If you’ve ever wanted to live in a musical, spend some time around the international students from the Netherlands and you’ll probably feel like your dreams are coming true. Tom Lukas, Gerald Oudman, and Johan Ribberink are all students at Dordt for part of this semester. Oudman, a 22-year-old from Zwolle, said he (and his two traveling companions) especially enjoy singing. “We love to sing. When the last few words or phrases of a sentence remind us of a song, we sing! That’s what we do!” shared Oudman. Lukas agreed, “That’s what our lives are based on.”
Besides musically entertaining Dordt’s campus this semester, Lukas and Ribberink are studying education for a couple of months. Oudman is planning on completing his student teaching at Sioux Center Christian after the exchange program ends.
Ribberink, 20-years-old and from Meppel, decided to study at Dordt because he wanted the “campus experience” and simply thought it would be fun. Lukas agreed that the campus experience is enjoyable. “Everybody lives on campus,” he said, “that’s something I like most. You can hang out with everybody all the time. You don’t have to go somewhere far away, like Never Never Land.” Lukas and Oudman echoed similar feelings. All three are elementary education majors, and all thought gaining international teaching experience would be beneficial.
Oudman’s decision to move to Sioux Center is a little more complicated than Lukas’ and Ribberink’s. When asked why he came to Dordt to study, Oudman replied, “Lexi, duh.” Lukas and Ribberink laughed and agreed.
Two years ago, Oudman met Lexi Elgersma, now a Dordt graduate and teacher at Sioux Falls Christian, on the SPICE program in the Netherlands. Elgersma is the youngest daughter of Dordt’s English professor Bill Elgersma. Although all three exchange students currently live in Dordt’s undergraduate dormitories, Oudman will stay with the Elgersma family during his student teaching.
Besides girls and teaching experiences, the three Dutch students appreciate additional things about being at Dordt. All three are enjoying the social aspect on campus. If you haven’t met them on campus, you probably haven’t spent enough nights in 55th Avenue, one of their favorite places to socialize. Oudman can also be found joining the Dordt soccer team at practice every day, and Ribberink and Lukas joined an intramural soccer team last week.
Sports are definitely something the three students enjoy about life at Dordt College, but bicycling is one that has had its challenges for Oudman. “My seat of my bicycle disappeared,” he shared, “I guess someone stole it or is trying to be funny, but it isn’t funny.” For now, Oudman joins Ribberink and Lukas riding around Sioux Center with no bicycle seat.
The three musical exchange students also miss some Dutch foods. “I miss my chocolate sprinkles,” said Ribberink, “Casey’s Bakery has them, but they are just so expensive.” Oudman’s least favorite part about Dordt is the commons, “but that’s pretty obvious,” he added.
In addition to missing seats and sprinkles, Ribberink and Lukas think the classes are kind of hard to enjoy because the level seems too low for them. Although they believe this may be because they are seniors at home, they also find it strange that freshmen through seniors may be in some of their courses.
Overall, Lukas, Oudman, and Ribberink are enjoying their time at Dordt. They find the community friendly, free refills enjoyable, and encourage the rest of campus to welcome them by simply saying hello and asking them about their culture.