While coronavirus has affected us all, one group of people that are suffering the consequences of the pandemic is rarely talked about — international students. A new study finds that most of them experience stress, loneliness, and psychological problems.
About a quarter of international students in the Netherlands feel little or no joy this academic year. In addition, more than 65% experience a lot of stress, and about a half experience irritation as well as loneliness, according to a study by the Dutch National Student Association (ISO), the National Student Union (LSVb), and ESN The Netherlands and reported in Het Parool.
This is hardly surprising. International students come to the Netherlands from countries that are often hours away by aeroplane, not knowing a single person but hoping to make new friends and potentially build a life.
The pandemic version of a student life
Instead, the students spend their school year in a, sometimes less-than-ideal, student room, only ever interacting with the professors and fellow students via a computer screen.
If that wasn’t enough, restaurants, sports facilities, and cultural institutions have been closed for most of the year, so there’s little opportunity for a life outside the house.
The government halving the tuition for the next academic year is also not that big of a win, especially if you’re only coming to do a one-year program.
Struggles to find housing
In addition, many report that they struggle with mastering the Dutch language. As a consequence, they miss out on interactions with local students, as well as potential job opportunities.
This needs to change
“Many international students are on the brink of collapse. They need help and do not receive enough of it from their studies. We have to change that before the summer,” says the chairman of the Dutch National Student Association, Dahran Çoban.
The association argues that the Dutch Ministry of Education should monitor the circumstances of international students more closely.
“We see that the ministry and educational institutions attach importance to international students, but miss the attention to the interests of those students.”
This is quite shocking, as internationals make up about one-fifth of the currently enrolled students at Dutch universities.
Are you an international student in the Netherlands yourself? How have you been coping the past year? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels