Alex - Universiteit Utrecht

B. Journalism / Arts (Media Studies and Writing)
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

I studied film and television courses at UU. UU structures their academic semesters in 'blocks', with two blocks comprising a semester. Two subjects are studied per block, so although the overall study load is similar to UQ, each unit is completed within ten weeks, which provides a challenge. UU also required higher contact hours as a result, with some seminars running close to four hours. However, only studying two subjects at a time allows for greater immersion in each subject.

Personal experience

The benefits of exchange are too many to list here; I could write an essay. You will make more friends than you ever thought possible, from cultures you never knew you were interested in. You will explore more cities and countries than you ever thought possible in a six-month period. You will pick up language essentials, enough to be able to do your weekly grocery shop, although this depends on your host city (the Dutch, for instance, speak marvellous English). Finally, you will be left with an experience that will grow the more time that elapses; it is no exaggeration to say it will fundamentally change your outlook.


I lived off campus, and unfortunately, my accommodation was inconveniently located, over-priced and lacking atmosphere. My advice, therefore, is to stay constantly on top of your accommodation. Everything else will fall into place with less stress than you may think- but accommodation is the one thing you must organise quickly. If you don't get campus accommodation, stay calm, and don't jump at the first offer. Finding accommodation is not as difficult as the literature may say.


I would recommend $16000 for exchange, with not more than $20000 required. It really depends on how many places you want to see and how proficient you are in budgeting. Accommodation shouldn't cost more than $6000.

Professional development and employability

Best Kept Secret music festival, in southern Holland.
Best Kept Secret music festival, in southern Holland.

Exchange will imbue you with self-confidence; to resort to a cliche, you will feel like no challenge is too great afterwards. Organising a new life, with all the attachments, living in a totally foreign environment, making an entirely new set of friends- you will have done all these things at the conclusion of your six months. What challenge could possibly be out of your league after something as momentous as that?


A few friends and I, on one of the many spare weekends you find on your hands at the conclusion of exchange, travelled to Corfu for a weekend away from the bleak Dutch weather. We stayed at the Pink Palace, a fabulous, atmospheric hostel on the far-side of the island, where we spent the days lazing in the sun, quad-biking and floating in the azure waters. Your travel weekends will be the fondest days of your life.

Top tips

  • In the weeks leading up to your departure date, you will FREAK OUT!
  • Your mind will imagine awful things- every manner of thing that can go wrong will go wrong. However, after your first week on exchange, you will realise that all that negative energy was for nothing because it all comes together.
  • By making the choice to go on exchange, you are making the best decision of your life. So don't stress; mum and dad will be a big help, take deep breaths, print out everything you will need, and remember: the way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.
Alex - Universiteit Utrecht