Tag Archives: Netherlands

The Netherlands, why not?

Last Autumn semester, I had a chance to go to the Netherlands as an exchange student. I lived and studied in Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands for five months. As a big part of the study program that I chose at Avans University of Applied Sciences was designed for distance learning and  the schedule is quite loose, I had a lot of free time for exploring the city and traveling.

Grote Kerk Breda

Breda is a peaceful city surrounded by river, yet it is always social due to students from two universities. In the weekend, I enjoyed walking on the main street, did some shopping then had lunch at either a cosy lunch place or a snack bar.  One distinctive feature that I love in Breda was that it was very easy to find a lovely coffee shop where you can have a drink or a light meal.

Sandwich at JanenAlleman

Fries with meat fritesaus and bitterballen at a snack bar

Because Breda was located near the Netherlands – Belgium border, it was convenient to travel to Belgium. From Breda, you can make a day trip to Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog,  where the border is just a single line run through houses. Antwerp, Belgium is only  a half hour away by train and by the same direct intercity train you will arrive at Brussels after one more hour. There are also other cities such as Ghent and Bruges that are the most famous destinations in Belgium. I visited them all when I had a few days off and it was worth it. Regarding to destination in the Netherlands, Amsterdam – the capital – the canal city is a must. There are also many attractions in this lively city such as the canals, Rijk Museum, Anne Frank House.

View from Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp

Back to study topic, because all of the subjects were designed for distance learning so I did not have to go to school everyday. I could attend classes from home through an online platform. This was a new learning method that I have not experienced in TAMK. I felt more comfortable by attending class this way. However, as an exchange student, this caused a communication problem for me. Because I did not have to go to school, I did not usually meet people so it was hard to socialize with other students. Although the class schedule were quite comfortable, I still needed to devote a lot of time for studying. There were assignments every week and a project that sometimes had several reports due in the same day. The grading system were quite different from Finland’s. It was very hard to get 9 or 10  out of 10. There were some subjects that was impossible to get a 10. However, it might depend on the subject or the teacher, so just tried your best.

A meeting with client of a project

During my exchange semester, I learnt a lot about Dutch culture and also environmental related subjects. I really missed the days and the food after leaving this city. It is always nice to experience something new. So go on an exchange program in the Netherlands, why not?

 

 

 

Goede middag uit Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is a city of canals, french fries and friendly people. It is the capital of the Netherlands and has a population over 800 000 people. Amsterdam’s demographic is different compared to the rest of the Netherlands because it has a population almost 50% Dutch and 50% foreigners. That’s why it’s common to use English in everyday actions and most of the people speak English fluently.

 

I have done my exchange period in this lovely city, in school named Hogeschool van Amsterdam. It translates to Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. My courses mostly consisted of finance and economics, which was first a bit difficult due to lack of finance courses in TAMK. Lecturers were great and professional, but they also expected lots of general knowledge about finance even at first. The lectures were interactive and lecturers made sure everybody was paying attention to the subject.

  

Compared to Finland, there were fewer lectures and most of the studying took place at home. Also, the courses took the whole semester and exams were all in June. The Dutch grading system is completely different than in Finland. They have a scale from 1 to 10, where 1-5,5 indicates fail, 6 satisfactory, 7 more than satisfactory, 8 good, 9 very good and 10 outstanding. Grades 9 and 10 are given very rarely. In my opinion, the level of education is higher than in Finland and it’s also more challenging, but still manageable.

  

Amsterdam is filled with adorable restaurants, bars, and parks, where you can eat and drink affordably. Of course, you can always bike to these places. As a beer person, I visited some of the Dutch breweries. My favorite place was this place called Brouwerij’t IJ, which was a brewery inside the windmill. For the food, I would always go to this neighborhood called De Pijp, where most of the people are Dutch – not tourists. For the culture, I visited Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank house. Even though these places are really crowded with tourists, they are excellent places to get more knowledge about the Dutch history and see beautiful paintings. There was a common room in our accommodation, where you could play cards, party or just hang with the other exchange students. This was great because I didn’t live in the central.

Overall I can recommend Amsterdam to everyone for studying, working or just visiting. I had myself an amazing time in this city and I hope we’ll see again!

Greedings from Breda!

I’m spending my last few weeks here in Breda Netherlands and writing down my experiences about studying in Avans University of Applied Sciences. I’m following Forensic Chemistry minor. In the minor there are preselected courses that are worth of 30 ECTS. The courses have been very interesting and all the teachers and local students speak very good English so it is easy to follow the lectures. Most of the studies have been project work (18 ECTS) which means that there has been more independent work.

Compared to Finland, here are less lectures and more independent work. I prefer less lectures, because the I can plan my studies and free time better. I think that the courses here are more challenging than in Finland. Also, I think that more work is required here for the credits than in Finland. There are more things that you should remember by heart whereas in Finland understanding the phenomenon is more important than the details. The teachers have higher expectations for students and it is more difficult to get good grades than it is in Finland.

Breda centrum

Introduction day with all the exchange students

I enjoyed my stay in Netherlands very much. Breda is quite small city and it is very peaceful to live here. We have a nice international community in here since most of the exchange students live in the same apartment buildings. It is easy just to knock on someone’s door and hang out. A bike is essential to have in Netherlands, because it is the easiest way to get around places. The buses are quite expensive here so another reason to buy a second-hand bike and sell it when you leave. In my spare time I have been travelling in Netherlands and other countries as well and hanging out with my friends. It has been very easy to travel inside Netherlands, because the train system is good and the prices aren’t that bad. There are also discount train tickets for sale regularly. I have also been doing a quite a lot of sports. There are really good opportunities to do sports for students in Breda. There is gym, group lessons and discount for example the local bouldering centre.

Breda city park Valkenberg

Valkenberg chickens

 

Groeten uit Groningen

Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people, many of them students, in the North of The Netherlands. I did my exchange studies in Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Design department of Minerva Art Academy, studying illustration and animation. The Academy has great workshops for analogue techniques, and is located in its own facilities, away from the main campus (Zernike), just like Mediapolis in TAMK.

Martinitoren dominates the cityscape as the highest-rising building

The courses and assignments are more focused on artistic thinking and storytelling compared to TAMK’s problem-based or more technique-focused approach. In Minerva there aren’t so much courses as such with for example software teaching, at least for the second year class where exchange students are integrated. At first the system was very confusing and it was hard to figure out where one should be and when. Their digi schedule doesn’t really work, and most of the communication in Illustration major happens on Facebook. This doesn’t appeal to me greatly, but fortunately the local students, as the Dutch in general (although it is a stereotype) are very friendly and helpful and helped us exchange students greatly in getting into the system. The teachers were also very understanding with students coming from different backgrounds and disciplines.

A strong similarity to my studies in TAMK is balancing the workload between different courses and assignments to make the most out of them. It seems like one could pass the courses with little effort, while with some ambition there is a lot to gain. An example of my work in Minerva is Mr. Moose, an animated series (link below).

Minerva Art Academy has two separate buildings, this one, formerly a museum, looks nicer in pictures

In my spare time I have mostly been working on personal projects, seen some bands, and eaten fries (picture for evidence).

Friet, a mandatory photo

Hoe gaat het?

Chao’s Cafeteria is maybe one of my favourite places to eat. Most of the staff doesn’t speak any language, so it doesn’t help if you have spent months in Duolingo trying to learn some Dutch. But the important thing is that you get fries with mayo for just a couple of euros.

There’s some mold in the walls but it’s not in the fries I think so you don’t have to worry. Oh and there is some strange thing hanging from the roof that teaches you mean words in many languages. Schlappschwanz for example (German, not Dutch). My belgian classmate ordered there once also some strange grey-ish sausage and for some reason I ordered it too. It was… interesting.

Wow, look at that knakworst! Chao has really prepared this one.

But Dutch people eat much more healthy and with variety than just fries with mayo. Like… bread, for example. And toasts. Here are some of them:

And the traffic. So amazing. Cars are for Schlappschwanzels. Bikes are the master rac… I mean, the thing! Whew, that was close. Didn’t remember this was a school blog. Anyway, look at this gif I made:

 Makes you feel bad to watch that for a long time. There are bikes like mosquitoes in a forest in Orivesi. In Utrecht there are 3 bikes per resident (source: the wall of my hotel in the first week).

So that’s it for now. Weltrusten! Ik ga nu luisteren naar de trap zangen van Jacin Trill. Tot ziens!

Groeten uit Zwolle!

Christmas is almost here which means that my exchange period is almost over. Before my exchange I was excited, scared and I didn’t know what to expect because this was my first time when I was going abroad alone. Before I came here, five months seems such a long time but I can certainly say that time flies here! Now it’s sad to leave all these nice places and wonderful people and come back to Finland.

I’m living in Zwolle which is quite small (population around 125 800) but very cozy and calm city in the northeaster Netherlands. If you like big and crowded cities, Zwolle isn’t probably right place for you. But it is just perfect for me. The city center is small but there are many nice restaurants, cafés and shops (such as Primark, H&M, Zara). And of course, there are beautiful canals and old buildings.

I’m studying at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. Windesheim is quite big school and there are many students. Most of my lessons are in the X building which is the newest building and very modern. My program is called Doing Business in the World and I have chosen courses like sustainability marketing, business ethics and organizational psychology. In addition to these we have one project for a real customer.

Studying here is very similar than in TAMK. We have many groupworks and projects. I think that the biggest difference is that the teachers here are more direct they have higher standards than in TAMK. For example, if they aren’t satisfied with your assignment they might ask you to improve it. Most of the students in my class are exchange students but there are also a few Dutch students.

Dutch people don’t eat lunch at all. At lunchtime, they eat only sandwiches or fries. And they eat fries A LOT! You can find snack bars almost in every corner. I would never have thought to say this but I really miss TAMK school lunches!

The first thing I did after I arrived at Zwolle was to find a bike because bike is the easiest way to move from one place to another. Bikes in here are quite expensive for example I paid 90 euros for my secondhand bike. I live in Leliestraat in a shared room where we have a bunkbed, own kitchen and bathroom. The building is old but the room is nice and my roommate is wonderful.

In my spare time, I have enjoyed walking around the beautiful city center and the park right next to my accommodation. I had quite lot of work in the first period but now I have more free time and I have been travelling around the Netherlands and Germany. Travelling here is easy and the distances are really short compared to Finland.

-Anniina

Groeten uit Ljouwert!

Greetings from Leeuwarden – or Ljouwert as the Frisians call it. Leeuwarden is a city of around 95 000 people in the north of the Netherlands. Leeuwarden is a nice and cozy city, full of canals and everything one could need. This city will also be the cultural capital of Europe in 2018!

Leeuwarden in August.

I study at Stenden University of Applied Sciences, which is – I have come to notice – a very nice and valued school for hospitality industry. During the first module here, I studied international hospitality management; hospitality operations design, to be exact. This included topics such as, how to define the perfect price for a night at a hotel (from hotel perspective) and how different kinds of layouts at restaurants affect the work motivation of employees. All in all, the first module was a lot of work, but also honestly very interesting at the same time!

Flowers and canals.

The biggest difference with studies at Stenden and my studies at TAMK, was the method of teaching. Here we also had lectures but they were not the main focus. Everything came together in PBL, Problem Based Learning, which was a hard method to learn at first, but most rewarding after getting the hang of it. We had two PBL classes each week and at every session we were given a problem, based on the topics discussed that week in other classes, and our job was to come up with a solution for it. This way the students were “forced” into learning how to apply the information received beforehand and just learning it by heart was not an option.

During my spare time I have traveled a lot. Already in the beginning we came up with a nice group of girls to travel together and have been doing it ever since. Because the Netherlands is quite small, it has also been possible to do a lot of day trips around the country. One could even say, we have now seen every corner of the city – or at least the most major ones. Here are the cities we have seen, just to name a few: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Groningen and Zwolle.

Although studying at Stenden has been a lot of work at times, I think I have also learnt a lot from it and would definitely recommend this university to others. And when one is able to schedule school work efficiently, one has plenty of time to travel as well and also explore the cute little city of Leeuwarden itself. 

Greetings from the Netherlands

I never thought I’d truly fall in love with a country such as Netherlands, but it happened. The people here remind me of Finnish people, but more open minded and accepting.

I’m studying at the Hague University of Applied Sciences, and I’m attending a project called European Project Semester. This year’s project is to create a smartphone application that helps art students and young artists to promote and sell their art. We’ve decided to create an application that lets the user talk to pieces of art, such as statues and paintings. When the user gets close to a piece of art he gets a message from it and can start having a conversation. Each art piece has artificial intelligence, meaning they can learn from the conversations they have.

In my spare time I mostly hang out with my newly found friends, making food, going to parks and to the beach or with our school project. It is very easy to get around the Hague because of the bike lanes that are everywhere, and if there isn’t one you can just cycle among the cars without the fear of road rage. The public transportation is also very functional.

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Me and a couple of buddies also did some traveling around Europe. First we went to Belgium, and spent time in Brussels and also Bruges, a medieval trading post on northern Belgium. Then after that we went to see Vienna, Prague and Krakow. It is very easy to get around central Europe with either a bus or a train. We usually use the bus, as it is way cheaper compared to train or airplane, with some exceptions.

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Studying in the Netherlands feels, for the most part, the same as Finland. Dutch people kept telling me that apparently the education system in Finland is perfect and their system is trying to replicate what’s happening in Finland . Although I did not get to see the whole picture, I don’t think it differs that much from Finland’s education system.

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I also bought two bikes, both of which I fixed. One of them (the one on the photo) i brought with me to Finland.

Hallo from the Netherlands!

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I’m now almost at the end of my semester here in Nijmegen. I came here to study intercultural social work at HAN University of applied sciences. Soon I’m leaving here with a better understanding of cultures and intercultural communication. Now I have more ways of dealing with cultural misunderstandings and conflicts and I’ve opened my eyes to many problems considering racism and social exclusion.

My study program is called Intercultural social professional. Our schedule includes three days of internship every week and two days of school, so the program does keep me busy. Teachers like to keep us moving, so the classes fill up from different method exercises and practical assignments. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down in a chair and just listened the teacher even for an hour.  I ended up doing my intenship in a primary school, where the children don’t speak English. Even without shared language, I’ve learned a lot in my internship and the Dutch hospitality has really shown there. Doing an internship has given me a way to really work with local people and get to know the culture on a deeper lever. Still I’m happy that I didn’t choose to do just an internship abroad, because with the studies I’ve gotten a huge community around me and I feel like I’m getting the whole Erasmus-experience.

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HAN seems to have a lot in common with TAMK and actually on a quick visit to HAN, you might think you’ve come to a Finnish University. The differences are there, but deeper. Compared to our studies in Finland, teachers here expect more from you. I’m not talking about knowledge or actual skills, but the expectation is that students handle their studies independently and if they need help, they will get it from other students. I like this mentality that you’re an adult and you have the responsibility of your studies, but for an exchange student that can be hard. It’s not so easy to get support, information or help with figuring out everything here. The working mentality is a little bit different, since the students pay for the studies. They expect to get great teachers and they say directly if they’re not pleased with it. Sometimes I’m terrified of how students speak to teachers, but it seems to be fine to them. Dutchies work hard and play hard and they don’t mix those together. Free time is appreciated and it’s not a shame if you end your school day enjoying a beer in the school’s restaurant.

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Soooo, moving on to the free time. I was lucky enough to get to live in Vossenveld, which is a student complex for mostly international students. This complex has made it easier to get friends and keep in touch. There’s always someone banging on my door or texting me to go outside, so if you don’t want to, you’re never alone here. We often say that Vossenveld is our own little village. It’s extremely easy to travel in the Netherlands by train, so I’ve seen a lot. I’ve also got to know the neighbors Germany and Belgium pretty well. Nijmegen itself offers everything you could ever need. It’s beautiful, old and a really alive city with a lot to do and see. Nightlife here is also pretty great, since this is a big student city! Dutch people are helpful, open and generally nice, but they’re also busy, so making real friends is a task. Don’t put your hope on “let’s hang out sometime”, no you won’t. Make up a date.

My experience in the Netherlands has been amazing. Besides getting a bunch of new, life-long friendships and unforgettable memories, I’ve learned and grown as a professional and as a person. This is a country and a culture I could honestly picture myself living in. Although then I would have to build my own sauna and find forests somewhere.

Beste wensen, Jenni

 

Greetings from the Netherlands!

I have been studying in Utrecht, The Netherlands for three months now. I have loved it here and I am excited for the remaining two months.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam

I am studying Sports and Entertainment Marketing at the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. Studying here is quite easy as I am used to the studying method where there isn’t that many lectures and more group work and other projects. For example, I have worked at Utrecht Marathon and 3FM Awards festival as a part of my studies. In May my class is also doing a trip to Rome. In comparison to my studies in Finland, we do a lot more projects for actual companies. The teachers are more direct and demanding. If they don’t think your paper is good enough, they will tell you and ask you to do it again.

typical dutch view
typical dutch view

As I have quite lot of free time, I have taken an advantage of it. I spend lots of time with my friends, go to the gym and running and do a lot of normal things I usually do when I have free time. I also have lots of time to travel around the Netherlands as well as around Europe. I have already visited four other countries during my exchange, done two road trips and other trips around the Netherlands.

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I feel like my time here just flies by. But I still have two months left and I am going to make the most of it!