Divya’s study abroad experience in the Netherlands

Divya is a final year student studying International Business at DMU. She spent a year studying abroad at HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. 

Why did I choose to study on exchange? 

If you had asked me in my first year what I felt about studying abroad, I would say it seemed like a distant dream. This is because I have never lived or travelled alone; I commute from home to DMU, so I have no experience living independently and paying my bills. This was a great opportunity for me to gain independence and experience life on my own. I have always been fascinated by different cultures, history, and languages, so the opportunity to study overseas was a dream come true. I study International Business, which is why this opportunity will help me enhance my career, as my course is based on why organisations want to compete in the fast-paced global market.

How did you prepare for your year abroad?

It was quite an interesting process for me as I was in charge of booking my flights and accommodation. I knew that I did not want to share my room with more than one person; my friends here have told me about their roommates, so I was not risking it! I got what I was looking for within my budget. Since I have a European passport, I did not have to do a visa application. 

How did you travel to the Netherlands?

I booked evening flights, so I stayed in Amsterdam for a night because I was not sure about the train timetable in the Netherlands. As I landed, I assumed that the train might not be running at 11pm. I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel (which was a big mistake) in the evening the demand for taxi is very high. I had to pay €65! My advice would be to avoid taxis. Later, I discovered that in main cities like Amsterdam, the train runs till 1am. Everything is quite accessible by train and bus. Many people prefer to rent a bike because all the cities are quite accessible for the bikes as they have their own lanes. 

What was the integration process like?

During my first week as an exchange student, I found myself feeling quite sad and lonely. My roommate had not yet arrived, and I did not know anyone. As a result, I spent most of my time alone, feeling isolated and disconnected from my new surroundings. However, everything changed on the introduction day; I met two girls at a bus stop. One was from Mexico, Ana, and the other was from Vietnam. They became my really close friends; we tried different restaurants and experienced the unique flavours of each other’s countries. Through our shared experiences and cultural exchanges, they made my experience as an exchange student much more meaningful. 

How was your study experience at HAN?

One of the obvious differences was in the Netherlands’ teaching style. I started at DMU in lockdown; I did not have any face-to-face interaction with my classmates; studying abroad was my first experience of meeting people from different backgrounds. The university I studied at was HAN University of Applied Sciences. Their teaching style is very interactive, and all the skills and knowledge you gain are preparing you for the workplace. They teach project-based learning and apply actual business situations. 

Did you travel much whilst on exchange? 

The location is very suitable for travelling as the Netherlands is in the middle of many European countries such as Germany, Belgium, and France. With my friends, we went travelling during Christmas time, so we attended quite a lot of Christmas markets. We travelled to Paris, where we got stranded on Christmas day as most of the hotels were completely booked. However, since I was with my friends, it became quite a story to tell. 

Why should somebody consider going on a year abroad?

A year abroad is an amazing experience! It’s a journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and the development of a global perspective that can positively impact various aspects of your life. I have improved and learned so much from my study abroad. I was very shy and quiet, I would not speak in class, and I had huge stage fright. Since then, I have become more confident speaking in class and giving presentations. Meeting new people, forming lifelong connections, sharing stories, and experiencing individuals’ diverse backgrounds. It also gave me a chance to learn more about myself. I was exposed to a variety of different cultures, which made me appreciate the experience as it helped shape me into a more confident person.