Cultural surprises

Studying in Utrecht will provide you with many new experiences. But it isn’t always easy to be away from home. Don’t be surprised if you struggle with:


  • being far away from your family and friends
  • the social and academic use of English
  • unfamiliar styles of learning and teaching
  • different social behaviours and values – experiencing a new culture
  • living alone and sharing a house
  • the difference in climate – coping with cold and sometimes rainy weather
  • differences in transportation – riding your own bike
  • the Dutch food

Keep in mind that these feelings are normal, and when you talk to other international students or Dutch students who have spent some time abroad, you will find that they experience(d) the same things. In adjusting to a new culture – even if this culture is not so different from your own – you go through several phases. From the ‘honeymoon phase’ where everything is new and wonderful, through a ‘negotiation phase’ where you start to notice how things differ from what you are used to at home, which can be frustrating, through an adjustment phase where you come to terms with these differences and develop new habits and routines, to finally a ‘mastery phase’ where you feel comfortable in the new culture.

People experience these feelings in a variety of degrees. If these feelings are interfering with your ability to study, please don’t hesitate to ask for help from a friend or a study advisor.
And remember that most students return with greater self-confidence and the ability to manage in an intercultural environment!