After I arrived in Zwolle on the 27th of January I already knew, that these 5 months are going to be a great experience. A professor of our university picked us up at the train station and brought us to our accommodation. The Mobile Homes on the Camping Molecaten de Agnietenberg are about 6 kilometres from the city center, in the middle of nowhere. After we got our bikes the next day it turned out, that 6 kilometers of cycling are not that much in the Netherlands, especially when it doesn’t rain.
I studied at a very small “hogeschool” near the city center, at the Katholieke Pabo Zwolle. They organize an international class with structured courses every summer semester. This year we were a very small group of 12 people, so after a few days, we already felt like a family. The KPZ is a very small but very modern University. Nearly everyone knows each other. On the KPZ we had plenty of different courses, but the Highlight was the Teaching Practise of 4 weeks. Together with a student from another country I taught plenty of hours children from the age of 9 to 12. We learned very much about the Dutch school system and how different it is to the Austrian.
For students from the KPZ there is no room reserved in the different student homes, that’s the reason why the university organized the mobile homes. The accommodation itself was a very small “house” with 3 rooms. In the winter it was very cold and the costs for the heating were very high. In the summer months of May and June, we had about 30 degrees in the house during day and night. The good thing about the camping was, that nearly everyone from the international class lived there and it was easy to meet for group works or just for a few beers at the lake next to the mobile homes. On the other hand, it was hard to make new friends from the Netherlands and you were never alone. Through the walls you could hear everything from inside and from outside which could get very annoying sometimes.
In my opinion, the “hanzestad” Zwolle is the most beautiful city in the Netherlands. It has a very small city center, delimited through a canal. There are plenty of student cafes and bars to meet with friends. The train connection to visit other places in the Netherlands (f.e. Gronigen, Utrecht etc.) or to the airport couldn’t be better.
I am very happy that I took the step to make a semester abroad. I learned much about other cultures, about the Dutch education system and about living abroad. I am happy that I have friends now all over the world and I am sure that I will come back to Zwolle one day.
by Kerstin Schlömmer