FEMKE (1st year)
“I am a first year International Studies student, my region of choice is the Middle East, and I chose Arabic as my language. I do have to say that it has been challenging. Especially because I don’t know anyone from my studies. International Studies seemed amazing because of the people on campus: everyone has different backgrounds and you are able to meet so many people with diverse experiences and opinions. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to experience this. I haven’t been able to visit the campus at all, I don’t even know what the lecture hall looks like. The University does try to bring new students in contact with each other, using things like online guest lectures and Discord. The problem is that after a full day of sitting in front of my laptop, I don’t want to stare at my screen even longer to chat with other students online. The online environment completely eradicates the social aspect of studying. I am therefore very grateful to be living in my hometown. If I were in The Hague right now, I would not know anyone and I would probably feel very alone. Right now I am able to see my friends often, despite COVID.
I do think that Dutch people are not as strict with their COVID regulations. This is because, before COVID, I was an au pair in New Zealand. I absolutely loved the country and had an incredible time. Once COVID hit, we went into lockdown, and the rules were much stricter than in The Netherlands. But surprisingly, everyone complied. There were no protests or riots against the measures. Once I came back to the Netherlands, we realized that the people here did not take the government as seriously as the people in New Zealand did. I understand now that you are influenced by the people around you; back in New Zealand I would never break the rules, but now that I’ve been back in the Netherlands for a while I sometimes invite an extra person over, or I might not keep 1,5 meter distance with my friends. I do hope it doesn’t stay like this forever. I am looking forward to maybe going on exchange in the third year, who knows, I might be able to go back to Australia and New Zealand."
(Femke, 1st year, The Netherlands)