Experience 11 – “Some of the best friends I made and still have are from Slovakia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands and Poland”
Posted: 18 July, 2017
From the beginning, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Erasmus was going to be my first time living away from home, in the Netherlands, a country I had never been to and to be sharing a room with a friend. I was going to be studying a minor call “Business Assignment” which I knew very little about and I wouldn’t have had it play out any other way. I was very fortunate to have a friend from the Netherlands before going, who I knew from gaming. He collected us in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and brought us on the train to Zwolle, where I would be living for the next 5 months. Very quickly you realise why the Netherlands is the cycling capital of the world as everything is flat. It took us one day from thinking we would survive without bikes, to waking up the second day and walking straight to a bike shop to buy them. They are essential to travelling and living and I quite liked it.
I learned that college in the Netherlands is very different to Ireland. It is very dependent on independent learning and you will get quickly left behind and in trouble if you don’t keep up. This was made very clear to me after the first week of college when I had to present my project to the entire class without any PowerPoint presentation. In my defence, I had no idea what was happening yet as we were all still getting started, but it was a disaster. For the coming weeks, I redeemed myself and got familiar working with conducting meetings every week and got to experience life working in an office with my Business intelligence colleagues
While the college was challenging at times, fun and a new experience it’s very easy to say that the people you meet and experiences you have with those people is what made my Erasmus one of, if not the best experience of my life. I lived in an apartment block and the floor I was on was only Erasmus students. Everyone knew everyone and we usually had our door open for anyone that was passing so they could come in and have a chat, cup of tea or play cards. My room was a meeting point for people to come in and enjoy a calm evening of cards or if we had a party we would drink here before or have a hallway party. Some of the best friends I made and still have are from Slovakia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands and Poland and we travelled together around the Netherlands, visiting all different cities and islands. It was a huge eye opener for me about the state of what my life was like at home and that things needed to change. I most definitely don’t want to stay in Ireland anymore. We were all there for the same reason and it didn’t matter where you were form or what you liked as we tried to make the most of it together. While it does end and it is sad for some I couldn’t help but smile as I was giving my last goodbyes. The 5 months spent there were the happiest I’ve been in a very, very long time and I was grateful for everyone around me because of it and didn’t want their last image of me going to be a sad one. I without a doubt am a better and happier person from it all.
Erasmus+ Study Mobility to Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Academic Year 2016/2017- Semester 1