Holland: More Than Wooden Shoes Past Review

By (Forensic Science, Western Carolina University) for

Avans University of Applied Sciences: Breda - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I'm a lot more independent now. I had to learn how to do things on my own while I was there, which is something I never had to do at home. I also learned that when it really comes down to it, people are pretty much the same. We may speak different languages and wear different clothes, but the similarities between us far outweigh the differences.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was not much at all. They didn't usually assign homework, but we did have a few things to do and turn in. The grading system was based on a 10-point scale, instead of our 100-point scale, which was interesting to get used to. Teaching styles were relatively similar; they used powerpoints and lectured. Classes were small, which was nice. That meant that the professors knew you by name and when you had a problem they were easily approached and happy to help.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

If I ever had a question they would always answer me, but not necessarily on the day that I asked. Sometimes it took a few emails and visits to the office. That was the biggest weakness in my opinion-having to wait to find things out. The program size was the biggest strength. It was small and we got a lot of individual attention.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I got my apartment by looking online. I was in an excellent neighborhood and it was very safe. I rented a private room that had a shared kitchen and bathroom, but I hardly ever saw the person that I shared them with. I took a bus to get into the city center, but if I ever needed to it wasn't too far of a walk. It took two busses to get me to school.

* Food:

The food was delicious! Everything comes in smaller portions than we have here, but I really liked that. Instead of still having half your meal on the plate when you finish, you could actually eat the whole thing. Eating out in the city center was the best. There are so many restaurants there that offer a very wide range of dining choices. It was just fantastic.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There wasn't anything arranged by my program, but my friends and I arranged plenty of things. We went to see the old-fashioned windmills by the coast, we went to Amsterdam, we went to an amusement park, we went out dancing, and a lot more. I was there over two holidays, Carnival and Queen's Day. Carnival is a five-day party. Everyone dresses up in costumes and they have parades and things. Queen's Day is smaller, but everyone wears orange (Holland's color) and there are little trinkets for sale on the streets.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Breda is very safe. I never felt unsafe the whole time I was there. I didn't have any health issues while abroad and I also didn't need any vaccines in order to participate in my program.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I would say that I spent around 50 euros each week on food and fun.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a budget! It's so easy to spend too much money when you don't have one. There weren't any unanticipated expenses for me, but I'm glad for that.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I never took a course in Dutch. I didn't know any before this program.
Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced with my friends. I used Dutch everyday-at the grocery store, while shopping, at the train station, on the bus, going out to eat, ect. Everyone I came across spoke at least a little English, so I was able to get by with a little Dutch and some English.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Keep an open mind and be willing to go with the flow. It's a lot more laid back over there. Someone who is good at independent study and who isn't afraid to go for it and try new things would be great for this program.