us, he sad: Interesting. I’ve studied in the same system 30 years ago…

So they simply think things through, and don’t just comply with traditions for the sake of it. They are innovative in their approach of education, study and research.

7. Grades

As mentioned above, I was in a project group with 2 other students. We’ve got a grade on a 1 to 10 scale. I don’t even remember my result, but I knew I cant fail. The simple truth is that you cant if they see your working attitude and effort. If they see you’re trying to do your best, they’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel good about yourself and your achievements.

8. The atmosphere of everyday life

Our department was really small but very well equipped. So we had a unique opportunity to meet with the latest technology from first hand. Our group was composed of 7 students (5 Dutch, 1 Mexican and 1 Hungarian) and 4 teachers (3 Dutch and 1 Fries). We respected each other and tried to learn as much as we could from each other. We had a sheet with the word of the day and every day somebody found out a word, translated it into al ours languages, and tried to learn the funny sound of foreign words. Of course because of the differences, we also had some issues like the language, studying system, etc. But we always discussed it through, and they understood that I grew up in a different system, and they accepted and respected it.

9. Opportunities

The school and the studying departments have really good connections and relations with many companies. Because the students are using the latest technology the companies also like to be touch with them. Sometimes they have common projects for Bachelor or Master Thesis or just incorporated in certain courses, which is beneficial for both sides and increases the chances of employment of the student in that certain company.

10. Open mindedness

They’re constantly looking for new ideas, and as a foreigner they regarded my different thinking stile as a special gift. You can find a whole new way to accomplish your goals and they’ll be very happy even if this way is totally different than they expected.