Be More ‘Dutch’: How To Get More Out of Student Life
By Danielle Williams on April 21st, 2015
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Earlier this month, The Guardian published an article explaining why Dutch students tend to get the best out of student life. While this is partly down to their course schedule; the structure of their higher education and the relaxed approach of the Netherlands, it’s a lot more to do with how Dutch students spend their time and the activities they participate in.
Take a look at these four ways in which you can emulate Dutch habits and start getting more out of your student life.
One key aspect of Dutch student life is they integrate themselves within the life of their local town or city, and avoid sticking around within the bubble of campus life. This is because they generally have fewer societies than UK students, but there’s no reason you too can’t make this work.
Look out for local sports teams, charities, evening classes or arts groups that you could possibly take part in, or volunteer at your nearby theatre, museum or art gallery. Not only will you learn loads, gain a wider perspective and meet new people from a variety of paths, you’ll also be boosting your voluntary experience and may even get a few free perks along the way.
This one might seem clichéd, but cycling really has been proven to boost happiness and productivity, whether it’s in classes or in the workplace. Besides being one of the cheapest ways to travel, it’s also great for the environment and enables you to get in a workout before lectures start.
See if your university or city has a bicycle scheme, or if not, try contacting your student president to see if they can get one set up. Otherwise, buying your own bike and gear doesn’t have to be costly, thanks to second-hand bike shops both local and online.
Some recycle stores, such as Recyke Yr Bike, offers you the chance to give an unwanted bike a home, and will even help with repairs and maintenance.
Some students live for university sport; others, meanwhile, may prefer to bury their head in their books. But sport doesn’t have to be about being the strongest or fastest; in uni it’s much more about the fun and team aspect of it all, and it’s a great way to make new friends. Sport is an integral part of life for most Dutch students, who have been participating since they could walk, and it’s thought to be a major contributor to their happiness.
Try multiple sports to see what you enjoy most and what you’d be happy sticking with. Looking for a team within your university is a great place to start, but don’ be afraid to look further afield as well.
Don’t wait until the holidays to go travelling, when money has dried up thanks to rent, food and nights out. Instead, try to integrate travel into your year wherever you can. Dutch students don’t get very long breaks for Easter or Christmas, so this encourages them to fit day trips and overseas excursions around their studies.
There are lots of ways you can do this too, as well as keeping the costs to a minimum. Take advantage of uni-led educational trips and volunteer schemes, as well as cultural exchange programmes or study schemes that allow you to live and study in another country.
Teaching English abroad or becoming a tour guide are other great ways of being paid to go abroad, or you could seek out a travel grant from an organisation like SPRET International Trust