Dear First year students,
For most of you, your first exam period is behind your back. And some of you are already receiving your grades back. Usually around this time of the year, it is common for some of you to be questioning whether or not you made the right choice in coming to the Netherlands, or even if you’re in the right study.

And if you’re in a situation where your first exam results are not what you expected, or where they are not up to a passing standard, you may be feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or even demotivated!

I remember when I first came to the Netherlands (too long ago). After my first semester, I was sure that I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life by coming here and by choosing the study that I did! I failed just about every subject, and the ones that I did pass, I did so barely scraping by.

Changing my aim, adjusting my focus, and fast forward a few years later, I have successfully completed my study. I am sure if you ask around to those that are here a bit longer, they might tell you the same or a similar version to my story. So please allow me to grant you some encouragement.

First of all, it is common to feel this way! Secondly, deciding to go back home is always an option! But, before you entertain those thoughts (even more), I encourage you to remember your motivation, remember your challenge to yourself that you made before coming to the Netherlands! Remember all the talks and lectures and all the persons that tried to talk to you before you left, when you were leaving, and when you arrived. Remember the words of encouragement, the prayers, and the pep talks.

I was looking for a great and impressive story to insert here, but I couldn’t think of any. So instead I will let you think of your own. Think of a time when you were back home, and in a situation that you thought you couldn’t get out of. I’m sure you feel pretty much the same way right now.
Try to also remember how you overcame the situation. What did it take? What did you have to sacrifice?
Sure the stakes may be much higher now, and your resources (family/friends) may be less. But try to think of how you could apply the same mentality, the same skills, the same motivation, the same effort, and the same perseverance!

Think about YOU and what makes YOU happy! Think about what you want to do and think about where you want to see yourself in 2, 5, or 10 years.

And while life offers no guarantees, the least we can do is keep trying! Keep growing! Not for anybody else, but for ourselves. Because if we’re not growing and learning then we are not moving; we become stagnant! Think of a fig tree that bares no fruit, the sea with no wind, a pool of water with no fresh water flow. Anything that is stagnant isn’t worth the effort. It’s basically dying (inside at least)!

So be glad that you’re growing, be glad that you’re moving, and be glad that you have trials to bring out the best in you! In a couple years from now you’ll look back on these days and be amazed at how you overcame, at the conqueror in yourself and hopefully you too will be able to encourage others! And you too will write your own “Dear First year Students” note.