6 reasons why we decided to study our master’s in the Netherlands | Top Universities

6 reasons why we decided to study our master’s in the Netherlands

By Chloe Lane

Updated May 4, 2021 Updated May 4, 2021

Sponsored by Radboud University 

The Netherlands is a popular study destination for students, with an excellent academic reputation, beautiful natural surroundings and an abundance of things to do in between lectures and studying.  

But leaving your family and friends to study abroad is a big decision, so TopUniversities spoke to three international students about why they chose Radboud University – located in Nijmegen in the Netherlands and an impressive 214th in the most recent QS World University Rankings – to complete their master’s and about their experiences studying in the Netherlands. 

Opportunity to study in a multicultural environment  

Ellis studied her bachelor’s degree in the United States and then worked for a year in a private laboratory. She is now a master’s student at Radboud University, studying medical biology

Ellis said that she was looking to challenge herself by studying somewhere new and exploring the world. She found the course at Radboud University was a perfect way to combine her love of travel with an interesting degree programme.   
 
She said: “I ultimately chose the Netherlands because of the study programme and because I was interested in learning a new language, experiencing a new culture, and exploring a country with an innovative and unique approach to healthcare and medicine, in which I hoped to begin my career.” 

Ekaterina was also looking to expand her global perspective. Having completed her bachelor’s degree in her home country, Russia, Ekaterina was keen to study her physical chemistry master’s abroad.  

Ekaterina said: “I realised that I not only wanted to but needed to get a master’s degree abroad. To tackle global challenges, a scientist must be able to collaborate on multicultural and international teams.  

“The Netherlands turned out to be a perfect match due to the wide variety of English-taught programmes, the multicultural environment and the high quality of scientific pursuit.” 

A positive atmosphere 

Leoni is originally from Germany. Having completed her bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands, it was the natural next step to her to study her mathematics master’s at Radboud University.  

Feeling at home at university was very important to Leoni and was one of the reasons she was initially apprehensive about studying abroad. 

She said: “For your studies as well as your general well-being, it is important that you feel comfortable. Listen to what your gut tells you.” 

Leoni found comfort in the open, positive atmosphere in the Netherlands, adding that it gave her a lot of room for personal growth. 

She said she enjoyed the “casual way students and teachers can engage in discussions” and how approachable people are in the Netherlands.  

One thing that stood out to Ellis was also the friendliness of the Dutch people. 

She said: “I found the Dutch to be friendly and accommodating, whether it was speaking English if I didn’t understand, giving me directions around campus or making me feel welcome at the dining hall.” 

Excellent master’s programmes 

The Netherlands’ Radboud University offers over 50 master’s programmes and 150 specializations.  

For Leoni, it was the social aspect of Radboud University’s mathematics degree that really stood out to her.

She said: “Students and lecturers mingle quite frequently to exchange thoughts and also just to keep updated on how everyone is doing.  

“If you struggle with a module, there is usually an older student who can help you. Since we all sit playing cards together anyway, it’s no problem to find someone to ask. Even now [during COVID-19] there is still a lot of mingling happening.”

Ekaterina decided to study in the Netherlands to gain some practical experience in physical chemistry, after gaining a good theoretical foundation in her bachelor's degree.  

She said: “Practical experience is exactly what I came here for. The ability to work with a scientific equipment is what I enjoy the most. I really appreciate that the university has done everything possible so that even during a pandemic we have access to laboratories.” 

While Ellis explained that she likes the learning environment at the university where students are expected to be interested in their degree, self-motivated and willing to ask for help.  

She said: “There’s a focus on group work, which encourages better understanding for everyone and greater participation in the course. Students are expected to be active and engaged in class, and I’ve appreciated how approachable my professors are.” 

“Radboud is a great university with high quality education and I’m glad I’ve ended up here,” she added. 

A strong career focus  

The master’s degree structure is very career orientated, with a strong focus on practical experience. Each of the three students TopUniversities spoke to are completing internships as part of their course. 

Ellis has done two research internships during her master’s degree. She said: “My research experiences will equip me for a diverse range of jobs in the healthcare industry from the public sector research to private sector development and anywhere in between.” 

She added: “I’ve really enjoyed studying here and the connections I’ve made through my programme. I feel prepared to continue my career and have managed to build a good starting professional network that I look forward to exploring when I graduate.” 

Ekaterina’s two internships have enabled her to focus on different aspects of her degree, including working on the development of methods for assessing the structural anisotropy of plant-based meat alternatives.  

She said: “Despite the fact that this is a completely new topic for me, I feel confident as the university has given me extensive knowledge.” 

Leoni is writing her master’s thesis in the setting of a company internship. She praised the freedom her course gave her to find an internship that suited her. 

She said: “My interests are in a field that can easily be applied to real world problems and that is why I wanted to do an external internship. That was no problem whatsoever and I was free to look for a topic I clicked with”. 

The student lifestyle in Nijmegen 

When it comes to life outside of lecture halls and labs, there’s an endless number of things to do when studying in the Netherlands, particularly in Nijmegen.  

Ellis recommends various activities, including art exhibitions, film festivals, science expositions and the market in the city centre on weekends, as well as yearly events like the Vierdaagse. 

She said: “There are a lot of fun traditions and activities and lots of tasty seasonal snacks that are sold around that time, and it was a good way to learn about Dutch culture and traditions – and the controversy some of them have!”. 

Leoni enjoys the combination of interacting with her peers and professors socially, while also having more serious events related to her degree programme or career. 

Students in Nijmegen frequently meet up in cafés for catch ups and even study sessions. “Cafés change from being a place to have lunch with your grandma, to where you can grab a drink with friends in the afternoon, to where chairs and tables are moved aside to create dance floors at night,” said Leoni.  

Students in the Netherlands also enjoy an active lifestyle. There are a lot of sports and active activities on offer both at the university and more generally across the Netherlands. 

Leoni said: “The on-campus sport centre offers so many different kinds of sports. Think of the classics like basketball and field hockey, but also more exotic disciplines like ultimate frisbee, bossaball (a combination of football and volleyball, played on a trampoline) or pole dancing". 

It was the cycling that stood out to Ekaterina. Before studying in the Netherlands, she wasn’t a particularly active cyclist, but now cycles around 200km a week. 

Ellis said: “Coming from mountainous Colorado, I was a little worried about how flat the country was and that there may not be many people interested in climbing or mountaineering, but I’ve found a great community of people here to take trips with to Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, or the Alps, and there are great climbing gyms in Nijmegen and in many other cities in the Netherlands”. 

Plenty to explore 

The Netherlands enjoys an excellent transport system, making it easy for students to get around and explore surrounding areas.  

Ellis said: “The Netherlands is a fun country to explore and easy to integrate into as a native English speaker and is also a great hub for vising the rest of Europe.”  

Ekaterina said: “During the year and a half that I have been here, I’ve visited several cities in the Netherlands. However, I can say, with certainty, that Nijmegen is my favourite one.  

“Since I adore spending time in nature, I have explored all the surroundings of Nijmegen and a few places have taken root deep inside of me. The Millingerduin Nature Reserve and the National Park De Hoge Veluwe are a must-see for all nature lovers.” 

Leoni echoed Ekaterina’s sentiments. She said: “A lot of cities have those hidden treasures, blocks and houses that are definitely off-road, but all the more romantic. Try getting lost for an hour or two the next time you visit a new city. You might just find your new favourite spot.” 

This article was originally published in March 2021 . It was last updated in May 2021

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Written by

A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. She enjoys writing articles about a wide range of topics for a student audience. 

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