What's student life like in other countries?

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a college student in America? Or to have a super-subsidised degree in Norway? We spoke to Dutch, Turkish, American and Norwegian students to see what their lives were like

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ever wondered what it is like to be a student in another country? Four students from around the world give us a look into their lives.

The Netherlands

Bastiaan Spijkman is a Financial Economics student at Radboud University in the city of Nijmegen.

Studying: He studies “around 20-25 hours a week but it varies a lot per trimester. Most classes have either one or two lectures per week. So that comes to anywhere from four to eight hours of lectures per week.” Age wise, “most people start university at the age of 17 or 18 and take around four to six years to finish their degree.” On working hard Bastiaan states "compared to other countries, I don't think so. Most students do their work which generally doesn't take a lot of time. Near the end of the trimester is crunch time as everybody is studying for finals.”

Cost: Confirming what many people love about the Netherlands, Bastiaan says “the best thing, in my opinion, is being able to enjoy a quality education for a relatively low cost. With a little bit of work and support anyone who is motivated enough can study. Tuition is set by the government at around €1,700 annually and slowly rising every year. Government student loans are available at very reasonable rates and repayment conditions are very lenient. Government subsidies are also available depending on your parents income.”

Accommodation: Bastiaan similarly to many students lives “in a regular house converted for student housing in a regular neighbourhood with five housemates. There are usually two housing options either big student housing projects rented out by non-profit organizations or converted houses rented out by individuals or companies.”

Fun: Like students in the UK, Bastiaan says his “free time is spent going to bars, exercising, hanging out and making dinner with friends and generally wasting time. The nightlife is really active with lots of choices between bars and disco's.” Bastiaan finishes “I enjoy being a student immensely! It is not only a way to gain knowledge but also a way to develop yourself on a personal level which is just as, if not more important. This is also supported by Universities which creates an awesome blend between fun and studying.”



Işıl Defterli studies Industrial Engineering at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

Studying: Işıl says “weekly I study approximately 10-12 hours, I have around 20 hours of lectures. We have a lot of private and state universities. The students are all over 18 but we have older students studying at their 2nd university. As seems to be common theme worldwide Işıl says “students here like to do things at the last moment, generally they work hard but it usually comes to last hours.”

Cost: Işıl saysuniversity is free for me because I have a scholarship. The government gives money to students but it’s like a loan. The students have to pay back the money when they start working. ”

Accomodation: Işıl lives “in Umraniye Istanbul with my parents. Generally students try to live close to the school. My home is not usual for a student because it is far.”

Fun: In Istanbul “there are so many places to have fun day or night. My free time I usually spend with my friends in a house or outside. There are so many options when it comes to nightlife in Istanbul. You can pick clubs, just casual bars, jazz bars, karaoke bars or just a nice restaurant. The best part is the prices are for students in particular places.”



Alexandra Ziegler studies photography at rural Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

Studying: Alexandra states “photography is a fairly demanding field, with other work I probably spend close to 40 hours a week on homework, going to classes, studying, and taking pictures. I take four or five classes (which meet two or three times a week).” As in the UK, “most students range from age 18 to graduate students in their 30s and sometimes 40s.” Most UK students will sympathise with Alexandra here: “I try to apply myself to my schoolwork, although I am a horrible procrastinator. I enjoy learning and want to get the most out of my education.”

Cost: Studying in the USA is expensive with price differences between state (government) and private education. Students who study in the state they live in can get cheaper tuition fees. Alexandra is part of an interesting scheme not available in the UK; she does a National Student Exchange program. “I am studying in Montana for a year but my home university is in Colorado where I live. I pay around $13,000, including housing and food to my home university in Colorado as in state student. Were I to attend Montana as my main university not through exchange it would cost about $26,000, because I live in a different state.” There is some help to the cost of fees: “many students can get financial aid or scholarships either from the school they are attending or from government grants”.

Accommodation: Alexandra says “I live on campus during the school year. It is pretty normal for students to live on campus for their first two years of college, but after that most students move off campus.”

Fun: “I really enjoy the freedom and flexibility that being a college student provides. Most of my free time is spent hanging out with friends at Cru or Crosslife (campus ministry) or just going out to a movie. This is going to make me sound very country, but swing dancing on Friday nights is a blast (not to mention good exercise)!” Alexandra also volunteers at a local therapeutic riding centre which has been “a huge part of my life this last semester. Working with horses is a huge passion of mine and being able to give up my free time to help people with disabilities ride has been so uplifting!”



Siri Eggset reads North America studies at the University of Oslo in Oslo.

Studying: She says “I spend about eight to 10 hours a weekday on school work, including lectures and seminars. The number of lectures per week varies. I have from three to six lectures and three seminars a week divided between three classes. The student age varies from 19 to 70, but most are in the 20s. The work amount varies broadly amongst students. But most students work hard, especially the last month before the exams.”

Cost: Tuition for Norwegian people is very cheap, lucky them! “The best thing about being a student in my country is that it is nearly free. We pay a small attendance fee at the beginning of the semester (about £140) and buy our own books. All students are granted a scholarship and a low-interest loan.”

Accommodation: Siri shares “an apartment with my boyfriend, which is usual for many students. Other alternatives are sharing with friends or renting a student apartment.”

Fun: Recreation in Norway is interesting and diverse “in my free time as a student I do downhill as well as cross country skiing, mountain biking, and other sports such as football. I also have two part time jobs- one as a teacher and one at a nursing home. Nightlife in Oslo is good. The weekends I am not working or away skiing, I like to go out in the more laidback areas of the city where a lot of students hang out. I like the flexibility of the student lifestyle.”