SBE Exchange Stories • part 1

For a lot of students, the Christmas holidays were not only about going out and having fun. A lot of you now know where they are going on exchange, so first of all congratulations! Because this is all very recent, we decided to ask a couple of questions to students who just came back from their exchange. They can give some perspective on the nice places the VU offers, so you can have a sneak preview of your destination. We will provide a series of blogs on this subject. In this blog, you can read answers of students to questions that were the same for all of them. Read on and find out what awaits you this, or next year!

The first student who was excited to answer our questions was Niels de Jong, a BK student who went to South-Africa!

Where did you go and why did you choose this country/university?

I went to Port Elizabeth, the southern coast of South-Africa, and studied at the Nelson Mandela University. My motives to go there were purely all the possibilities to explore there and the culture that comes with it.

How did you prepare for your exchange?

Well, there was a long period of getting my visa and all the things that come along with it. I would recommend to start early with arranging all the required registration and documents. I heard someone started four weeks before the exchange and he had to delay his flight. So, definitely start like 2 months before.

What was the campus of your university like? Did it have good facilities?

The campus was great, especially if you look at the sport accommodations. I was not living on the campus itself but in a brand-new student accommodation very close to. I was paying a bit more than for a place on the campus itself, but in return for that I go a well-cared place to stay with all the facilities you need.” Next to this the university and campus lies within a nature reserve. You can see for example zebra’s and monkeys around the university which is a great experience.

What courses did you take at the university? Did you learn a lot from these?

At first, I thought about following courses regarding my specific interests, but when I really had to choose I also took the schedule and contact hours per week into account. I chose for some courses that were about South-Africa because that really got my interest. Next to this, there are also possibilities to learn languages like Afrikaans, Zulu, and Xhosa… Overall, the courses I did weren’t really difficult and at the same level as the VU. I think that if you choose for South-Africa you’re choosing for the beautiful country and not because you’re looking for a higher education level. Nevertheless, there are some challenging courses available as well.

Was the exchange overall what you expected it to be? Or even better?

Well, yeah I didn’t really know what to expect. In the end I did so much more than I expected beforehand. Especially all the traveling. At some point I even did more traveling than studying.

What is one of the nicest things you’ve done there?

All the new friends that I made, even though that’s more general. To be more specific, at a certain moment I was in Cape Town with two guys for 5 days and we went to the Lion’s Head at 5am in the morning. Eventually, after climbing in the dark to the top of the mountain we could see the fascinating sunrise above Cape Town and the sea. That was one big goosebump moment.

Did you have any bad experiences?

Well, one time I was with a friend I met in South Africa that went to the same university. He got an asthma attack when we were in an area where we had to walk for an hour to the nearest road. So, he got unconscious and we really had to carry him to the nearest road where the ambulance took us to the hospital. That was a tough moment.

Are you planning to ever go back there?

Yes, I definitely want to go back to Port Elizabeth and I would recommend to all: just go to South-Africa one time. Experience the beauty of the country and also the very friendly and welcoming people that are living there. A lot of people own very less, but they’re always showing their smiles.

Describe your exchange in one word



The second student who agreed to make time for us is Ebbie Tam, an IBA student who went to Australia!

Where did you go and why did you choose this country/university?

I went to the University of Western Australia in Perth. I chose this place and university because it has everything I wished for. I wanted a sea-sun- beach life, together with a university that offered a residential college, so this was the perfect place to go.

How did you prepare for your exchange? 

Save money! Make sure money isn’t an issue during your semester abroad so you can go wherever and do whatever.

What was the campus of your university like? Did it have good facilities?

The campus was huge! It was like a big park with loads of old buildings, it was really pretty. The facilities are good, it was like a mini village with shops, cafes, a doctor and even a hairdresser! My favorite spot to study was at the outside area of the main library with a great view of the park.

What courses did you take at the university? Did you learn a lot from these? 

I took three management courses and one economic course. I liked the economic one the most, as it focused on Asia in the world economy. I noticed that in Australia a lot of business courses focus on relationships with Asia, which is interesting and something the VU doesn’t offer.

Was the exchange overall what you expected it to be? Or even better? 

I didn’t really expect anything before I went, except that it would be amazing. It definitely turned out that way, and even better than I hoped for!

What is one of the nicest things you’ve done there? 

During the mid-semester break, we went on a road trip through the outback with around 30 exchangers. It was such a cool experience, we’ve seen so many nice places! We hired wicked campers (the ones covered in graffiti and tents on the roof) and drove all the way up north from Perth to Karijini National Park. It was an adventure because we didn’t know what we were going to do, and what to expect. There were several nights where we were lost in the dark without reception, but eventually we ended up in the most random places and had the most amazing time under the dark sky full of stars. The most important thing is that you’re all together and have fun, which create the best memories!

Did you have any bad experiences?

Luckily I didn’t have any bad experiences during my time abroad. Of course not everything goes as planned, especially if you’re traveling, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Are you planning to ever go back there?

I definitely go back to Australia one day, but probably not in the near future.

Describe your exchange in one word



Stay tuned on our Facebook page for more exchange stories coming up later!