Why I Chose to Go to the Netherlands on Exchange

In just over a week, I’ll be flying to the Netherlands to begin a year-long exchange at Utrecht University!

I’m so excited for this opportunity to live and travel abroad. As a Political Science major, studying European politics in Europe is unbeatable. I look forward to learning lessons – both personal and academic – that I’ll be able to take with me through the rest of my life.

While most people understand why I want to go on exchange, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my choice of destination. UVic has partnerships with over 20 countries, so why did I choose the Netherlands? And why Utrecht University?

1. Utrecht University has a great reputation

It is world-renowned, and its Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance (which I’m in) has great courses and professors.

2. Utrecht is beautiful

At least that’s what I’ve read on so many travel forums and heard from people who’ve been there before. And just look at this picture! I can’t wait to kayak on these canals – and hopefully skate on them in the winter too.

3. Travelling throughout Europe is easy

I was initially considering going to England, but realized that it would take longer (and be more expensive) to reach mainland Europe from there. Utrecht is about a 25-minute train ride from Amsterdam, so I look forward to weekend trips to other countries.

4. Dutch cheese

Need I say more?

5. I’ve been to Amsterdam and I loved it.

I was only there for a few hours during a layover, and realized that there was still so much more of it that I wanted to see.

6. My heritage

I was born in South Africa and speak Afrikaans (which is close to Dutch) fluently. I hope that by the end of my exchange I’ll be fluent in Dutch as well!


This time of waiting before I leave is both exciting and frustrating, because it’s hard to strike a balance between anticipating all the things above and ‘living in the moment.’ But I’ve been spending lots of time with family and friends, which has helped me to truly enjoy my last few weeks in B.C.

I’m sure that as my plane takes off next week, the anticipation – and all the other feelings that come with moving to a different country – will really hit. I can’t wait 😊

Has anyone else moved abroad? Any advice for a soon-to-be expat?

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