A hopeful Raihanah Jusup, 24, is thinking of pursuing her master’s degree in Holland, which led to her receiving many queries her family and friends.
She said many questioned her interest, even from her former lecturers at Universiti Utara Malaysia.
“My answer is simple. I am a linguistics enthusiast and I am passionate to learn another language. So, by going abroad, I would not only be studying for my masters, but I’d also be ‘mastering’ the Dutch language.
“I think Holland is the best place to do that and get connected with its people and culture,” she said during Study in Holland education fair at the Netherlands Ambassador’s Residence in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Raihanah, who is planning to do international business or economics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, was at the event to seek counselling advice from the university’s representatives.
“I asked my professor for advice and he recommended Erasmus University as it is one of the best in Holland for business studies. For now, it is basically gathering information and materials before I apply to enrol.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Malaysia Karin Mossenlechner said Holland was a popular destination to study because it had a wide range of universities teaching in English.
“Perhaps better known for its beautiful tulips and tourist attractions, many Malaysians do not know that the Netherlands is also a choice destination for thousands of international students, with more than 110,000 from 190 countries enrolling annually.
“And the number is increasing every year,” said Mossenlechner.
She said Dutch universities offered the largest number of English-medium courses in Europe, with more than 2,100 available.
“About 95 per cent of the Dutch speak English, so it’s easy to communicate with anyone you meet there.
“If you are looking for a European undergraduate or postgraduate qualification that is recognised for quality and international exposure, with reasonable tuition fees and affordable cost of living, consider studying in the Netherlands.
Mossenlechner said many factors went into moulding well-rounded students in Holland.
“They should be able to work in teams and are encouraged to develop their own opinion, be creative and have an open mind.
“Students are encouraged to seek career and academic counselling services on their own. Students must take the initiative to care for their future,” she said.
Peace of mind for parents and students is very important. It is also comforting for parents to know that the Netherlands is one of the safest countries according to the 2016 Global Peace index.
It also belongs to the Top 10 happiest nations, added Mossenlechner.
Among the higher-learning institutions participating in the education fair were University College Utrecht (UCU), Tilburg University School of Economics and Management, and Erasmus University College.
Mossenlechner said 13 Dutch tertiary institutions had been recognised as the top 200 universities in the world, adding that students did not need to worry about accreditation once they return to their home countries.
Liberal arts and science graduate Zoe Victoria Tate, who studied in UCU from 2006 to 2009, said if one opted to study abroad, stress management was the most important aspect to deal with.
She said they would also need to find their own pace, style and work-life balance, which would take time, but it could become a lifelong skill.
Students at UCU are assigned a mentor from the facility to help plan and guide students with any questions.
“The teachers and your mentors will prepare you for new challenges, such as your thesis or exchange programme, and you can find support in your aim for greatness,” said the 30-year-old of Dutch-British parentage. She chose to do a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts and science because it was the best and most innovative course in Holland at that time.
This was especially due to the support from her university’s international student body, the small class size of only 25 students, high number of contact hours with lecturers and immersive experience of campus life.
“The learning module is different because it is very demanding. In one semester, you will learn four subjects from scratch at a rapid pace. So, you need to manage stress well and be committed.
Sometimes, the environment may seem isolated because you and your coursemates work, live, eat and study together. You can feel disconnected from the ‘real world’ and it’s often described by the students as a bubble,” said Tate, who also spent one semester at the University of New Hampshire in the United States in 2008.
Her advice to students who are considering studying in Holland to “just go for it”.
“Going to a university college in this country will be an ideal option due to the international nature of the programmes. Although it is demanding, you can make lifelong friends and have a beautiful experience together
“It is definitely a choice for high-achievers because it’s an immersive experience academically, socially and culturally. Holland has a lot to offer in terms of culture, creativity and innovation. So, it will be a mind-opening experience at the same time,” said Tate, who is now a co-founder of Biji-biji Design and Me.reka Makerspace in Kuala Lumpur.
She is currently a 2020 MBA candidate for the Asia School of Business, conducted in collaboration with MIT Sloan.