Foto: Hal Shin
international

‘It was a shock to find out I would live in Diemen, not Amsterdam’

Carlijn Schepers,
25 augustus 2017 - 09:54

This week more international students than ever arrived in Amsterdam to study at the UvA. Folia spoke with three of them about their first few days here. ‘It’s not as common for Dutch students to smoke weed as I thought.’

Hal Shin

Hal Shin (22), studies Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Canada

What is the most fun thing you’ve done so far?
‘Getting my bicycle. My first ride had everything I expected after studying the Dutch culture: I saw beautiful canals, trees and buildings, I got lost a lot and people screamed at me angrily.’

And the scariest?
‘Your intersections without traffic lights. Why aren’t there more accidents? And also: not wearing a helmet.’

What has surprised you?
‘It was a bit of a shock to find out I would live in Diemen, not Amsterdam. But when I arrived my worries disappeared. Especially when I smelled the freshly mowed grass, that made me think of home where I worked as a landscaper.’

What have you found the most difficult?
‘To remember where I parked my bike. I always try to take a mental picture. But it’s black so it blends in easily with all the other ones.’

And the most rewarding?
‘To buy stuff from Ikea to help me feel comfortable in my new room. Because that’s the hardest thing when studying abroad: making yourself feel at home.’

Cinthya Hernández

Cinthya Hernández (21), studies Psychology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City

What is the most fun thing you’ve done so far?
‘The welcome party in my student flat at the Prins Hendrikkade. I met so many amazing people from all over the world and heard a lot of interesting stories.’

And the scariest?
‘I worked in the U.S., so my English was pretty fluent, but then I lived in Mexico for a year so I have to get used to the language again. Especially with all the different accents here.’

What has surprised you?
‘The enormous amount of bicycles everywhere.’

What have you found the most difficult?
‘To miss my friends and my favourite Mexican dish: pozole – soup with meat and vegetables.’

And the most rewarding?
‘The fact that I’m here, studying in another country. Not many people in Mexico get that opportunity.’

Benjamin Dunn

Benjamin Dunn (20), studies Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Canada

What is the most fun thing you’ve done so far?
‘A canal cruise, as part of the introduction week. Everyone was drinking and playing beer pong, but I just sat down and talked with some other international students. We compared cultures, lifestyles and learned a lot from each other.’

And the scariest?
‘Not knowing what my seventeen flat mates in the Weesperflat were going to be like. What if they wanted to party all the time and I would never get any sleep? But I immediately felt comfortable. The scariest thing now is having to share three mini fridges with all of them.’

What has surprised you?
‘It struck me that it’s not as common for Dutch students to smoke weed as I thought it was, it’s more tourists and international students that do it.’

What have you found the most difficult?
‘To make the most of the introduction week and at the same time spend enough time with my mom and sister who were here for four days. Pretty hectic, but worth it.’

And the most rewarding?
‘I don’t feel the pressure to act like some cool guy. I’m being accepted for who I am.’