Bachelor of science
Bachelor of science

On my exchange I studied an array of more specialised science courses - Cognitive Neuroscience, Biochemistry of Disease, Allergy & Auto-Immunity, Brain in Trouble and Drugs and Addiction. The Dutch system is very different to at home - considerably more relaxed in terms of teaching style, classes are much smaller so there is a much greater focus on student-lecturer interactions, heavily tutorial based and with a great focus on incoming lecturers individual research. I thoroughly enjoyed the exposure to European research and the close interaction with these highly knowledgeable professors. One aspect of the exchange I didn't enjoy was the course organisation - I only had one course at a time which lasted only one month - which made it hard as an exchange student (travelling, different style) to adapt to the rapid time schedule of each course. This design meant that I had exams at the end of every month - which meant that each course was very intensive, with often above 80% weighted exams only.

Netherlands

One of the greatest experiences from exchange stemmed from the provided living arrangement. Through VU, we were allocated to the student housing, sharing a flat with 13 other international students. I was lucky enough to have a flat of 14, with everyone from a different country - which made every flat interaction interesting. Every Sunday we had a family dinner - where two of the flatmates were in charge of feeding the rest of us - this was definitely the highlight. Not only were we learning all different tips and tricks of international cuisine - but sitting around the table I was constantly exposed to different cultural norms, attitudes, approaches to education and general differences in personality. Of course, the exchange has brought with it the opportunity to explore Amsterdam, a place which is like nothing I have ever experienced - particularly in the avenue of study I was following - I was exposed to a very different attitude towards health issues, particularly in terms of drug legislation and treatment approaches. Finally, going on exchange reinforces the importance and value of networking around the world - I have met incredible people, who I have already travelled and visited in their home towns, and who know that my home in Brisbane will always be open to them. It has also expanded my global horizons to places I wouldn't have considered due to local insight.

Amsterdam loves you

I lived off campus in an organised student accommodation for both Dutch and international students. The greatest part of the arrangement was definitely the melting pot of nationalities on my floor - and the huge network of international students in the area, constantly coming together. The housing itself was adequate - had everything that was needed. However, the housing group in charge of maintaining the accommodation were often slow, reluctant to help out. But the location of the accommodation is great - ideal in terms of university was ideal, only a ten minute bike ride. And is located between two beautiful parks. There was also a sports facility and cultural centre at hand. But for those wanting to be close to the centre - not so ideal, as it takes about half an hour to get into central Amsterdam by public transport.

Sunglasses netherlands

Rent was quite expensive, and is renowned for being expensive the closer you get into the centre. Public transport is also expensive, so depending on how often you travel into the centre it can be quite a contributor to the budget. It also depends on how much you bike. In the winter time it wasn't nearly as nice to ride as well, so I used a lot more public transport. Travel around Europe is so accessible - buses were a great low cost way of getting around, and generally the more in advance you buy, it's pretty easy to get cheap prices. To enjoy the exchange - I would recommend at least $15 000 AUSD, this would be enough for a good amount of travel, spending money to enjoy being in Amsterdam and cover rent in one of the shared rooms.

Netherlands bridge

My exchange experience has enhanced my academic development as I have been exposed to a much broader range of subjects, each featuring a number of well-known European and Dutch researchers. This exposure has enabled a much greater understanding into biomedical perspectives from a range of backgrounds including immunological, research, therapeutic, medical and more. It has also introduced me to a very different educational approach - the Dutch system is much more relaxed, therefore requiring a much greater level of self-discipline and motivation to succeed in the courses. Finally, my exchange experience gave me access to a volunteer position with the organisation that I want to work for once I've finished my degree; Medecins sans Frontieres. This opportunity has enabled me access to the organisation, insights into its structure and above all provided me with increased motivation and drive to pursue the career that I want.
A particular highlight of the experience was definitely the flat interactions we had every day. Having 14 people from different countries - there were always interesting discussions, cooking classes in the kitchen, celebrations of different festivals and traditions, and shared stories about our home towns. We all know that as our exchange ends - each of us are welcome all over the world in their homes, which is a very special and exciting prospect.
Exchange is one of the greatest opportunities that university has to offer - go into it with nothing holding you back at home from getting completely integrated and involved in every opportunity that the exchange has to offer. Getting involved in another university is an exciting way to experience your degree in a new way, and provides you with new approaches and techniques to apply. Following from that - the exposure to different people and their motivations for studying, different cultural backgrounds and experiences is something special. And of course, the opportunity to study in a different city and country is so enriching - in terms of travel opportunities, cultural attitudes and lifestyle! UQ abroad provides you with such a diverse array of locations and universities, and so much support, there is really no good reason not to utilise such a great opportunity that has so much to give you.
 

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