What do our students say?

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Curious what EUR students really think of studying at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) and living in Rotterdam?

Meet our students by choosing one of the subjects you would like to read more about. 

In their words - Finances

  • Inge Wessels

    "I applied for multiple grants as I found it hard to scrape the money together to finance my exchange."

    Inge Wessels

- went to Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia

Looking back on my exchange

I see my semester in Australia as one of the best experiences in my life so far. I became very interested in different cultures and religions. Many times it struck me as fascinating how a ton of people with such different backgrounds as ourselves could work together as a team and become best of friends in no-time. I learned so much from every single person I met, all with their own different life story. It was truly amazing. It really broadened my horizon and opened my eyes.

If you ever feel alone, and I know I did at some points, I would advise you to just go out and explore the city and/or its surroundings by yourself. It’s a good training to become your own best friend! After all, you’re the only one who can take care of your happiness, right?! Being completely alone at the other end of the world really helped me become more independent, it’s actually amazing to go out exploring by yourself. And the funny thing is; when you come home from doing so, you will have a ton of stories to share with housemates or potential friends, which works as a great icebreaker!

How to prepare

Preparing for exchange all might seem like lot of work now, and trust me, it will be frustrating at times. But it will also be over before you know it and then the fun stuff can start! Just make sure you do start figuring everything out in advance so that you don’t have to deal with setbacks close to your departure (or worse, during your time abroad). I left the Netherlands July 9th to travel before the semester started, and I had all my administrative work done by June.

Of course you won’t be able to control everything yourself. In my case, Swinburne University didn’t send out any e-mails until the end of June or beginning of July. They also tended to take a long time to reply to enquiries. In the end though, it always worked out. I must admit I was a bit worried at first about all this since I always like to get things done way in advance, but worrying really is no use. I just had to get used to the Australian mentality: things will work out. No wonder their catchphrase is: “No worries”.

Financing the stay abroad

I applied for multiple grants, as I found it hard to scrape the money together to finance my exchange. I encourage you to do the same, because going to Australia is going to be expensive! Unless you have rich parents or a well-paid job, you’re going to need financial aid. I applied for the ESHCC International Fund, the A.A. van Beek fund, the ATP fund and the Holland Scholarship program. I experienced the whole process of arranging financial aid as quite difficult, and so I was very glad when I was picked for the Holland Scholarship! They gave me € 1250, which were all well spent. I don't know whether I could have gone abroad without it.

In total, I spent around € 13000 on my exchange semester, travelling included. I think once you start to realistically take a look at your preferred exchange destinations OUTSIDE of Europe, you will realize that many of them will come close to this amount. I managed to get by financially because of a grant, a big student loan, some help from my parents and most of all: all of my savings from previous jobs…  Even though I’m completely broke right now, it was all so worth it! Living in Australia is definitely worth the splurge!

  • Lourents van der Steenstraten

    "For me, the scholarship definitely provided some financial flexibility. It took away some of the financial worries, so I could enjoy Singapore to the fullest!"

    Lourents van der Steenstraten

- went to Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Looking back on my exchange

Singapore is, without a doubt, a fantastic exchange destination. A modern, green, organized city in the midst of the chaos of South East Asia. The mix of the people and their cultures make for a vibrant city, their kitchens for great food and the architecture ensures an amazing surrounding.

The whole experience is something I will never forget. Studying abroad, travelling, exploring new cultures and getting to know people from all over is a lot of fun: enjoy it to the fullest!

How to prepare

Once you know your final exchange destination, you will have a couple of months to get organized. Sometimes, like in my case, the university you’ll go to will guide you through all the things to arrange, but this might not be how it goes in your situation. Either way, there will always be stuff that you will need to do by yourself, like making sure you have the correct vaccinations & insurance (also those needed for where you might travel), sublet your room in Rotterdam, apply for the OV reimbursement with DUO and of course arrange transportation to your destination. Since the preparation process will include many documents, it is a good idea to keep them organized. 

In practical terms, I found that booking a bed at a hostel for the first few nights of my stay was a good move. The same goes for arriving slightly before the start of the semester (I arrived two weeks early). First of all, it will give you time to look for accommodation in the case that you didn’t arrange this yet. Secondly, there will probably be a lot of exchange students arriving around this time as well, so it’s a good opportunity to meet people. Lastly, there could already be various events & parties organized for exchange students which you won’t want to miss.

Financing the stay abroad

During the pre-departure meeting, the exchange coordinator brought all the possibilities to our attention and briefly described the process of applying for or acquiring financial aid/a scholarship. In my case, I received an email informing me I fulfilled the requirements for the Holland Scholarship. Great news, because this definitely provided some financial flexibility for me. Knowing how much you will spend beforehand is hard, so having a buffer is always nice. It took away some of the financial worries and enhanced my exchange experience by providing me with extra funds to explore Singapore.

With planning your budget, my advice would be to keep in mind that there will always be unforeseen costs, especially at the beginning. The amount of course can, and will, vary per person, but don’t be surprised if this easily sums up to 200-300 euros.

  • Dominique Nolen

    "Winning the Holland Scholarship was actually a big surprise for me and I was really happy to receive it, as Hong Kong was more expensive than expected."

    Dominique Nolen

- did an internship at the Regional Finance Department of the TMF Group in Hong Kong

Looking back on my experience abroad

The internship has contributed towards my professional development, as it gave me the opportunity to experience what it is like to live and work in an international setting. It showed me the standards of working in a large, international company: how to dress, the formal way of communicating and of course how to communicate cross-culturally. In my daily communications with other cultures than my own I learned and experienced things I couldn’t have learned during an internship here in the Netherlands. Next to that, because of this experience I was able to expand my network, which won’t hurt for my future career. And finally, it helped towards my decision for my master. The experience of having a job in the regional finance definitely helped in making this choice.

On a more personal level, the opportunity of getting to know such a different culture and country was amazing. I’ve gained both personal and professional advantages, made great friends and professional connections. Getting to know a culture where the religions are so different from my own and where they celebrate such different festivities, like the Mid-Autumn festival, was absolutely interesting and something I’ll never forget.

How to prepare

The process itself, from applying for my internship to actually arriving at my destination, took pretty long. From doing the interviews to actually arranging the practicalities, like flights, housing, opening bank accounts and making sure you have the right insurance: all in all it became a lengthy process. So make sure to take your time in getting all this straightened out, it’s not something to start with last minute.

One practical tip regarding to Hong Kong specifically: I found it particularly difficult to arrange housing, as the demand for housing is very high in Hong Kong. I would therefore advise you to contact a company that rents out studios or apartments.

Financing the stay abroad

On average, I have spent 300 Euros more per month than I would have done here in the Netherlands. I could partly compensate this with my salary, which was also higher than back home, however the rent of 950 Euros a month was still a big chunk out of my finances.

Winning the Holland Scholarship was actually a big surprise for me. I did not apply myself, the career services of RSM selected me based on my grades and the fact I wanted to do my internship outside of Europe. I was really happy to receive the scholarship, as Hong Kong was more expensive than expected. I think I still would have gone if I wouldn’t have received it, but it definitely helped in making decisions about, for example, the accommodation.

  • Maartje van Gog

    "I had the financial means to go on exchange myself, but because of the scholarship I was able to travel more and really enjoy my experience abroad." 

    Maartje van Gog

- went to Western University, Canada

Looking back on my experience abroad

My experience going on exchange was amazing. I met so many nice people, I went to see a lot of beautiful places and made friends for life. Especially my roommates, I am still in touch with them even though exchange ended.
I specifically found it very nice to experience going to a different university. At Erasmus University we have problem-based learning for psychology, so it was really good to experience just having lectures. This opened my eyes to different ways of learning and the lectures were really interesting.

By going on exchange I also improved my spoken English a lot. I had to give presentations in two of my classes. I was really nervous about this, but luckily everyone was very supportive and it made me gain in confidence. I now don’t shy away from presentations anymore and I don’t worry as much about speaking English in public.
Last but not least, I definitely feel like I have grown a lot as a person. I’ve become more independent, feel more confident when talking to strangers and learned to arrange a lot of things by myself – I for example organized a lot of trips in Canada, including renting a car. I really recommend going on exchange, personally I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

How to prepare

The first time I heard from Western University was in April (I went on exchange in September). They contacted me about housing. After this a lot of emails followed, about official application, more housing information and how to subscribe for courses. Western kept me updated very well and they responded really quickly. This might of course differ in your situation, but in my experience the receiving university will reach out to help you prepare. If this is not the case, you can of course always reach out to the international office at Erasmus University.

During my preparations to go on exchange, there were presentations about available scholarships as well. One organized by my faculty, ESSB, and one organized by Erasmus University Rotterdam's international office. Because of these presentations I learned about the Holland Scholarship, and decided to apply. Beware though: these presentations might be held very close to the deadline of the Holland Scholarship (or even after!). So make sure to read up and inform yourself as well, because it’s definitely worth it to learn about the scholarship options. I didn’t have to do that much to apply, and received € 1250,- in total. Upon my return I also received € 500,- from ESSB, for submitting a report about my time abroad.

Financing the stay abroad

My average costs every month were around € 1300,-, which is around €700 more than what I spend in the Netherlands. This was mainly because of the high rent in Canada and all the trips I went on, but daily life in Canada is also expensive, especially if you want to do groceries. The vegetables and meat (especially chicken!!) are really expensive, I think I spent around € 70,- a week on groceries.

In order to pay for all this I worked all summer and I lent money from DUO. In addition to the DUO loan, I also had my DUO state grant and of course the Holland Scholarship. My parents gave me a little bit extra money every month for my exchange too, and I rented out my room in Rotterdam to another student.
Luckily, I had the financial means to go abroad without the scholarship too. However, because of it I was able to travel more than I would have been able to without it. It allowed me to really enjoy my experience abroad. For example, I went on a camping trip with the Outdoors club from the university. This was a really fun trip, camping in the Canadian nature, getting to know more exchange students and especially getting to know the Canadian students. I don’t think this trip would have been possible without the scholarship. It just gives you more freedom to do fun things. 

In their words - Jobs

  • Anastasia Geraskina

    “I am not a language teacher. I am a 'culture-sharer'."

- Russian language coach at Erasmus Language Sharing

How I landed the job

I found the job search very tough, I’ve spent quite some time on it. I went to lots of job interviews and faced a lot of rejection. At some point, I was definitely losing hope. Despite this, I still continued and now I am happy that I did not get any of the other positions. If I would have gotten them, I would not have become a Russian language coach. And probably I would not have enjoyed myself in the way I enjoy myself now. 

My experiences

The main thing I like about my job is sharing my language, or, to make it more intricate, giving part of me through the language. I am not a language teacher. I am a "culture-sharer", and I try to give students an idea of what Russian people are like and whether or not they should talk to Russians, smile at Russians and shake Russian hands if they happen to be in Russia (hopefully, not during the winter).
As I work in an international environment, I cannot really tell anything about Dutch working culture. The requirement of the Dutch language however is very real, it’s good to be aware of this. Personally, I’m not sure what to think of this. I totally understand I am in the Netherlands, but some mechanic job (like preparing burgers at McDonald's) can be done without the knowledge of the language. 

Job search recommendations

The advice I can give to those who want to find a job is search, search, search... That is exactly what I did. I looked through a lot of websites, I followed all the announcements on SIN-Online, I kept track of offers on the Career Services website. And, ultimately, after many interviews, I succeeded. 
If you are a non-Dutch speaker, my first advice would be to start your job search at the university. Erasmus University is very international and practically everyone speaks English. There is no infinite amount of jobs on campus of course, so side-jobs like Showaround or Youbahn could be a good second option.
Also don’t forget how important it is to consider all positions carefully, assessing all the information you have about them, and eliminating those you are not sure about. Even if you have the slightest trace of doubt. This way, you raise your chances of getting a job (you are more confident of yourself and interviewers see it) and you decrease your chances of being frustrated after you start working.

Finally, the simplest advice is to never give up. Just try, try, try and try... And you will do it!

  • Francesca C. Pimpinella

    “Working in a different country teaches you valuable lessons about the country itself, including its culture and its people.”

- teaching assistant for the MSc in Marketing Management

How I landed the job

I attended the Marketing Strategy course myself as an MSc student. Since I really enjoyed the class, the material used and the professor's teaching style, I sent him an email asking whether he needed some help for the following year. A week later, we had a friendly chat in his office and he offered me the teaching assistant job on the spot!

My experiences

What I love the most about the teaching assistant job is the flexibility of the work. It usually does not matter when, where, how you work, as long as you meet the deadlines and work according to the guidelines agreed upon with the professor. From a more professional perspective, these experiences taught me a lot about academic life and what it means to start your career as a researcher and professor. I learned how to be critical, precise, and thorough, and how to pay attention to details while still keeping the whole picture in mind.
A specific characteristic of Dutch working culture that stuck with me, is the strict organization and rigid rules that govern the Dutch system. From the thoroughness of the contract to the precise steps to declare your working hours. Coming from the messy bureaucracy we are used to in Italy, I came to appreciate this organized and responsive system very fast!

Job search recommendations

My first recommendation would be to just go for it. Working in a different country teaches you valuable lessons about the country itself, including its culture and its people, but also a lot about yourself, in terms of what you like and dislike, which will contribute to your understanding of what you want to do in the future. 

Secondly, don't be afraid of trying. Especially within the university environment, many students don't apply to job positions because they are afraid of their lack of experience or qualifications. Unless specific requirements are stated, the only assets that you need are willingness to work hard, sincere interest in the job and a lot of enthusiasm!

In their words - Counsellors

  • Jenny Dijkstra

    "International students come to see me with (financial) issues during their study year. Sometimes these are issues that are difficult to solve, and they maybe could’ve been avoided with a better preparation by the student."

    Jenny Dijkstra

- student counsellor at Erasmus University Rotterdam

As one of the student counsellors of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), I’m here to help students who run into a problem in the course of their studies. You can always reach out to me or one of my colleagues for information, advice, support or coaching in relation to issues you come up against as a student.

What we’ve realized is that a good preparation can solve a lot of issues beforehand. To support you in this preparation of coming to The Netherlands, I’ve listed the most common issues our students run into. And all these issues could’ve been solved with the right preparations

  • We urge everyone to make a financial plan before applying to EUR.
    • I’ve had multiple students in my office who ran out of money during their study programme. They had to return home without finishing their programme. It’s impossible to earn enough money to cover all your years of study + costs of living while you’re in Rotterdam. You will absolutely need to have saved enough money before coming over. Almost all the expenses you’ll be making can be estimated and planned. So do yourself a favour and get this straightened out. Don’t forget to also plan for some extra months of unexpected study delay!
  • Plan for unforeseen expenses.
    • There have been students who asked for my help because they needed to do a resit for an exam, but already returned home because they didn’t expect the resit. With not enough money to come back to Rotterdam, their graduation got cancelled. Be cautious and always plan for unexpected expenses.
  • Do not depend on financial aid.
    • If you realize you’ll need financial aid, please know that there is no extensive scholarship programme in the Netherlands. And getting a scholarship while you’re already here is even harder (we know, we tried!). Prepare for the worst and look for other funding options as well, so you’re not depending on a scholarship. Also: scholarship deadlines usually expire before you’ll know whether or not you’re accepted to EUR. So plan ahead.
  • Check your insurance before travelling to the Netherlands.
    • Avoid not having the right insurance to cover your (unforeseen) medical expenses. This happens more often than I would like! Double check your current insurance to make sure it covers the complete period of your stay abroad and what type of coverage it has. In our experience most foreign insurances do not sufficiently cover medical expenses in the Netherlands, meaning you’ll need an extra insurance package. Prepare yourself well, because medical care in the Netherlands is expensive.
  • Here on a residence permit? Renew this on time!
    • If you don’t renew your permit on time, a process that can take up to three months, you will be sent back home by the IND to apply for a new permit from there. Avoid these extra costs, and take your responsibility to make the arrangements for renewal at well before your current permit expires. We will not be able to speed up the process at IND or apply for renewal for you.

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