Exchange Opportunity in the Netherlands
Shlomo Trilesnik is a student at the HSE Moscow campus majoring in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Currently, Shlomo is studying and living in the Netherlands. We had a conversation with him to see how he is getting out of his comfort zone to adapt to a new environment.
Hi! My name is Shlomo. I am a 3rd year student of Logistics and Supply Chain Management Program at HSE. From the first days in HSE I knew that I wanted to have an exchange semester abroad. What I did not know was that I would end up studying in the Netherlands. Before the draft for the exchange programmes started, I was looking more towards Germany or Austria. However, after careful consideration and many sleepless nights I decided to go to the Netherlands. There are 2 main reasons for that: the university of Groningen - I had my exchange there - is located in a city of Groningen that is famous for its lively student life, as well as excellent quality of education, and secondly, as I had my exchange during COVID-19, the university still held the majority of classes on campus. These facts tipped the scales in favour of studying in the Netherlands.
I would say that the Netherlands are quite special compared to other non-English speaking countries, as most students won’t face language barriers when communicating on- and off-campus. Almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks fluent English. This is perfect for travelling around the Netherlands and meeting new people. Although, I have to warn you that while Dutch people are open and direct, making friendships will be harder, compared to with other exchange students. Luckily, there are people all-around the world studying in the Netherlands.
If you want to make dutch friends, I would advise you to join a study or sports association. Personally, I am a member of Squadraat - squash association. Besides organising weekly trainings for players of different levels, Squadraat holds monthly socials - pub-quizzes, parties, weekend trips and other activities. Those are great fun and a good way to build friendships. Other associations do the same for their members. There is an association for everyone!
Personally, the truly special thing for me about the Netherlands is its bike culture. You can get anywhere by bike and - compared with Moscow commute times - almost instantly. My bike was my best friend in exploring and living in the city.
The biggest challenge an exchange student can face in the Netherlands is related to housing. Groningen university does not provide on-campus accommodation. Every year more students come to study in Groningen and, unfortunately, there are not enough rooms for everyone. Therefore, it is crucial to secure accommodation for the duration of your stay well in advance. Otherwise, you might find yourself living in emergency housing or in a tent camp with other homeless students.
I studied in English. There was no need for Dutch at any point in and outside the classroom. Living in a dormitory, I also picked up a bit of Ukrainian, German and Icelandic from my friends. The university provides free Dutch language courses for students - that’s a great opportunity to learn a new language. However, since everyone is fluent in English it would be quite hard for you to casually practise it. My advice - join a student association. There you would have plenty of opportunities to practise Dutch.
- Read the course manual. It contains answers to most of your questions.
- Read the textbook. In the university of Groningen, most of the time it is expected from you to know the text-book material as well as the lecture contents. Otherwise, it might be very hard for you to pass exams.
- Join a study group. It can be difficult to adapt to the new learning environment. In a study group you will find like-minded people that would help you with studying and living in the Netherlands.
- Be prepared for self-studying. Most of the studying is done outside the classroom.
- Don’t forget to have fun! An exchange semester is a unique experience to meet new people and broaden your horizons!
I wish everyone going to an exchange abroad to have a wonderful time! If you are going to study in the Netherlands, feel free to write to me with your questions. Hopefully, I will be able to answer them. Good luck!