As something that had been at the top of my bucket list since starting University, exchange has been an experience that has well and truly lived up to my expectations. For the last three and a half months my home away from home has been Tilburg, a small town in the south of the Netherlands.
Tilburg University is exactly what I was looking for in an exchange experience: A big university in a small town, where you get to know all your fellow students, both Dutch and international, with ease. The accommodation at Tilburg consists of five apartment blocks designated for students only, with seventeen students to a floor with shared amenities. This of course requires some getting used to from a cleanliness perspective(or lack thereof!), but facilities certainly aren’t the reason people choose to stay there! No matter what day of the week you can be sure that something is going on at Verbs, whether it’s the Irish boys taking you down to the town’s only Irish pub to watch Rugby, the Colombians/Chileans/Argentineans being loud and trying to make you appreciate Latin music, the Canadians arguing about whether French or English-speaking Canada is superior, or even just the other Aussies and New-Zealanders who want to have a chat about our own little corner of the world.
Naturally, living in the Netherlands has taught me to adopt many of the well-known Dutch habits: I cycle absolutely everywhere, I have chocolate sprinkles on toast for breakfast(sometimes), I have experienced the joys of a beer cantus(look it up, you won’t be disappointed) and got involved in Carnival celebrations. The University’s exchange student network, I*ESN, is organised exceptionally well, and one of the most enjoyable things about Tilburg has been the way in which I have been able to not only make numerous international friends, but also have managed to become close with many of the local students as well!
Of course, living in such a well-placed part of Europe has allowed me to travel most weekends as well. Having already spent six months backpacking through Europe previously, this time around I have been able to go back to the places that I really enjoyed the most, from the crazy party hostels in Budapest through to visiting close family and friends in Ireland, Austria and England. Not only this, but these weekend trips have often been shared with my new exchange friends, which has made the experience all the more fun.
If I had to give a downside to my exchange it would be the pace at which it has gone by! Otherwise, I truly cannot recommend Tilburg enough as a different experience to home. Where UTS has office blocks, Tilburg Uni has fields and grass and parks, where UTS sits right in the middle of the bustling Sydney CBD, Tilburg Uni is nestled just outside the centre of the small town. It truly is a different experience to home, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and cannot wait to see what the remainder of my time here brings!
Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws