Alireza Nouri: Even the geese are orderly here!
Alireza Nouri comes from Tehran, Iran, and is currently in his third year of the bachelor’s in International Studies at Campus the Hague.
Why did you choose to study in The Hague?
‘I chose Leiden University primarily because of its high prestige and ranking, where I could study my chosen programme in English. Secondly, it was hard to ignore the benefits of studying International Studies in The Hague, which is home to so many international organizations.’
What are the differences between the Netherlands and your home country?
‘The first thing you notice is the flatness both in terms of geography and society! The geography does not need explanation but I found the society is quite direct and simple, which has many positive aspects, but at the same time some downsides as well. I come from a city of 14 million people, which is just about the size of the whole of the Netherlands, so it is hard not to notice the huge difference in terms of quietness, size, organization and convenience between here and my home town of Tehran.
'In terms of education, by studying International Studies at Leiden University I have experienced a combination of large lecture classes with smaller tutorial or seminar groups that have a heavy focus on individual research. In comparison, in my home country at bachelor’s level lecture classes are rather medium but with an emphasis on examination.’
What do you particularly like or dislike about studying and living here?
‘The bike culture is my favourite thing about Netherlands. It is a very convenient and healthy means of transportation. However, it seems to be a very hot commodity here as I have had my bike stolen two times so far. Additionally, I really like the student community at Leiden University with its international environment, who are always curious to know more. Dutch people’s ability to speak English fluently also makes a lot of things easier for me in this country.
'It is also quite hard not to fall in love with the ‘gezellige’ canals and the ambience of Leiden and other cities here. To be honest, my strongest cultural shock was at the introductory days when an apple and a ‘kaasbroodje’ were served for lunch! I still find it difficult to adapt to a light and cold lunch, as in my home country lunch is the main dish of the day and heavy enough to make you sleepy afterwards.’
What do you think this period of study in Leiden will mean to your future studies or career?
‘I think Leiden has built a strong foundation for my future studies and career. It has made me more determined to continue my studies in the related field and more confident about a future job.’
Has anything funny or unusual happened while you have been here?
‘Recently I came across a goose on the street that wanted to get to the other side. Although it was far from the zebra crossing, it walked towards it and passed to the other side of the street. It seemed to me that the orderly and organized Dutch behaviour has also affected the geese here.’
When you leave, what will you take back with you?
‘Unfortunately I won’t be able to take back my goldfish with me but what I will take back are the memories and friendships that have become an eternal part of my life. Most importantly, I will carry with me a valuable academic and living experience from a great university and country.’