Skip to main content
Skip sub navigation

Netherlands – Olivia

A view of flowers and bicycles on a canal bridge in Amsterdam

Student: Olivia
Course: Bachelor of Arts
Program: Trimester Exchange T2 2023

Describe the city you were living in: the landscape, the culture, the weather etc.

Amsterdam was by far one of the most architecturally stunning places I have ever been. What they say about the canals is true; the city is built around them and the waterways are incorporated in everyday life. Some would have walking paths connected by beautiful bridges. In some smaller streets, the canals would come up to the buildings, like the waterway structures in Venice. I could spend hours walking around the city just enjoying the diversity in the environment. When I arrived in August it was sunny and warm, so the greenery and flowers lining the canals just added pops of colour everywhere.

Describe a normal day in your life overseas: your university, your work placement or your study tour?

During my first period at VU I had a 9 am news class twice a week. Luckily, this was when the sun rose at 6am and it was beautiful bike riding weather. I would wake up at 8, clean myself up and jump on the bike to ride to uni. It was only twenty minutes away and the ride took me across bridges and through main streets. There were plenty of cafes and coffee machines on site at the university, so I never struggled to have my morning coffee for breakfast (usually during class). Then I would go through the rest of my classes for the day, either having leftovers from home for lunch or grabbing something at the cafeteria. Nighttime was beautiful, both when it was warm and cold. When it was warm I could go for an evening walk in the gardens by my apartment. In winter I would walk further in the city to admire the holiday lights and atmosphere. Because it can be so grey in winter the people of Amsterdam are amazing at finding ways to brighten up the city.

How did you make friends and what sort of things did you do together?

My classes – which usually focused on sociology-based subjects – were full of discussions and group interaction. This made it particularly easy for me to meet people! Additionally, I joined the VU Pride group chat so I could be informed of their events. Thanks to joining the club I was able to meet other people with similar interests: some who I even shared classes with! To my surprise few other international Aussie students considered the clubs, despite it being an excellent way to get invited to events and go places. My first week I went out to a pub trivia night and then went dancing thanks to joining the VU Pride chat!

What was something that challenged you?

Something that I found incredibly challenging was the exams I had to do for my classes. Having not done exams since high school – and being an incredibly anxious person – I ran myself ragged at exam time. I did well during the in-class activities and assignments, but I would sit down for exams and absolutely panic. It was by far the most challenging aspect of the whole experience. I ended up failing two exams, which meant I failed two classes. The sad thing was that I did quite well in the activities. But dealing with that and not letting my failures affect my other classes or self-worth was a lesson worth learning.

What is the one big thing you will always remember from your experience? Or one big lesson that you learnt?

One big lesson that I learnt is that I am capable. I was able to spend an extended length of time overseas in a country I had never been to before. I knew no one, had only a vague idea of where I would be living, and had never been overseas before. But I did it and had an amazing time while doing so! If you are going to go on exchange, remember; you can do stuff by yourself! My favourite moments were not when I found other Deakin exchange students and organised coffee meetups. They were when I spontaneously went to Christmas markets in the museum district and went to a graffiti art exhibition uptown. I did so much stuff alone, and that’s where I met people and had my best moments. It’s alright to be alone because you can look after yourself and have a good time.

Learn more about studying at VU University

Last updated:
Page custodian: Student Services