My Erasmus story — part 1.
Everything began one year ago and now I’m here- in the Netherlands.
Looking back, last year flew by even tho I couldn't wait to come here and start something new. It was a pretty sudden decision that I made but it felt right from the start. I applied, they accepted (my parents and boyfriend as well) and that was all.
Third week since I’m in Enschede is slowly coming to an end and my feelings are still mixed. In the beginning it was hard. Arriving to a new city, new culture, new language, new people were all sometimes too much to handle. There were days when my level of anxiety was so high that I couldn’t sleep at night. I had trust issues and problems with the definition of clean in our student-house. Sometimes I was so overthinking things that I started to question myself whether I have OCD. I had to lower my expectations, let go of my habits and adjust to other roommates. To sum up, I had a problem with a place that I thought it had to be my safe zone. We all had to create our new comfort zone even tho we were out of our primary.
Now, as the days go by, it seems to be a little easier but I am still learning not to be bothered with some things. But, I must say that the support system I have here is great. My class-colleagues, also Erasmus students, are something special. I spend a lot of time with them and that makes things easier. Three Finnish people, one Italian girl, one Greek girl and my dearly roomie- a Czech girl. In our group there are also three Dutch students who are helping us a lot, especially with Dutch stuff (college, stores, trains, etc.). It is interesting how we are all very different but we managed to step over that and develop a unique group.
Style of living and the weather
I bought a bike which increased my quality of life, as well as fitting into my short Dutch style of living. At the start we hadn’t known the Dutch traffic rules but it didn’t seem to be a problem. We had a feeling that other road users are taking care of us. It was just important to:
1. have white front light and red back light;
2. not to wear helmet because you will look like a douchebag.
Yes, the main topic in Enschede is the weather. It is so funny how you just can not adapt to it, especially if you are biking. Sweating while biking can’t be avoided. The secret lies in layered clothing but without all that warm clothes you would usually wear if you are going by foot. A raincoat is a must since rain can start and stop many times a day. A winter cap and gloves are your best friends when the wind starts to blow.
“Lunch at 6pm and no dinner”
This was for sure the biggest cultural shock that I experienced. The problem lays in the organization of the day, specifically the meals. In Dutch culture they do not eat lunch as the biggest meal in the day, as they rather eat a soup in a cup and a sandwich. Dinner at 6pm is a main meal in a day and nobody is allowed to skip it. Although, I don’t mind the soup in a cup, I’m not sure that I will adopt it as a habit of my own.
…Or Come further. It suits the name of our minor- Crossing borders in social work. The program is designed for Erasmus students and the classes are held in English. Subjects such as Management and organisation skills in social work and History of social work are well known to me as I have completed them at University back home. But, everything here is so much different.
There is only ten of us in class and professors know you by your first name. The atmosphere is work oriented but at the same time relaxed. Professors tend to sit on a table and to put their legs on a chair while they teach. They are close to students — professors went with us to the restaurant our first day at University and it was so much fun. Usually you will not find a professor in his office/room as they don’t want to be stuck in their desks. Classes are designed to focus on us; our motivations, problems and needs. It is strange when a professor asks you to speak about your emotions and life goals. Professors are grading your way of thinking and not if you remember the articles of different laws. You are allowed to express your mind and to ask for more explanations without being judged. Regarding the use of English language it is OK if you can’t remember a word, you don’t know how to say something or you can’t pronounce it right- nobody will judge you because nobody is a native English speaker. Students are allowed to eat or drink during the class, as well as use their laptop/tablet/mobile phone. In whole Saxion building and in the city center there is a free wifi for students. As we are international students, the International Office keeps an eye on us and organizes all kinds of events to get us in one place and to have fun.
I have a strong feeling that everything is where it is supposed to be and that’s why I am happy to be where I am. :)