Period on Exchange: Semester 1, 2013

What courses did you study?

  • Protection of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
  • European Private Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Commercial Law
  • Law and Technology

Why did you choose that university?

I wanted somewhere in Europe where English was widely spoken. The culture of the Netherlands greatly appealed to me, and I liked that Tilburg was located in a small student town rather than a big city. It was somewhere where it was very easy to settle in and feel at home, and it has an extremely active student life. I’d also heard about its very active Exchange Committee that organises a lot of events for exchange students.

How does studying law overseas compare to studying at UNSW?

There was significantly less course work compared to UNSW. With a few of my courses, there was an initial steep learning curve, given that I was unfamiliar with the civil law system and Dutch law, although overall it wasn’t too challenging. The teaching method was fairly similar to UNSW and all the lecturers I had were great.

What was the cost of living compared to Australia?

Comparable or slightly cheaper. Student accommodation was very affordable for a great location right next to the university, and alcohol was ridiculously cheap.

What was your accommodation arrangement?

The vast majority of exchange students lived in “Verbs”, a set of four apartment buildings right opposite the university and a 10 minute bike ride away from the city centre. This was by far the best place to live, though some students chose to live in other apartments scattered around the city. In Verbs, there were floors of 17 (mainly exchange, but some Dutch) students with a shared kitchen, living room and bathroom. If you choose Tilburg, definitely live in Verbs – it’s fantastic living surrounded by other exchange students, there are parties galore and it’s where everyone pre-drinks before going into town (whether you live in Verbs or not, you will end up spending a lot of time there). Also given that the university is right across the road, it isn’t too hard to get yourself to class to actually do some study.

What were the highlights of your experience?

Tilburg University has an extremely active Erasmus Exchange Committee that organizes a whole bunch of events and parties, and even has their own bar called Carpe Diem, with SUPER cheap drinks. Tuesday nights in Carpe Diem were definitely a highlight. We were divided into mentor groups of about 15 students and every Tuesday night your group would be paired with another group to eat some dinner prepared by your fellow students and pre-drink until about midnight, at which point everyone would bike into town in costume to Carpe Diem for a themed party.

Camp and TOP week were also highlights. Tilburg’s Autumn TOP Week (Orientation Week) is the biggest in all of Europe, and though the Spring TOP Week is smaller, it was still definitely a highlight for me, with the Exchange Committee organising a bunch of parties, an excursion to a theme park, a city tour, a bowling night and lots of other activities. TOP Week really helped us settle into Tilburg quickly and was topped off by a camp at the end of the week. The camp was pretty similar to UNSW Law Camp and was a great way to bond with my fellow exchange students before classes started.

What were the main challenges you faced, if any?

One great thing about the Netherlands is that since English was so widely spoken (virtually everyone I met spoke impeccable English), there was very little culture shock. The biggest challenge for me was the longest winter I’d ever experienced and maybe getting used to riding my bike everywhere, something I actually grew to love.