Hrtika Sanjeev is a second-year student from India in the English bachelor at Hotel Management School Maastricht. She chose to study at the HMSM because she loved the internship opportunities and exchange programs offered around the world! She shares her experience of living abroad in the Netherlands and how she adapted to a new culture.
“When I first arrived in the Netherlands I was completely lost. I was not used to public transport at all, as it is not very safe to use in India. I didn’t know how the trains worked in the Netherlands, so when I used one, I didn’t know I had to press a button to open the doors and I thought there was a malfunction as they weren’t opening automatically. Living on my own abroad for the first time and shopping for myself was also something I was not used to doing, so it was really cool to experience all of these things on my own!
One of the few cultural shocks I experienced was that Dutch people are really open and friendly, living on campus showed me that a lot. It threw me off at first as I didn’t expect them to be so accepting. Back home there is the impression that Dutch people are cold and less open to foreigners, but everyone I have met here has been super nice and friendly towards me. When a Dutch student would see me, they always immediately established a connection with me and asked me how I was doing. It took me aback a bit as it not something we do in our culture. This was a thing that took some time getting used to, but left a positive impact on me and has grown on me very much!
Another thing that was quite surprising to see is the relationships students have with the teachers at the HMSM. Students establish good connections with them during their time at hotel school and have a drink or coffee with their study coach in an informal way, which is nice to see. Back in India it would be totally different and not very common, it could be seen as preferential treatment or crossing a boundary!
Overall, I’ve learned a lot of the Dutch culture living in the Netherlands, and despite the culture shock I have learned to embrace it now and I even eat toasties frequently!
Wondering what's it like to live in Maastricht? Jean Maroun wrote a blog about his experience as an international student from Lebanon.
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