Sophie Bray

Stenden student Sophie Bray

University: Stenden University Of Applied Sciences

Course: First year in BA in International Hospitality Management

Hometown: Nottingham, England

 

1. Why did you choose to study abroad?

Many reasons. I chose to study abroad because of the low tuition fees, to live and experience a different culture, to become more independent, to challenge myself, to work with students who are enthusiastic and motivated to work hard, and to work with other nationalities in a diverse environment. Before starting at Stenden I travelled for 4 months around South East Asia and I have always wanted a job that includes being able to see the world. Stenden University offers opportunities for exchange and the university’s Grand Tour gives students the opportunity to undertake part of their study on a Stenden campus in either Bali, Thailand, South Africa or Qatar. The fourth year of university is a placement on internship in any desired country. These international connections will lead to having a broad professional network by the time I have finished my degree.

2. How would you rate the assistance of the university before you arrived (the application process, finding accommodation, sorting out financial matters)?

The application system is simple and easy and you are always in contact with the university. There is always someone to email if in need of assistance or help. Going to the open day helped a lot in answering my questions and giving me the information I needed to plan my move to the Netherlands.

Finding accommodation was difficult as there aren’t any student halls of residence. Most people just live in rented rooms or houses found on the internet or through Facebook.

I live in an international student building which is located opposite the university and you can choose from a shared flat or your own studio apartment. Paying finances is as simple as paying England through online transactions. You will need to set up an appropriate bank account to make the currency exchange rate less than usual.

3. How would you rate the assistance of the university when you arrived (orientation etc.)?

Very good! The first week of university is study start week whereby you have two people from the second or third year as your personal group leaders. You spend all your time with your class doing team building activities, taking tours around the town, and the group leaders help to ease each student into the schools procedures and systems of how everything works. The university is very helpful and makes sure new students know where to go if there are any questions or problems. The school also encourages students to involve themselves in activities and find friends through different channels and university groups. Changing class groups for each module also helps you to meet more people on your course and takes you out of your comfort zone again.

4. Did you feel prepared when you arrived and/or what surprised you?

Yes. I had taken two years out of school before deciding to move to the Netherlands and having this break made me passionate to learn and live abroad. It also gave me a chance to work in the real world gaining experience that was very useful for my course. There is not much of a culture shock coming from the UK and everybody in the Netherlands speaks fluent English so I was not worried about language barriers.

5. How would you rate the learning environment (teaching style, studying with other international students, non-native English speaking lecturers)?

It is a very modern learning environment, with small classes, workshops and lectures. Stenden have problem-based learning classes which is basically a rein-action of a board meeting which teaches students to find solutions to problems in a cooperative manner, to build confidence, and lead groups. It is graded on the amount of professionalism, preparation and performance. The quality of the teachers is good as they all have a strong background in the subject they teach along with experience in the field and are very capable in explaining and leading lessons. Stenden has an excellent learning environment and study facilities.

6. Would you recommend studying abroad to a 17-18 year old Brit who might never have thought about it before?

Yes, it helps develop one’s independence, confidence and open-mindedness. It is interesting living and working with people who are all from different upbringings and backgrounds which makes you step out of your comfort zone, and it also makes you easily adaptable and culturally intelligent. The standard of learning is not much different to the English standards so it is not difficult to adapt. There are cheaper tuition fees and flying home is no hassle. With the course being totally taught in English, a native speaker has the upper hand as they don’t need to learn a new language, and this makes the work easier. Living here is relaxed and easy and everybody I have met is really friendly.

7. Is there anything you wish someone had told you at the time you applied?

Not really. Most things met my expectations as I had visited the open day. There are less student associations than in the UK e.g. football, skiing, choir, and other social groups. Instead there are other associations similar to school council and events, more mature associations for which you have to do extra work and be involved in to gain extra European credits (points).

The party life in Leeuwarden is a little limited, less varied and a lot less aggressive than the English student nightlife that I was used to. There are fewer holiday breaks than the UK universities which is a little annoying but I am here to work, not to be on holiday. You do not need high A-Level grades to be accepted but it means that if you do not pass your first year exams, then you cannot have a second chance in that specific subject which makes students work harder to stay on their degree programmes.

8. Would you recommend your course, university, city to British students?

Yes, the city is quiet and cosy making it easy to get around and there are less distractions from study. There are still many leisure places and events though for socializing and enjoying student life. Leeuwarden is also not far from other cities or European countries if you want to explore and transport is very simple and easy to use.

The university has great facilities, teachers, classes and a modern outlook on learning. The course is great as it teaches you every aspect of the hospitality industry from marketing, business, financial accounting, law, gastronomy, managing styles, giving presentations, and the real world learning practice module. I would highly recommend this course and university if you are wanting to work within international hospitality or want to gain knowledge about starting a business in the 21st century. If you finish the course and choose not to work in hospitality, then many of the skills and knowledge acquired can be applied to other businesses in almost all working situations.