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Meet the students

Over 3,000 international and exchange students are enrolled at the UvA. See what Annie Zheng and Xi Yang have to say about studying in Amsterdam.

Interview with Junghao Fen

Interview with Annie Zheng

Interview with Xi Yang

Xi Yang studied Labour and Social Security at the China Institute of Industrial Relations (CIIR) in Beijing from 2008-2012 before coming to the UvA to do a Master’s in Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies. 

Xi Yang

Why did you want to study abroad?

When I finished my Bachelor’s degree, I wanted to learn more about our society. I had spent four years studying in Beijing and travelling around China and was familiar with the Chinese way of life. I wanted to see something special and different, so I decided to study abroad.

Why did you choose the UvA? Did you have other options?

For a student of social science, Amsterdam is a great city, with cultural diversity and a tolerant society. And the University of Amsterdam is one of the top 50 around the world. For sociology, the UvA even ranks in the top 20.

How was the application process?

The application process was not that complex, and you can find much information on the website. The most important thing is to remember to check your email frequently with enough patience. I got the offer from the UvA on the very last day and I had waited for nearly half a year.

Is the education system different to what you are used to?

The education system in the Netherlands is very different from the one in China. In my hometown, listening is the most vital thing during class, while in the UvA’s classrooms you have to talk a lot. Professors at the UvA always ask you to make points and arguments, both in discussion and writing.

Was it easy to get in contact with the lecturers?

At the UvA, you do not have to worry if you have any questions. Your professors, classmates and even friends will give you a hand. In my case, I would contact my professors and make appointments with them. If they are too busy to help, just ask your classmates. Maybe classmates cannot give you answers, but discussion helps a lot as well.

Where did you stay during your time in Amsterdam? Was the housing organised by the UvA?

I stayed in Amsterdam for two years. In the first year, I lived in a student studio in Stavangerweg, in a lovely container near Amsterdam Central Station. This accommodation was provided by the agency De Key and organised by the UvA. When you are accepted to the UvA, you will receive an email about how to apply for accommodation. Just follow the instructions in the email and you can find many choices of housing. However, in the Netherlands, universities only help international students with their accommodation for one year. After that, you have to find something by yourself. Don’t worry, the UvA will give you information about how to find a home.

What was something that you had to get used to in this new city?

I come from a city near the Yangtse River in China, and the four seasons there are demarcated. However, in Amsterdam, you have to get used to being surprised by rain, any kind of rain - from a sprinkle to a downpour. Take an umbrella and a raincoat with you no matter where you go!