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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 3) 2014/15

Nicole Skoberne, Viktoria Mosbacher, Lisa Koller, Daniel Scharf und Jacob Stössl, Katholieke Pabo Zwolle, the Netherlands, Mobility for Study, PHST

Author: Nicole Skoberne, Viktoria Mosbacher und Lisa Koller

Contacts University

University of Applied Science, Teacher Training Institute Primary Education
Hogeschool Katholieke PABO Zwolle 
Ten Oeverstraat 68, 
8012 EW Zwolle, 
The Netherlands 
Tel.: +31 (0)384217425 
Fax: +31(0)384210914 
Erasmus code: NL ZWOLLE06


Harrie Poulssen (International Officer)

Katholieke Pabo Zwolle

Ten Oeverstraat 68

8012 EW Zwolle

The Netherlands

Phone: 0031(0)38 4217425

Email: h.poulssen@kpz.nl


Bert Thole (Coordinator IM)

Katholieke Pabo Zwolle

Ten Oeverstraat 68

8012 EW Zwolle

The Netherlands

Phone: 0031(0)38 4217425

Email: b.thole@kpz.nl


About the University: 

The Katholieke Pabo Zwolle, also known as KPZ, is an independent Interactum University of Applied Sciences (Dutch "hogeschool"). There are over 650 students and a staff of about 70. This means that the KPZ is one of the many small- to medium-sized institutes for higher professional education in the Netherlands. 

The International Minor Program (IM) is a five month course in English for 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). The website contains all the necessary information about our teacher training course in which we combine theory and practice and offer a varied study programme with a clear structure using the module system and ECTS. For the IM you need a required level of English like TOEFL or IELTS. Upon consultation, it is also possible to stay three moths. Therefore, 20 ECTS have to be achieved. 

The organisation and interactum:

The Katholieke Pabo Zwolle is an organisation where a clear identity and familiartiy play an important role. Whether you are following the teacher training course or a refresher course, you will notice that things are well organised. 

University of Applied Sciences works within the Educational Federation Interactum together with four other independent teacher training colleges for pirmary education. The aim with this collaboration is to assure and imporve the quality of teacher training in primary education. 

Canteen/cafeteria, ICT and library:

Next to the auditorium you will find the canteen where you can buy coffee, tea, soup, rolls and various other small snacks. The offers are really cheap and delicious. 

The KPZ offers quiet workspaces equipped with computers where you can study on your own or in pairs. Software applications that are suitable for word processing, internet, multimedia use, email and aducational subjects have been installed. The multi media centre is a large modern facility where you have access to information you need when preparing for yours study and your work placement. KPS´s extensice collections consits text books, youth literature, methods for primary education, audiovisual material, software, flash cards and various magazines. Laptops, cameras as well as video cameras can be hired. 

A huge benefit is that printing in black and white is for free. So you will have no addtional costs for printed work. 

How can I apply?

Each year we have an international minor in spring semester from 1st of February until 1st of July.

Deadline for application is: 1 November (previous calendar year)

For application you need to fill in this student application form and mail it to us. 
[application form on the website] 

Please note: When we have received your complete application form an overview on admission will be held by means of Skype.

Preparations for the Erasmus+ stay at the PHST:

Before applying on the KPZ you have to make some organisational manners on the PHST as well:

  • The curriculum vitae has to be filled out in a "europass" format. This format is available on the Internet. The issues in the curriculum vitae are personal data, type of study, professional experience, school career, personal abilities including spoken languages and skills. 
  • The motivational letter should include reasons why you want to go to a certain country and what is your motivation about that. Furthermore, you should write why you are a good person to go abroad. 
  • Additionally, a recommendation letter written by a docent of PHST is needed. In this letter, the docen justifys why you are a good person for going abroad.
  • Next, the learning agreement is discussed. When you want to stay three months you have to make a special learning agreement in cooperation with the KPZ. When you want to stay the whole semester, the learning agreement is fixed. In general, it contains the ECTS you have to make and the schedule of the courses.
  • There are also some meetings were organisational manners are discussed. Those meetings are at the beginning with all Erasmus+ outgoings together. At the end, two weeks before you leave Austria, a final meeting with the student going to the same country is organised. 
  • During the "International week" there is also a meeting with the Erasmus+ students from Graz. In this meeting differnt cultures and countries meet and talk a lot. This meeting is held in English

Besides the oranisational manners for the PHST it is advisable to cover an accident insurance in order to be insured during the stay abroad. The reason for advice is that you have to go by bike every day and that there are some other events for example a sportsday. 

Before we got to Zwolle:

Before we got to the Netherlands, we got a lot of information about our next semster. We have written a lot of emails and had to do a few things before we got here, for example we had to make a language test in Dutch, which was not really a success (we have to do it also afterwards, to see our progress). 

Viktoria, Lisa und Jacob were only staying for three months because they did their stay abroad in sixth semester. Therefore, the organisation to do so was rather much. Finally, we made a learning agreement in extent of 20 ECTS. The reason for staying three months was the "final teaching practice" in Austria. 

To attend the Pabo we all have had a conversation via Skype, where a few thinks were asked in order to notice the level in English. Some questions were:

What do you expect from your Erasmus+ trip?

Why do you want to go to the Netherlands?

In the Skype interview, the level of English as well as the organisational and social skills were tested.

Furthermore, we had to get some information about how fractions are tought in Austria, we had to copy the schoolbooks, made a short clip about a mathlesson, made a foto of the classroom, etc. The assignment was used in the course "Reasearch 1". 

The Pabo organised a very good accomodation, so we didn´t have to look for something - which was really a pleasentness! A part of the International students are staying on a camping side at the Agnietenberg. The issue "accomotation" is discussed in another topic more detailed. 

Then Ria Posthumus asked us when and how we will get to Zwolle and if we wanted to have a welcome guide, who wouls pick us up from the railway station and bring us to our houses. 

Info about the general things and the first weeks:

We are in a "seperate class" - The international Minor/class. All in all we are 15 people (6 Spanish girls, 1 girl from Turkey, 1 boy from Nepal, 2 Czech girls and 5 people from Austria). All our courses we have together - we do not have any courses with the students from the PABO. 

The first week was a welcome week to get aquainted with each other: 

The first day most of our teachers and the headmaster were here to welcome us and to introduce themselves. 
We also had to introduce ourselves to the other ones and to speak about our expectations.

The welcome week was really a good experiences, we were ice skating and played traditional Dutch games.

The courses:

 1) English language (1 ECTS) 

The objective of this course revolves around writing and presenting an academic paper in English in which your own written work will play a pivotal role. This very short course of 4 lessons focuses both on development of academic writing skills and strenghtening presentation skills. 

 2) Culture and Society ( 4 ECTS) 

The students ude their ecperience and the kknowledge theyhave mastered of Dutch history, culture, art and society as a tool to understand and explore their own and other societies. Moreover students are confronted witht the questoins in which way history, culture and society shape our cultural identity, our wy of being. 

3) Pedagogics (5 ECTS) 

We will examine reform pedagogy in all its aspects. We will see which concepts are still used today. 
We wonder what a present day and future child need. We explore the new didactics and explore existing concepts which have caught on in the Netherlands.

 4) Dutch language (3 ECTS)

This is a Dutch course for our class. We learn the basics of the language, for example to introduce ourselves, talk about our hobbies, colors, show someone the way, ect.

5) Coaching/Counselling and tutorship (CCT / 3 ECTS) 

The CCT is different from other modules, since most of the content is not definite yet. 
There will be time for teambuilding activities and for personal coaching. Moreover students will be prepared for the practical training.

6) DRAMU (Drama and Music) (2 ECTS)

Starting with rhythm activities, movement and finishing with songd for children we learn to understand the meaning of rhythm, melody and harmony. All native songs will be produces on seet music and recorded ona CD.

7) Project week "Randstad" (2 ECTS)

During the semester we will take part in a prject week and a number of cultural activities. In this week (in Amsterdam and Den Haag) we will visit a number of cultural and social institutions. 

8) Research (5 ECTS)

The research modules offer a good method to examime educational reform. During practical training we will be at school where we will do our research. 

9) Teaching practise (4 ECTS) 

This is the main and for me the most important part of the whole semester. I am in Heerde (small village next to Zwolle) in a Jenaplan school. I have to teach at least 26 lessons. I will see the idea of Jenaplan in a practical way. 

10) Teacher in Europe student conference (1 ECTS) 

Students learn in an international environment how to design a project under Erasmus + and to complete a final proposal. 

Lisa, Jacob and Viktoria had mostly only the first part of the courses because they left in the second part. Nevertheless, they also participated in the same courses as the other international students.


Zwolle is the capital city of the province "Overijssel" being a paradise for students. It is a lively city with a population of more than 118.000 people. It boasts a beautiful city centre with historic buildings, canals and the remainders of an old city wall. But Zwolle has more to offer than just historic landmarks. The city is also rich in art and culture.


Zwolle has great shopping, with charming shopping streets in the centre, where large chain stores alternate with small specialty shops. There are also plenty of culinary delights to be found in and around the centre, ranging from top restaurants to bistros and cafés. 

The municipality of Zwolle feels very strongly about the nature found in and around the city. Not only will you find plenty of green spaces, but the municipality also maintains its natural beauty in an innovative fashion. With nearly eighty thousand jobs, Zwolle is also an excellent source of emplyment. The employed population of Zwolle is younger than the overall Dutch average.  


As said before, the university organised a good accomodation for us. It is a little bit outside from the city center on a camping place. We have a sort of "bungalow". They are small houses with everything we need. The sleeping rooms are quite small but it is enough! Here on the camping place are 10 other people from Erasmus+, and so we meet us often and doing something together. We pay about 375,- Euros including water and gas per month for the rent.

Name of accomodation: Camping de Agnietenberg
Haersterveerweg 27
8034 PJ Zwolle


In the Netherlands it is an obligation to have a bike! Without a bike you are totally lost. In the Netherlans are more bikes than cars, it is incredible. There are special ways for bikes everywhere, even in the roundabouts and cars have to stop for you. We have to drive about 30 minutes to University with our bikes. 
But also the train in the Netherlands is really cool! Every 30 minutes there is a direct connection to the bigger cities (Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Groningen, ...) and it is quite cheap. But one thing is really good: the more people you are, the less is costs. So if you are a group of 10, you can go to any city you want for just 7 Euros - and this ticket is valid for the whole day (so back and forth). 

Nevertheless, we suggest that you buy a bike when you arrive here. You can either go to a second hand shop or buy a bike from another student leafing Zwolle. Normally, the bikes are around 30€ to 70€. But be aware that you have a good tyre as well as chain, otherwise repairing can get really expensive.

Life in the Netherlands 

Here in Zwolle are a lot of opportunities to do something, especially at night. Here are a lot of bars, discos and pubs. A bar called "The flying horse" is the most popular for students, it is always full! But it is not just good for drinking, you can get a meal for 2,50 Euros, which is really cheap. 

When you compare Austria and the Netherland from the prices, it is actually the same. Food and clothes are the same, but I think products for "beauty" are quite expensive, but you can always get a special offer at "Kruidvat". 
In the city center are a lot of shops where you can buy clothes, something to eat and a lot of other stuff!

When you are here, you have to visit the bigger cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag! They are absolutely wonderful and every city has its own charme! Furthermore you can get via facebook cheap group tickets for 7 euro!


Teaching practice:

First of all, Bert Thole divided us to different schools. Some schools are located in Zwolle, one school is in Heerde and one school in Dronten. You teach either alone or in pairs. Moreover, the university decided to mix the nationalities of the students. For example: Austria and Turkey. In addition, some schools have a reformpedagogical focus, like Jenaplan or Dalton. Other schools are concerned on ICT and on the foreign language English. Most of the primary schools can be reached by bus or bike.

In general the primary school in the Netherlands is called "basisschool" and the pupils have to attend school from the age of 4 to 12. All in all the pupils are divided in eight groups. Group 1 and 2 are similar to the "kindergarten" in Austria. Group 3 to 6 are like Austrian primary schools. The last two groups are matched with the first two grades of the secondary school in Austria.


Teaching practice:

Mid February we had the first contact with our teaching practice schools. The first two Mondays we just observed the lessons of our allocated groups. Moreover, we observed the teachers behaviour including the rituals, (non)-verbal signals and the arrangement in class. While this time we supported the teacher as much as we could. We have to mention, it wasn´t always easy to help the teacher because of the language barrier. Due to the fact, German and Dutch language is similar to each other, we could follow the main content of the lessons. Altough we understood most of the instructions of the teacher, helping the pupils with several tasks was difficult because of our missing Dutch knowledge. We also tried to get in contact with the pupils and to make a good relation as well as the teachers. Furthermore, we looked through all departments of the school to get a good orientation. 

Generally, we were welcomed very friendly at each school and they were happy to have international students at their school because of improving the pupils´ English knowledge. In addition the cultural exchange of the diverse nationalities is a further advantage for the school.

Pupils behaviour:

At the first encounter with the pupils we recognised immediately that their behaviour is different to Austrian pupils. The pupils in our teaching practice schools were working very independently altough the teacher isn´t in the classroom. In addition, if they have a problem or question due to a task, they ask a classmate for advise before asking the teacher. The cohesion of the classes is very strong and the pupils help each other.

When you enter the schools you feel comfortable and relaxed! Each school seems like one family. Moreover, the pupils like being in school and we think that they know the importance of learning. The pupils have already recognised that they learn for themselves and for their future. This way of thinking is given through the working atmosphere in school.

Concerning the "teacher-pupils-relation" in our Netherland schools and in comparison to Austria, this relationship is much closer. This becomes apparent in class because the teacher seems to be like a "friend" or a "companion" for the pupils. Nevertheless, the pupils respect the teacher as an authority.

As you can see below there is the overview of our teaching practice lessons:

  • week 8 (only monday, observations in different departments)
  • week 10 (only monday, observations in different departments)
  • week 11 (only monday, 1 lesson + supporting the teacher)
  • week 12 (only monday, 1 lesson + supporting the teacher)
  • week 14 (4 days; 2 lessons + supporting the teacher per each day)
  • week 15 (4 days; 2 lessons + supporting the teacher per each day)
  • week 18 (4 days; 2 lessons + supporting the teacher per each day)
  • week 20 (3 days; 2 lessons (incl. world citizenship) + supporting the teacher per each day)
  • week 22 (hand in "Demonstration Portfolio)

All in all we have to absolve 32 teaching practice lessons. For the students which stay 3 months have to absolve 26 lessons.

A "lesson" is defined as follows: The student chooses one activtiy of at least 20 minutes. This activity has to be prepared by using a "lesson preparation form". Each teaching practice day, at least one of our lessons have to be evaluated by using the "evaluation form". In addition, we had to work out a number of compulsory teaching practice assignments (f.e. lesson observation forms, form of effective teacher behaviour, fill in a list of competences, demonstration portfolio, ...)

In conclusion, at least 26 lessons should be given and at least 13 must be evaluated. As already mentioned, in week 20 we had to carry out a project on "world citizeship". This project is in connection with the module "Culture and Society 1". During this project a comparison of the Netherlands and our home country (f.e. Austria) has to be done. Therefore, different topics could be used for preparing a lesson such as special meals, typical dances, differences in school systems, mimes and gestures, proverbs and so on.

Every student has a tutor from university. This tutor is coming one time to observe you during your teaching. Afterwards, a discussion about your lesson takes places. In addition, the "demonstration portfolio" is a basis for the meeting.


Our teaching practice schools:

Lisa Koller and Nicole Skoberne -> Jenaplanschool Heerde

Viktoria Mosbacher -> Zonnewijzer Dronten (ICT)

Jacob Stössl -> Parkschool Zwolle (Early Bird - English)

Daniel Scharf -> Christelijke Daltonschool Koningin Emma Zwolle


Activities during the Internatinal Minor

Ice skating

On the first day at the Katholieke Pabo Zwolle, all Erasmus students as well as three teachers went after some lectures ice skating in Deventer. The previous knowledge of this kind of sport was very different within us students. While we Austrian are familiar with ice skating, others have had some difficulties at the beginning. However, they also could make progress in it. After ice skating, we were all sitting around a fire in the cafeteria of this ice hall. In our opinion, it was a great start of this Erasmus and we could get to know each other.

Typical Dutch games

In order to learn something about the Dutch culture, three Dutch students of the KPZ taught us some typical Dutch games, which are played especially at birthday parties.

This event was also in our first week and we played the following games:

  • “Zaklopen” (sack race)

  • “Koekhappen” (catching blindly an in the air hanging cookie only with the mouth )

  • “Touwtrekken” (tug war)

  • “Spijkerpoepen” (getting a on a string strapped spike, which is around your belly, into a bottle)

We liked those games very much and at the same time, our community within us international students was growing.


Week with English students

Due to the fact that English students were coming to the KPZ, the teachers had the idea to get them in touch with us international students. In addition, those students are also studying for becoming a primary school teacher. Generally, we had lectures together, in which we could also talk to each other as well as exchange experiences concerning teaching. In mixed national groups, we were playing board games, which were based on answering questions about school experiences. Additionally, we also talked in small groups about advantages as well as disadvantages concerning the educational system in England and in Austria, in our case. Furthermore, we had a Dutch dinner together at the famous student-pub “Het vliegende paard” with very delicious meals. On their last day in the Netherlands, two Dutch students of the KPZ organized a tour through the most popular pubs in Zwolle.

All in all, we think that it this meeting with the English students was a great idea and we could learn something from the others. In addition, the lectures of the KPZ-teachers were also informative and interesting.


International sport day

On the 27.03., the international sport day took place and we international students were invited to join. To be more precise, it had to do with a group competition within teams of the 5 schools for primary school in the Netherlands. In order to take part in it, we had to divide us in two groups and thereby, the minimum of seven students per team had to be considered

The following kinds of sports were offered:

  • Frisbee

  • “Monokorfbal”

  • Hockey

  • Football - different

  • Football

  • Wheel-chair basketball

  • basketball


All in all, this event was really amusing and we had a lot of fun. 


Project week 'Randstad' (Amsterdam and The Hague)

The teachers of the KPZ organized for us international students a three day trip, which was called “Project Week Randstad”. On the first day, we went by train to Amsterdam, where we visited…. . In the evening, we went by train to The Hague, where we went to our hostel. On the second day we went to…. . The night from the second to the third day, we slept in the same hostel. On the third day, we visited…. .

All in all, it only cost 75€, what in our opinion is really less for this nice offer concerning the sights as well as the accommodation in a hostel.

All in all, we are all the same opinion that the organization as well as the choice of the sights was great and we are very grateful for offering this project week.


Last days and leaving

The last weeks we had not a lot of classes but we need this freetime to work on our assignments. We had not to work only on written assignments, we also created for drama a little movie in small groups. We recorded in the whole city and it was a lot of fun. One of our last days was the presentation of our movies where the others from the international minor judged our film with criterias we descussed before. 

On the last day of univeristy we had presentiations about our ideal schools we worked the weeks before. In small groups we planed interactive activities to present our ideas to the rest of the international student and our teachers. Than we rode with our bicycle back to the camping to prepare the final party. We cooked "Wiener Schnitzel" and "Kaiserschmarn". The others cooked their special meals from the different countries so we had a big meal all together and also had some last drinks in one group. The party was really nice and in the end it was really sad and hard to leave, because this was the last time we celebrated together as a group and maybe we will see a few of them never again.

Reflection Viktoria Mosbacher:

Studying in Zwolle for three months was an amazing experience. Due to the fact that the way of teaching is totally different to Austria, I could gather many suggestions for teaching during my teaching practice in Dronten. I espacially enjoyed living on the campsite with most of the international students. The international group was also very insprining and I made a lot of new friendships. Last but not least, I will totally recommend going to Zwolle, although the three months were really stressful. 


Reflection Lisa Koller:

Staying for three months in Zwolle was an experience which has changed my life. I enjoyed it studying at the KPZ and especially living on the campsite with other international students. Living with people from different countries inspired me and I made a lot of new friendships. Due to the fact that we had to absolve teaching practice lessons, I could improve my way of teaching and I collected many new teaching methods. Although the three months were stressful, going abroad was one of the best things I have ever done. Therefore, I will give the advice: If you have the chance to go abroad, do it. =)

Reflection Jacob Stössl:

The time in Zwolle was an experience, which I will never forget. Although those three months were quite stressful, my learning progress was big. Especially from the education system, which is different to the Austrian system, I could learn a lot by observing lessons at Dutch schools. In addition, my English skills have been improved by talking with the other international students as well as teaching in English. Through this Erasmus, I have got to know a lot of people from different countries and so I could new friendships. In addition, living on the campsite was great, because almost all international students had a chalet there and we made many things together in our free time.
All in all, those three months were full of great experiences and I would recommend everyone to take this chance of studying abroad.

Reflection Daniel Scharf.

For five month of my course in University of Graz I got the opportunity to study abroad on the Erasmus experience. I had never thought about studying abroad from my beloved Austria before but with so many of my friends wanting to take this once in a life time opportunity to study abroad, I thought “why don’t I do the same”

That turned out to be the best decision of my life (so far). I ended up studying in Zwolle and what a place it was to study abroad. It had fun, food, culture and a social life to rival anywhere in the world. The relationship between teachers, students and international students is very friendly and close. I feel like i have studied here my whole life.

Reflection Nicole Skoberne: 

My advise: If you have the opportunity, go abroad! Do your erasmus year and take the chance to go somewhere else! You will change and grow in your character and everything else. Here in Zwolle and at the KPZ I learned a lot! Not only you see something else, some other cultures and traditions, also you as a teacher change. At the KPZ it was a real stressful time, so do not go here if you just want to make party and have a relaxing semester but in my opinion if you really want to learn something and improve your “teacher skill“, the KPZ is for sure one of the best decisions, also because you have a good relationship to the teachers! I enjoyed my stay here a lot, and I want to come back some day, maybe for another education. But watch out: if you are once living somewhere else and meeting all those people, you want to visit everybody and look for the next opportunity to go abroad! 

About my teaching practise: 

In the first 2 weeks on Monday I was just observing the school.  I am in a Jenaplan school so it is very different to our common schools in Austria. Here the primary school is from age 4 to 12. 
I am in a mixed aged class - the pupils are 9-10 years old. 
When you enter the school you feel comfortable and it is relaxed! The whole school is one family, the older ones help the younger ones. 
Here in this school the parents are involved a lot - they stay quite a long time in the morning and talking to other parents and teacher (and not just from the class in which their child belongs).

Also the pupils are very independent. They are working on their own and there is almost no introduction needed. When they have a problem, they do not go to the teacher. First they trying on their own, then they go to the classmates (maybe the older ones) and then , the last instance, they go to the teacher. 

In my last week, we had an international week. I danced with the pupils a typical Austrian dance, Skyped with a class from Austria and made an Austrian spread. All in all the children had fun and it was a really nice experience! 

So the Netherlands is the perfect opportunity to see all the alternative educations (Jenaplan, Montessori, Dalton, Frije School, ...) 


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