Written by Guest blogger
My name is Matthew Craig and I am a third year student at Bournemouth University studying Sports Development and Coaching Sciences. I have just completed my semester abroad (August to January) in Groningen, the Netherlands.
Why choose Groningen?
- Groningen is a vibrant and beautiful city
- The Bike Culture
- There is a huge student community in Groningen and so you can interact with students from many different nationalities
- Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a student organisation that organises weekly student activities which is a great way to meet new people: https://www.esn-groningen.nl/
- Groningen is in an ideal location for travelling to different cities and countries such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Bremen etc.
- ACLO is a sports agency at the University where you can join the gym or take part in sport/physical activity courses for 10 euros for 5 weeks which is incredibly cheap and you can get your money back from it which is a win-win situation. It is also a great way to meet new people as well.
The core units for my course were:
- Teaching physical education and sport programs in an international perspective
- Managing international projects in physical education and sport
- Doing research in the area of physical education and sport, from an international and comparative perspective
- Developing a personal and professional identity towards European and global citizenship
The first couple of weeks were interesting as the Dutch way of learning is ‘learning by doing’, meaning that we had the creative freedom to do what we wanted. This gave us the opportunity to explore subject areas in a sports/PE setting and come back to our tutors and tell them what we had done. The main purpose of my course was the experience and ‘the learning story’. There were no exams and lectures. However, we did several presentations which were done in a relaxed atmosphere. The group went to Cologne University to observe PE lessons in a German setting and we had to compare and contrast this with what we had observed in a Dutch setting.
On my first day, I entered the common room of my new residence and I was welcomed straight away by a mix of French, Italian and Spanish students. We all put effort in to make each other feel welcome and get the ‘ice breakers’ out of the way. For the first week, I got to know a lot of people from my residence, my course and my ESN group, and I feel lucky to have met so many students and get on so well with them. We went to several different events such as going to different residences, bars, clubs, restaurants, cinema nights and sports days which was a great way to interact with everyone. I also took part in a sports group called F.C. Urban which organises 4/5 football matches a week for students to have a break from studying and a great way to make new friends.
ESN organised all sorts of events ranging from bar/club nights, sports days, cinema nights and trips to other European cities such as Prague and Berlin. They were extremely helpful and made the experience better and easier!
Looking back on my time in Groningen, I would say that deciding to study abroad and go to Groningen was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I met so many amazing people from such a variety of countries. The small things such as having breakfast, lunch and dinner with potentially a different person every time, and hearing about other people’s cultures and lifestyles was fascinating. I have widened my social circle and it is has made me braver to talk to new people.
If you ever you ever get offered the chance to study abroad, my advice is very simple. Do it! Have fun!