“Why on earth would come all the way from Sydney to study here?”
With an incredulous look on their face, this is the question every Dutch person will ask once you’ve introduced yourself.
Tilburg, bless its heart, gets a bit of crap from its more beautiful European neighbours. But for us humble Aussies, it’s an adorable little city with everything you could need – from gourmet chips shops to Zara & H&M, plus dozens of cute cafés and bars nestled in the winding city centre. Plus, the supermarkets are mercifully cheap.
And anything it lacks in big city atmosphere, it more than makes up for with its student life. At the centre of the student life is Verbs, where hundreds of exchange students hailing from around the world are packed into 17 person, fidget-spinner shaped apartments with one shared kitchen, and a handful of bathrooms and showers. But what might appear to be the pre-conditions for a disease outbreak is in fact remarkably clean and organised – rarely waiting for the showers or toilets, plus the bedrooms are huge. And with 17 people per floor, there’s always someone to chat to, make dinner or have a hit of tennis with. Be warned – it is incredibly competitive to get into Verbs, so treat it with the same commitment as Splendour in the Grass and get in as soon as it opens and pick anything – all the rooms and flats are roughly the same and will sell out in minutes.
But whether you’re in Verbs or not, you’re tripping over yourself with opportunities to meet people. As soon as you arrive, there are welcome drinks and before long the incredibly well-organised student organisation, I*ESN, slots everyone into a mentor group which meets for dinner and drinks every Tuesday before everyone jumps on their bikes and descends on the exchange bar – Carpe Noctem – for a themed party. Plus there’s Intro Camp (would definitely recommend) and of course – the famed TOP week – a week packed with festivals, scavenger hunts, a pool party, pub crawls, parties every night and of course, the traditional Dutch cantus – where thousands of students gather in a massive warehouse on long tables, chant songs and scull beer (or wine if you’re tragically a fellow coeliac).
While there’s not an enormous selection of exchange subjects suitable for law students, the ones on offer are interesting and with some nifty manoeuvring you can score yourself a two day week, priming yourself for four-day weekends and trips with mates. With just one lecture for each class per week making up your timetable, there’s plenty of time to go on day-trips, hop on your bike and explore the city or go to the sports centre – where for $30 a month you can go to endless gym classes, have tennis lessons, play beach volleyball with your flat or even a hit of badminton or squash.
Apart from the rather inconsiderate weather (it’s started and stopped raining three times while writing this), I could not recommend Tilburg more highly – especially if you are, like I was, looking for a place where making great friends is guaranteed. Just maybe master how to ride a bike before you arrive – you’re going to need it.
Please feel free to message me with any questions and good luck!