"I remember a time in city center, a guy was harassing one of my friends. I stepped in, and he made fun of my accent. He told me, ‘you should go back to your country and make tortillas.’ I was so deeply offended. I didn’t expect that from a student in an international city.
"I went out one night and locked my bike up outside a house. When I came back it was gone, so I rang the door to ask if the person who lived there saw anyone take it. The guy who answered was a RUG student. He said, ‘Oh, I thought it belonged to one of those Chinese girls. I hate Chinese students and so I take their bikes and destroy them.’ This was one of my first experiences in Groningen."
"Dutch male students approach me and my friends while we’re talking in Spanish and say things like, ‘burrito fiesta dónde está la biblioteca’ or ‘keep talking that’s so hot’. That’s an everyday thing. I was once told Spanish girls are sluttier than Dutch girls. When I told him to leave, he added, ‘I don’t know why you have this attitude, Spanish girls have a certain reputation.’"
"The idealised perception of what a Japanese person should be follows me everywhere. They’re like, ‘oh, cool! So you can make sushi!’ "
"I have to fight preconceived notions about my country every step of the way. I get comments like, ‘You must be so happy to be in Holland, I heard women in Malaysia have no rights and can’t even drive!’ or ‘You must be so surprised at seeing such huge buildings here in Groningen, compared to your country!’ These can be so demotivating, especially when they come from classmates who think you’re somehow not good enough – just because they are ignorant."
"I have been told that Germans are Nazis and that I should go back to Germany."
"In my politics and philosophy class we were discussing ‘dirty hands politics’ and everyone was annoying me because I was ‘the Nazi expert.’"
"Dutch students think Nazi jokes are funny. They are not."
"You don’t have to be German to hear Nazi jokes; Austrian is also fine. "
"Sometimes people assume that because I’m from the Caribbean I am supposed to be a person of colour – so they tend not to believe me! I am mixed but it’s not obvious. People here also make it seem as if it is a pity to be where I am from."
"‘How do you come from Africa if you’re white?’ is a quote/question that I get all the time. It makes me feel excluded and not accepted. There is a stereotype that someone has to be black in order to be from Africa.’"
"People say ‘you’re too sensitive’ and make jokes about poverty and poor development in Africa. They joke about how ‘civilized’ I am for someone who comes from Africa. "
"Being from an African country, I tend to get slave jokes a lot and other patronizing comments. And when they can visibly see you are not in the mood for a joke, then they wonder why I’m being ‘so boring’. "
"I was told I must be used to being treated poorly at work because in South America that was a common thing."
"When people hear me speaking, they always ask where I’m from. That’s not really offensive. Then they say, ‘Oh, your English is so good for a Mexican!’ Why for a Mexican? I hear that very often. And the worst part is that the Dutch people don’t mean bad."
"People here don’t differentiate between Ukraine and Russia, which hurts my Ukranian feelings! Ukraine is not Russia. Crimea is Ukraine. Ukraine is in a war with Russia."
"Sometimes people comment on Italians being lazy but the comments are made as a joke and don’t actually mean anything. If the comments bother me, I say so."
"As a white Belgian I don’t really feel marginalized racially or ethically – more like based on language."
"My ex-roommate was Colombian, and his Dutch roommates always made comments about drug running."
"Not all Asians are from China! People make jokes about my country, that Thai people ride elephants to school. And not all Asians eat dogs or cats. People often comment that I might eat their pets. "
"I was surprised by the protest against internationalisation. That I would say is xenophobic. But at the personal level, aside from the few experiences where I really felt discriminated against, I would say the Dutch are just not polite, and they say jokes that are offensive. "
"When I was looking for a room I felt very sad when people found out I’m from Iran and did not answer me anymore. It happened more than ten times! I still feel sad and alone – I totally feel like there is hidden racism."
"Since I come from a Southern country, I am often treated like I’m lazy or stupid or only like to party. Also, I find it really hard to find good accommodation because the Dutch prefer Dutch people."
"When I was looking for accommodations a lot of Dutch students said they won’t live with me because I’m Spanish. I think Dutch people in general are pretty ignorant and closed-minded and only believe in having Dutch friends."
"I have had trouble finding accommodation. I never heard back anything from the owners I contacted. It took me two months to find a place and because of this I am really behind in my courses."
"People say that all Ukrainian students are gypsies – which is false – and that we all want to move to the Netherlands."
"People relate ‘not being on time’ or ‘being late’ to certain nationalities or races. So when non-Dutch people are late for an appointment or lecture, you hear comments that don’t happen when a Dutch person does the same."
"My parents are Romanian. I have been in a situation where I received a comment stating, ‘Aren’t Romanian girls pretty arrogant?’ I didn’t take it seriously, but it was an experience. "
"Friends of my boyfriend (now husband) would say I was marrying just to get papers. "
"There are actually a lot of racist jokes going around – about Asians specifically – which I deem inappropriate."
"There are students in my classroom who say racist things. The classroom should be a safe place for everyone. I get the feeling that the Netherlands has been really homogenous for a long time and people really haven’t been trained in empathy for minorities."
"I was in a theatre with a friend. Before the movie started, we were having a quiet conversation in our own language. A dutch guy was apparently bothered by this, I guess because he couldn’t understand what we were saying. He got inches away from my ear and started screaming, ‘SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!’ It was terrifying. I was so shaken."
"The first day I was here I was told to back to my own country and treated very rudely. I was shocked to be bullied so gratuitously. That deeply coloured my perception of Groningen; after that, I felt very guarded. And after experiencing smaller instances of xenophobia (directed towards other nationalities) I made up my mind that the Netherlands was very hostile place for internationals. "
"Discrimination exists for sure. Not openly; in society it is really hidden. I’m not sure if it is clear to Dutch people themselves: are they actually aware? Maybe they are aware but they don’t really care. Like the Zwarte Piet thing – for them it’s really normal. And if you criticize it, you are rude. They are ‘direct’ but you are rude, for the same behavior."
"When a Dutch student I had just met found out where I’m from he said, ‘Oh I don’t know about Jakarta all I know was Batavia.’ And it suddenly became really awkward. I don’t know. It’s somehow hurtful if you bring up colonialism: it’s something we are trying to forget. The way the Dutch disregard this makes me angry. My friend in Leiden was told by a history professor that our country was lazy and that’s why it was colonialised."
"My friends here always point out that my English is ‘funny/different/sounds Russian’. People are not used to Eastern pronunciation of English and make fun of Eastern pronunciation, which only discourages speakers to continue further."
"I once had someone, after only meeting me seconds previous, introduce me as ‘the stupid American’."
"People always make fun of France during WWII, calling it ‘the surrounded bird’ and asking where I hide my white flag. It is annoying to hear this from a country that did not even resist the German invasion. But what bothers me most is that it tarnishes the memory of every resistance in France. I truly hate this ‘joke’!"
"I know an Indonesian girl who still wears Hijab. A guy told her, ‘wearing that, you look like a terrorist.’ "
"At first, I would put hostile experiences and ignorant comments aside, thinking of them as ‘isolated incidents’. The thing about discrimination in Holland is that it’s very difficult to speak about because it isn’t institutionalised. So when it happens you often end up scrutinizing yourself to see if you could have done something differently, rather than provoke a ‘tolerant’ Dutch person to become rude towards you."
"I applied for a student trip to Lucerne. The student association said that they maybe could not choose my application. Since Dutch student’s parents pay taxes for them to be there, the trip might be ‘only for Dutch students’. Isn’t this my university too? I felt like a second-class citizen. "
"In the Faculty of Spatial Sciences there was a professor who called everyone else by their name, but he just called me ‘Aruba.’ Why not learn my name? You learn all the other Dutch names. Herein lies the problem: they don’t know it’s wrong. They see it as being funny, or charming. But it’s like someone walking up to a woman and saying, ‘hey sweetie.’"
"I remember in my institute they threw a ‘Mexican party’. I thought: That’s nice; they are going to honor my country! But when I showed up at the party they were all wearing sombreros – which we don’t even wear – and simulating people drunk on Tequila. I was like, this is so sad. It’s always the same stereotype. "
"The EBF organised a ‘mafia party’ to prepare students for a trip to Italy. I really did not expect something like that from an association partnered with the FEB. It’s like saying Colombia only equals Pablo Escobar – simply inaccurate and unnecessary."
"Last year, I heard my friend received a comment from a teacher about ‘being Asian’. She and the other Asian classmates suspected the teacher gave bad grades to non-European students."
"I heard a professor tell a Latin-American student that her educational background had deficiencies because of where she came from. I think it happens at all levels; most of them are jokes. But they touch sensitive spots, especially for people that come from countries that suffer a lot of discrimination."
"I have the impression that grades are very much based on where you have studied and where you came from, because professors often tend to say things like, ‘you don’t understand how it works here.’"
"There is preferred treatment for Dutch students in my program. But it would be the same in my home country too."
"It has often happened that even if I’m attending an English-taught master’s class, professors speak with other students in Dutch. Although I don’t think it’s racist, it prevents other international students from receiving important information and also makes them feel excluded."