Psychology all over the world – Student Exchange
Studying psychology in Groningen does not only mean enjoying the international student life but also going for several months abroad in order to make worthy life experiences and get to know a new perspective of psychology. Come with us and discover which amazing experiences students have made in Austria, Turkey, Sweden, and Ireland!
Do you have exchange experiences you want to share with us? Write a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear where you’ve been and about your experiences there!
JOHANNES WAS IN VIENNA, AUSTRIA
I went to the University of Vienna for my exchange and this was definitely the best semester of my studies so far. Despite the expectation that it might not be as exotic as other places, Vienna kept surprising me with its rich cultural diversity. There is always something new to explore and I was astonished by both the beauty of the parks and by Austrian architecture in general. Vienna has an incredibly rich history which is reflected in the hundreds of museums and galleries one can visit. It has also been a home to many of history’s most important scholars. Despite of how old it is, Vienna is buzzing with life and it is one of the best places to study at for young people. There is always a party somewhere and the bars and clubs offer something for everyone. However, it also has to be mentioned that living in Vienna can be kind of expensive, although the Erasmus grant helped a lot.
Studying in Vienna proved to be interesting, because despite being my native language, studying in German rather than English felt very different at first. I do think this experience will come in handy with regards to my future career perspectives. The courses in Vienna provided a great diversity and the grading ranged from one multiple choice exam, over regular examinations, to small, weekly assignments. Overall, I felt like it was easier to get a passing grade than in Groningen because you can almost freely choose the courses you want to take.
All in all, the opportunity to get to know lots of other people, explore different places, and gain so many new experiences is definitely something one should not pass up on.
JULIA WAS IN DUBLIN, IRELAND
Before I went on an exchange to Dublin, I had already visited the city a couple of times and every trip surpassed the previous one. When it was time to choose the destination for the Erasmus Exchange, and I discovered courses at the University College Dublin that suited my field of interest perfectly, I did not hesitate for very long. I applied and I did not regret my decision once! First of all the UCD offers a great range of activities. These include a free gym membership, various multicultural student societies, social events on the campus, and trips with ESN to Gallway, Cliffs of Moher, Belfast and many, many more places worth visiting. They also assist you with finding accommodation, which frankly can be quite a challenge. Generally studies are less demanding, in comparison to Groningen, assessment takes place either through fairly easy exams at the end of the semester or through essays or projects throughout the semester. This gives you a lot of spare time, you can use to explore this truly magical city. The people here, Irish as well as foreign ones, made me feel at home in an instance and as much as it might sound like a stereotype, I ensure you it is a fact that Irish people are definitely among the most friendly and welcoming you will ever meet. Dublin is a very vibrant city with a unique nightlife, in my eyes it has the perfect size to be recognized by those you want to but at the same time offers you some sense of anonymity that allows you to continuously redefine yourself. The city has its own charm, and as much as I can try to describe it, you have to experience it yourself. I promise you will not only learn a lot about another culture, but will also undergo priceless personal growth. However you should be aware that living in Dublin can indeed be pricey, but if you’re looking for the best possible time I can only recommend spending your exchange in Dublin.
JOS WAS IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Coming from a hamlet in rural Groningen, the prospect of living in the largest city in Europe (which is called Istanbul and not Constantinople) seemed both daunting and exciting to me. So when I received confirmation from our international office my emotions were admittedly mixed.
My first day in Istanbul did not exactly help improve this, because the guy who was supposed to pick me up from the airport had decided to take the day off without notifying anyone. I was anxiously wandering through the arrival hall for hours. Finally, after having a panic attack and a few phone calls, I found myself in the office of the manager of the guesthouse, where I was supposed to be staying the next five months. After official procedures, involving a curious combination of Google Translate and Microsoft Sam, I was led to my closet-sized room where nobody bothered to mention the absence of a door lock. This later lead to cleaning crews entering my rooms on multiple occasions.
The academic matters at hand did not bring with them much of an improvement either. A standard class would involve watching a Turkish documentary without subtitles, discussing the immorality of unbelievers and PowerPoint presentations riddled with sources copied straight from Wikipedia.
Luckily for me, academics were not of a primary concern for me during time I spend abroad. I soon met up with fellow international students, all of different nationalities, but all connected in their shared desperation to find new friendships in a foreign land. I also found a new living space, closer to the city centre or one of them at least. My new roommate was a local, who was kind enough to show me some of Istanbul’s and Turkey’s sights and delights.
And before I knew it, those 5 months that had seemed so long before I left, had passed. In a way, I did not feel ready to leave that city or the circle of friends that had become so important to me in such a small amount of time. I got back to Groningen with as mixed feelings, as I had when I left here but generally speaking, the experiences I made were great and in hindsight, I would not have missed them for the world.
CAREL-PETER WAS IN UPPSALA, SWEDEN
I absolutely consider my exchange period in Uppsala, Sweden to be one of the most enriching times in my life. Before my exchange period, I had actually never lived abroad. In spite of that, homesickness was not an issue at all. I was surrounded by other great (mostly exchange) students from the first day on. Those international students came from literally all sorts of different parts of the world, ranging from India to Australia to Guatemala, which thankfully allowed me to become friends with people with backgrounds that were completely different from mine. Being able to get to know more about those interesting countries and cultures was an extremely fascinating experience to me!
My courses at Uppsala University enabled me to look at e.g. psychological concepts from a perspective that varied strongly from the one I got used to studying at the RuG. Specifically, the courses emphasized the cultural aspects of human behavior and took minorities other, rather particular groups into account. I for example followed courses about gender differences in psychology, culture in armed conflicts, and a course about the role of culture, religion, and meaning-making in clinical psychology. Moreover, I had the opportunity to study a little bit of the Swedish language, which was very interesting to me. The teaching methods were different from the ones utilized at the University of Groningen, too: The classes were much smaller, more interactive and we mostly had to write papers as a final assignment.
In addition, I became increasingly aware of the unique student life that Uppsala can offer its students: Student nations – each nation representing a specific region in Sweden – were organizing lots of social activities, which were open for international students too. This means that on any given day, there were many activities one could participate in. These ranged from lunches and fika (A coffee or cup of tea, usually accompanied with pastries or sandwiches) during the day, to theme parties, pub crawls, and karaoke at night.
I was very fortunate to live in a neighborhood full of students called Flogsta, and to have my accommodation in an extremely nice corridor with international as well as Swedish ones. Flogsta is famous for people screaming every night at 10 o’clock!
During the semester, I started to get at least a slight grasp of the Swedish society and the impressive Swedish way of thinking about certain concepts, such as their respectful attitude towards nature and their focus on equality among its citizens and visitors. I also had the opportunity to travel a little and I discovered fantastic regions, ending up in beautiful places such as Lapland, Sint-Petersburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.
My semester abroad was a fantastic opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizon, discover fairly different cultures, perspectives, and ways of thinking. I can honestly say that this time helped me to further develop and grow as a person. Being back in Groningen now, I still keep in touch with the many friends I made and often engage in reunions with them as well!
Images by dcastor, Moyan Brenn, and authors