'Why does everyone cycle here when the weather is bad?'

From 16 to 21 November, universities of applied sciences across the country have organized events for The Week of the International Student. This week did not go unnoticed at Inholland either. Every day Nuffic (Dutch organization for internationalization in education), Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the Inholland Studentsuccess Center organized events related to internationalization.

On Thursday 19th of November Francesca Ballini, student of International Communication & Sustainability, gave a workshop in collaboration with the Studentsuccess Center “How to survive the Netherlands?” Francesca fell from one surprise into the other during her first week of college, but soon decided to turn her surprise into wonder and share it with other international students.

Culture shock
“Why does everyone cycle here when the weather is bad?” the Italian Francesca wondered in her first week of college. “Why doesn't anyone make up an excuse when you don't feel like going to that birthday party? Everyone just says they don't feel like going!” In her workshop, Francesca presents handy theories about the culture shock in a new foreign country and normalizes the loneliness that you can experience with the help of humorous examples.

International students may experience a physical reaction when the routines and relationships they had in their home countries break down. “It is therefore good to keep in touch with other international students to talk about your experiences, even after the experience abroad,” says Francesca. “That's why I always provide my contact details.” Other activities of the Studentsuccess Center can also play a role in keeping in touch with fellow students.

Student Tourism Management Krystal Wu from Diemen participated in the workshop and experiences many positive aspects of the cultural differences. “The Dutch are so down to earth,” she says. “In China, where I come from, people can sometimes be concerned with your appearance or the salary of your partner.” Francesca calls this “just do normal, then you are crazy enough,” although that is something that none of the participants feels called upon to do.

The Studentsuccess Center in Haarlem is open Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in I0-23 and 24 hours a day via Sharepoint or by mail: ssc.haarlem@inholland.nl. The workshop ‘How to survive the Netherlands?’ can be viewed here.

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