Student experience: Greggory Lien (International Social Work)

''I've become more expressive''

International Social Work student in HAN Nijmegen building

Greggory is 27 and comes from the USA. He’s in his 1st year of International Social Work. Curious what made him apply for International Social Work and how it changed him as a person? Read on to find out.

International Social Work student Greggory in HAN Nijmegen campus

Comparing the USA to the Netherlands

According to Greggory, there’s an enormous difference between studying in the US and in the Netherlands. At school in the US he felt like he wasn’t free, like he was in a closed environment. How different things have been for him at HAN in the Netherlands.

“I like how everyone is more helpful and carefree… I never knew it would be a much nicer environment to be in. It’s much more relaxing. It feels like a place where I can be more expressive than where I came from.”

The teachers at HAN

Greggory also feels the teachers are more understanding and helpful at HAN.

 “I like that the teachers are very understanding of your circumstances. They’re willing to help you with any problems you might have regarding your studies. In America, you're basically on your own. So I really like that they're patient and understanding of your problems. I mean, there's my study coach. She's very understanding as always willing to help everyone and accommodate us. If she's able. And there's also my communication skills teacher. He's very relaxed, and is also nice person to talk to.”

Art and why he chose the program

Art is close to Greggory’s heart. Tattoo design in particular. Originally, he wanted to study art, but felt it would be too much of a competitive environment. That could lead to artistic burnout, something he wanted to avoid. But he still wanted to do something with his creativity, which is why he chose International Social Work. 

“I like that art can also be a really great way for people to express themselves. To express their emotions if they need to vent. They find out that drawing their feelings on paper or through writing is an easier way to express how they're feeling than resorting to physical violence.”

Favorite class

Greggory’s favorite class is Communication Skills. “I really enjoy the teacher. He's very easy going. And he’s always willing to learn with us as well. And I'm saying it's an easy class, but it's a very relaxing class to be in. We were learning about observation. About what you see in front of you, and what you can take from it. And how you'll use those skills to apply in social work when talking to real people or assessing situations.”

Visiting other cities

“I've been to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Breda. I just really love visiting cities where they have really big ornate churches because architecture is also a big interest of mine. So Gothic architecture is really up my alley.”

Favorite city?

“Nijmegen definitely has a more homely, relaxing vibe compared to Rotterdam which is very loud and busy. And I believe that people are much nicer in Nijmegen.”

Most memorable experience?

“On the first day, since I was new, and I didn't know anybody I was afraid that I wouldn't make any friends. But thanks to the introduction week through my art, like through showing my art I actually made some friends. So definitely worthwhile going to the introduction week because you never know who you might make friends with.”


Read more about International Social Work at HAN.