Ruth - University of Amsterdam

B Psychological Science (Honours)
Winter 2023
Although I didn't suddenly become fluent in a foreign language, I learnt so much about myself and the beautiful country of Holland.


I love the undergrad course that I began 4 years ago at uq, but that being said I know how easy it is to become stagnant in personal self-development and to fall into echo chambers in our own fields. Going abroad by myself to study something new was an excellent opportunity to grow my independence, develop my learning in other areas of interest, and to increase my awareness and understanding of political systems in other countries.

Personal Development

Although I didn't suddenly become fluent in a foreign language, I learnt so much about myself and the beautiful country of Holland. Intensive classes from 10am-4pm sound dreadful, but in a European summer with at least five hours of sunlight left after class, I was able to explore and see so much of the city I visited. I also found that the other students in my international program were likeminded and outgoing, and making friends to share memories with was so much fun. Most of all though, I can't say enough how much this experience increased my independence.

Academic Development

The uni life itself was quite different. The classes were very discussion based, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We got to learn about social and political discourse in each other's countries and reflect on key frame works and movements. Also, another campus meant a door opened to a whole new library of resources and connections that will be so handy moving forward. It was likely only due to the nature of the short-term study, but the course only had two pieces of assessment. Sure, this made my time outside of class more fun, but something I came to value from my home here at UQ is the personalised feedback that tutorials allow us to ensure that each student is granted the skills and understanding to achieve. It was a different layout over there and the vague criteria drove me a little crazy, although it did challenge me to apply myself critically to ensure I was performing in line with the content, teachings, and style of the class. The course work from the University of Amsterdam gave me a more developed grasp on my writing abilities.

Professional Development

Although I did have a lot of fun working and hanging out with the people in my course, that is not to say we got along all the time. Coming from different cultural and political backgrounds there was bound to be some disagreements, but we learnt to work through them maturely and understand the other's perspective. Professionally, I believe I developed my problem-solving abilities by independently navigating the challenges of a foreign school. Furthermore, the contacts that I made through this course are wonderful moving forward, as is the assertiveness that I developed regarding the value of my own opinions.


This trip was something that I worked towards for a while financially, but saving up through the first 3 and a half years of my undergrad saw me doing just fine. Flights to Europe were easily the most expensive part, amounting to about 3K. (I did made the most of this though and visited Austria for a week after my course finished before returning to UQ for the next semester). I arranged housing through my university, where between tuition and rent I paid just shy of 2K. I was quite frugal with everything else while I was there. The grocery stores were quite welcoming as an English speaker in Amsterdam - you just have to be careful with conversion rates!


I staying in housing organised through the university. It was on the other side of the city from my campus but the bike ride to and from was always a good way to see the city. A LOT of emails were exchanged with the helpful team before I left so I was sure about all of the arrangements I needed. I had my own room, and a shared bathroom. It was very fun to be able to message friends and arrange to meet in the common room or the canal outside so easily.


The city itself was by far the most amazing part. Sure, the course was interesting, but living in Amsterdam for a month was incredible. I think what helped was going there under the pretence of being "not just a tourist" but actually getting to know the city inside and out. It was vibrant, busy, compact, and surprising.

Advice/Top Tips

Simply, do not be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s asking for directions, bombarding the foreign university with questions before the departure, or just asking class mates to hang out to ease the homesickness, it’s all very important and people are happy to help.