Many international students at Avans are far away from home during the coronavirus crisis. One of these is Jaman Miah, a first-year International Business student in Breda. He is originally from Bangladesh, and moved to the Netherlands 2014. How is he doing?
Jaman’s life has changed on all fronts since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. The activities at his fashion business have come to a standstill. All the classes he takes at Avans are online, and he speaks to his parents on the telephone every day. They are worried about him and would rather he leave the house only to go grocery shopping.
Nevertheless, he is ‘very satisfied’ in the Netherlands, even during the present pandemic. “If I had to choose again, I do not have a single doubt that I would choose Avans and the Netherlands again”, he tells us on the telephone. He calls life here comfortable, safe and full of opportunities. According to this student, there is hardly any cause for stress in the Netherlands, because everything is arranged here so efficiently. “This is something you understand only when you have lived in a developing country”, he says.
Jaman lives in Eindhoven, where he has been running an international business selling what he calls’ fashionable office wear’ for the past few years. He initially ran his business from Bangladesh, but wanted to go to Europe. He considers the Dutch to be ‘open-minded and friendly’ in general, although it took a few years to get used to Dutch straightforwardness. “In Bangladesh, being polite is very important. As a result, an honest remark may come across as a bit rude to me. People here say what whatever is on their minds, even if it is tactless or hurtful. However, I am used to it by now. I find it somewhat intriguing that people speak their minds, even though I believe they could learn something from our courteousness.”
To support his further development as an international entrepreneur, Jaman decided to study International Business. “I do business with people all over the world. The more I learn, the better I understand my profession.’ He decided to enrol at Avans because the university of applied sciences has a good reputation. “I only found positive feedback, so it made sense to choose Avans”, he says with a smile.
According to Jaman, this rating is correct. He finds his lecturers at the ASIS school helpful, and is enthusiastic about the International Business curriculum. He has a lot of praise for the university of applied sciences for their rapid switch to online education. “It was as if my lecturers had already developed a plan years ago for teaching their lectures and tutorials differently. I am really impressed with them.”
Doesn’t he miss the ‘real’ lectures? “Of course I do”, he replies instantly. ‘Online is not the same as face to face. What I miss above all is the interaction with my fellow students. But it is the way it is. And I am very pleased that an online programme was developed so quickly, and that I have not experienced any delay in my study progress.’
‘It probably caused a lot of anxiety amongst students’
Although he would like nothing better than to return to the familiar Avans lecture halls, the student believes that ASIS made a ‘wise decision’ in opting for a full-scale online approach for at least the duration of the first semester. “We do not know if a second wave will hit the Netherlands. If that happens, you don’t want to take any risks. Neither do you want lots of students to encounter a delay in study progress because lectures and tutorials are suddenly cancelled. Thanks to the online approach, Avans takes as few chances as a possible of this happening. This is completely in line with the Dutch mentality. People here do not dare to take risks. I can understand that.”
The student is, however, critical about certain aspects of the policy adopted by the Netherlands with regard to the pandemic. He doubts if it was a good idea to close the gyms. “It probably caused a lot of anxiety amongst students.”
Does he think that the Dutch government waited too long before taking action? “Not a single Dutch politician could have foreseen this outbreak. Looking at a situation in retrospect it is always easy to say that we should have acted sooner”, he says. Still, he believes that the global response to the coronavirus was exaggerated. “As if the coronavirus is the biggest problem of our era, which it hardly is if you ask me.”
Jaman has a lot of contact with his parents. They are doing well, although the lockdown has had drastic consequences for the economy of Bangladesh. “If it lasts much longer, many people will start finding it difficult to feed themselves”, says Jaman. Fortunately, his parents are not experiencing any major financial difficulties. They do find it difficult that their son is so far away during a crisis. “I try to have a video chat with my parents every day. I can tell just by looking at them how much stress they is experiencing because I am so far away.”
Nevertheless, the student intends to stay here for quite some time. “Perhaps I will return to Bangladesh many years from now. But for now, my life is here in Eindhoven. I’m thankful for everything that I’ve learned.”