For Vina, her exchange studies took place in Leeuwarden, Netherlands at the University of Groningen: Campus Fryslan. She took five courses namely Explaining Human Behaviour, Homes and Car: GRL Homes and Cars: Technologies, Citizens and the Energy Transition, Language and Culture, Psychological Perspectives on Leadership, and lastly, Diversity, Intersectionality and Global Health. All the courses were taught in English as the program also involved international students from outside of the Netherlands. She was a bit hesitant and scared when she first knew about the courses that were offered as not many were directly related to the major that she followed in UGM which is Psychology. But once the classes started, it was actually very interesting to learn some things that she would never encounter as a Psychology major. It was also exciting to be able to have many discussions about different cultures and even share about Indonesia to other students in those classes.
At first, she would say that the classes felt very similar to how the IUP classes she took in UGM as the classes in Campus Fryslan were also fairly small so it was kind of familiar in a way. She was also pleasantly surprised by how inclusive the campus was seeing from how they only have gender neutral toilets in the campus! The university itself is very vegan-centered which explains why the cafetaria only serves foods without meat or dairy in it. Although, you can still ask for a non-vegan option if you want. Lastly, it also felt weird at first living in a country where almost no one is wearing a mask!
Besides the usual lectures, there were a lot of readings that were given prior to each class session. These readings were provided to us so that they could discuss them later in the class. She actually likes the fact that most of the classes she took have that kind of system where they read something and then in order to learn from it, they can have a discussion about it afterwards to also induce critical thinking. It was a bit challenging for her at first to get used to the different culture, especially in how they address our professors or lecturers. She really felt comfortable with them there as it felt like there was no line or barrier between students and lecturers. Of course having respect for them is still a given, but it really just feels like talking to a friend whenever they have a conversation, especially outside of the lectures. And one of the biggest differences is that besides the usual lectures, there were a lot of readings that were given prior to each class session. She actually likes the fact that most of the classes she took have that kind of system where they read something and then in order to learn from it, they can have a discussion about it afterwards to also induce critical thinking.
Other than the obvious reasons such as weather and cultural differences, she thinks the first and biggest challenge for her is how to keep being active in class. The students in Campus Fryslan are very active in terms of participating in every class. They are very enthusiastic and do not hesitate to give comments or responses to even the little things. And she felt like that was where she struggled to keep up and reflect on herself on how she can participate more in class. Although it might be a cliche answer for students, but mainly for her, the thing that she learned the most is that she learned how to be more independent and how to manage her finances better! She really tried to be healthy in order to not worry her parents and to avoid spending for hospital visits or medicine. She also cooks more there as buying out food is more expensive.
For other activities, she really enjoys walking and looking around the city as that is something that she could rarely do in Indonesia. She just really likes the fact that she was able to live in a very walkable city where she is capable to go anywhere by just walking or maybe cycling. There are too many memorable experiences for her. But one of the most memorable experiences would be visiting the christmas or winter market at the end of the year. It had many stalls of food and people selling their handmade and hand-crafted products. She also had a group project where she had to visit a community center and meet refugees from different countries. That was also very memorable as she was able to share and exchange different experiences and cultures with the people from the community center.
Surprisingly, her first impression towards the whole program changed throughout the activities and processes. At first she thought the city Leeuwarden would be very small and for lack of a better word “boring” city for students. Although it is a small and way quieter city compared to other cities in the Netherlands, it was still a very nice one to live in as a student! It still has everything you need and it’s actually kind of nice that it’s not as busy as some other student cities. She would recommend this program in a heartbeat! Especially if you are someone who does not like the business of big cities and like to live in a smaller city, choosing to do an exchange in the University of Groningen: Campus Fryslan is perfect for you! It’s also nice if you prefer smaller classes instead of big ones as it might help you focus m9ore on the lectures and it would be easier to get to know your classmates and socialize. She has no regrets having chosen this exchange program and would cherish her experience and memories there forever!