International students around the world face similar struggles when they arrive in the Netherlands. Located in northwestern Europe, it has an extensive coastline to the North Sea and shares land borders with Germany and Belgium. Amsterdam, its capital, is home to Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the house Jewish diarist Anne Frank hid during WWII. The Netherlands offers excellent transport links to other European countries. Countries that give you the option of travelling and seeing beautiful sights in other popular destinations like France and Germany. International students don’t have it all rosy, here are some challenges Kenyans face while studying in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands was the first non-native English speaking country to offer courses taught in English to international students. It remains an established and revered seat of higher education. The Dutch higher education system is made up primarily of three different types of institution.  These are Research Universities, Universities of Applied Science and Institutes for International Education.  Kenyan students will require an entry study visa into the Netherlands in other to benefit from the vast opportunities that abound for students there. This will allow you entry into the country for at least a six month period. Once in the country, you’ll need to apply for a Residence Permit.

Let’s take a look at the challenges Kenyans face while studying in the Netherlands.

  • Differences in Currencies

The exchange rate between Kenyan and the Netherlands could be frustrating with the difference in economic situations in both countries. This is because the Netherlands is a more developed country than Kenya. A Kenyan student could exchange Kenyan Shillings with Euros rates then, realize such money is not as valuable. This could affect student budgeting and overall convenience.

How to overcome it

As a student, there is actually nothing you can do about the rates. The easiest way to overcome this is to ensure you understand the exchange rate before leaving. When you do, it’ll help you prepare adequate funds for your trip and stay. Another way around it is to diversify your sources of income as a student. You can do this by taking up part-time jobs while in school.

  • Language Barrier

This could pose a challenge for students living within locals. However, a good number of Dutch speak English at the intermediary level. Even though their official language is Dutch, higher institutions in the Netherlands teach in English. You will have no difficulty learning and making contributions during lectures.

 How to overcome it

You can decide to register for Dutch language classes to help you to catch up on conversations with locals. Downloading a language app or a translation app like Google Translate is a step in the right direction. Interacting frequently with locals is also a way to aid your learning. Most importantly, you need to have an interest in learning the Dutch language as the desire to learn is key.

  • Feeling like an Outsider

Most times, changing your environment and trying to adapt to a new environment could pose a challenge. This happens especially if the person has a complex or lacks the required social skills to beat the challenge.

How to overcome it

You are expected to see yourself as a part of the community and get actively involved. Endeavour to mingle with people; locals and internationals alike as much as possible. Feel free to be part of cultural festivals, celebrations, and weekend hangouts. This might not be convenient, but it sure will help you have a home away from home experience. It will give you a sense of belonging and will expose you to the culture and its people.

  • Distance From Support Network

Arriving in the Netherlands could feel like you being alone in an Island especially if you do not have friends or family in the Netherlands. However, this feeling doesn’t need to last for long.

How to overcome it

You can get involved with a religious organization of your choice. This will help balance your support network. You can also choose to be close to your lecturers. They are ever willing to support and advise you on academic matters. Your fellow students can also function as a support group. But, be careful to choose them wisely. It is equally pertinent to keep in touch with your family and friends at home. Social media bridges that gap perfectly so use it.

  • Cultural Differences

This is one of the top challenges Kenyan students face while studying in the Netherlands because cultures differ. Approach to different cultures also differ. This could lead to cultural misunderstandings is you are not open-minded. Adapting to the Dutch culture shouldn’t be difficult given the fun and dynamic nature of their festivals and rites. Once you are open to embracing a new culture and having fun, this won’t be as difficult as you think.

How to overcome it

Read up about the people of the Netherlands as well as Dutch culture. Once a cultural event is approaching, read up and prepare for it. This could give you an advantage in applying your knowledge of the culture in your conversations. This will also make the locals endeared to you. Without a doubt, this will be a good way of being assimilated into the community. Do well to ask questions and observe what others do.

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