Kotaro Kuribayashi (20), Japan, International Business Administration
“I’ve been living in the Netherlands for a year and a half, and I haven’t tried to learn Dutch. Except for home delivery menus, I don’t really need it in my daily life. However, if I was going to stay here, I would learn the language. In fact, I’d support making Dutch lessons compulsory for international students. I’ve got friends who are studying in Spain and Italy and who are required to learn Spanish and Italian in their first year. As international students, we obviously get to benefit from the Netherlands, so I feel it shows respect if you can express yourself in the language of the country you live in.”
Zeynep (19), Turkey, International Psychology
“For a while I worked in a restaurant where some customers didn’t want me to speak English to them. I didn’t say anything at the time, and I understand that you love your language. In Turkish, I sound like Shakespeare, but I can’t express myself that well in English.
For me, a language must have some mystery about it to make me want to learn it. Dutch didn’t, so I’m now learning Japanese. If they’d made free Dutch lessons compulsory, I think I would have taken them. It’s still useful to be able to speak it.”
Henry (22), UK, Finance & Investment
“I do understand why Dutch students might feel that their culture is becoming anglicised or Americanised. But the university is a special place in society. It’s supposed to be a place for sharing knowledge, also internationally.
“I’ve lived here for four years, and I haven’t missed not speaking Dutch at all. International students know that it’s difficult to be part of a social group that only speaks Dutch.”
Martina Macrelli (23), Italy, Marketing
“Now that I know that I want to work in the Netherlands after I graduate, I’ve started learning Dutch because I can see that it’s necessary for a job in marketing. But until now, I’ve never needed it. Even old ladies in the street speak good English.
“Among students, I’ve noticed that there’s a group of Dutch students who distance themselves a bit from the international students due to the language. They don’t come to lectures as often, although that may be because they have jobs alongside their studies. I also think that this group formation is much worse in Italy, where people find it harder to establish contacts in English.”
Albandri (19), Saudi Arabia, International Psychology
“In Saudi Arabia, people adapt more easily if you don’t speak our language. It seems that Dutch people don’t want to make that much of an effort. It’s easy to live here without learning the language, but more difficult to really make contact.
But I think that making Dutch lessons compulsory might have the opposite effect. I personally feel a bit rebellious when I’m told I have to do something.”
Some students didn’t want their surnames mentioned. Their full names are known to the editors.