Image: Andrew (top far left) Sinterklass with fellow students in his halls of residence.
University: Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen
Year: First year
Home Town in UK: Newcastle upon Tyne
1. Why did you choose to study abroad?
It makes you stand out from the crowd. The teaching style is a lot more practical and the numbers of different nationalities and cultures is incredibly interesting and enlightening. A much more unique experience rather than studying an hour away from home ... and there is an element of being 1/6 the price!
2. How would you rate the assistance of the university before you arrived (the application process, finding accommodation, sorting out financial matters)?
Very helpful with accommodation and application. The financing takes a few months to get in place but paying the fees is incredibly easy.
3. How would you rate the assistance of the university when you arrived (orientation etc)?
The university is very efficient and provided an orientation day for the business course which gives you some help if needed, however I wouldn’t recommend going as it leaves you in the country over the weekend without knowing or meeting many people apart from the few small events they put on. They do however try their best to host some other events to help you get to know the city and other people on the same or similar course.
4. Did you feel prepared when you arrived and/or what surprised you?
I felt prepared as I had been on a gap year and was ready to go to university to start my course. I was looking forward to the new experiences and challenges ahead.
5. How would you rate the learning environment (teaching style, studying with other international students, non-native English speaking lecturers)?
The learning environment is interesting, almost like being in a non-compulsory sixth form. Small classes with good contact hours, but they throw you into the study instantly and keep you busy. By mid November, I had already done 3 mid term exams, 5 main exams and a 5000 word group project (passing all).
The English levels vary, however the University has numerous English exams then classes (for those that failed) helping the students improve their level of written and spoken English throughout the year.
6. Would you recommend studying abroad to a 17-18 year old Brit who might never have thought about it before?
I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different and who is ready to work. Freshers week isn’t so focused on alcohol and the first year is incredibly important with lots of work, so only go if you wish to work hard!
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a year out before coming, just for the extra maturity and a break from education before diving into study again. There are many 17-19 year olds in the first year so there are plenty of people to relate to, but go in with an open mind, and be ready to experience lots of different cultures!
8. Is there anything you wish someone had told you at the time you applied?
Not to go to the orientation day, 3 days before anything actually happens. Being alone, not knowing anyone in a foreign country for a long weekend isn’t the most pleasant of experiences.
9. Would you recommend your course, university, city to British students?
I would 100% recommend it to British students! Groningen is a lovely little city, very safe, 55,000 students in a city of 200,000 population, so we are everywhere! The University is very helpful and very efficient, but they make sure they don’t hold your hand through the course. They expect you to mature and become independent but provide help when needed. There are a plethora of sporting and non-sporting activities to do whilst here, and the sport/ gym membership is very cheap. The cost of living here is cheaper than the majority of British cities and the weather is so similar, it makes it feel like home!
The Dutch are also very impressive with their level of English, many of them speaking it better than many English people I know, so don’t worry about it being a foreign country and things getting lost in translation.
10. Anything else you want to share...
Everyone loves an English accent, major bonus! People want to talk to you because you are British.
Nightlife is great in Groningen, no entry fees to bars, the clubs stay open until stupid o’clock and the alcohol is cheap!
Make sure you have a good bike lock and don’t pay more than €60 for a bike, it won't be worth the money for how long it lasts. (On my second after just 2 months, I now have a solid lock and I'm more careful about where I lock it, fingers crossed!)