Survey shows that foreign students are still struggling to fit into Dutch society

It may come to no surprise if you’re an international student here in the Netherlands, but results from a new student survey have found that international students struggle to ‘find their way in Dutch society’, reports NOS.

Three student organisations have conducted a survey with over a thousand foreign students and the results didn’t look too good. According to NOS, three-quarters of these respondents say that they wanted more contact with more Dutch students, something which they say universities do not try to do. You often see international students and Dutch students nicely put into groups, but they are rarely encouraged to mix. This is causing foreign students to feel left out and out of touch when living their new Dutch life.

Housing: A constant battle

According to NOS, over a third of participants said that they had been rejected from getting a house due to their foreign background. Along with half of them feeling stressed about the whole experience with finding housing. Finding a place to rent in the Netherlands is hard ANYWAY, let alone if you face any sort of disadvantage from ‘not being Dutch.’

Integration is also hard because of difficulties grasping the Dutch language, something which the student organisations suggest could be dealt with via free Dutch courses, reports NOS.

These issues aren’t new and we’re all had different experiences since living here, so it would be great to know what your personal experiences have been!

Let us know in the comments!

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


  1. I came here at the turn of the century to study and while I loved the country and the saneness and freedoms it afforded, making anything but the most casual friendships has been nearly impossible. First – many dutch people aren’t interested in anyone who can be here for 2-4 years as “we’re always leaving”, so the keep an emotional distance which also means deeper friendships. This is what I’ve been directly told several times, even though I’ve been here now nearly 20 years – that, and that most dutch people still have all the friends they grew up with (as they generally don’t travel far from home for school) so they “don’t need any more friends”…which was devastating to hear after knowing people for a while. I feel this is why many groups of expats don’t wander far outside their own cultures, until perhaps the time comes to raise children and then actually deal with other Dutch parents where many would rather you just leave. It’s a difficult experience, and the lack of social exchange can both keep expats from integrating further and also make the locals a bit more xenophobic towards anyone outside their cozy corner of world. We both need to encourage outreach where possible.

  2. I just arrived 2 weeks ago. Emigrating with a Dutch husband and 2 kids. This is similar experience of living in other developed countries…. but I was hoping the experience would be different here somehow. Any advice for a newly arrived??


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