Introduction blogger Tom Hollestelle

Blogger Tom Hollestelle in Seoul with the Seoul skyline in the background

A Seoul Exchange

After being back in the Netherlands for a good two and a half years, I consider myself a real Dutch citizen again. My name is Tom Hollestelle, and I’m currently in my third year of the International Bachelor of Communication & Media. Having lived in Prague for almost 18 years, I wanted a change as soon as high school was done. It was time for me to explore more of the world, and Rotterdam appeared to be one of the best opportunities to do so. A city so internationally diverse and multicultural allowed me to explore so many different aspects of the world from within one small city. Born as a true citizen of Amsterdam, it is especially hard to live in Rotterdam when the two cities face each other in the Dutch football league ;)

In my third year of the bachelor programme I decided to go on exchange, and where better to go to Seoul, South Korea? But why there? Why a city so close to one of the most dangerous countries in the world? Why so very far away? Because why not? Having lived in central Europe and having seen most of the continent, I wanted to use this chance to go as far as I possibly could. I wanted that ultimate culture shock. A completely different country, culture, language, cuisine, climate, you name it.

The United States didn’t appeal that much to me, as they speak the same language and its quite easy to follow what happens in that country through media. Having family in Canada allowed me to therefore cross it off my list of exchange options too. Europe was a no-go for me, as it was all too close to home. Australia and New Zealand the same as the United States, the language is the same. So, the only two options I had left were South America and Asia. For a very long time I was doubting between the two, but eventually decided for Asia. Japan is too expensive for a student, China has too many regulations I wasn’t sure I would be able to survive for a whole semester. So South Korea it was, and what better time to go then when tensions are high, the economy is booming, the city is rapidly innovating, and the Winter Olympics are coming up? In the end, Lonely Planet also noted it as one of the best places to visit in 2018.

Simply said, I wanted an overwhelming culture shock.