3 November 2019 | Category: Student life

First impressions of a Venezuelan girl at WUR

By Arianna

In December of 2018, I finished my Bachelor’s on Geophysical Engineering in Venezuela. After graduating, I decided to come to WUR to study a Master’s degree in Earth and Environment, specifically Hydrology.

Why here? If you are interested in water, the Netherlands is the best place to go for you. WUR has been awarded by several rankings as the best university in the country.


My expectations

I didn’t expect so many differences with this University and my previous one since I thought that nothing can be more intense than quarter regimes. Then, I came here and realized that actually, it can be worse. At WUR we have periods of only two months or even just one.

During those two months, you only focus on two subjects. In the shorter periods, you are only taking one course. However, the schedule is very demanding. You can be at uni from 8:20 to 17:20 not only for lectures but also for practicals and group meetings. During those hours you need to be as productive as you can, and for me, that was a big shock and I’m still trying to accept.

The schedule is very demanding, you can be at uni from 8:20 to 17:20 not only for lectures but also for practicals and group meetings.


Academic schedules

In my previous school, we usually had around 4 subjects in 12 weeks. Classes schedule were very easy to follow, you will only be having two courses per day of 2-3 hours maximum. That means that after 4 hours of uni you just could go home and study there. With that schedule, I use to go home, relax for a while and then start studying again or meeting with my groups and doing all my assignments for the rest of the day, without need to follow any specific time schedule.

In the WUR  I feel like if I’m at university for 8 to 9 hours. Therefore, I must take advantage of it, so,  I go home I can relax and enjoy the rest of the evening.

If I’m at uni for 8 to 9 hours then I must take advantage of it so when I got home I can relax and enjoy the rest of the evening.

The bad news is that my brain concentration is not synced with this schedule yet. My second class starts around 14:00 and by that time I am already tired wishing to take a nap. This makes me more unproductive that I would like to. When I get home I still need to catch up with some of my courses because I need to keep on track on the next lectures.

After my first period, I’m still trying to manage my schedule. I need to make it more balanced between studying and relaxing activities. After all, professors here don’t expect us to go to sleep at 1 (AM) every day “catching up” with activities. But that was a habit that I used to have in my previous school. I was free to employ all day to do what I -should– do here in 9 hours. Moreover, I’m also adapting to a new place of living, in another country, with another language and so many new cultures.


WUR Social life

The good thing is that I’m probably not the only one in this position, and it’s good to meet with other new students trying to adapt to this new life too or to have some advice from not-so-fresh students. Also, professors are very helpful and you can always address them with questions and they will always say “It’s okay, there are no stupid questions. I’m glad that you asked”. People in the university, in general, are also very kind and always trying to help.

“It’s okay, there are no stupid questions. I’m glad that you asked”

Another big shock that I had when I got here is that Dutch people are more kind than I expected. Coming from a “warm culture” (Latin), where everyone says hello to everyone, I was expecting the opposite. That’s what we think about cold countries. Here, I realized that Dutch people are very very kind and friendly in general and with their great English you can communicate with almost everyone in this country.

I’m very glad, even far from home, I’m surrounded by very nice people. Who also worries about me because “winter is coming” and this will be the first winter of all my life. :’)


Any advice to prepare myself for winter and the upcoming periods?

Feel free to leave comments below!

By Arianna

There is one comment.

  1. By: Angela · 05-11-2019 at 05:24

    Hi Arianna,
    This is part of the experience to be abroad student: you change the environment, you face another kind of doing things: timetable, course organisation, breaking schemes about how people from a different culture think and behave….every thing is new or at least different! Thus, this is what in psychology we call to be out of your “comfort zone”. What is important to have this kind of experience in life? What does it bring you? This experience bring yourself growth and expansion. Spending time out of your comfort zone helps you to grow and become more courageous. It’s a component to living a vital life. It’s scary but it’s essential. Recommendations? Be focus on positive things, every day ask yourself: what things have been positive today? And for winter time: a pair of soft and hot socks, a fluffy blanket and cups of teas and/or coffees throughout the day… but, above all else, spent time with people!

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