Flinders Degree: Bachelor of Psychological Science
Program: Semester exchange
Destination: Maastricht University, Netherlands
Period: Semester 2 2015
“The most rewarding aspect of exchange is both the impact of meeting new friends and the personal growth you experience as a result of going on exchange”.
Before I Went
I had no fears about going on Exchange, I was very eager and excited to go on exchange.
Maastricht University provide an orientation week filled with activities, events and info sessions (mostly with other international exchange students). These are hosted both at and outside of the university. E.g. Welcoming ceremony at the university provided with lunch, complimentary quiz and dinner night and so forth.
There was an international association for exchange students, this provided exchange students with a variety of resources and facilities. There was a welcome box given to students with a load of Dutch goodies, discounts and information about Maastricht. Weekly events and gatherings for international students along with information on all other student related events happening.
Academic workloads at Maastricht was 5 subjects across 3 periods which was equivalent to 1 full time semester at Finders – 2 subjects per period, 1 subject in final period. Attendance was typically 1 lecture and 1 tutorial per week, per subject, so the contact hours were pretty minimal each week usually at around 4-6 hours and I found the subjects were usually well timetabled across 2 days. In terms of academic requirements the subjects were generally based on 100% exam or 100% assignment (sometimes, an assignment and exam), and mandatory attendance and participant in tutorials. However found that the work was quite easy and exams were straightforward. It was an advantage being a native English speaker.
[My accommodation was] off-campus but still student accommodation. Living in student accommodation was great and was a great way to meet others. I lived in a large building with about 200 other students across 8 floors. There was always events and parties being held, we had a Facebook group which was a great way for all of us students to reach out to others in the building, organised, find or ask questions.
- Housing Cost
$500 per month [for] self-catering facilities
- Living Expenses
In total I budgeted for $10,000 which definitely covers flights/insurance/board/food/basics. However in total I ended up spending about $15,000, this included lots of weekend travel, entertainment and ensuring I could enjoy everything to the best of ability and not missing out on anything I wanted to do.
- Financial assistance
OS help loan was received, this was a very easy process and was a great help in covering all upfront costs to ensure when I arrived all I was left to pay for was food/entertainment and extra travel. I also received the ISEP, which [was] available for exchange students travelling to the Netherlands however [was] restricted to 2 successful applicants only.
- Typical Day
A typical day involved making and sharing breakfast with friends on my floor, generally then I would ride my bike to school and meet with friends before class. After class my friends and I would generally explore, find nice coffee shops and tea places to enjoy lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. If there was a student event on, I would always go and this was generally organised in the evening and was usually at a pub or student venue with great drink specials! If there was not an event on, again my floor would do a dinner together or I would venture to a friends for a shared or ‘pot luck’ dinner.
There wasn’t initially any distinctive differences in cultures from the Netherlands to Australia, and I only say this because the Netherlands are renowned for speaking English. So it was very easy to get around and settle in with no language barriers. However as I started to experience the Netherlands and their culture, there were significant differences in things like education, food, transportation and so forth.
- Making friends
Very easy to make friends with local Dutch people, they are very friendly and intrigued by international students. Maastricht is renowned to be a student city and attract lots of international students but also travellers. Nearly all Dutch speak English and this was a very beneficial aspect allowing friendships to be made with ease because communication was very comfortable.
I had no fears about going on Exchange, I was very eager and excited to go on exchange. I didn’t encounter any difficulties that were notable.
Advice to Flinders Students Thinking about Overseas Study Opportunities
Take every opportunity that comes your way, whether it be a small student event or an offer to go on a weekend away -always say yes! You won’t regret it, and if you don’t you will. So my advice is to be a yes’man or mamm’ and enjoy every second of your exchange it’s a once in a life time experience and a journey that will provide you will endless experiences, memories and life long friendships all over the world.
- Read other Outbound Returned Student Interviews here