Mexican student Orlando: ‘Come to Groningen and discover that it’s the best!’
If you’re checking out GroningenLife! then you must wonder what it would be like to study here for a while. 21 year old Mexican exchange student Orlando Hurtado from Mexico City knows the answer. He’s living in an international student house in Groningen and he ‘is having a great time’. In Mexico he’s following the study programme Financial Management and here he’s enrolled in the International Business School at the Hanze University of Applied Science. He was happy to tell us about his experiences so far!
Are you having a good time?
Definitely. The ESN Introduction was great; I met a lot of people. I’ve been here only a month and I’ve already done so much. One of the most unexpected fun experience I had was when a newly met friend here suggested we could go see the castle in Bourtange which she heard about. We rented a mini-van and went there with seven international students. So we entered the town and started looking for the castle. We looked everywhere and couldn’t find it, so we entered a little shop and asked where the castle is. The shopkeeper looked strangely at us and said: ‘You are in the castle’. We looked astonished at each other; it turned out to be a fortified town, not a castle at all!
What are the differences between studying in Mexico and the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands you have fewer classes. Teachers try to explain everything for a course in the beginning, that’s when you have lectures. After that they assign you a lot to read and you have to work on a project. For example I’m following a marketing course here and after the lectures we started with a team project and now we only have individual coaching sessions with the teacher. In Mexico I had lectures the entire semester. I like the Dutch way better though, it’s more practical and the group work makes it very sociable.
And what about cultural differences?
Everything and everyone is so organised here in the Netherlands! Every time we have to make an appointment everyone grabs their agenda’s and everyone goes like: ’I’m available then and then, but Tuesday is bad for me, etc’. Not me, I’m always available because I don’t have an agenda!.... I am going to buy one though, because I already missed two meetings.
Another astonishing experience is to see all the bicycles. I had never seen it before in my life: so many bicycles in the streets. Mexico City is way too large to travel by bike and there are a lot of hills, we mostly take the subway or the bus there. Here the advantage is that the cycling gets you more exercise, so I’m liking the biking! There’s only one downside: right now my bike has a flat tire.
Why did you choose Groningen?
The truth is I have to participate in two exchange programs. I’ve already spent one semester in Freiburg, Switzerland and for my second exchange programme I applied for Hamburg and as backups Groningen and Copenhagen. When I was selected for Groningen it was completely unexpected, but I had no doubts at all. I didn’t check pictures on the internet and just went. I did add a Mexican student on Facebook who already experienced an exchange programme in Groningen and asked what it’s like. I got a lot of information about student housing and other practical matters.
What do you miss the most?
Mexican food! Not that I’m starving here, I really like your food wall. Also your kebab is way better than in Switzerland.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to study all the time, read a lot and sit in coffee houses telling strangers about my experiences here. But seriously, of course I study, but I also spent a great deal of my time on Facebook and I’m going out a lot. I’ve never partied so hard in my life like I’ve done in Groningen! In Mexico going out means going to clubs, being well dressed and paying an entrance fee. Here there are so many bars and cafes, it’s completely different. But the most important aspect is the people you are with. I had a great time and met a lot of people during the ESN Introduction and the ESN guys themselves are awesome people too. You won’t get bored when you have good company!
Any advice for prospective students?
Come to Groningen and discover that it’s the best! Also, buy a good bicycle.
By: Ido Venhuizen