After a whirlwind 6 weeks travelling Europe and visiting family and friends, I finally landed in Tilburg. After I sat down in my room on the first day and the excitement wore off and there was a moment when I worried, ‘What have I done?’ about going on exchange.
But after one and a half weeks here, it already feels like home. What seems like a quiet, little town in the south of the Netherlands may not be your first thought for an exchange destination, but so far, I couldn’t have made a better choice!
The exchange experience here is designed to make your transition as easy as possible. All exchange students arrive on one of two “registration days” at the university. This helps you get all your admin done, from renting a bike to registering for the sports centre, and has you meeting people the moment you step off the train. Following this, the university runs an orientation program called TOP Week, where you spend a week with an allocated group and I*ESN (international student association) mentors exploring the city undertaking all kinds of fun activities. This includes the infamous TOP Cantus, the largest official beer cantus in the country. There is no way I can describe how just drinking beer and singing in a mix of Dutch and English is one of the best but strangest experiences! Following TOP Week, your group continues to have weekly catch-ups.
My accommodation is in student housing at Verbs, where I share an apartment with seventeen other exchange students. While that notion was absolutely daunting to me (how in the world can the bathroom, showers and kitchen stay even semi-clean??), I have come to absolutely love it. I live with people from all over the world – as close as Germany and as far as New Zealand and including everywhere in between from Chile to South Korea. Not only do you always have someone to hang out with and learn about different cultures, but you also get to try their food! You’ll never feel lonely in such a social place, but you can always retreat to your room if you need some quiet time. Heads up, rooms in Verbs run out in literal minutes and student housing in Tilburg is limited, so make sure you book it ASAP.
But my highlight so far been living in the Netherlands itself! The lifestyle here is super relaxed and being in a student town like Tilburg is such a different and chill experience compared to Sydney. There is nothing better that riding a bike everywhere like the Dutch, and it’s honestly essential, so start practicing early! Communicating with the locals is easy because everyone speaks fantastic English and trains link up most of the country so you can easily go to Amsterdam or The Hague for a day trip. More importantly, there are cheap flights from nearby Eindhoven and Amsterdam airports so you can easily see the rest of Europe!
It’s been an amazing start and I can’t wait to see what the rest of exchange brings! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
Bachelor of Arts in Communications / Bachelor of Laws
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au