Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

Academic experiences

At VU the semester is broken up into 3 different teaching periods, so I was able to study 5 different subjects. I really liked this system as I was able to more fully engage with each subject, and got a nice sense of closure and success more frequently.
I studied mainly social sciences courses in Amsterdam, and I found them to be really unique and dynamic. They tended to focus on one very specific issue and explore it deeply - for example how groups become radicalised (extremist). All the courses were really very enjoyable and different from anything I'd experienced in Australia.

Personal experiences

Amsterdam is a truly vibrant and friendly city. I found it very easy to immerse myself in the local culture, and to get engaged with activities inside and outside of the university. Friendships formed hard and fast between exchange students, but there are also definitely avenues to make friends with other Dutch students. It just takes a bit more effort. Although I was hoping to pick up some Dutch, everyone in Amsterdam speaks such impeccable English that you really never need to - and often they won't let you! Personally, I learnt a lot from the whole experience. Not only was experiencing another culture incredible, but building myself a life in the city was a really satisfying and educational.

river

Accommodation

I chose not to take the offered campus accommodation, as it the most common place to be assigned (Uilenstede) is actually located just outside of Amsterdam. Also I'm not really into college vibes.
However, it was extremely difficult to find private accommodation. I spent the first month applying for almost 20 rooms a day, and getting very little response. Once I finally did get offered a room, I had to take it, even though it was more expensive than I would have liked. But once I had gotten through this I was really glad that I had taken private accommodation. It made the whole experience feel more authentic, and it was nice to have a bit more of my own space.

Academic development and employability

Studying abroad, you are exposed to a whole different system of education - from organisation, content matter, to the theoretical underpinnings of each subject. I can say confidently that, excuse the cliché, my mind has been opened to new ways of understanding.
Additionally, I gained a lot of confidence through my time away. Although the host university, and UQ Abroad are there to support you, ultimately you are doing it yourself, especially if you live off campus and don't involve yourself so much in the international student events (which is how I went about things). The process of building a life and social circle up without any of your past networks is transformative.

Highlight

Not so much a single moment, but one of the most enjoyable and picturesque parts of the Amsterdam experience is sitting outside by the canals, drinking a fresh mint tea or beer, and soaking up the sunlight and occasional street music. It feels like such a luxury, but it really can become an everyday activity when you live in the city.

Top tips

It is a fantastic experience, and definitely worth doing. Bring an enthusiastic attitude and it will take you far. One thing I found that in the first couple of months, it is important to immerse yourself in events and activities in the first month or so, even if they seem lame, as it's the crucial time to form friends and learn to feel completely comfortable in the city - which in the case of Amsterdam, is very easy.

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