As an international student, you keep saying goodbye
Most international students leave after six months or a year, but some stay in Nijmegen for a longer period of time. 'To make sure I would not be alone when everybody left, I decided to make Dutch friends.'
This year’s second orientation week for international students, who come here for this semester, has ended. A week long, they discovered their new home for the upcoming six months, they learned how to ride a bike, and they make new friends. But there are also international students who stay longer: some for a year, some for a full degree. What is it like for them, to have to make new friends all the time?
‘You put a lot of effort in friendships which last for a short time’
Jwalant Yagnik, an Astronomy master student from India, has been living in Nijmegen for 18 months and will stay for at least another year. ‘I love this city, it is so beautiful here’, he says. ‘The only thing that disappointed me a bit, are the prices: everything is more expensive here than in India. And the tuition for non-Europeans is significantly higher.’
However, the quality of education is also much higher, according to Yagnik, just like the mentality. ‘People here are much more open for new ideas. I was very surprised by that. When you have a group discussion in India, everything is very black and white.’
Yagnik is a bit bummed that he has to make new friends every six months. ‘It is the faith of an international. You get to know people, they leave, you have to make new friends, and it continues like that’, he says. ‘You put a lot of effort in friendships which last for a short time. Some of my friends clearly find this hard too. But it is something you should not dwell on too much.’
Luckily, it is not too hard to find new contacts, when the old ones leave. ‘Everybody wants to make friends, so people are very open to it. By becoming a mentor, for example, it is easy to get to know a big group of students.’
Yagnik now writes for Vox, and he is active in his study association, Marie Curie. ‘That is my main tip for new international students: become a member somewhere. I have always felt welcome. Everything is possible at university. You shouldn’t think that something can’t be done because you are an international.’
German student Oliver Stange (master student Molecular life sciences) will stay in Nijmegen for another 18 months. ‘I have lived abroad before, so it is not the first time that I have to make new friends. It is a pity though, when people return home. This time, I stay with one international friend, the rest is leaving.’
To make sure he would not be left behind, Stange decided to make Dutch friends at his master programme. That has multiple benefits, according to him. ‘It is easier to get in touch with Dutch culture, and you can learn the language. That was important to me when I moved here.’
Stange says that especially at sports clubs, it is easy to find Dutch people. ‘A friend of mine has made a lot of friends at his rugby club, in his team.’ Internationals also find each other. ‘Nijmegen is big enough to get to know a lot of new people, but also small enough to keep running into each other. Once you know one international students, more follow quickly. The parties for international students help a lot with that.’