There's a distinct difference between social and academic relationships in The Netherlands. But how do you cope with these differences in academic interaction? You could join an international student association to make friends, but of course there are many other opportunities to make friends as well.
Many aspects of Dutch culture may be different from your own. For example, Dutch people find it very important to be on time, and will offer you coffee and cookies when visiting but do not expect you to stay for dinner (unless explicitly invited). Several other common cultural differences are discussed here.
Your Own Opinions
‘Having your own opinion’ and ‘being critical’ are important values for Dutch people. Students do not need to master all existing knowledge before formulating their own opinion. When writing a paper, summarizing information from other authors will not be sufficient. You will have to make your own selection of available sources, develop your own line of thinking and include your own conclusions and/or recommendations.
Relative Lack Of Competition
Competition hardly plays a role in Dutch educational culture: students are seldom graded against each other. The teacher sets a minimum score and passes all students who meet this criterion. Dutch students are usually not very interested how they rank in class; they are mainly concerned with passing the course. Students striving to be the best will not talk about it as it is 'not done' in the Netherlands to be too competitive or work too hard.
Because of these cultural differences, Dutch students might think of international students as passive, easily offended students who only memorize and reproduce study material while not saying what they really think. International students might see the Dutch students as noisy in class, disrespectful to teachers and classmates, showing off, lazy and negative. It is a challenge for everyone in international classrooms to overcome these prejudices and become friends.
Source: Nuffic. (2011). Preparing students for differences in educational style'. Den Haag: Ten Dam, G.T.M.
The UT international student associations organise events and activities throughout the entire year for all UT students. Becoming a member of an international student association often comes with benefits such as reduced ticket prices for events and special offers.