Together with my sister Stephanie and our colleague Bettina Blaha, we started our journey to Enschede on the 4th of February 2016. We were very excited because we did not know what to expect. We arrived in Enschede by train. It was a very long journey because it took 13 hours. But we bought our tickets for 70 Euros. We started at 5:45 am. Unfortunately our train was delayed, so we arrived in Enschede about half past ten. Nevertheless we tried to call a contact from “Saxion housing” and they responded immediately and we were picked up by a student from the university Saxion. We reached our destination by taxi, which was paid by the university. We had no problems with our arrival because the staff who is responsible for the exchange students took care for us.
I lived in the Roelof van Schevenstraat. This housing consisted of flats for three persons. Many Erasmus students lived at the same place. That was a big advantage because we got to know each other very quickly. Unfortunately not everybody from the teacher training program lived at the same housing, because there was another dormitory too. That was the reason why we had to do some group works at the university.
There were some disadvantages at my housing too. First of all it was very expensive. When you don’t want to spend so much money for a room, it is better to search for a flat on your own.
It also could happen, that you have roommates, who put no emphasis on cleaning. Unfortunately this happened to me and this was a little bit annoying.
I think it was slightly unfair too that everybody in the flat had to pay the same amount of money although the sizes of the bedrooms were different. For example I had the smallest one and my wardrobe wasn’t in my room.
The way from the housing to the university took 30 minutes by foot and 15 minutes by bike. I liked the location because it was calm. Near from our housing were two big parks, where I could go running. Next to the housing there was a supermarket too, which was very comfortable.
I really liked the Saxion of Applied Science. My experiences which I had there, were completely different to my home university. I really appreciate their system, which is organized in modules. We had a course over two weeks and after that we had to do an assignment. Then the next module started. Because of that you are able to do different assignments throughout the term and you don’t have to do everything at the end of it.
All in all I had to do 10 modules to gain 30 credits. In the subject “European Professionalism” I learned other educational systems in Europe and innovative international perspectives on education, related to the demands of our modern society and 21st century skills. Another subject was “European citizenship” where I learned about intercultural education and the “Hanvey Model”. I had English lessons too, where I could improve my language skills. A further subject was “European Identity” and “Cultural Heritage”. There I learned about personal, national and European roots and habits. In the subject “Multiculturalism” I learned a lot about diversity and the consequences of cultural differences in education. Another subject was “Dutch”. It was very interesting because it was very practical. On one occasion, my classmates and I had to go to a supermarket and ask (in dutch) the shop staff for groceries. Other modules were the “Internship” and the “Research Practical”, where I had to go to a primary school to do some activities with the children. I also had to do a project about “Internationalisation” and “Multiculturalism”, which was for the module “Research Practical”. We also did an excursion to Brussels too, which was compulsory.
At the university the teachers were so kind too and always wanted to support us. They gave us the feeling that they trusted and appreciated us and they treated us as equals and as teachers. But I could recognise this phenomenon in many primary schools which I visited during my exchange program. There the teacher is not above the children - he or she is more among them.
We got the chance to visit many different kinds of schools, including reform schools. I learned a lot from these schools. But there was a disadvantage too. Some schools weren’t located near to Enschede. So we had to travel a lot by train, which was often expensive because we had to pay for it by ourselves. Sometimes it was very unfair too. Some students had the opportunity to visit a school near Enschede and other did not have this chance. That was the reason why some students had to spend more money for these excursions than others.
But I have to emphasize that I was very glad about this school visits because it was amazing and I could profit from these excursions.
During the exchange program I had enough time for travelling and exploring the cultural life in the Netherlands. Almost everybody knows the “Klompen” which are the typical wooden shoes. The country is very famous for cheese too, especially the “Gouda”. The Saxion University offered excursions, from which I profited a lot. Once there was the opportunity to see the “Keukenhof” and a “Cheese-factory”.
With the international class we did a trip to Brussels. There we visited different kinds of museum and we had a sightseeing tour through the whole city. For this trip we had to pay 250 Euro plus the cost for the arrival and the departure in Brussels.
Review of the stay abroad in social terms:
During Erasmus I met so many people from different countries and that was an amazing experience because every nation has its own mentality and attitude to life. There we could learn a lot from each other. You can take advantage of these different attitudes, which you think will help in your life.
Without staying abroad I would have never shared a flat with two girls from different countries. One girl came from Spain and the other girl was from Indonesia. It was an interesting experience although we had a different attitude to cleaning. We were completely different but we managed to live together for five months.
Furthermore, I learned a lot about reform schools. I already had lessons at the PHST Graz about this issue, but I have never seen these methods in practices. During the exchange program my class mates and I had the opportunity to visit different schools with reform pedagogy.
I also have to mention that I was totally impressed how many books in English the library had at the university in Saxion.
Benefits for my future:
We got a lot of input about multiculturalism, diversity, and politics, because the aim of these courses was getting a teacher with European competences.
I feel more confident in speaking English now, too. In my opinion staying abroad broadened my horizon because I gained a new attitude to life and I am more open minded too.
Personal learning outcomes:
I am sure that staying abroad was the best decision that I have ever made. Before I went to the Netherlands I was not sure if I had made the right decision. But after two weeks in Enschede I knew I would have great experiences there, which would have an influence on my way of being a teacher.
I also got more self-confidence because I was on my own. I could not ask my parents everything.
What is more I was quite astonished that the subjects were totally different to the subjects from my home university. During this exchange program we got the chance to gain competences, which an European teacher should have.
Review of the school practice:
During my Internship in the school “Enschede Schoolvereniging” I did several activities with the children. It was very impressive because the pupils understood a lot in English and although they were young some of them had an incredibly high English-level. Their pronunciation was very good too.
There the teachers were very friendly and helpful too. They also were cooperative when my class mates and I had to do some interviews for our project. In this school there was a good climate among the teachers and they always tried to support each other. I also appreciated their behaviour towards students. I was always well prepared but it didn’t have to be perfect. When I made mistakes then it was not bad because I am here for learning.
Every Tuesday and Saturday there was a big market in the centre of the city.
The English level in the Netherlands is very high so it is no problem to communicate in English. Some people were able to speak in German too because Enschede is very near to the border of Germany.
I don’t think that I improved my grammar in English a lot, but I lost my shyness in speaking English. First it was a challenge but after two weeks I was used to speaking English although it was not free of mistakes. A big advantage was that my flatmates weren’t able to speak German. Because of that I had to use English.
During the term I had enough time for travelling. At the train station you could buy a “ov-chipkaart”. This card was very handy because you could avoid buying tickets inside the Netherlands and it is not only valid for trains - you also can use it in trams and buses. You have to upload money and then you only have to check in and out.
In the Netherlands “Keukenhof” and “Giethorn” are worth seeing. There are very beautiful cities too, especially Amsterdam, Uitrecht and Den Haag.
I liked it very much that it was not necessary to buy a phone card because almost everywhere I had Wifi, for example at the university, in the city and in almost every bar. The Netherlands are very advanced, which I could see in the schools too, because every class was provided with a whiteboard.
I was really impressed by one special school which was located in Epe. It was a “Jenaplan” school. I learned about this kind of reform school at my home university but I have never seen one before. It was an amazing experience because we were guided by children through the school. They were only ten till twelve years old but they were able to speak English with us and this at a very high standard. I was totally impressed. The head principle told me that they fully trust their pupils and they believe in their skills and I think that is very important.
It is very Dutch to have a bike during the stay. There are two facebook sides (University of Twente- Marketplace and Sise independent: Saxion International Students Enschede) where you can find it easily and cheaply. There you also can find other stuff except bikes.
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