A couple years ago, if anyone had told me that I would end up living in the Netherlands I would have probably not believed them at all. Back then, I was not familiar with the Dutch culture, or even the country. I had only visited it once with my family for a few days, but I was no more than 9 years old. So how did I end up here?
That is an easy answer, when I heard that the NHTV was offering a theme park related program it was a no brainer. Yes, I did not know anything about living abroad, even less about the Dutch language. But the idea of studying abroad, especially something related to the field I love, was too attractive to pass up. This is why I enrolled in the international orientation day offered by the NHTV, the school paid for a nice hotel and showed us around. This is when I finally decided that this was the place to learn more about the Theme park industry!
Daunting, that is the word that comes to my mind when I think about the time I made the choice to come. But once I was here, and I managed to get a nice apartment via a Dutch housing company; I realized that even if you do not know Dutch you can still work your way around; and I found out that Dutch people are quite friendly and welcoming. My time here was off to a good start.
Let’s talk people, my first impression of Dutch people was that of creative, open-minded people that are full of energy. They are tall (may seem a stereotype, but it is true), and speak an interesting language that feels as if they combined all the languages of this world. Once you get to know them a bit more, aside from what I already mentioned, you also learn that they are friendly and love to have fun, but can also be serious and professional once the time for it comes. However, and depending on your background, it may take some getting used to their way of working. Nothing bad, just different, and once I embraced it, I found myself in a nice working environment!
Making friends: remember that the NHTV is an international school, thus, I not only met Dutch students, but I also had the chance of making some great international friends. This makes the experience of studying over here in Breda so much better and interesting. I have shared many cooking night with German and Greek students, where I cooked typical Spanish meals while they did the same with theirs!
Going out: Breda is an awesome city with great nightlife! Every kind of club, every kind of style you may enjoy. Although, I am not especially a nightlife person, I always enjoy a nice drink with friends, and Breda has plenty to offer! Dutch people know how to have fun! Going out for dinner is also a great experience over here, from all-you-can-eat to fine dining, you got it.
Getting around: Breda is not only great for going out, but it is an easy city to live in. The day I got here I bought a bike, best purchase ever. Over here most of the places are reachable by bike, which makes life really easy, getting to school takes me only 10 minutes by bike, ideal for those days you do not feel like getting up too early. And there is always somewhere to park your bike!
Travelling around is also a great activity over here. I live 10 minutes from the Breda train station. From this station you can reach every place in the Netherlands which makes for a great weekend plan if you want to explore the surrounding areas! It is so convenient that I once took a train to Brussels for a weekend trip and plan to visit more places this way. You can also get to Germany or France easily by train.
My only regret is not having learnt Dutch, I feel like I should have done it in the first place. It always makes it easier to find a job or to just feel more part of the local community. However, I can still communicate with everyone, as the level of English in the Netherlands is one of the best I have seen outside English speaking countries.
In conclusion, living in the Netherlands can be a bit challenging at the start, but the friendliness of people, the similarity of the Dutch culture to my own and the great offer of Breda as a city soon turned that challenge into a fun and an awesome experience. Could not be happier of having chosen The Netherlands as the place to study abroad. Especially to study ATPM in the NHTV, but that is another topic that I may have to talk about in a new blog entry! Studying ATPM in the NHTV as an international student!
By Inaki Laucirika Del Valle