The whole Erasmus experience was for me a last minute decision. But since I received the confirmation that I would spend five months in the city of Nijmegen, I have never regretted it. I arrived in my new host city at the end of August as the academic year began on 30 August 2010, which was much earlier than what we are used to in Namur. I did sightseeing in the city during the first few days of my arrival and I quickly concluded that I was going to be in my element there. Nijmegen is a city where you can find your home sweet home.
The possibility to choose the courses we wanted to follow was, in my opinion, the most interesting reason to study for a semester in another university and the Radboud University had a very interesting program. I took one course in Dutch, psycholinguistics, and four courses in English, namely American Popular Culture, English as a World Language, 20th American Literature and Dutch Culture and Society. The teaching system was rather different from the one we know in Namur in the sense that there were less teaching hours but more personal reading was expected from students. Moreover, the examination system was more focused on writing essays which enabled us to give a more personal contribution and a deep reflection on the course material.
Erasmus building of the Radboud University, which is the highest building of Nijmegen.The faculty of Arts is lacated is that buiding
I found a room easily by accepting the one the university offered me when I registered. All administrative tasks were organized by the SSHN, the student housing association of Nijmegen. My room was located in Lent (which btw, was not even on the map of Nijmegen that we received from the university...), a village 7 km away from the university and 3 km away from the city centre. First, I thought it was a drawback that my room was so remote from the city, but then I learnt to enjoy the daily 25 minutes bike ride. No need to say that the first think you need to buy when you arrive in the Netherlands is a bike. It is going to become your everyday means of transport: you go everywhere with it, and under any circumstances, may it rain, snow, freeze or hail, your bike is your new partner. Fortunately, you can buy a cheap one from a second hand shop, the best one being Wheels Tweewielers. Therefore you can avoid giving an enormous amount of money in buses, as those ones are outrageously expensive when you do not have any season ticket.
Student complex in Lent
Most of the Erasmus students lived in Lent, which inevitably coloured my experience of those five months. I met students from a lot of different countries like Spain, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Greece, the UK, the USA, ect, some of which remained very close to me. In my opinion, to be on Erasmus means to learn more about the language and the culture of the country in which we are living. For example, when you take the bus, do not articulate clearly “goeiemorgen”, you would sound too formal, but mumble rather something like “hey”, or “hoi” or “hi”, you will sound more local. But the Erasmus experience also means learning something about other languages and cultures. Therefore, I came back with some Spanish and Swedish vocabulary, some Turkish breakfast, Japanese dinner and Finnish desert. To be woken up almost every day in Spanish, this is also part of the Erasmus life. And this is what I liked about it.
Nijmegen and De Waal
To conclude, the Erasmus is an experience that I will never forget. Some moments it could be a bit difficult to be abroad, but all the fun you have, the wonderful people you meet and the cities and cultures you discover are worth it. This experience will stay with me for a long time and I hope that it will be as positive for the next year students as it has been for me.