- The University
The Katholike Pabo Zwolle (KPZ) is an amazing University with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, which I have never experienced anywhere else before. Not only the people from the international office, but also the professors and students are friendly, open and will start conversations with the international students all the time. The university is very small, which makes it possible that the professors know the names of all their students. I really appreciated that everyone is treated as a person and not “just another student” and that your opinion, ideas and well-being matter. I think you cannot find this in many universities. The professors are called by their first names, which was weird at the beginning, but only makes it even more personal. The KPZ wants their staff and students to learn with and from each other – as it should be in primary school – which I think is great.
For their Erasmus students the university offers the International Minor. On the website there is a lot information about all the courses. (https://www.kpz.nl/international-exchange-programme/) The programme includes Dutch Language, Pedagogics, Teaching Practice, the International Primary Curriculum and more. One reason why I chose this university was the curriculum. In my opinion it offers everything one would want in their exchange semester. The workload was alright as well. Probably more than at some other Universities, but still we had plenty of free time to explore the Netherlands.
- School Practice
Normally, the curriculum includes some school visits and a four week teaching practice. Because of Corona we were not able to do the full internship, but we still had the chance to visit schools before we had to leave. The teachers at all schools were very friendly and helpful. Most of the time the pupils were shy at the beginning, because we were at public schools and the English level is not always that high amongst young children. But this changed throughout the day. The University organized the school visits and tried to show a range of school concepts. This was a great experience and I got to know many new concepts.
- The City
Zwolle is a rather small city. It has everything one needs, but to be honest, I did not spend that much time there. We were only in the Netherlands for seven weeks and most of the free days and weekends we spend traveling. The train connections in the Netherlands are great and with the group ticket also affordable. So, we used our time exploring Groningen, Utrecht, Amsterdam and even travelled to Belgium.
Finding a suitable accommodation in the Netherlands is very difficult. The university helped us and organized little houses at a camping area in Dalfsen (10 minutes train ride from Zwolle). The houses were great. I shared mine with two Swiss girls and we had a wonderful time together. We had a big living room and invited friends to our house all the time. We cooked together, watched movies, played games and had parties. There is also a gym just around the corner. I really loved our house! Still, a negative aspect is, that it takes some time to get to and back from Zwolle and university every day.
I loved my Erasmus experience in the Netherlands and could not be happier with my choice of going there. The Netherlands are great! Never before I met so many amazing people in one place. My international friends are lovely and the Dutch are great. I gained a lot of knowledge, both academically and cultural. My English improved and I can also speak basic Dutch now. There was a lot of personal growth, because going on Erasmus is not always easy – you have to organize a thousand things and not all work out as expected. There are many ups and downs, but at the end it is totally worth it!!! I am sad, that I could only spend two instead of five months there. Still, I am happy and thankful for all the amazing moments I will never forget.