Exchange experiences around the globe

The deadline for the exchange application is nearing and choosing can be quite difficult. To give you an impression of what is to come, we have gathered some experiences of fellow students spread throughout the world. Here are some short stories about Helsinki, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Lisbon, and Singapore!

Stephan Kroon • Helsinki, Finland

Although it might not be the most popular location, I have decided to spend my months abroad in Helsinki, Finland. Living here took some time to get used to, as the Finnish culture is very different compared to Holland’s and the Finnish people are quite reserved. But, they definitely do like to party! I have done a lot of activities with large groups with mixed nationalities. One amazing thing about Finland is that it is located in the center of Scandinavia. This means that you can go and explore in every direction that you want. During the last few months, I’ve not only traveled in Finland but also to Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Russia, and Lapland!

All in all, this has been an amazing experience with memories to never forget, in a place that has a lot more to offer than you would expect at first sight!

Rolf Willems & Joris Driessen • Hong Kong, China

Our exchange in Hong Kong was very diverse and, because of that, unforgettable! From enjoying the nightlife in an extremely crowded global city on one day to enjoy long hikes in nature with the most amazing viewpoints on the very next. Hong Kong got everything. The food is great, there is plenty of sightseeing to do, and it has the most beautiful beaches to hike or sail to. We sometimes had to evade the protests that are going on in the city, but after all, this wasn’t very problematic. Hong Kong is located in a spot where it is easy and really cheap to fly to other countries, such as Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan. To us, Hong Kong has been the perfect exchange location!

Julia Kuijs • Cape Town, South Africa

Studying in Cape Town is hard to describe, you really have to experience it. The university is located on a beautiful campus right under Table Mountain, with a stunning view. You meet your mates from surfing in the afternoon at Muizenberg, a wine-tasting in a vineyard or to chill on one of the most amazing beaches in the city. The courses are interactive, and this is the perfect opportunity to become friends with the locals. Besides the studies, student life is hectic with a lot of house party’s, a university prom, and sports clubs. And last but not least: as the semester ends fairly soon, you have plenty of time to travel around with a Jeep in Southern-Africa!

Sara Bijl • Lisbon, Portugal

I did my exchange at Erasmus in Lisbon, Portugal at the ISCTE-IUL Business School. The reason why I chose this location is because the weather is nice, there are great surf spots, and because I speak the language, which makes day to day life a bit easier. 

First and foremost, exchange is AMAZING! I might sound like a cliché but honestly, you get the opportunity to meet so many new people from many different countries, travel, party and of course do a bit of studying now and again in a new country (while, in my case, benefitting from the Erasmus+ funding). The school-system is very different here, we have a semester in which you follow 5 courses and have exams in December and/or the beginning of January. The pace is a lot slower, but there are more projects throughout the courses.

Finally, there are many opportunities to travel to places in Portugal like the Algarve, Nazaré (where the waves can get up to 40m), the Azores and many more. There are a lot of organised trips with organizations such as Erasmus Life Lisboa or ESN Lisboa which is a lot of fun, but if you like to do things at your own pace it’s very cheap to rent a car and you can get Erasmus discount with RyanAir flights!

Mike van de Wijngaart • Singapore

This year I went on exchange to Singapore. Since it was my first-time visiting Asia, I had no idea what to expect. Now, four months later I can say that it was the best exchange and the greatest experience I could’ve wished for.

Even though Singapore is a very regulated and developed city where you’ll get a $500 fine if you eat in the metro and you’re not allowed to have chewing gum, it also has an amazing culture of its own. Not only did I experience a different culture and the different types of delicious food it brings with it, but I also got to follow some very interesting courses at the Singapore Management University. During one of them, we worked together with a Malaysian Organic food company to help them improve customer awareness in Singapore. 

Besides studying, I also met a great number of exchange students from all over the world, some of which became friends for life as we partied together, did some sightseeing together, studied together and even traveled Southeast Asia together. Living in Singapore for 4 months opened my eyes to the different Asian cultures, as Singapore is a very strategically located starting point for weekend trips and longer holidays. I traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Hong Kong during the semester, and I am currently writing this from Thailand where I will travel for four more weeks before flying back to the Netherlands. Looking back on my exchange, I could definitely say that it brought me a lot of memories that will last a lifetime and that I would not have wanted to miss it.

If you have found your perfect exchange location, it’s time to apply! You can find last week’s blog about the application procedure right here, which covers all the steps you need to take for a successful application. Happy holidays!