This article comprises the experience of a student who shares her experience of studying in The Netherlands. She shares what she has learned in the short span of time that she spent in the Netherlands. She mainly shares her experience of how she learned to manage everything on her own.
I am Sara David Thottappilly. I have shared my academic journey with you through this article. I decided that I wanted to study in the Netherlands at the University of Tilburg after working as an assistant professor for two years in India.
My origin is Kochi. I completed my Bachelor in English Literature at St Xaviers College which is situated in Mumbai. I moved on to study MA in English Language and Literature/Letters after my undergraduate course at English and Foreign Languages University located in Hyderabad.
At Sacred Hearts College in Ernakulam, Kerala, I worked as an assistant professor. I worked as a pedagogy expert before that for Venture Village. I felt the need to study further after three years of work experience. Thus, I decided to apply for another Master’s degree. However, this time, I wished to explore the life and culture of a foreign country.
For my Master’s, I chose the Netherlands. The great things that I have heard about the country have prompted me to choose the location. My College in the Netherlands is known for its social and behavioural sciences. It is also famous for its humanities programs.
My degree is a Master\’s in Communication and Information Sciences. This course here is termed as a Masters in Science instead of Masters in Arts.
Once I decided on my destination of study, I had to figure out the application procedure. You have to register on a site called OSIRIS in order to apply to colleges in the Netherlands. OSIRIS is an information system that records the database of the student who is applying.
A student is allowed to apply to three courses or universities at a time. The student can then choose the college they want. I sent a Statement of Purpose to my college along with my curriculum vitae. I also sent the other regular documents that are required.
I applied for an education loan to finance my course. I applied for this loan from a government-run bank. However, it was quite a difficult task to get approval. A lot of paperwork was to be done which was required. The most difficult task was that we had to run from pillar to post with the documents. I took a loan against collateral. This collateral was provided to me by my father.
Issues on Accommodation
My experience regarding accommodation has been a mix of emotions. Classes are good and the university is great. However, there is a residential crisis in the Netherlands. This caused me a great deal of trouble.
The university did not mention any disclaimer about accommodation issues. Moreover, the university stated that they were not accountable for the accommodation. I had to stay with an acquaintance for a couple of weeks after which I found my own place. This process was in itself a hassle.
My residence is currently a shared independent house. However, my residence is 11 km away from my university. I pay a rent of Euro 900 per month.
Education in the Netherlands
However, Education is different in the Netherlands. The first criterion is that they do not spoon-feed you. As I have been a professor myself in a university and I have taught university students, I know how much students depend on their professors. However, in the Netherlands, you have to do your own research and above all, you have to be thorough with it.
You have to be well-prepared in advance for every class. Only if you are well-prepared, you would be able to understand what is happening. The education system in the Netherlands tests your knowledge with application-based questions. They do not test theoretical knowledge. Also, the exams and assessments are application-based.
It is an independent society in terms of culture. People tend to do everything on their own. However, in India, labour is quite cheap. Thus, we get a lot of things such as household chores. This is done by domestic helpers.
However, in the Netherlands, one has to learn to manage everything on their own. This is a very good aspect as it teaches you to become self-sufficient. This was, however, a little difficult at the beginning. However, once you learn and achieve it, it is liberating. People here are straightforward. The Netherlands is not composed of people who are rude. However, they say what they want to in a frank manner.
Food and Weather
The weather is colder in the Netherlands than what we are used to in India. I dearly miss home and its warmth. India is the land of spices. Thus, the food here feels to be quite bland. I usually cook by myself as I don’t like the food outside.
The study-abroad choices of many students were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, my plans were not deterred by such circumstances. For some time, I was inclined towards the Netherlands. Most of my motivation came from the idea to reside here as a student.
Since I shifted here, I have been quite busy. I had to find a house and manage things along the way. Fortunately, things have been finally falling into place. Thus, everything is going well. I am working as a part-time employee in a warehouse in order to cover my expenses.
My advice to the students who want to apply abroad is that they must be very sure and make wise choices. Such choices are not just pretty landscapes and solo travelling like the ones shown in movies. You will have to manage almost everything on your own. This will seem to be difficult at first. However, this experience will make you an independent person.
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