My name is Jason and I am currently 3 months into my exchange at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. I am studying my Masters of Architecture and in my final year of study.
EINDHOVEN? I’VE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH PLACE!
Eindhoven is a small city in the South of the Netherlands about an hour and a half away from the border of Germany and Belgium. The city is designed much like Paris in that the main core of the city is enclosed by a ring highway. Inside the ring is where you will most of the city life and everything that lies beyond is bulk of the suburban areas. I found out very quickly that while Eindhoven is quite small, the place really packs quite a punch in terms of student life and city culture.
LET’S GET AROUND
First things first, you have to get a bike. Biking is a central part of Dutch culture and it is the number one way to get around the city. Everyone rides a bike, I have seen grandmothers, students and children that do not look like they are old enough to walk ride a bike. With a bike you will be able to cover the city centre from end to end in about 30-40 minutes – it is good exercise and if you have an itch to explore you will be sure to find some really beautiful places (Hint: Dusk is a great time to go on a cycle, especially in the south).
STRATUM – THE PLACE TO BE
The core of the culture in Eindhoven lies in a strip called Stratum. If the records books serve me well, I believe that this infamous strip breaks the record for having the most bars, clubs and restaurants on the same street in Europe with the count at 68. Stratum really lights up as Eindhoven’s festival centre during Carnaval, a festival where the whole town dresses up and parties for 4 days straight much like the Venetian ‘Carnavale’. It happens usually around mid-February and is a lead in to the Catholic tradition of Lent. It can be quite strange for foreigners but Dutch are a friendly bunch and will make sure you feel at home.
RANDOM THINGS I HAVE OBSERVED ABOUT THE DUTCH
– The Dutch love cheese sandwiches and ham sandwiches
– There are ‘hot food’ vending machines in the city centre
– There is an obsession with the colour orange
– They love their markets
– Mayonnaise and fries are a thing here (It is actually ridiculously good)
The University itself is quite large and located in the centre of city, really good if you are after a true campus experience. As a student, there are a lot of facilities such as a large sports centre, the black light cinema, hairdressers, numerous cafeterias located around campus and bars for each faculty to name a few. Most buildings on campus are connected to each other via a sky bridge located on the first floor which becomes useful for when it gets really cold and windy. The campus also has a large area of green space and a river that runs through it.
The architecture department is quite big here and encompasses other built environment subjects like urban design and structural design so you get a good mix of students. There are pretty good facilities here and they tend to enforce a more workshop culture. Their workshop is quite extensive in the equipment they have and is open all day to all students. Materials are cheap and so is printing. The teaching is quite different to UTS but I find it to be quite a nice change up.
MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME
A unique thing happens on exchange is that while you become immersed in the culture of your host country; you also gain incredible insight into other countries through your interaction with other international students that you meet. For me this insight happened through my flatmates. I live with a girl from Istanbul and a guy from Singapore and through our daily interactions I have learned so much about their respective countries from the political conditions, the food and all the idiosyncrasies that make their country unique. It’s a real eye opener and you end up really appreciating the diversity of the world around you. We do a lot of cooking together because compared to Australia; groceries are an absolute steal here. It is also good way to get to know each other whilst keeping healthy…who said students can’t cook?