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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 4) 2015/16

Marlene Steif &Theresa Neubauer, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Mobility for Study, PHST

Authors: Marlene Steif & Theresa Neubauer

Contact of the university

Windesheim Zwolle is located at: 
Campus 2-6 
8017 CA Zwolle

International office:

Postal address: 
Windesheim University of Applied Sciences 
P.O. box 10090 
8000 GB Zwolle 
The Netherlands

Sheila Zwanenburg

Phone: +31 (0)88 - 469 9777 
Fax: +31 (0)88 - 469 8822 
E-mail: internationaloffice@windesheim.nl 

Description of the registration process at the host organization

After we had decided that we want to go to Zwolle and study at the Windesheim University we had to undergo the registration process for the Erasmus programme as well as the one of the host university. This included filling in a special form that was provided by Windesheim as well as writing a motivation letter. Furthermore, we had to send Windesheim an English version of the courses which we had already done at the PHST. This was a bit hard and time consuming as we do not have English names for all the courses and it was sometimes hard to find the right translation. After this we had to choose the courses to create our learning agreements. Then all the important documents were sent to the university by our coordinator Heiko Vogl. At the end the only thing that was missing was the acceptance email for which we had to wait quite long. It took some time but in the end of June we finally got it and we were able to register for a room in a dormitory in Zwolle which will be our new home in September. The good thing is that my host university has reserved rooms in some dormitories in Zwolle which are only for international students. For the accommodation we chose a dormitory called ‘Talentenplein’. It was built in 2014 and is very close to the city center which was one of the main reasons why we decided to rent a room there. We will be sharing a room with another person from the Erasmus programme, which will also be a new experience for us as I’ve never lived in such a dormitory before.

Description of the university

Windesheim University of Applied Sciences is one of the biggest univsersities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. The university is located in the southern part of Zwolle and about 20 300 students study at this modern university. Study programmes in 50 disciplines are offered which puts emphasis on student-centred education. International student can attend the university as an exchange or regular student, as many courses are taught in English.


Zwolle is a provincial city in the northeast of the Netherlands with about 110 000 inhabitants.

Windesheim is in Zwolle, a provincial capital northeast of the country’s geographic centre. With a population of over 110,000, Zwolle is an economic hub with a rich history. At its heart, cobbled streets thread their way between great churches and imposing monuments to the city’s mercantile past. Around this inner district is a dynamic modern town. Large enough to provide all the amenities of twenty-first century life, yet small enough to keep them close at hand.

Chosen courses

Pedagogy and Didactics in Dutch Schools:

This course gives a detailed overview about pedagogy and didactics. A lot of this course covers a wide range of topics concerning pedagogy and methodology. Theory is put into practice during these lessons. 
Goal: learn how to approach pupils with learning problems or disabilities

Career Coach Counselling:

This course is related to the Internship and deals with your personal development. Your progress and own goals are in the focus of attention.

Dutch School System:

In this course the Dutch School System will be explained as well as factors such as the curriculum.

Internship Intermediate A:

-observing the teacher/ class
- talking with students
- reflecting on the lessons 
- participating in activities  
- getting to know the school

Internship Intermediate B:

-observing the teacher/ class
- communicating with students
- preparing lessons
- teaching lesson
- participating in school activities 
- reflections

Windesheim and the Netherlands:, introduction module of several Dutch aspects analysed in an international perspective:

This course gives an introduction to studying at a Dutch university and the Netherlands. It is a compulsory module for all international students and should help all the students to get to know Zwolle as well as Dutch traditions.

Dutch language 1: Introduction:

In this course the Dutch language will be introduced. The emphasis is on expanding the vocabulary and speaking skills.

Dutch language 2: Intermediate:

This course is the follow-up course to Dutch Language 1: Introduction. The knowledge will be expanded and the emphasis will be put on communication.

Drama & Improvisation:

This course deals with all kinds of drama activities with a special focus on your future profession. You gain an insight on body language, energies, etc.

Dutch Society 2:

Dutch Society 2 was a self-study course. The main focus was on a comparison between your home country and the Netherlands in all different kind of aspects.

And now for something different! The empowering effect of creativity (Drama):

This course is about all kind of drama activities and how you can use them in your professional role as a teacher. 


There are many ways to get to Zwolle. We decided to go there by plane as it is the fastest way. We booked a fairly cheap flight from Vienna to Rotterdam. The airport in Rotterdam is very small and doesn’t have a train station. Therefore, we had to take a bus to get to the Rotterdam Centraal train station. The public system in the Netherlands is very good and it was very easy to find our way to Zwolle. When we arrived there some of our SUN-mentors, who are responsible for all the international students, picked us up. They took us to our accommodation and already told us some facts about the city. On the next day we had an introduction at our university where we got all the useful information for the coming weeks. At the weekend we already had our first welcome party which was organized by SUN and was a good way to get to know more Erasmus students.

During our first week we had a lot of activities to get to know the city and people. We also had to register at the municipality in Zwolle and got our “Burgerservicenummer” which made us a real Dutch citizen.

Over the semester the SUN team did a lot of activities and they even took us to a theme park in Efteling. They always made sure that we felt safe and comfortable in the Netherlands.


In the Netherlands nearly everyone has a bike so it was very obvious that we bought a bike at the beginning of the semester. You can buy bikes at the shops in the city center or from former Erasmus students. Unfortunately, there were no bikes from former students available so we had to buy ours from the shop. Dutch people go everywhere by bike and you can find a lot of biking paths all around the city. Cyclists even have got their own traffic lights.

As already mentioned before, the public transport system is very good in the Netherlands. You can nearly get everywhere by train and they even have wi-fi in their buses or trains which facilitates the travel. The cheapest way to buy train tickets is to make use of the special offers such as “dagkarts” which you can buy at several shops like Hema, Kruidvat, etc. Another option would be to buy group tickets which is very beneficial for groups of 10 people because then you pay 7 euro for a return ticket.

Author: Marlene Steif

Teaching practice in comparison to Austria

First of all I have to say that internships here are completely different in comparison to Austria. I have the feeling that it is here far more important what the students want to learn during internship than in Austria as they can participate more in the organizational part of the internships. At home we get told when our internship starts and we have to be there once a week on a fixed day. Our attendance is compulsory and we cannot do the internship at a different day. All the formal documents were very important in my former internships as they had to be signed every day I was present there. This was not the case at my internship in the Netherlands as I was responsible for writing down when I was doing which activities. Furthermore, I kept track of all the things I did in a weekly journal which helped me to reflect all the activities I participated. Especially at the beginning I just observed lessons which was sometimes hard as some of the lessons were in Dutch. I saw different kinds of lessons and could really analyze the lessons which do not differ a lot from the ones I observed in Austria.

At the end of my internship I had to teach several lessons in the form of co-teaching or on my own. Even though I’m already in the fifth semester and I’ve had a lot of internships so far I still learnt a lot in the feedback I got from the teacher as well as from the coach as it was always very constructive. Most of the time I taught lessons about Austria which I always did in the form of co-teaching. I have to admit that I didn’t like these lessons so much as they were very teacher-centered even though we told the students a lot of information about our country.

My coach suggested that I teach two lessons on my own to really have the chance to be the teacher all the time. I prepared two lessons which were very similar to the ones I did at home. I taught O3B about refugees and the situation in Austria and have to admit that the students participated a lot during the lesson. All in all I think the lesson was quite okay even though I still have to be stricter in some situations. I think the students liked the different activities as I really tried to plan my lesson as student-centered as possible.

All in all I think my internship was a really nice experience and I think I learnt a lot. I was able to see so many lessons which broadened my horizon. Even though I had some difficulties with the organizational process at the beginning I really liked being at that school and I wish that I have the chance to teach such a bilingual school one day when I’ve graduated.

Final Reflection

When I look back at the last semester there are a lot of things I can say. When one of the lecturers at the introduction meeting talked about her semester abroad describing it “the time of her life” I couldn’t believe her. I knew it would be a great experience, but to say it was the best time of your life - I was unsure about that. But in the end, after all the experiences I got, after all the people I met, after all the trips I was able to make I can say she was right. Looking back this was the best semester at a university I’ve ever had that’s why I want to reflect all the impressions I got and how they changed me.

Studying at a Dutch university

When I first saw Windesheim I was impressed by its beautiful campus. In Austria I study at a way smaller college with about 2000 students. I really liked the modern architecture of the buildings and took a lot of pictures, especially of the X-building. In Austria most universities still have a rather old-fashioned architecture which was why I was so astonished by the one of Windesheim. At the beginning it was very confusing to find my way through campus as there are so many rooms. What I also liked very much was the fact that we could call our teachers at Windesheim by their first name. In Austria something like that would be impossible, but I realized that it eases the atmosphere between teacher and student. As I’m going to be a teacher I would also tell my future students to call me by my first name if I could as then they wouldn’t just see me as an authority person, but also as a person they could talk to. In general I had the impression that teachers and students have a good relationship here. Furthermore, they offer a wide range of courses for international students. I was able to learn a lot of things about the Dutch language as well as about the school system in the Netherlands. In addition to this, I was really impressed by the high number of English courses and I didn’t know that so many German students are studying here. I think that’s a very useful approach of Windesheim to a more globalized world. In general I see far more foreign students doing their studies in the Netherlands than in Austria which is a pity for my home country as it would give us an internationalized perspective on all kinds of topics.

Studying together with all kinds of nationalities:

That’s one of the main advantages when it comes to studying abroad: you get to know all kinds of people from other countries and learn so many new things. For instance, one of my friends here is Chinese and she taught me so many things which I’ve never learnt in school. It was surprising how different their culture is compared to ours. I really enjoyed sitting over a coffee and discussing random things which are different in their home country. I think I will never forget those things I learnt from them as it was far more interesting than any Geography lesson I had in school. I really enjoyed the way we bonded and the fact that we called us “Erasmus Family”. I was able to find friends for life here and it didn’t matter if we spoke the same language or had the same culture – we enjoyed each other’s companies and had the best time here. That’s what I like about this program so much – everyone is in the same situation. Being new and foreign in a country is not always an easy thing but because we had each other it was very helpful to get to know the city and the country.

Encounters with Dutch people:

Apart from some cyclists that were yelling at me when I was accidentally blocking their way I can say that all encounters with Dutch people were mainly positive. In my opinion Dutch people are very friendly and polite. I hardly ever met someone who couldn’t speak English which is, unfortunately, not always the case in Austria. People here are also very open as I often had a conversation with strangers who really wanted to know a lot about my home country. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many courses with Dutch students but in the few I had the students were very helpful. As I did my internship in a Dutch school I was able to meet a lot of Dutch pupils who always wanted to hear how my Dutch is. I learnt a lot about Dutch food and traditions at the SUN-activities as well as at my internship school. I really enjoyed talking to local people and learning more about the language and the culture. Even though I’m from a European country as well where the language is very similar to Dutch there a still some differences.

What does your stay abroad mean for you as person:

During the last months I gained a lot of experience. Not only was I able to learn about the Netherlands I also heard a lot about other countries. This helped me to become more open and even let me overcome my shyness. Especially for my future teaching job you need to have an open attitude towards other people and I think all the experiences I was able to gain here really helped me to grow personally. When I will go back to Austria I think that I will definitely see a difference in interacting with other people. As I already mentioned before I was able to learn so many things and became a more open person. I really can say that I never felt home-sick here which was a surprise for me as I thought I would miss my home country and all the things I’m used to. I liked feeling as a part of the “Erasmus Family” and I really enjoyed my stay here. Furthermore, I was able to improve my English as I became more fluent which will be very beneficial for my future profession.

What do you take home: 

All in all I can say that I had a very nice semester abroad. I was able to gain so much experience in all kinds of fields. I really enjoyed seeing a different university and teaching in a Dutch school. When I go back home I will always remember the good time I had in the Netherlands. After all, this semester changed me more than the past two years at my university at home. I know that I will definitely come back and visit the Netherlands again. I really enjoyed being here and all of my friends and family who came to visit me said what a beautiful country it was. Beside a lot of new clothes and souvenirs I bought in the Netherlands, I take home so many beautiful memories and experiences which I would have never had if I stayed home. I take home a more open attitude towards people and I realized travelling really broadens your mind. Even though this quote sounds a bit cheesy I think it really sums up my semester abroad:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than pone place.”

Author: Theresa Neubauer

Teaching practice in comparison to Austria

To reflect on my Internship, I want to state out the differences and smilarities between the teaching practice in Austria and the Netherlands. First of all I must point out that my Internship in the Netherlands was completely different then my Internships in Austria. Back home you have your practicum at one fixed day per week together with another student, although you do not teach together. This day is the same day for every student of the semester. The teaching activities and the number of excursions are exactly stated out from the university. Being a part of the school organization or observing the teacher or the class is not really a part of the Austrian Internships. In Austria they are very strict about the documents that come along with the Internship. All the lesson plans have to be signed by the teacher and the coach and every day of presence at the Internship school has to get signed from the teacher as well. Here in the Netherlands I experienced that the Internship was more students-focused. I could choose my Internship days in relation to my schedule and I had far more opportunities regarding the activities. I had the feeling that being a part of the school organization in total was much more important during my Internship here. Furthermore I had to schedule my activities by my own and I had to keep track of them. Writing a weekly journal really helped me to be aware of the happened things and activities. But I have to commit that I had some difficulties at the beginning of the semester with the organizational process of my Internship, because it was not very clear for me how many days I should be at the school and so on. But after I figured out how it works I was really glad to be at the Parkschool mostly once a week.

Final Reflection

Erasmus – an experience that is incomparable. I had the chance to spend one semester abroad. For several reasons I chose the Netherlands and I studied at the University of Windesheim in Zwolle. Spending time abroad in a new and different country without your family and friends means a lot of new experiences.

First of all I want to write about my experiences while studying at a Dutch University. When I saw the university of Windesheim for the first time I have to admit that I was totally impressed. The whole campus is so modern and well structured. The different buildings with the different departments were really big and impressive. Especially the X-building affected me; I could feel the learning atmosphere in there. Everywhere were nice places to study alone or in bigger groups and the best thing about it was that everywhere was the possibility to charge your laptop or mobile phone. I have to say that I was not used to that rambling university buildings back home.

Another experience that comes to my mind when I think about studying at a Dutch university is the fact that all the classrooms were equipped with the most important electronical basics. Every room had a beamer and good Wi-Fi-connection.

Another complete new experience for me was the big cafeteria at the university. There was a huge choice of different cheap dishes. Especially the coffee stores made me happy. I liked the opportunity of getting cheap and fresh coffee every day at the university. Back home eating and drinking coffee at the cafeteria is really expensive.

Through my Erasmus stay I made a lot of experiences about studying with all kind of nationalities. First of all it was a complete new situation for me to speak all the time in English. All the lectures, seminars and the internship were in English. Through this common language studying with all kind of nationalities was possible. In general it was very interesting to get to know the know-how and thoughts from students from all over the world. The sharing of thoughts and the different ways of thinking influenced all the lectures. But I have to commit that working together with other students from all over the world was not always easy. Influenced by the different school and university systems students had different ways of working and several ideas about the “quality” of the seminar papers or other group works. Sadly most of my lectures or seminars were just in a group of five people and three of them were Austrians, one girl was from Belgium and the other one was from China. Therefore I did not have that much studying experience with people from all kind of nationalities.

My life in the Netherlands offered me the opportunity to encounter a lot of Dutch people. To be honest I had no idea about the Dutch mentality before I came here because I have never been to the Netherlands before. I would describe the Dutch as open, helpful and warm-hearted people. Through one course at the University I had the chance to spend some time with Dutch students, with two of them I actually became real good friends. I like their easy-going, open and uncomplicated behaviour. Spending time with them, eating typical food, getting to now the Dutch culture and traditions made me really feel like a “Dutch-girl” sometimes. But I have to add that I did not have any more amicable contact with Dutch people. Furthermore I got impressions about Dutch people while going for dinner or shopping, while meeting sports trainers at the gym or in any other typical daily activities like grocery shopping, buying a bus ticket or going to the hairdresser. All these people were always friendly and encouraged to explain things in English and to give you a helping hand. I experienced that in general the English level of Dutch people is very high.

All things considered the stay at the Netherlands means a lot for me as a person. In general I would say that all my experiences influenced me as a person. I would not say that I am a different person now, but I can definitely say that I developed my personality. All the good but also the negatives and hard things while my stay at the Netherlands let me grew. Living so far away from all my friends and my family let me find out a lot about me as a person. Before I came here I was a really shy and quiet person. Getting in touch with new people helped me to get rid of my shyness. I feel more comfortable now to speak with new people and of course my English language skills got better. Furthermore I had the chance through my stay at the Netherlands and the experience Erasmus to get to now people from all over the world. Through spending five months together and through living really close with the others at the student accommodation “Talentenplein” some of them got really good friends and I do not want to miss them in my future life.

To sum up I can take home a lot of new experiences and impressions through these five months abroad. Through studying at a Dutch university and meeting people from all over the world, what means getting to now a lot of different nationalities, through encountering Dutch people I developed my personality and I grew as a person. This is for me the most impressive and important thing that I can take home. Knowing no one and living on my one for the first time helped me to get rid of my shyness.

Beside from my personal development I can take home ideas about a modern school and university system. In my opinion schools and universities with low hierarchy systems helps to get people more creative and to develop more critical thoughts.

What it all amounts to is that I am really thankful and pleased that I had the chance to spend five months in the Netherlands. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet all these people and to make these entire not always easy but important experiences.  

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