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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 4) 2015/16

Bettina Blaha, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Enschede, Netherlands, Mobility for Study, PHST

About university and exchange program
The Saxion University is located in the city center, next to the central station. In the course of my Erasmus semester, I attended the program “Teacher Training for European Competences” (30 ECTS) in an international class with other students from Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, who also studied primary or secondary education. This program took place in Enschede for the first time, the years before it was in Hengelo. Our courses were held in the smaller, so called Edith-Stein-Building, next to the main building.

My accommodation, arranged by the Saxion University, was a flat with three bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom, toilette, hallway and two balconies. The flat was in the third floor of a house where about 42 exchange students were living. So it was never boring there, but I also always had a pace of retreat. The name of the street, where I used to live, was Roelof van Schevenstraat and it was about 25 minutes by foot and just ten minutes by bike from the city centre and the university. I lived together with Stephanie Oswald, another Erasmus student from Graz, and an Indonesian girl also called Stephanie.
The organization of the housing was not the best, for instance we did not know anything about where and with whom we are going to live or if, where and when we are going to be picked up at the train station until we arrived in Enschede at 11 o’clock in the night. Furthermore the flat wasn’t really in a good condition, so Stephanie and I had to clean up first. Nevertheless, everything turned out to be all right, but not for everyone, some students had to stay in a hotel for a few days or even one, two weeks. At least the hotel got paid by the university.

The accommodations that were arranged by Saxion were about 480€. Cheaper flats or rooms can also be found on Facebook (e.g. at “Sise independent: Saxion International Students Enschede”). A bike is absolutely necessary, no matter where in the Netherlands you live. Bikes can be bought really cheap at many bike shops and via Facebook as well. Because I arrived in February it was more difficult to find a bike in Enschede, so I bought one in Hengelo, a city near Enschede, where I could also return it after the semester. For that it might be advantageous to arrive a little bit earlier.

Leisure time activities
Enschede is a student town, which means that there are events almost every weekend. Besides, in the city centre are many possibilities to go out, eat or go shopping.

Course Content „Teacher Training for European Competences“
(1)    European Professionalism
a.    Introduction in Dutch culture and education (1 ECTS)
b.    Preparation on the course / Comparative education (1 ECTS)
c.    School Concepts (1 ECTS)
d.    New Teacher Education (1 ECTS)
(2)    European Diversity and Multiculturalism (2 ECTS)
(3)    European Identity - Cultural Heritage (2 ECTS)
(4)    European-World Citizenship (2 ECTS)
(5)    Languages
a.    English Language Skills/Learning (4 ECTS)
b.    Dutch language (2 ECTS)
(6)    Research Practical
a.    Projectdesign (2 ECTS)
b.    Appreciative Inquiry (4 ECTS)
c.    Proposal International Project (2 ECTS)
d.    Policy advise primary school (1 ECTS)
(7)    Internship (3 ECTS)
(8)    Excursion Brussels (2 ECTS)

Comparison: PHST - SAXION
The program was split in two parts: The first part included all the classes we had at the university, ended at the end of April and was rated 16 ECTS. The second part was about research practical, internship and an excursion to Brussels.
One module took about three days per week for two to four weeks, which means we  always had just one module at a time and for that just one assignment/task/presentation to work on. I definitely appreciate this form of schedule because you can concentrate on just one thing and don’t have to learn for more courses at the same time.
Other positive things about the program are that we had time until the end of the semester to finish our assignments and that we had the opportunity to see many different schools everywhere in the Netherlands in the course of the lecture “Professionalism”. On the other hand all these excursions were really expensive because we had to pay for the train tickets by ourselves.

Internship and Research
I was lucky to do the research and my internship in a primary school directly in Enschede. Monday and Tuesday I worked with my group (three other international students) in the school on our research. The task was to survey the school concerning internationalization and give an advice how to improve in this issue.
The Dutch school system is different to the Austrian, for instance children start attending school when they are four and finish primary school when they are twelve years old. Every Wednesday (from May until July) I had the pleasure to do my internship in a really likeable class (about nine years old). The teacher from my class was really friendly and gave me the opportunity to try out whatever I want, so I sang a German song with the children or did different English activities. Besides, we had to carry out some activities for our research which I also did in this class.

To go for an ERASMUS semester was one of the best decisions I made in my life and I would totally recommend it to everyone. Apart from that, I am really glad, that I have chosen Enschede, even though there are many other beautiful cities in the Netherlands as well. 

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