Period on Exchange: Semester 2, 2012
What courses did you study?
- Dutch Law and Dutch Legal Culture
- Comparative Criminology
- (Alternative) Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice
- Corporate Governance
- European Company Law
- Law of International Institutions
Why did you choose that university?
Reputation for offering a range of challenging and interesting law courses offered for international exchange students, which are taught at a masters level. Erasmus University is also renowned for the amazing support network offered to international students through the organisation Erasmus Student Network (ESN) - they organised countless parties, activities and events to keep us entertained all year. Also, I was attracted to the location of Erasmus University. Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and has a vibrant culture full of amazing local bars, clubs and museums.
How does studying law overseas compare to studying at UNSW?
The courses were taught at a masters level at Erasmus, meaning courses had a much more practical emphasis, where students were challenged to think of how we could apply the law in the real world. We also undertook a lot more practical exercises, particularly in (Alternative) Dispute Resolution, where we learnt practical skills, for instance, in how to mediate and negotiate. The courses were generally quite similar in terms of difficulty; however most courses only required a single exam at the end of the course so the assessment workload was not as intense.
What was the cost of living compared to Australia?
Accommodation and general living expenses are cheaper in the Netherlands. But of course you can spend a lot of money on travel.
What was your accommodation arrangement?
I lived on campus (F-Building). I organised this by liaising with an external company affiliated with the university, Vestia Stadswonen. They were then responsible for the administrative aspects, such as securing a room, paying deposits, rent, handling complaints, etc.
What were the highlights of your experience?
Meeting other international students from all over the world who turn into lifelong friends; becoming acquainted with Dutch people, language and culture (including stampot, stroopwaffel, bitterballen - lekker lekker!); ease of travelling across Europe and completely immersing yourself in different cities and countries; living independently - living and travelling independently was a nice challenge and really helps you mature and develop as a person; obtaining an internship at the end of my exchange in the Hague - an opportunity that was definitely attributed to my exchange experience in Rotterdam.
What were the main challenges you faced, if any?
Cultural differences - Dutch people are renowned for being quite direct, which can seem confronting from a foreigner’s point of view but don’t take this as an insult. It comes down to the fact that Dutch people are quite practical and pragmatic. The language is also quite difficult to master, but most Dutch people speak perfect English. Other than that, living in Rotterdam or the Netherlands is generally quite easy and you will feel at home in no time.