Hi, my name is Wesley Abrams – Finance major on exchange in the Netherlands. In this post I hope to share some pointers about studying abroad in general and with respect to The Hague. I hope to provide information that will make your decision about where to study abroad easier. Furthermore, Iâ€™m going to cover my 5 Lâ€™s to choose The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
a. I would venture to say that a majority of students planning to go abroad have yet to visit the region they plan to study in. Quite frankly, even if you have traveled in Europe â€“ or somewhere else â€“ nothing can really prepare you for the wayward feeling of walking through an airport having no idea where you are. Being lost is something you have to get acquainted to on exchange â€“ especially if you want to travel â€“ but itâ€™s not always a bad thing. There are clandestine benefits to wandering about and stumbling upon things you otherwise would miss. Relatively quickly, unless youâ€™re in Venice, one begins to grasp the natural human disposition for cardinal direction and the seemingly prehistoric prevalence of printed map usage. While this is all true, it doesnâ€™t eliminate the desire to travel with ease. And, in my experience, the Netherlands excellent infrastructure of transportation allows that.
i. You just walked down the tunnel into an airport you have never seen, there is a smell in the air you canâ€™t quite put your finger on â€“ itâ€™s not badâ€¦but differentâ€¦and sometimes bewildering. You havenâ€™t slept, because no matter how much you convince yourself that an 8 hour flight is the perfect time to catch some zzzz, its just not possible. Jet lag is setting in, you have a copious amount of luggage â€“ no you didnâ€™t pack lightly â€“ that constantly disobeys every understanding of how wheels should work, and you still have to make it your accommodation. This is the one time you donâ€™t want to be lost for the experience. Thankfully, at Amsterdamâ€™s Schipol Airport, there is a rail station in the basement. Also, good for you that everyone at the ticket windows and working at the airport, in general, speaks above average English. You had a little trouble finding the ticket windows at first sure, and had to ask some policeman where the tracks actually areâ€¦but hey, you made it. Standing, waiting, and almost sleeping but ready to find out where you are going next. Once the trains arrive, you realize how efficient the system actually is â€“ because you a lost college student conquered it with relative ease on 2 hours sleep. Finding a place to stand with your hefty baggage is troubling, regardless; youâ€™re on your way. Here is where the point of this section becomes most relevant: http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Unknown+road&daddr=52.067029,4.324622&hl=en&sll=52.068625,4.323367&sspn=
that url is the extent of your walk from the train station to the university, and the Red Tower â€“ where I recommend to stay â€“ is only about 2 minutes from there. Not having to leave the airport in order to catch a train and being dropped off within in minutes walking to your final destination is about the greatest thing that could happen at this point in the journey.
ii. Bike travel is extremely popular in the Netherlands and is probably the best means of permanent transportation once your settled. However, while you are getting used to things and havenâ€™t scoped out the best deal for a bike, the tram system in The Hague is pretty intuitive. There are detailed maps at each stop that tell you the path each travels. The beauty of it all is, OV Chip Cards can be purchased at the train station and preloaded with money, thus itâ€™s on a need to use basis. You just swipe the card when getting on and off, never really paying more than 1.50 euro to get anywhere in the city.
a. Pretty much all Dutch people speaking English well, which can be inferred from the airport staffâ€™s fluency. Itâ€™s possible to run into a few problems with immigrants running convenient stores and restaurants â€“ but it always works without you feeling too stupid. Iâ€™m not saying living somewhere with a higher language barrier isnâ€™t rewarding, itâ€™s just not as easy. Also, this benefit is quite fruitful when asking for directions before youâ€™re acquainted with the city.
b. The university offers a course in Survival Dutch that helps you get through most binds. It doesnâ€™t pretend that a language can be learned in 5 months, so you get what you need. And, you leave feeling at least a little more cultured.
a. One great thing about The Hague University is that U of L COB students are eligible to do a full exchange. Meaning, all of your approved credits transfer with ease. Also, for finance and marketing majors, there is a plethora of advanced courses available that donâ€™t impede on your path to graduation.
b. Have you seen the campus? Imagine a completely indoor campus that houses 22,000 students as an outdoor one would. For lack of better words, itâ€™s pretty incredible. If you havenâ€™t checked it out, use Google images or take a virtual tour on their website â€“ hhs.nl â€“ before you finish this paragraph. My diction or prose really canâ€™t do this complex justice.
c. The IBMS (International Business and Management Studies) program has many exceptional professors. Also, the learning environment is different. First of all, group work is a staple. Love it or hate it you need exposure to working in teams â€“ even if itâ€™s difficult. Once you enter the workforce there is no doubt that teamwork is necessary and you might not always see eye to eye with your partners, thatâ€™s just life. Second, in most courses, the teacher-student ratio is much smaller than that of U of L – which expands upon the way you are used to viewing the classroom. Third, professors are genuinely helpful to exchange students. For example, two of my books were given on loan from a professor to avoid paying high retail costs.
a. If you are planning to travel, there is really no better place to set as home base. Besides the fact you live right next to a train station that goes directly to the airport, the Netherlands is a pretty central location to travel from. In turn, this allows for you to find cheap flights to many destinations across Europe. Websites like easyjet, skyscanner, and edreams are extremely helpful.
b. If you want to take buses or trains destinations like England, Spain, or France arenâ€™t out of the question. In the end, flying is almost always the most practical way to get around.
a. Youâ€™re first thought when thinking about studying at The Hague probably isnâ€™t that there is a beach. I know for a fact it wasnâ€™t mine. In actuality though, there is a beach and its quite scenic. The temperature is a moderate, and there isnâ€™t typical beach weather you are accustomed to. Albeit, there is a special feeling when you visit this particular beach. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s because itâ€™s so different than what you have seen â€“ didnâ€™t even know beaches could have that much variety or a distinctive and special aura. Overall, the atmosphere is just relaxingâ€¦the people are very relaxed in demeanor and the whole area just seems to have a slow pace. As if time it self ceases to exist.
b. Biking is extremely efficient in The Hague. Pretty much every road has a path to separate bikers from traffic and make travel hassle free. And, if you forgot how much fun riding a bike is youâ€™re missing out. For me, itâ€™s one of those basic thrills that take you back to innocent childhood fun. Even better, you can bike to the beach in about 25 minutes â€“ which lets you take in the scenery and get some exercise.
c. There are tons of movie theaters if you are having a slow night. All movies are shown in English, which – as you can imagine — is a plus. Typically, I want to understand whatâ€™s happening in a film I pay to see â€“ could just be a personal thing.
d. Amsterdam City Center is about a 45-minute train ride. Of course, being a massive city, it provides for extensive means of entertainment. And, the city itself is an architectural playground. If you like cool buildings, Amsterdam has pretty much every type. Not to mention the city, like many places in the Netherlands, has its own special vibe.