Anna - Utrecht University

B Education
Semester 1, 2019
I met lots of people and can now say I have friends all over the world. I feel very lucky to be able to say that.

Academic experience

As a Primary Education student, I was only able to enrol in electives whist on exchange. I embraced this opportunity and enjoyed doing a variety of subjects which I had no background in, but I thought sounded interesting. I participated in a Development Geography course, an Introduction to Ethics course, an Early Modern History course and a History of Racism course. These courses all lived up to my selection criteria- they were interesting. The Utrecht University course layout is different to UQ, and may therefore require an adjustment period. It can feel fast paced as the courses are studied two at a time, intensively. This is different as they expect you to cover a lot of content quite quickly as you only have 8 weeks to cover course content before exams, then holidays, and then you begin the next two subjects.

Personal experience

I went to the Netherlands, believing I would learn Dutch. Unfortunately, or fortunately, (depending on your perspective) most Dutch people speak very good English and switch to it the moment they realise you are not a native Dutch speaker. My attempts at learning a foreign language were thwarted by the kindness of the Dutch population. I did however learn a lot of food related vocabulary. This is very important for grocery shopping, as you don’t want to purchase buttermilk instead of milk, or cheese instead of butter (experiences my housemates had). The Netherlands is a great place from which to explore Europe, I was able to visit Denmark, Poland, Luxemburg, France and Portugal whilst on exchange. I met lots of people and can now say I have friends all over the world. I feel very lucky to be able to say that.


I lived in a flat with 11 other people and I shared my room. The student housing was located halfway between the city centre campus and the science centre campus. This was very convenient as I had classes at both campuses and it took 10 minutes for me to ride my bike to either campus. I found my accommodation through SSH (short stay housing) which provides short stay housing for exchange students and is the easiest way to find housing in Utrecht. This is because the housing market is extremely competitive and people who don’t get a room through SSH (which is Utrecht Universities recommended provider) often end up living outside of the city and commuting in. I would say that SSH is not the best housing lenders from my experience, but for 6 months it is easiest way to find housing.


The Netherlands is not the cheapest place to choose for exchange, especially as the Australian dollar has been very weak and the Netherlands is an expensive country. However, if you cook and eat in most of the time and get a bike for transport, the costs are not outrageous. Cheap flights come up regularly from the Netherlands to locations all over Europe. If you select cheap destinations you can easily explore Europe on a budget. My accommodation was roughly 350 EUR per month, but I shared a room which helped to keep the cost down.


Homesickness is almost inevitable, however, if you remind yourself of your reasons for going on exchange it is possible to maintain a positive outlook. It wasn’t always easy, but it was a good challenge.

Professional Development

Exchange taught me to be more flexible, less judgmental and better at dealing with conflict. When you share a house (with 11 people) and a room it is likely that there will be issues which will need to be resolved and will require comprise and understanding from all involved. 
I also joined two volunteer organisations which helped me to make new friends and develop a range of organisational and administration skills.


Making friends from all over the world.

Top tips

1. Take every opportunity
2. Challenge yourself
3. Cook and share food that you love or is unique to Australia (I.e. TimTams)