Katie in Amsterdam

The ESN is one of the best things about studying at Hogeschool INHolland! It consists of a group of students (most of whom are Bulgarian, doing their whole degree in Amsterdam) who work together to make sure that our exchange semester is packed with lots of fun and cheap social activities.

During orientation week, I payed 5 euro to sign up with the ESN, which was definitely worth it! The ESN not only organises activities for us, but they get us huge discounts wherever we go. We always have a lot of fun and it is always cheaper than if we had gone by ourselves.

So far the ESN has taken us to:

• An Erasmus party with all the other exchange students from other universities in Amsterdam. We got cheaper entry to the night club and got the chance to meet all the other exchange students, which was fun!

• Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, a museum of Dutch culture. Apart from getting a discount on the train ticket (Zaanse Schans is about 40 minutes out of Amsterdam), none of us would have even known about the place had it not been for the ESN!

• Ice-Skating, where we got a half-price ticket and I got the chance to show off my ice-skating skills, much to the surprise of every one of my friends, who thought I was kidding when I said we had rinks in Australia!

• The Ice-bar in Amsterdam, where even the drinks are served in glasses made from ice! The bad thing about the ice-bar, however, is that it is quite unpleasant to sit, since the bar stools are also made of ice and you cannot stay in there for longer than 45 minutes without causing serious illness, as it is so cold!

• An exclusive dance party, where we were put on the VIP list and got free entry!

• Laser Gaming at Zwanneburg, which is the biggest centre in all of Europe! We only paid 1/3 of the price and had so much fun! I did however cause serious injury to myself, due to running into a barrel in the dark, in an attempt to avoid getting “killed” by a laser beam! Was still a lot of fun though!

The ESN still have many more activities planned for us, especially once the temperature gets warmer and we can stand outside for longer than 5 minutes without whinging!

This week there is a karaoke party in celebration of St Patrick’s Day, with free drinks for those who are brave enough to get up on stage. Should be a fun night! It really is an awesome organisation, as it is totally run by other students, purely for our enjoyment. It’s the best way for us to make new friends and see things that we probably wouldn’t have on our own.

Katie

Malcom in Sweden

The past few months have been an adventure, Perth, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Prague and now settled in at my new home in Halmstad, Sweden. It’s spring now and still bitterly cold. I’ve never experienced such cold weather but enjoying the benefits that come along with it, such as snowboarding and hot chocolates.

The snow is starting to melt and I am now starting to be able to see the true landscape of the area. The town I live in Halmstad is a small summer town. It’s quiet during the winter apart from the large international student population. It’s a real melting pot here, I’ve made so many friends from around Europe. I’ve learnt almost as such about mainland European traditions and customs as I have Swedish. However, as the International school is kept away from the Swedish student population, I have made a real effort to make friends with Swedish people. Now have some good Swedish friends to hang with. Being Australian in Sweden has its perks. Everyone in Sweden is fascinated with warm weather and surfing.

The university work is different than Australia, you do two classes for half the semester then the other two in the second part. This makes the classes intense but short. I’ll be also starting night school shortly studying Swedish. Nearly everyone in Europe can speak at two languages and it’s a real motivation to learn another language. However everyone speaks great English in Sweden thanks to American TV and their school system. My ‘Swedlish’ however is coming along and I can now order drinks and the bar and coffee shop two important forms of communication.

There is always something going on here party wise, and plenty of people who are keen to travel on the weekends. Next month I am heading to Stockholm for my birthday celebrations with some French, Brazilian, Swiss and Dutch friends. Then off to Barcelona late April with a Swedish friend who is also keen for some sun!

It’s exam period now so I better knuckle down and get some study done!

Malcolm Haylett

Brenton in Norway Video 2

One of the most memorable moments so far is having the opportunity to spend two days hiking on the Smørstabbreen Glacier

It was in our first week of class! I am loving the opportunity to spend so much time out of the ordinary classroom and getting in the field learning the practical things along with
the theory this technique will be so beneficial later on!

My time over here so far has been so great… when you GO you may not want to come back.

Brenton in Norway Video 1

It has been exactly a month since I arrived in Norway. I am on exchange here at in Sogndal at the Sogn og Fjordane University College. They have this really hands on practical course which I am doing called From Mountains to Fjord, the course is run every Fall Semester (August-December). So far we have more time out in the field doing studies than actual time in a classroom.

The town where I live has ~6000 people and~2500 Students, so it is mainly a town full of university students! So as you can imagine it is a very social town that doesn’t sleep very often. The surroundings here are just stunning, the fjords drop down to 260m depth while the mountains shoot straight up to 900m right out of the deep fjord.
Most of the international students (~45) are very active so we spend most of the spare time out climbing the mountains for riding our bikes around the edges of the fjords.

Brenton Owens

Amy in the USA

 

I’m doing my semester abroad at Louisiana State University in southern USA and I’m having the time of my life! Louisiana is known for their ‘southern hospitality’ because the people here are so friendly and go out of their way to make your visit a memorable one.

LSU is situated in a college town where everything is designed for students. There is always something to do every day of the week! LSU fits every American college stereotype  – traditions, keg parties, beer pong, red cups, American football, frat boys and sorority houses.. It feels like I’m in an American movie every day, it is all so much fun!!!!

I’m only an hour away from New Orleans and I’ve also been able to travel easily and affordably  all over the states during my time here. Next week I’m going to Cancun, Mexico for Spring Break!! I’ve met so many new people, learnt so much and made enough memories to last a lifetime. I recommend the USC GO program to everyone.

GEAUX LSU TIGERS!!!!

Jolene in the Czech Republic

Czech it out!
I have been in Brno, in the Czech Republic, for almost two months now. And I love it! The town is beautiful and the culture is so thick, you can just get lost in the streets and people. I recommend choosing the Autumn semester as the golden leaves make the town look even more beautiful and if you are like me and have never seen snow, then it is all the more exciting.

The university, Masaryk, offers excellent courses for Arts students that focus on Literature. There are also courses for Economic, Law and Business students too. Masaryk runs an excellent International Student Club that offers great support, loads of fun activities and the best part, a tutor to help you settle into your new town. They also offer excursions and trips to the neighboring countries for half of what it would cost if you went on your own.

When you apply for this exchange I recommend applying to live in the Vinašká residence. Block A1 is full of international students and you are bound to make lots of new friends as there is always a party going on. The accommodation is very cheap, as is just about everything here! Beer is actually cheaper than water. And, if you love meat, then you must try all the local dishes. They are big, meaty and go great with Brnos own beer, Starobrno. The people in this little town are very kind and most of the students are bilingual and always happy to help if you get lost. I do strongly suggest that you learn a little Czech before you come, just to make life easier for yourself.

And, if there is one thing you must do while in Brno, go and see an Ice Hockey game. I have never seen anything like it! I am looking forward to the upcoming snow and the rest of the trips that the ISC has organised. I try to remember to study, but there is just so much to do and see!

I hope you too, decide to come and Czech it out!

Jolene

Malcolm in Spain

Hola from Spain

The great thing about studying in Europe is how accessible the rest of the continent is. A friend took a short break from the prevailing Swedish winter and headed to the warmth of Spain. We landed in Barcelona and immediately headed to the beach to a warm 20+ which isn’t anything special at home but after 4 months of freezing temperatures it was well recieved.

Barcelona is a fantastic city so vibrant and so many things to do. We hit all the tourist spots like Sangria de familia, Rambles, Gaudi Park and alot more. But ultimately the trip became a quest of maximising time in the sun. Our hotel was equipped with a roof top pool and deck chairs where we parked it most of the time.

The night life was fantastic with multiple dinning and club options. We sampled tapas on a couple of occasional which went well with Sangria. The best clubs are situated down at the beach and over look the water.

It was more than difficult to get back on the plane and head away from the sun back to Swedish Spring. Summer is on it’s way so looking forward to the long Swedish days (it’s not getting dark until 9pm already).

Malcolm

Rosie in Spain

I have had a desire to learn Spanish ever since I first came to Spain when I was 10. I thought I was pretty good at the language, but arriving here sure proved me wrong! I felt discouraged for the first few weeks, but soon decided to accept it as a challenge, not a defeat. I am now taking 5 Spanish classes per week, have a group of Spanish speaking friends, attend Flamenco, Salsa and Bachetta classes and play soccer with Spaniards and Spanish teachers, and go to a Spanish church. I still have a lot of trouble understanding everything, but if i ask people to speak more slowly it isn’t too bad, and with all that practice I am improving pretty fast!

But Language is just a tiny part of the Spanish experience. The lifestyle is totally different to home, and although i love it, it took a little while to get used to. Lunch isn’t until 2:30, then siesta is from 3:00 til 5:30, dinner is at 10:00 and an early night is 12:00 or 1:00! And I have heard that it is even later in summer, as the sun doesn’t set till about 10:30. This pattern was very confusing for the first few weeks, because when i say that siesta is from 3:00-5:30. that means that everyone takes a nap, even the shop keepers. So all the shops close for the afternoon then open up for the night. It doesn’t take too long to get into the swing of things though.

I mentioned that I am doing flamenco, salsa and bachetta lessons. Dancing is a big part of the Spanish life. Flamenco is not as popular, being more traditional and exclusive, but it is challenging and a lot of fun! Salsa is the main dance of Spain. It is what is danced in all the clubs. Night clubs are very different here too. They don’t come with the same connotations as at home, they are simply a place to dance with friends. sure people drink and hook up at nightclubs, but that is not the primary reason that you go clubbing. It is to dance! Sport is not popular for girls, but I enjoy training with the soccer team at the uni twice per week.

The city of Sevilla, where I am living, is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen, and I have seen quite a few! There are so many old buildings, churches and tiny, cobbled streets with tapas bars and miniature pot-plant-filled balconies. It amazes me constantly that the buildings here are many times older than our country! Many of the buildings are from B.C.! Almost every street that I walk down has something that I want to take a photo of.

I could not have chosen a better country than Spain, or a better town than Sevilla to study in, and I don’t regret it at all. I am looking forward to making more Spanish friends, improving my language skills and living it up in general!

un saludo, y hasta la próxima vez!

Rosie