Where in the world? Student exchange experiences 2

We continue this week’s theme of sharing the experiences of students who have been on exchange. Find out why a student from Turkey wanted to study in Groningen and how you can order a beer in Japan.

Do you have exchange experiences you want to share with us? Or would you like to ask a question to the students who have been abroad? Write a comment or email us at mindwise@rug.nl. We want to hear where you’ve been and about your experiences there!


Students Coming to Groningen

Yigit from Turkey is at the University of Groningen, Netherlands

I am an exchange student in Groningen coming from Turkey. I study Psychology and chose to study at the University of Groningen for my Erasmus Program. As a very curious student, particularly interested in cultures all over the world and how they interact, going abroad for six months was an important opportunity for me. I personally believe that the only way for people to really understand each other is to share each other’s cultures. To live and study in a foreign country gives me a really valuable and rare chance to share the Dutch culture, meet new people, have new possibilities every day to expand my vision, and get opinions on different aspects and approaches about Psychology and its applications.

I can say that my stay in the Netherlands has become not only a very interesting and useful experience in my educational life and for my future career but also an important part of my personal development as a responsible individual.


Students From Groningen Going Abroad

 Nils is at Abertay Universtiy, Scotland

I spent one semester in Dundee, the sunniest city of Scotland, at the University of Abertay. I have a lot of mixed feelings when I think back to my experience. On the one hand, I got to know some interesting people that I can now call my friends. I saw a bit of the beautiful Scottish countryside and I spent enough time in pubs to now know that whiskey can actually taste nice! On the other hand however, I was not satisfied with the programme that I got offered by the University. All the courses I chose were quite easy and required very little effort and didn’t teach me much new content. Also, the student accommodation was fairly expensive although it was very basic.

In case you want to spend a semester enjoying the highlands and taking a little break from the intensive program at Groningen University, I can recommend Abertay to you. If you decide to go there, make sure you visit St. Andrews, which is only 15km south of Dundee and definitely worth a visit!


Awet is at the University of Valencia, Spain

Before going to Valencia, I did not know any Spanish. The University of Valencia offers enough English Psychology courses, however, I wanted to make the most of this time and learn the language. During the semester before my exchange, I took the beginners course in Spanish offered as a minor by the RUG. I went to Barcelona about one month before the semester started to further improve my language skills with another course.

The housing situation in Valencia is very different from that in Groningen. Renting a room in Valencia is pretty cheap and there are always a lot of rooms available. Moreover, the way Psychology is taught at the University of Valencia is more practical than in Groningen. I think the courses are easier than those in Groningen, however, the students here make a lot of housework and practical exercises. Moreover, the courses are taught in groups of about 15 to 30 people and the relationship to the other students and the professors is closer than what I know from Groningen. The University of Valencia offers a lot of activities for incoming exchange students in order to familiarize themselves with the Spanish culture, such as finding tandem partners, or making trips throughout Spain.

I can only recommend everybody to go abroad. I had a great time in Valencia but it probably does not matter where you go as long as you stay open for new experiences.


Hanna is at the University of Bern, Switzerland

To no surprise, the semester in Switzerland has been very expensive. However, I received around 1700 Euro from the University of Bern without any conditions other than providing a testimonial. I felt very welcomed and taken care of. The University organized a couple of free events for us, such as a free daytrip to the French part of Switzerland. Additionally, all the ESN activities were sponsored by the University to a large extent.

The city of Bern is very beautiful and lively. I was surprised about its diversity; Different languages, cultures and subcultures were in every corner. Bern is definitely a city where everybody finds a place (if the law allows it). Swiss people, at least in Bern, are the most sweet-natured people on Earth. It took me a while to adjust to all the kindness and niceness. However, this quickly changed as soon as somebody saw me on a bike. Swiss people seem to be very afraid of bicycles. ‘Three honks a day brings good luck’, that’s what a friend and I always said.

The Swiss students are very open-minded. It was very easy to feel comfortable in the rather small classes (seminars of around 30 students). We did a lot of group work and had to prepare many presentations, which was a new experience that definitely improved some of my skills. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes a bit boring like everywhere. Overall, the workload did not seem as high as in Groningen.


Kathi is at Osaka University, Japan

“Biru onegaishimasu” – “Beer, please”.

“Aisu kurimu onegaishimasu” – “I want ice cream, please”.

As you can see, Japanese is not that difficult – That’s what I learned in Osaka, Japan’s third largest city with 19 millions inhabitants. Most importantly, Osaka is also known as Japan’s food capital. Besides Sushi, there is Osaka’s specialty Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, and much more that makes you realize there is no better food in the world than in Japan.

If ordering food and beer is the only thing you know in Japanese, the university offers a variety of classes in English. Additionally, they teach you more Japanese language skills and much about the Japanese culture.

What do you do on weekends or on a free afternoon? Well, it takes you 45 minutes and 300 yen (~ 3 Euros) to go to Kyoto or Kobe. The people and their culture and traditions are unique and sometimes appear very strange and weird to me. So be prepared for many awkward and embarrassing situations you will definitely step into… 🙂


—>Note: Images by Wutsje, Felivet, Bobo11, Alina, and Kathi, licensed under CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 3.0

It took Pia some time to figure out what she wanted to do in life, but after one year of travelling through New Zealand and a second gap year supporting plant reproduction in Germany, she fortunately decided to study psychology in beautiful Groningen. Pia is now a third-year Bachelor student in the English psychology program as well as in the University Honours program, through which she discovered her enthusiasm for research. She is spending the Fall of her third year as an exchange student in Montreal, Canada, taking courses at McGill University and completing a research internship at the CHU Ste-Justine Hospital. Pia’s main interests lie in developmental neuropsychology and educational psychology. In particular, she is interested in the influences of early childhood experiences on brain development and children’s motivation to learn and succeed in school. Besides her studies, she enjoys working as a student editor for Mindwise and a reviewer for the Groningen student journal Honours Review.

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