Anna – Semester Exchange at VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Semester 2, 2016
Six weeks ago I left Australia to study abroad in Amsterdam! Let me tell you about my experiences so far…
I was extremely excited that I would be in Europe for my semester abroad and I took the opportunity to do some extra travel before the semester started. Together with my Dad, I travelled to Amsterdam via Singapore and Paris. We had a wonderful time exploring both of these incredible cities.
When we arrived in Amsterdam we stayed one night at The Student Hotel (TSH), my home for the next six months, before exploring Holland on a six day, self-guided cycling tour. Each day we rode approximately 50 kilometres and each night we stayed in a different town/city. It was the perfect way to explore the country! Now that I am settled here in Amsterdam I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. I am also grateful that I was able to travel with my Dad, it was really special to share that time together.
I am now living at The Student Hotel in Amsterdam West. The hotel accommodates students and young professionals who are living in Amsterdam for a semester or a year, as well as guests who are visiting the city for a shorter length of time. I have my own bedroom and bathroom and I share a kitchen with the other rooms in my corridor. The hotel also has a number of common spaces, including a lounge, restaurant/bar, gym and study area. In the few short weeks that I have been here I have met so many wonderful people from all over the world! It is so exciting to be here in this amazing city and to be able to share the experience with new friends!
This semester I am undertaking a minor of Frontiers of Multicultural Societies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I am about to start my third week of classes. A minor consists of five related courses that span the entire semester. The minor that I am studying is designed for exchange students and so my classes are made up of students from all over the world. It is extremely interesting to meet so many different people and to hear their unique perspectives on what we are studying.
In the Netherlands, each semester is divided into three periods. During period one students take two courses, which run for approximately 8 weeks. This is the same for period two. In period three one course is taken for approximately 4 weeks. This is quite different to Australia, as we take four courses simultaneously over the entire semester. I am enjoying the different system here as it allows you to focus more intensely on the course content. The other major difference is that I am not required to complete any assignments for my courses. There is just one exam for each course at the end of the period. Because of this, I am able to spend my time focusing on the lecture content and weekly readings.
Now that I have settled into life at the hotel and my classes at uni I am looking forward to exploring more of the city of Amsterdam! I am also planning some weekend trips to other amazing cities in Europe. I am so happy to be here and so excited for the next 5 months!