From a small island to the large Netherlands
They live in the Netherlands but 8,000 kilometres away. They see snow for the first time and the Netherlands feels vastly different from their familiar island. Many Caribbean students encounter culture and language problems. The Care community at THUAS offers extra support if needed. Rishainy Bomberg is part of the community and just finished her study very succesfully.
Every year, about 200 Caribbean students come to study at THUAS. Rishainy had just finished secondary school. ‘I flew to the Netherlands on my own when I was 16. It was a massive contrast to Curacao. You leave your safe bubble with your family on the island and suddenly, you are all alone in a big country and everything is different.’
Figuring it out
For example, on Curacao there is hardly any public transport. ‘I had to figure it all out,’ Rishainy recalls. ‘My aunt spent an entire day showing me how the public transport works. Where to buy a ticket? Where to load the ticket and check in?’
Moving to student housing was also a completely different world than Rishainy was used to. ‘You don’t go and live alone on Curacao. You don’t live with strangers. Everyone keeps to themselves in the Netherlands. You share a bathroom with people you don’t know, and you eat in your own room.’
Once settled, the brand-new Public Administration student explored THUAS. ‘I noticed it was a very big school. My secondary school had 1,100 pupils, here there are about 25,000 walking around.’ The Caribbean student soon had contact with her mentor and Public Administration lecturer Marcel Daniëls. ‘Even with the first assignment, Rishainy couldn’t manage to upload a document. She felt “it went wrong from the start”.’
Unfortunately, Rishainy is no exception. Marcel: ‘Caribbean students have a tough time. They aren’t international students, but if you travel 8,000 kilometres to the Netherlands, you are not really a Dutch European.’ According to the senior Lecturer, you are ‘immediately behind’ due to the massive language and cultural differences. Furthermore, Marcel believes there is ‘a negative view’ of Caribbean students. ‘There are many talented students, but they don’t always get the chances they deserve.’ We often view these students are problematic. My appeal is genuine: don’t waste this talent and provide the right supervision and support.’
Marcel is not the only one making this appeal. Recently, the National Ombudsman published a report on the problems Caribbean students face when they come to study in the Netherlands. The Ombudsman calls on the national government to take note of the problems specific to this group of youngsters.
Caribbean students at THUAS can contact the Care community. Many students from the ABC countries receive a warm welcome at information fairs, for example with info about money issues and social activities such as a games night ‘Care is a kind of family at school,’ states Rishainy who has just completed her thesis with a 9.’