The number of foreign students has increased in the Netherlands. As more international graduates are now choosing the country below the sea level either as an exchange student or a full time student, their home experiences in education follow them into Dutch universities. Against the backdrop of a national debate on their role in higher education, de Ruis wanted to know what students themselves think about studying abroad. We asked exchange students to compare their experiences at NHL-Stenden with university life in their home countries. Nadja Nordström from Sweden collected their stories.

By Nadja Nordström

The story behind this series began after my first weeks living in Leeuwarden as an exchange student. I discussed with my classmates about the differences we had experienced so far when it came to comparing NHL Stenden to what we were used to back home with our schools. The differences were sometimes similar to each other, but not in every case. Some stories that I heard felt even more distant and further away. Listening to others telling their stories about differences further nourished a feeling, which became the main reason for this series: curiosity.

Me in the inspiratietuin.

This series shows these differences as seen by those who have come to Leeuwarden either for a short period or for a longer time. The differences can be everything from the way of grading students to the way the theoretical separates from the practical and what the so-called academic quarter really means.

This series will be published weekly. During these upcoming weeks you will get the opportunity to read about the differences that students have experienced. Students from China to Turkey to Sweden to The Netherlands and many other countries have contributed.

In addition, I have also included some contributions from Dutch students in my class who have first studied at another Dutch university before coming to NHL Stenden. Their stories show that differences exist within a country as well. The graduates have all different backgrounds and their major differs from each other. Some of them are within the Communication field and the Journalism field or in other fields.

The contributors were given a free hand to write about any comparisons that they wanted to write about, as long as they compared education at home with NHL Stenden. The idea was to let them tell their own stories and their experiences when they were comparing.

In the end, rather than to hear briefly about them as numbers, this series invites you as a reader to explore the cultures and ideas that have come with these students.

My story of Sundsvall in Sweden is going to form the last episode of the series. First, we will present the episode by Anna Kim on Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea.


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