On the 30th of August it was time for me to leave my familiar home of Austria and say “hoi” to the unknown Netherlands. After a stress-free flight and train ride, I arrived in Zwolle excited and nervous for the adventure that lay ahead of me. From the moment I entered the student housing, I had no trouble making new friends, and even though we were from all different nationalities and spoke different languages we found a common one in English. I am very grateful to have made friends so quickly, as it has made my stay here in the Netherlands that much easier.The University in Zwolle, called Windesheim has a very large campus with around 20 000 students currently attending, and offers a large variety of courses, ranging from Nursing to Engineering.
On the 4th of September we attended an orientation where we were welcomed to the University by the International Student office. We were given a tour of the campus and were shown all the important facilities at the University. The staff in the International office have been so friendly and helpful, a common Dutch trait I have learnt since being here. Before I left Austria, I worried that at times during my stay here in the Netherlands I would feel lonely, but this has never been the case. From my experience the Dutch people are incredibly warm and friendly and are always willing to offer you their help, no matter if it’s for a broken bicycle that needs fixing or your windswept hair.
In between travelling and exploring the rest of the Netherlands, I have been busy interning at a local Primary school here in Zwolle. I have already learnt many new teaching techniques and am looking forward to learning more methods from the Dutch teachers, until it is time for me to return home to Austria at the end of January.
I have really loved my time here in the Netherlands, and although I would miss the mountains of Austria, I would one day like to move here. Even though the landscapes in the Netherlands are flat, there is much beauty to be found – the endless fields full of tulips and traditional windmills in the distance transfer you to a peaceful and calm state of mind.
I am so grateful to the Erasmus Programme for the opportunity to study here in the Netherlands. Not only have I learnt valuable new skills in my field of study, but have improved my English and gained valuable life lessons and new friends.
Written by Katja Grabner