Where in the world? Student exchange experiences


We continue this week’s theme of sharing the experiences of students who have been (or still are!) on exchange. Find out what a student from Mexico thought about her studies in the Psychology Department at the RUG and where in the world Groningen students went on exchange this year.

Do you have exchange experiences you want to share with us? 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

Lorena from Mexico is at the University of Groningen, Netherlands

GroningenMy name is Lorena, I am Mexican, and I decided to do an exchange at the University of Groningen in 2013. When I came to Groningen, the first thing I noticed were all the bikes! All those people on bicycles as if those were their cars. Second, Dutch people are really friendly. If I needed something, they didn’t hesitate to help me. I must say I did experience a lot of cultural shocks, but that’s part of the experience, and that’s why I decided to come to Groningen – to live something completely different from Mexico. I am studying psychology and in Mexico it is more practical compared to here but I had amazing teachers, who are very passionate about what they do. Groningen is a students’ city and you meet people from all around the world. I came back for this new academic year to continue and finish my studies here. You should come to the RUG, it doesn’t matter if you come for the fall semester or the spring semester, you will learn and experience a lot once you are here.

Students From Groningen Going Abroad

Christina is at the University of Calgary, Canada

CalgaryI spent one semester at the University of Calgary and fell in love with the beautiful Rocky Mountains, which are practically next door! Coming here made me discover my love for outdoors sports such as hiking, climbing or rafting. Also, skiing in Banff is a ‘must’ during the winter when nature turns into a white winter wonderland! I can only recommend going to Calgary to enjoy the breath-taking nature and to experience the country/cowboy charms of the city and its friendly residents. After all, Calgary isn’t called ‘the Texas of Canada’ for nothing, yeeeeha!


Jessika is at Universidade Lisboa, Portugal

LisbonI benefited from the opportunity of going on Erasmus by taking courses that are not offered at the University of Groningen. I saw it as the possibility to learn more about certain topics that are of my interest, which would not have been possible otherwise.

It was also quite interesting to experience a different faculty environment, with different teaching and examination methods, different professor-student interactions, different facilities, and a different university online system etc.

Adapting to all these changes was sometimes very frustrating and rather time consuming. But being on Erasmus, I had a lot of uncustomary spare time which I spent mingling with my host culture and doing the million different things for which there never seems to be enough time in Groningen. And that might be the reason for why I am experiencing my Erasmus as a major intellectual holiday. But maybe that is just because I am in Lisbon, and even in November it is still 20°C…


Verena is at the University of South Carolina, United States

SouthCarolinaTo my own great surprise, the first lecture I attended at the University of South Carolina was not on anything psychology related but on how to request and claim a student football ticket. College football is an essential part of student life here and fall term is football season. Go Gamecocks!

There have been many differences that I had to get accustomed to. I live in a dorm on campus, which means that I can walk to all of my classes within five to ten minutes. There are always events that include free food or other giveaways. And all the students seem to only wear USC t-shirts, showing proudly that they are gamecocks. This atmosphere of affiliation and belonging is easy to get used to, as are the small classes and lively discussions, and the omnipresent Southern hospitality.

Even though spending a semester abroad in the US can be slightly more expensive and requires more planning and organization, I wouldn’t want to miss this incredible experience. I travelled to New York and Chicago, got the opportunity to help out as a research assistant in the lab of one of my professors, and met many wonderful people. It will be bittersweet having to return home for my final semester as I will definitely miss being a gamecock!


Alina is at Abertay University, Scotland

DundeeThinkn ’bout goooin ‘brooard?! This is the way a true Scotsman would pronounce this question. But luckily, I did not forget about all my English grammar and spelling abilities here in Dundee, Scotland. Do not worry about misunderstanding something, because the loveliest things about Scottish people is their friendliness. They help you with pleasure. Imagine you walk through a full and narrow supermarket hallway with your arms full of delicious Scottish food and you accidentally bumb into someone; the reaction of whoever Scottish person you touched would be something like: “Oh, dear! ‘m so soorry! My l’ve!” The delicious food I already mentioned. Haggis, a dish containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, believe me or not, isn’t actually that bad and you are damn proud of yourself after trying it! Studying itself is comparable to school and is less stressful than in Groningen; you are in smaller groups, have tutorials and professors who aim to help you, guide you, answer questions and you have the feeling they want you to be awesome at your coursework – not for them but for you. Meeting so many new people, enjoying the amazing nature in the Highlands and spending the evenings in rustic pubs top up the fascinating time I have here in Dundee.


Note: Images by Flavio Ensiki, HaloMasterMind, Bert Kaufmann, Dr V White, Magnus Manske, and Chuck Szmurlo, 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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