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Chinese students at the UvA: ‘Do I hang out with Dutch people? Not really’

Sanne Mariani,
20 november 2019 - 10:06

Folia magazine is following four Chinese students at the UvA during their first year. Today: making Dutch friends.

Foto: Yigong Zhang

Yigong Zhang (23, master Film Preservation)
‘Is there a Chinese ‘bubble’? Of course! Chinese people always live in a bubble. When I was studying in Boston, there was a huge group of Asian-Americans who only interacted with each other. But ultimately we all do this, don’t we? Stick to our own? In Amsterdam it’s the same: Dutch students only hang out with other Dutch. I think this segregation means I’m missing a part of Dutch culture which is a shame. When I went to the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision, for instance, all the information was in Dutch, and it’s a shame I don’t have a native companion to help explain things. But I’m not lonely. I always have something to do: reading, traveling, watching movies. And how many really good friends does one have in the end? Three, four?’

‘At parties, Chinese people will always wait for someone to come and talk to them’

Zhihui Shuang (22, premaster Business Administration) 
‘Outside of class I’m mostly with Chinese people. I made two very good friends. One lives next to me, the other is a fellow student. I’ve also met other Chinese students through WeChat with whom I took a trip to Paris. That I only have Chinese friends is partly because my class consists almost entirely of Chinese students. And yes, it might be harder to learn about Dutch culture if you only have Chinese friends, but that’s not reason enough to befriend Dutch people. I prefer to hang out with people I have a personal connection with.’

Pei Wang

Pei Wang (22, premaster Business Administration) 
‘I met a Dutch guy through the gay-app Jack’D: he was the first person I met here and he showed me the city. Gay-apps like Jack’D also exist in China, but the LGBT community is much smaller there. However, I have to say that even here I’ve noticed it’s not always a given that people accept homosexuality. Whether the Dutch are my type? I couldn’t say, because I don't know what a typical Dutchman looks like. I don’t have to talk to other Chinese students every day, but I don’t deliberately avoid them either. It’s important to maintain my Chinese network in case I’m unable to find work here in the Netherlands.’


Zhu Yi (22, bachelor Business & Economics) 
‘Most of my friends are Chinese. It’s simply easier to talk Mandarin and therefore we tend to stay together. We also share a similar sense of humour, which is maybe harder to understand for foreigners. But also I think the reason Chinese people stay in groups is because we are generally pretty shy. For instance at parties Chinese people will always wait for someone to come and talk to them.’