When you move halfway across the world, there are some differences you can anticipate, but there will always be things that surprise you. In coming to study at the University of Twente, I have faced a healthy mixture of both.
One of the differences I expected, and was most excited about, was the density and proximity of everything in Europe. Cities lying mere minutes away from one other? Crossing the country in a matter of hours? Taking a day trip to another country?! These are mind-blowing concepts when you’ve spent your life growing up in rural Canada. So I have made the best of my time here, going on day trips with the ESN group to various Dutch cities and taking trips of my own both within and outside of the country. I will always cherish the memories and friends made on these adventures. I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the Netherlands’ nationally integrated public transportation system; it is a thing of beauty and I shall weep when I must be parted with it.
Something completely unexpected to me was the level of seriousness that goes into student groups here in the Netherlands. The variety of extracurricular activities, the amount of student responsibility, the range of roles possible for involvement, and just the overall sense of dedication are above and beyond anything I have previously experienced as a student. If you truly want to get to the heart of Dutch student life, join an association!
One of the things I thought I was prepared for was the international community, having previously attended a school with a large number of foreign students. But the UT is something else entirely. In my short few months here, I have met people from every continent, and made close friends from no fewer than 20 countries. And it’s one thing to meet international students in your own country, but quite another experience being one yourself. Your fellow international friends become something like family. Having such a wide network of friends from around the world will be a wonderful thing, both personally and professionally, to be able to carry forward with me.