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ALTENA • On the front page of Het Kontakt of September 7, we put an appeal for Altena students who will continue their studies abroad. What were their experiences abroad and why did they choose this destination?
World travelers seem to live in Altena. We received responses from Bilbao and Barcelona in Spain and overseas from Lismore (Australia), Los Angeles (California), Melbourne (Australia), Orlando (Florida), Osaka (Japan), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba), Washington DC (USA). ) and Wellington (New Zealand).
Two students responded from the most popular study city of Barcelona, including 20-year-old Sarah van Rijswijk from Andel. At the beginning of September, he went to the Spanish city for a period of five months. He studies political science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and follows part of his studies at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Sabadell, a suburb of Barcelona. He told us via email why he chose Barcelona.
‘I always thought it would be fun to live abroad because I thought it would be fun to experience what it’s like to live in a different culture. Barcelona seemed like a good choice for me because it seemed like a nice city and the weather was nice. Barcelona is also an interesting place for my subject Political Science because Barcelona (Catalonia) has an interesting history with Spain.’
Fascinating culture and passion for life
Jente de Peuter, now 27, took part in an exchange program at the University of Amsterdam in 2018 and later decided to stay in Barcelona. At the time, I loved the people, the lifestyle and the life/sports here in the ocean and mountains, and I stayed there all the time – sometimes traveling to another city in between. The people’s passion for culture and life here has really attracted me, and I have a feeling that people enjoy certain things more in everyday life.
‘The real art of living and in this the focus is on what I consider important. Although many Catalans prefer Catalan to Spanish, I think the language is beautiful. People here are warm in terms of communication, they smile a lot and look happy. I appreciate the way we interact with each other here, and life is much less planned and much more open to spontaneity.
We won’t see Gente again for a while at Altena. ‘The plan is to first live in New York for a while this winter and then live with my girlfriend in Costa Rica before returning to Barcelona. I had my apartment in Barcelona.’
Nienke van Vugt, 19, from Sleeuwijk, isn’t thinking about returning immediately. Studying Communication and Information Science in Wellington, New Zealand.
‘I left at the beginning of July this year. My studies here will end at the end of October, but I don’t want to return to the Netherlands immediately. With a long flight time of nearly thirty hours, I plan to break up my trip into short chunks to see the world.
New Zealand was not an obvious choice for Nienke. ‘I visited VU’s partner universities to see where I could take fun courses. We had to get the top five out of this and eventually I was selected by VU to go to New Zealand.’
Oceania is popular
Oceania appears to be popular among students with roots in Sleeuwijk. Mila de Gruijter, 20, from the same village, studies in Melbourne more than 16,500 kilometers from home. He is studying Health Science in an Australian city.
‘I’ve always wanted to do part of my studies abroad, but I didn’t know where. I initially had Portugal or Spain in mind, but I had many options for my studies in Australia. Since it is an English speaking country, it is also easy to do part of my studies there. I decided to only put Australian cities in my top five, which ended up with Melbourne.
Bill Clinton University
25-year-old Arjan Van Tonkarlo from Andel is currently studying in his second year at Georgetown University in Washington DC, the capital of the United States. There he is pursuing a master’s degree in security studies. His father Martin talks about it with pride.
“He hopes to graduate from there next May. The university is the first Catholic private university in the United States and is highly regarded worldwide. For example, Bill Clinton also studied there and last year he hosted a symposium. Arjan sent us a live stream so that we too can enjoy it remotely. Prince Bernard Jr. also studied there.
4,000 kilometers to the west
Milla Jansen (22) from Sleeuwijk studies in the US, but is more than 4,000 kilometers west in Los Angeles, California. Unlike the other students we spoke to, she knew from the age of seven that she specifically wanted to study in this city.
‘I always saved for this because I knew it would be too expensive to go abroad on my own. “Since I was seventeen when I started my bachelor’s degree, I stayed in the Netherlands because I knew there was an opportunity to exchange at the end of my studies,” he writes in an email from the Netherlands, on the west coast of the United States.
‘In 2018 I started studying philosophy, politics, economics and history in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, due to covid-19, I was unable to go on exchange in my third year. That’s why I signed up to go back to Los Angeles next year. Both times, UCLA accepted me into their undergraduate exchange program. This time I went for a year. By the end of that year, I had made so many friends in Los Angeles that I wanted to stay longer.
“I reapplied to UCLA Extension and was accepted for a professional certificate in acting. This is my last quarter of studies. After that I plan to stay in the US for another year to work as an actress and gain new experiences.’
Research by language course platform Preply shows that Dutch students prefer to spend their studies abroad. The most popular study city among Dutch students is relatively close: Barcelona is a favorite.
“Introvert. Communicator. Tv fanatic. Typical coffee advocate. Proud music maven. Infuriatingly humble student.”