Maartje van Gog - study exchange to Western University, Canada
Because of the scholarship I was able to travel more and really enjoy my experience abroad.
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 the Erasmus University 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.