Andie - Universiteit Utrecht

B. Commerce / Economics
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

The semester at Utrecht was divided into two periods. In the first period I took “Financial Markets and Institutions” and “Market Dynamics and Corporate Innovation”. In the second period I took “Econometrics” and “Industrial Organisation and Competition Policy”.

I found the teaching style to be very different to UQ, as the tutorials tended to focus on active discussions about the research papers assigned each week. Luckily the entire Economics program is taught in English at Utrecht, so I had no problems finding suitable courses to take. There are definitely less contact hours than there are at UQ (I only had 6 contact hours total each week), however you don’t get any choice in when your classes are scheduled.

Personal experience

My semester in Utrecht was by far the best 6 months of my life. In addition to all my lovely Dutch friends, I made friends with people from all over the world. I did lots of weekend trips with people I met on exchange, including Brussels, Budapest, London, Prague, Berlin and Barcelona, as well as 2 months of travelling around Mediterranean Europe before exchange started and a ski trip in the French Alps afterwards. 

Although it’s tempting to take advantage of the ridiculously cheap flights around Europe, don’t forget to explore the country that you are living in! It is so easy to a day trip anywhere in the Netherlands, including Rotterdam, The Hague, Maastricht or one of the castle cities surrounding Utrecht. Also, keep your eye out for trips organised by ESN (International Student’s Group), I went on one to Oktoberfest in Munich and it was such good value.

Accommodation

Finding accommodation in Utrecht can be extremely difficult, and some other students I knew were forced to live in Air BnB’s or temporary accommodation for the entire semester. I definitely recommend booking through the private housing corporation, SSH. I did this and after a very stressful 24 hours managed to get a private room in an apartment with 11 roommates in a building called Pythagoraslaan. My building was all exchange students, however the rest of the complex was Dutch students so it was a really fun atmosphere.

A lot of the student housing is located in De Uithof (the Science Park), however it’s pretty far away from the city and you may not even have any classes there.

Budget

I spent approximately $15,000 whilst overseas. However I arrived in Europe in mid-July and returned home mid-February, so I did a fair bit of travelling before and after exchange which is where I spent most of the money. 

Restaurant prices in Utrecht are similar to Brisbane, so socializing tended to be centered around drinking rather than eating since beer prices are really cheap (around 2.40 euros each). I found grocery prices at the supermarkets Jumbo and Plus are similar to Brisbane, and rent was fairly reasonable at 470 euros a month. 

I know that some of my roommates managed to spend far less, however my advice is that you will probably only do exchange once so budget enough that you don’t have to worry about skimping when you are over there!

Professional development and employability

I believe that exchange has made me a much more independent person and really developed my confidence in meeting new people. 

Highlight

I know that everyone says it, but the best part about exchange was without a doubt the people that I met over there. Everyone that I met was so spontaneous so there was never a dull moment. From Dutch vs International snowball fights to canal boat parties to Tuesday nights at Poema (the student club), there was always something fun happening!

Top tips

  • Get a bike ASAP! Save some money by looking on Facebook groups or on Marketplaats (Dutch version of Gumtree), rather than buying from secondhand shop.
  • Take advantage of how affordable and easy it is to travel around Europe once you are there. Keep an eye out on websites like Skyscanner for weekend flight deals. Often flights out of Eindhoven airport are much cheaper than Schipol so keep this in mind!
  • Buy a season pass supplement for your OV-Chipkaart (Dutch version of Go-Card). I paid 29 euros and received 40% off any off-peak train travel for the entire semester. You will find yourself going to Amsterdam or to the airport often so its definitely worth the money!