Hello again! It’s been a busy semester so far, but after just finishing my mid term exams I’m pleased to report that after far too many vending machine coffee-fuelled library sessions I’ve passed everything and have some time to relax before the January exams.
I’ve been in Nijmegen since August and I have had time to reflect on my time here so far. Adjusting to life in a country so different from Glasgow and my native Belfast has been a rollercoaster of excitement and panic, joy and stress, enrichment and uncertainly, but an experience I would not change at all.
One of my biggest worries before arriving was whether or not I would meet like-minded people and find things to do in this new city, but this fear was immediately quashed when I arrived for the orientation week organised by the university. Virtually every university in Europe will offer a similar scheme in order to welcome international students. We were sorted into groups led by 4 mentors each who showed us around the city and took us to the activities. (See picture. I’m not biased, but Group 7 were and always will be the best).
In the space of 3 days I ate raw herring covered in onions (a Dutch delicacy), ruined Ireland’s sporting reputation at the Sports Day event and partied with people I’m very happy to still be close with today. OH yeah, my bicycle got stolen too. This will likely only apply to you if you come to the Netherlands where having a bike is essential to your daily life. Don’t worry though, just make sure you get a good lock (and don’t lock your bike to a road sign that is so short that a thief could just lift the bike over it…)
In memoriam: Rusty the Bicycle, 17/08/2015-21/08/2015
(Her replacement, Spartan, has served her memory well)
If you decide to study in Europe on the Erasmus scheme, I assure you that you will have limitless opportunities to travel across the continent and make the most of all of your time here. The International Office at Radboud, my host university, organises excursions (usually for only 25 euro) to cities like Brussels, Maastricht, Rotterdam and more every fortnight. Aside from lugging a massive rucksack around South-East Asia, this is the cheapest and best opportunity to travel you’re going to get.
Whilst during the initial few weeks we were overwhelmed with activities, meeting new people and endless documents, eventually we had to settle into the routine of classes and assignments. I’ve enjoyed my courses very much so far, and the variety offered has been very impressive. My best advice would be to ensure that the host universities you are looking at have a sufficient variety of courses that you think you will enjoy. In my experience it is far easier to get through those assignments if you are interested in the content!
I’m currently planning my travels over Christmas. I agonised over whether I would go back to Belfast over Christmas or travel during the holidays, but my family were very enthusiastic and said I should go for it! The plan so far is a week in Rome before Christmas Day, then afterward head to Budapest for the New Year celebrations. I’ll be sure to keep you updated!
Tot de volgende keer!