It’s been two months since I took the train to Tilburg University station with my giant red suitcase and zero expectations of what was to come. I chose the Netherlands mainly because it was in the centre of Europe (easy to travel to/from), Tilburg was a university town (something entirely different to UTS), I’d heard there was a good international exchange program (i*ESN) and I’d never been to the Netherlands before (somewhere new). From stepping off that train to now having settled in, I can now confirm I’ve made a great choice.
Tilburg uni is quite similar to UTS – the workload is about the same, the library looks scarily similar, there’s lots of group assignments and we have the same structure of workshops/tutorials and lectures. I’m doing free electives here which has allowed me the flexibility to choose subjects that really interest me and there’s also the added bonus of a 5 day weekend… A word of advice when you’re choosing subjects: really read through the subject descriptions, figure out if your classes clash (the enrolment system doesn’t automatically tell you if they do), and have a look at the course load (sometimes there’re 100% final exams).
I followed the advice of previous exchange students and made sure I got housing at Professor Verberneelan. The benefits of living here include a sweet room that’s super close to uni, social events every week and of course an instant international family. Just on my floor alone are new friends from Spain, the US, Canada, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Singapore, Hungary, Germany, Sweden and Turkey! In fact, I live with so many Spanish speakers that I feel like I’m learning more Spanish than Dutch…
If you consider yourself a social butterfly I would definitely recommend coming to the Netherlands because the Dutch love to party. There’s cantus which is kind of like a cross between Oktoberfest and karaoke (you sit at long tables and sing along with a band, when the song ends you have to down your beer – repeat this for 2-3 hrs) and it is the wackiest, funnest thing you will experience. Then there’s Carnaval which is a weeklong party where everyone dresses up in crazy outfits (I saw someone dressed as an aloe vera plant…), bands play in bars, you sing, you dance and you drink beer and Schrobbler (Tilburg’s version of Jägermeister). And finally every time you go out (which will most likely be weekly) your night will involve a singalong to either ‘Piano Man’, ‘Unwritten’, ‘Sweet Caroline’ and/or ‘Narcotic’ (don’t ask why, just sing).
Here are some more tips if you decide to choose Tilburg for your exchange (or if you need further convincing):
- The Dutch are really good at English so don’t worry about trying to master the language before you come.
- Bike life is the best life. If you can’t ride a bike or it’s been a while, get practicing because it will be your main mode of transport here. You can either buy one for around 100€ (and get 20€ if you return it at the end of the semester) or you can hire one like I did through Swapfiets (which is about 12.50€/month).
- Make the most of your weekends! Travel when you can during the semester because there’ll be deals left right and centre. If you’re travelling within the Netherlands and plan on taking the train, buy group tickets (4-7 people) because it’ll be a lot cheaper. Also, if you’re like me and can fall asleep anywhere, make sure you download the Flix Bus App and keep an eye out for sales. The same goes for RyanAir (there’s some pretty sweet deals from Eindhoven Airport).
- Every Saturday there’s a fresh fruit & veg market in the City Centre. Load up on fresh produce for the week here, it’s way cheaper and better quality than the grocery stores!
- If you’re wanting to work off all that cheese you’ll be eating, you should sign up for the sports centre. It’s super close, it’s only 97€ for 6months (or 22.50€/month) and there’s heaps of classes you can do. Also, if you play a sport, check out if they have a club for it in Tilburg. I’m training and playing games with the volleyball team here and find its a great way to meet a bunch of really nice Dutch people!
So if you’re still um-ing and ah-ing about going on exchange, just do it! You’ll make some amazing friends from all around the world and really learn a sense of perspective. And if you’re considering coming to Tilburg, do it! You’re going to have a helluva time!
Bachelor of Business