Monday, February 01, 2010

My Erasmus stay in Utrecht

Hoi iedereen!

I have now been in Utrecht for 5 months and next week I will be back on our beloved 5th floor. So I think it is time for me to look back for a moment and to tell you about my stay in the Netherlands.

Utrecht is a very beautiful city which looks like Bruges with all the canals and … many bikes, of course! There are some old buildings worth seeing like ‘de Dom’, and interesting museums. Moreover, Utrecht is in the centre of the country, so it is a very good place to stay if you want to discover other cities of the Netherlands.

The university is quite big and spread all over the city. A big difference between the ‘Universiteit Utrecht’ and the FUNDP is that the semester is divided in blocks of eight weeks each. You have exams at the end of both blocks (i.e. in November and January). During the first block (September until November) I had two classes: ‘Discovering the Dutch’ and ‘Psychologie van de taal’. My only class in the second block (November until the end of January) was ‘Middle Irish History’. All of the classes I followed were interesting but my favorite one was ‘Discovering the Dutch’. This was for Erasmus students only. We discovered the Dutch people and society and we had debates about some topics like the drug policy or the school system, comparing it with what happens in other countries. We also visited Den Haag, the capital of the country.

The Dutch method of teaching is very different from the Belgian one: we did not have a lot of class hours but we had a lot of work to do by ourselves. Each week we had to read texts about the subject of the next class and to answer questions about them. An advantage of this system is that you got marks for all these ‘preparations’ and so the exams at the end are ‘less important or decisive’ than in Belgium because you already have marks before them. However the big problem with the few hours in class is that it is difficult to have real contacts with your classmates because you do not see them very often.
I was a bit disappointed about that but happily there were a lot of activities organized by the Exchange Student Network (ESN) of Utrecht that helped us to meet the other Erasmus students. With Camille, we tried to take part in the maximum of them. For example, we did canoe in the canals of the city, played bowling, visited the dams of the Delta Plan in Zeeland or watched typically Dutch movies… On the picture you can see the activity ESN organized for Sinterklaas.

Besides these activities I also tried to go to the swimming pool and to do fitness every week. We often met other Erasmus friends in the city. By the way, I really advise those of you who will go to Utrecht next year to try ‘Café België’: you will nearly feel at home with their impressive list of Belgian beers!

As a conclusion I would advise all the future BAC3 students to go on Erasmus because, even if it seems a bit scary at the beginning to leave your country and friends for 5 months, it is a very good opportunity to make new friends from all over the world and a lot of discoveries!

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