Breaking the Ice 29 May 2014

Breaking the Ice

Joanna Mordal, Kriti Toshniwal & Fatima Zahra El Hammami

“An average Dutch student wears a suit…

and has those aerodynamic haircuts with lots of gel in it.”

10% of the current student population at Tilburg University is international. As the university’s internationalization efforts gain ground, each year a growing number of students from all over the globe make their way to the Netherlands to pursue their higher education amidst the Brabant landscape. Some of them arrive with certain expectations about the Dutch culture, while some have no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, a foreign sojourn is bound to be filled with surprises and new cultural learnings. Have you ever wondered what the experiences of these international students in the Netherlands have been like, and what their impressions are of the Dutch and their way of life?

We interviewed three students from each of the top five nationalities at Tilburg University: Chinese, German, Greek, Bulgarian and Indonesian, to discover their perspectives on Dutch people and their culture. What emerged was a rich kaleidoscope of impressions and vignettes, with certain similarities as one might expect, but also some quirky and amusing opinions that took us by surprise.

Why do Dutch boys put so much wax in their hair? Why are there no famous chefs from the Netherlands? There was talk on all of this, and more.