Hi, My name is Nathan and I am a third year Arts/Education student. Shortly, I will be heading to Utrecht University in the Netherlands (about 30 mins south of Amsterdam) for a semester abroad. This has been such a long time coming; I applied to go on exchange all the way back in September 2015, but really only found out it was 100% confirmed and viable about two weeks ago. It is all a little surreal as in just four short weeks I will be boarding a plane, flying across the globe and starting a new semester of study in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language.
Why the Netherlands and why Utrecht? For me this was actually pretty simple – a couple of years back I spent a week in Amsterdam and loved it. The city was beautiful, the food was delicious and the people were friendly and spoke very good English. I wanted a cultural exchange, preferably in central Europe, but also somewhere with the safety net of being able to get assistance in my native tongue if need be. Utrecht is as major city in the Netherlands and is often described as Amsterdam without the tourists. The University of Utrecht specialises in in History and Geography, amongst other things, which just happen to be my majors. It was a bit of a no-brainer!
What am I looking forward to? –
- The challenge of studying on the other side of the world.
- Meeting people from all over the world and making friends.
- Submersing myself in all of the experiences the Netherlands has to offer.
- Traveling in Europe (Paris is 3hrs away).
- Attempting to learn a new language.
- A (hopefully!) white Christmas.
- Eating my weight in those Dutch waffle biscuit things with the caramel in the middle (Stroopwafel).
- Involving myself in the life of a student in group accommodation.
- Journeying to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
- Catching up with friends and family whom are also in Europe.
My date of departure is fast approaching and I’m crossing my fingers that all goes well from here! A few words of advice to those of you who are thinking about studying abroad; research where you want to go; make sure the uni offers suitable topics; speak to your topic coordinators early in order to get subject approval (they tend to get busy towards the end of semester); talk to your lecturer or tutor, as you need at least two personal references from academic staff; keep in touch with the LWB team, they are there for questions and can help smooth-out the application process; and keep your grades up! The higher your GPA, the more likely you are to get a scholarship.
Of the people I’ve spoken to who have been through uni, those that went on exchange said it was the best thing they have done – those that never applied have said they regret it. I’m looking forward to being one of the people who can say this was one of my best decisions and encouraging other people to do the same in the future!
Catch ya on the flip side!
Nathan Wilson a Bachelor of Education (Middle and Secondary Schooling)/Bachelor of Arts student, Semester 2 2016 exchange at Utrecht University, the Netherlands