One of the most rewarding parts of moving to a new country to study is the wonderful friends you make in the process. Spending the first few weeks getting to know your new environment with new friends is a truly unique experience. International students often find themselves gravitating towards each other. After all, you’re all in the same boat—foreign, unfamiliar with the city and don’t know anyone yet. Befriending Dutch students, however, is an important part of the experience. It may seem difficult to penetrate the invisible barrier separating you from the locals, but it’s not, and the rewards are endless!
Here are 6 tips for befriending Dutch students as an international.
Join a Society
This is probably the easiest and most effective way of making Dutch friends. Student societies are part of all Dutch universities. They range from cultural to social and sometimes even your academic faculty will have a dedicated student society. These groups are most often comprised of Dutch students. Therefore, they are an easy way to integrate into Dutch social circles. (It can also look good on a resume).
Live With Dutch Students
Depending on the city you reside in, it can be surprisingly difficult to live with Dutch students. But it’s not impossible! While the Dutch often want to live with other Dutch students, rooms in Dutch student houses do, every so often, become available to internationals. This is a great opportunity to get to know Dutch culture. The Dutch are social, fun and friendly people once you get to know them.
Take language classes
Even though the Dutch speak English perfectly, it is still nice to communicate with them in their native language. University language courses are often discounted for enrolled students. Thus, it’s also a great opportunity to take advantage of the university's resources. Being able to speak a few sentences and understand sections of a conversation make integrating into Dutch social circles much easier.
Befriending Dutch Classmates
Take the initiative. Make an extra effort to talk to your Dutch peers. Sometimes befriending Dutch students means you have to make the first move. This might mean taking the relationship outside the classroom by suggesting coffee or drinks after class. Organising class drinks at a local bar can also be a nice way of getting a larger group together. There you can discuss topics other than the class material.
Join a Sports Group
Nothing unites a group of people quite like sports. University is a great opportunity to take up a new sport or continue with an old one. Shared hobbies are the perfect way to meet like-minded people; bridging the cultural gap becomes much easier in sports! Sporting societies are a nice blend of playing the game and enjoying additional social events.
Embrace the Culture
Remember not to complain about your new environment. Sure, it can be both disorientating and challenging moving to a new country. However, remaining positive about your new environment is important. It will make people want to be around you more. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone complain about your own country!