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A Mexican exchange student in Leeuwarden: A new world (Part 2/2)

Date:18 May 2020
Author:Campus Fryslân
Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden

Read the first part of the blog A Mexican exchange student in Leeuwarden here...

Time flies and the day arrived. After saying goodbye to friends and family for a while and without realizing, I was on a plane for the first time! Fortunately, I had a really smooth arrival thanks to the staff members and my assigned buddy for my exchange (Amaranta and Daria, who are also Mexican!) who guided me through the procedures and my stay in the Netherlands.

Because I already experienced moving to another place for my University studies in Mexico, I thought it would be easy for me experiencing this in another country. I couldn’t be more wrong!

In the beginning, it was all magical. New food, new people, beautiful buildings and spots, and so many new things! I even discovered I was the first person on exchange at CF. Nevertheless, I experienced the so-called culture shock. Here I enlist some of the things that were really surprising to me:

  1. Honesty & directness. Yep, probably you can read this in several blogs about Dutch culture. It’s not a general rule but a very often case. It can be hard, especially if you come from a culture like the Mexican, where we use to be very sensitive/warm-hearted and emotional, however, we can learn something about being honest and making it right!
  2. Quality of life. On my first days, I was amazed by the quality of life people have here, from the transport to the social security. Besides, it feels safe in all aspects you can imagine.
  3. Food. This is by far the most shocking aspect for me, coming from a country where food is one of the most important aspects of our culture. I was determined to prepare as much as I could of the food that I know to prepare in Mexico, but eventually, it was difficult to find ingredients and adapt to the different flavors and seasoning. Besides, we have different meal times and I was confused about when to eat because I never have dinner but instead we have our heavy-meal at 14-15 in the noon. However, Mexican-Dutch food is nothing compared to real Mexican food so don’t try to compare them (also it can be highly expensive)! Luckily, the Netherlands has an insane variety of products to prepare different dishes, so test your culinary skills and don’t be afraid to try different things! Besides, it has been an opportunity to change my diet to a more sustainable one, because most of my friends here are either vegan or vegetarian. P.S: If you’re Mexican and you’re desperate to find something spicy, walk around Albert Heijn and look for products from “La Morena”. ;)
  4. Weather & seasons. Yes, it’s crazily intense. Every place I visited with my new friends I was shivering from the cold, so you might want to prevent yourself with a warm jacket in case you’re thinking to visit the Netherlands. Since I arrived in winter, the weather was all gray and rainy, making me gloomy for Sun. Nevertheless, I really enjoy the seasons of the year much more. In Mexico, we don’t really perceive the change between seasons, but in The Netherlands when the time of the spring or summer comes, you appreciate the colors from the trees and flowers and the warmth of a sunny day!
  5. Landscape. While in Mexico one is used to mountainous landscapes, here everywhere is flat! But take advantage of it and use your bike as much as you can for a real Dutch experience and enjoy the canals and bike infrastructure.
  6. People and languages. Exchange often means the opportunity to know people from all over the world. Even though language meant a barrier in the beginning due to the quantity of accents I was hearing for the first time, here I have met really kind people who have made my experience grateful and my world a better place. Besides, I have improved my English and I’m currently thinking of adding Dutch to my arsenal!
  7. Appliances and housing. As weird and funny as it can sound, I had never used a vacuum cleaner nor a heater or a dryer, and another great shock was the rent! Meanwhile in Mexico I used to pay the equivalent to 60 Euros, here I pay 540! Crazy!

If I could go back in time, I would still choose the Netherlands and Campus Fryslân for my exchange, because even though it is a very different exchange as I imagined in the beginning (thanks corona!), I’ve met amazing people and I have changed in so many positive aspects, both academically and personally.