Last Saturday, Nesso Indonesia held a Pre-departure Briefing for hundreds of Indonesian students who are going to study in the Netherlands this Fall semester. Most of them will be leaving by August or by early September the latest. How exciting it must be to begin a new adventure as a student in a foreign country!
August and September are the perfect time for us Indonesian to adjust to Holland’s weather, since the temperature won’t be so much different (imagine how tough it must be for my Indonesian friend who moved from our tropical weather in Indonesia to the frozen Albany NY in January, when we were at minus 20 Celsius!).
So the temperature difference is not a major concern in regards to the very first adjustments. What about one of the traveler’s worst enemy, the Jet Lag? Well, considering that we are not just crossing continents but also time zones, I guess that’s unavoidable. Indonesia is around 6 hours ahead of Holland’s time, so the body clock will definitely needs some time for synching to the new time zone. But as thousands of articles on tips to fight jet lag said, you can minimize the effect by trying to adapt to the local time and eat or sleep accordingly.
If you’re a scholarship-funded student, it’s likely that you will be traveling with airlines such as KLM or Malaysian Airlines. Most of these airlines will be departing from Jakarta in early evening and arrived in Schiphol the next morning around 6 or 7AM. That means if you want your body to adapt to the local time, you’ll have one full day when you have to stay awake, no matter how sleepy you are. How do you do it? Let me share the things that I did to beat the jet lag, as I remember I was pretty successful in dealing with it:
- Yes, you’ll be excited, sad, or nervous at the same time. But try to get some sleep during your flight, since you’ll need the energy for the next day. If you’re going to study at ISS Den Haag, don’t worry about what you’ll do once you get to the airport, there will be a lot of Indonesian “old-batch” students to pick you up and help you carry your heavy luggage. 🙂 Not only that, they will also show you where to buy the train ticket, travel with you to Den Haag, and even prepare you a breakfast – not with broodje but with rice! 🙂
- Okay, so now you’re in Den Haag (welkom!). After the breakfast you’ll probably go to the campus soon to get your dorm key. There are different buildings for ISS students housing (you don’t get to pick which one you want, but they are all okay and you can choose to live off-campus later on.)
- Now you’re in your room. You drop your luggage, wash your face, inspecting the room (yes, it’s furnished!), peeking out the window to see the view, enjoying the fresh fruit prepared for you as a greeting from the Student’s Welfare office… Ah, you are starting to feel comfortable. And there, you see the bed! It’s not big but it’s clean, that soft spongy cushy bed! You are tempted to sleep. But nooooo… don’t give in. You have to decide to do something in this crucial time. Here are the options:
- Find your Resident Assistance (RA). Ask the person to tour you around the dorm. Find out where the kitchen is, which utensils and kitchen shelve that you’ll get, where the laundry room is, the common room… What to do if you need to change the bulb, what’s the wifi’s password, where to recycle the trash, and so on.
- You need to find lunch. Yes the seniors are so nice in preparing you breakfast, but you can’t expect them to feed you all day! So go to the nearest supermarket, it’s a good way to spend your time and getting to know your area. Don’t be shocked if you have to buy the grocery bag, it’s all in the name of greener environment! When you’re shopping, think about what you’ll need for lunch, dinner, and breakfast for the following days.
- Depending on how comfortable you are in kitchen, you may decide to start cooking straight away, and that’s possible. When I first arrived in Den Haag I wasn’t that person yet, so I survived with sandwiches for the first few days 🙂
- So you’ve eaten lunch… and it’s still 1 or 2 PM. What to do now? Take a nap? You wish! No, you’ll sleep 12 hours straight if you decide to sleep, and you’ll end up being awake in the middle of the night. You don’t want that. So you have to do something. Don’t stay in your room, go out again! I went to the Scheveningen beach for the first time with my two other friends who were also assigned to live in Gondelstraat, guided by one old batch student. Ah… that moment when you first gaze into the North Sea… and start to have a bad hair day because of the notorious Dutch wind! I won’t forget that moment.
- Wherever you decide to go to (Scheveningen, Centrum, parks), try to walk around for some time so you’ll get tired. Take some of your very first pictures in Holland! Around 4 or 5PM, I went back to my dorm and do some cleaning. I’m the type of person who needs to ensure that my new territory is clean, so I decided to vacuum the floor. I also knew that I need to unpack most of my stuffs so I can feel at home soon, so I did that too. After that I had shower and suddenly it’s dinner time!
- By the time you finish your dinner, you’ll be a couple of hours away from the normal time when people go to sleep. So that’s good. You can use the remaining hours to browse the internet or watch the Dutch TV in the common room *p.s. don’t be surprised to see some sexy girls moaning some numbers in commercials… that’s actually your best way to learn how to count in Dutch! nul negen nul zes… ahhh…
- Yippie!!! It’s now the sleeping time. Slaap lekker! Since you’ve been awake and active for the whole day, it’s likely you can sleep through the night. It worked for me! The next days I can adapt to the Dutch rhythm easily, much easier than other friends who decided to take a nap during the day.
Now I have to say though that adapting from Indonesia to Holland wasn’t as hard… compared to adapting from Indonesia time to Eastern time in Albany NY. The time difference is even bigger, it’s 12 hours! Morning there, night here… totally upside down. But following the same trick helps a lot (try not to sleep on day 1 but do activities according to the local time). Hope it works for you too. Veel plezier!