Bachelor of Commerce, 3rd year
Bachelor of Commerce, 3rd year

Academic experiences

Each semester is broken down into two periods.
During my studies at Utrecht University, my semester (semester 2) consisted of period 3 and period 4.
Each period is approx. 10 weeks long and is more concentrated than a typical UQ class.
This was a challenge at first as you must consistently stay on top of your studies or you're likely to miss important aspects of the course.
In period 3, I studied European Union Law and Essentials of Entrepreneurship.
In period 4, I studied Venture Marketing and Macroeconomics: A European Perspective.
The lecture style was hands-on in comparison with UQ in terms of class size and the interaction with the lecturers.
Most lectures are essentially a place of discussion (at least the courses I have taken this semester), as opposed to a lecturer simply telling you about a subject.
This was quite enjoyable and I noticed there was a large amount of student input.
Tutorials are also a forum for students to discuss topics relevant to the subject, even if they are not part of the assessment.
This makes each class quite interesting and worth attending.

Pythagoraslaan

Personal experiences

Utrecht has a fantastic international community supported by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). Even without ESN, the international students in Utrecht are quite friendly and eager to meet new people.
Utrecht has a great social aspect so meeting people requires minimal effort - just a simple easy-going attitude and being open to new things, people and cultures.
I highly recommend Utrecht as a place to meet great people.
Lifestyle is incredibly important to the Dutch.
I cannot intimate just how important cycling is to the Dutch.
To put it bluntly, if you do not own a bike and ride a bike every day (rain, hail, sunshine, snow) you are considered a social outcast.
So word of advice if you don't ride a bike regularly and are considering coming to Utrecht - practice and become confident.
The Dutch do not muck around on the bike paths.
The traffic hierarchy in Utrecht is bicycle, bus, pedestrians and cars.
In terms of language, the Dutch are always eager to speak English, so don't worry if you can't speak Dutch.
Just learn the simple, "Hi, bye, please and thank you".
The weather can be incredibly fickle in the Netherlands.
In winter, there's morning snow, afternoon sun and night rain.
In the spring and summer, for every warm day there are two cold ones following.
It's incredibly windy here, even in the sun, so keep a jacket with you at all times.

Accommodation

Due to some sort of clerical error, I shared accommodation with 11 girls, leaving me as the only male in my flat.
I know that I'm not the only person in this situation.
I personally enjoyed this dynamic, but I know that others may find it difficult.
I lived off-campus in a Short Stay Housing (SSH) complex called Pythagoraslaan.
Pythagoraslaan is located between the Uithof (main student campus and student accommodation) and Utrecht City Centre.
It's a great place to live if you don't want to stay on campus all the time.
There is a large Dutch contingent living in Pythagoraslaan, and while they're shy at first, if you make an effort as an international student, they're incredibly friendly and great neighbours to have.
Be careful when selecting your room at Pythagoraslaan.
Some of the rooms have a window overlooking stairwells of other apartments, which during party season can lead to a severe lack of sleep.
Living in SSH is great if you want to live with and meet lots of other international students, but if you want to pay the same rent as Dutch students and live in accommodation that is maintained at a proper standard - private accommodation is for you.

Keukenhof Tulip Gardens

Budget

Groceries are marginally more expensive than they are in Australia, even with the EUR/AUD exchange rate.
Rent is expensive (via SSH), but private accommodation is relative to rental prices in Brisbane (although these places are harder to find and/or organize from Australia).
Travel is cheap if you book in advance.
$15,000-$17,000 should be enough to cover rent, food, travel, books and fun for 6 months.

Academic development and employability

Exchange has opened my eyes to a number of cultures, languages and people.
From a business perspective it has been interesting to learn about the different industries in other international students’ home countries as well as the cultural practices that each person undertakes. I believe this perspective and ability to connect with large group of people from other cultures, backgrounds, countries, who may or may not speak the same language, is a valuable and employable attribute.

Highlight

There are far too many highlights to pick just one.

Top tips

Dive right in.
Go out, meet new people and learn as much about other cultures as you can.
It's an investment in education, travel and personal growth.
Don't let the opportunity pass you by.

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