Hallo from Tilburg!!!
Whilst I am only into my second week of exchange, I can comfortably say that stepping out of my comfort zone and choosing to go on exchange has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The second best decision I made was deciding to spend my exchange in Tilburg.
Tilburg is a well-known university town located in the south of the Netherlands. As a university town, it has a massive student population, made up of both Dutch and international students. Everything in Tilburg is located close together, with Tilburg University (and most student accommodation) being about a 10-minute bike ride out of the main town. Given that everything is so close, most people use bikes to get around (and car drivers are a lot nicer to cyclists here than they are in Australia!!!). Whilst the city of Tilburg is not huge, it is very pretty, with enough cafes, bars and other activities to keep you busy during the week and while you’re at university. In addition, the city of Tilburg is also on the main train line so it is super easy to go exploring in the Netherlands on the weekends (and during the week if you’re savvy and can organise your classes to be on the same days). I have already done weekend trips to Belgium, Utrech, Amsterdam and the Hague.
I was fortunate enough to get accommodation at Verbs (Professor Verbernelaan) which is the university student accommodation. From my own research before going on exchange, I had read that it was competitive to get into. Whilst not a disaster if you miss out, finding accommodation early on gives you one less thing to worry about, so if you do decide on coming to Tilburg make sure you get in quick (It sells out within minutes so make sure you are somewhere with decent Wifi and have your credit card ready!!!). While you do have to pay up front for your 6 month stay, it is totally worth it. If you do miss out, do not panic!!! There are still plenty of other options available, you just have to be proactive and get your accommodation sorted ASAP as everyone who missed out on Verbs will be in the same boat as you.
Having never lived out of home before, sharing a kitchen and bathroom with 16 other people has certainly required some readjustment on my part. However, it is an experience that I wouldn’t change as it gives you an opportunity to meet people from all over the world as all exchange students get put into the same building. This made making new friends a lot easier, as you are all living away from home (many for the first time).
I have only just finished my first week of classes, and there is not too much difference between classes here and back home. When you first organise your timetable in Australia, these are not necessarily the subjects that you will be doing when you arrive in Tilburg, as sometimes classes will not run due to lack of participants, or you have clashes between subjects. But do not fear!! It is super easy to change courses and the university gives you plenty of time to rearrange your schedule before it is set in stone.
I chose to study International and European Criminal Law, EU External Relations, Compliance in International and EU Law, and International Security in Historical Perspectives. I also highly recommend is using the free language credits given to you by the University to take up a short language course. I chose French, but there are other options available including Dutch, German and Spanish.
The university also has a really awesome gym which I definitely recommend signing up to. They have something for everyone!!
As everyone who has ever been to Tilburg has previously mentioned, make sure you sign up to TOP week (Tilburg Orientation Program) which was organised by I*ESN (International Exchange Student Network). Basically it is a huge week of activities and parties which is an awesome opportunity to meet new people and make new friends from all over the world. By far the best activity was the CANTUS (think 1000 people all sitting in a giant hall drinking beer and singing along to a variety of popular songs in English and Dutch).
If you’re currently sitting on the fence about going on exchange, just do it!!! It is a once in a lifetime experience that you will not regret.
Bachelor of Business
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au