Going Dutch

Just because it sounds cliché, doesn’t make it less true: leaving the nest is not an easy step. Although we all come from a wide variety of backgrounds and countries, we all made the same decision of leaping into university to move forward with our lives. Whether it be that you come from a town close to Nijmegen or you come from halfway across the world, they have been a tough few first steps.

Coming from Mexico, the hardest part of the whole process has been adapting to the new culture and the completely different language. I come from a culture where punctuality isn’t precisely important, where if we agree to meet at a certain time with friends, we know arriving up to an hour later would be no problem. When it comes to speaking with other people and making plans, I’m not used to “the Dutch way”; back home we are not direct and rather tiptoe around a subject while insinuating something. Another thing I’m greatly struggling with is the language. It has no resemblance whatsoever to Spanish, but I’m slowly starting to understand and memorise words I constantly see on a daily basis, such as in the supermarket.

That being said, I can easily say that, even though I have fallen off a bike more times in the previous months than I have in the rest of my life, I am having the time of my life in Nijmegen. Yes, it might’ve been hard at the beginning while adapting to the chaos that calls itself university student life, but trust me, it is all worth it in the end. When you live alone and far away from the comfort of your home you grow as a person. Personally, I have become more organised and responsible; one doesn’t have much of a choice other than to do so and to learn how to manage your time wisely.

I also feel extremely lucky to have crossed paths with everyone I have met so far. I am nearing my fourth month in the Netherlands and I am still meeting new people on a daily basis, all of whom are open minded and accepting. In all honesty, I was a bit scared before getting here. I didn’t know who I was going to live with, I didn’t know if I would get along with those people, and I didn’t know if I would like my studies or if my lack of Dutch language knowledge would be too much of an issue. Basically, I came here giving Google maps and Google translate all of my trust. I now live with 15 other students that I can easily call my family in a flat that quickly and effortlessly felt like home.

Now that all that worry has passed I can only look forward to what the future might bring. I can’t wait to meet new people, to travel more, and to have new experiences. Especially, I absolutely can’t wait for Babylon’s Ski Trip, to see snow for the first time, for my first snowball fight and to test my non-existent skiing skills. Most importantly, I’m really looking forward to learning more about the Dutch culture and celebrating the national festivities (yes, Sinterklaas, I’m talking about you).

Overall what has surprised me the most is how fast I adapted to life in Nijmegen and how quickly it started feeling like home. I can truly say, coming to Radboud is the best decision I could have made.

Diana Paola Lopez