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“I never felt excluded”

International Classroom at UM

“I never experienced difficulties making friends of all nationalities here. I think the university is a really international environment”, says Zhen Wang, a Chinese master’s student in Econometrics and Operations Management, thus rejecting the claim that students who are neither Dutch nor German fall between the cracks of the different groups. “In my class 45 per cent of the students are Dutch, 45 per cent German and the rest from elsewhere, but nobody really sticks with their fellow compatriots. I never felt excluded. Of course they sometimes fall back on their own language, but that’s understandable. I don’t mind; I understand a bit of Dutch as part of my family lives here.”

That most of the student activities are aimed at Dutch students (e.g. fraternities) is something he doesn’t mind either. “I have more than enough to do. I also work for the university, so I need to organise things and go on business trips. I came here to study, to learn a profession.” He thinks that goes for a lot of international students. “The Chinese students in particular find their studies hard in the beginning. The system here is very different from that in China. In China you don’t need to prepare anything for class. You just go and listen to what the professor has to say. Students who come to the Netherlands need time to adjust. Usually they get more confident after passing their first exams. I think most of them are willing to learn about Dutch culture and the language, but they just don’t have the time.”

Although he is positive overall about internationalisation at UM, Wang thinks there still are some improvements to make. “I would like workshops about business to be truly international, with speakers who have experience in business all around the world. How business is done differs from country to country. For instance in the Netherlands everything is much more organised; in China people are more flexible.” The same goes for recruitment events, says Wang. “Most presentations at these kinds of things are in Dutch or in German, given by Dutch or German companies. That’s not really international.”


Cleo Freriks



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