One of the many opportunities SSST has to offer its students is going abroad for a semester. Not only does this unique experience provide a taste of different university and studying system, but it also creates life-long memories of new friendships, a cultural diversity and, of course – sightseeing. And the process of going abroad – despite the popular opinion – is a lot easier than imagined.
Two of our PSIR students, Adna Softić and Amila Lelo, opted for a semester at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in Netherlands (THUAS). This was the first time our students had the chance of an Erasmus exchange at this University so we were eager to find out of their overall experience once they returned. We hope their feedback will encourage all of you that might be deliberating on whether to explore this opportunity, to apply and experience new and exciting culture, people and sights yet to be explored – find out more in our talk below.
SSST: What are your first impressions of THUAS and the Netherlands?
Adna, Amila: Vibrant, exciting, and full of places to be discovered. We came to Den Haag right after the Orientation Week, as it overlapped with our final exams at the SSST. Initially, we thought we had a storm coming because we entered a new semester without a winter break. But only within the first 24 hours, we realized that this would not be a problem at all, and that the only storm we’d meet during our stay was storm Ciara that hit the region at the time (funny enough, like true newcomers, we hid in IKEA). Though the Netherlands is often all cloudy and windy, its people are welcoming and warm. Whenever we needed help, we knew we could count on our roommates, fellow (exchange) students at THUAS, and even strangers on the street to remove our concerns. If one wants to truly get to know the Netherlands, THUAS is the right place to be. Though it is a large university, it has a strong sense of community; it is lively, multicultural, and there is always something going on. We were quite excited to be a part of this.
SSST: What is the best aspect of being a student at THUAS?
Adna, Amila: The people and the opportunities. Both of us had flatmates that came from all over the world: from Slovakia and Romania to Brazil and South Korea. Though all seemingly different people, there was no sense of distance or misunderstanding between us. This, we believe, is quite representative of studying at THUAS as a whole. During our stay, we had a chance to meet people who came from different cultures and spoke different languages, but we never saw this as a potential barrier between us. THUAS is also synonymous with student life and all the diverse experiences this term might encompass. From music festivals, movie nights, or simply playing table tennis at the main hall, students often get time to relax and get to know each other better while being on the campus. That said, a strong sense of work ethic is also necessary to be at THUAS, as a university in the legal capital of the world. While friendly and creative in approaching the students, the professors want to see a lot of work and commitment to the courses they teach. However, we thought that SSST prepared us quite well for this, as both of us showed great results on our final exams.
Another positive aspect of studying at THUAS is living in Den Haag itself. There are various events for young people outside the university and they frequently have a free entrance. Because of this, we had a chance to explore the city well and discover all of its little secrets. Equally exciting was discovering cities like Rotterdam, Delft, and Amsterdam. Whenever we wanted to take a break, we could also spend our time at the Scheveningen Beach. Finally, as a home to the ICTY and ICJ, Den Haag is a must-visit for any PSIR student.
SSST: What is something that you missed from SSST while you were at THUAS?
Adna, Amila: Over the first three years of our studies, we had the luck to meet some of our closest friends at SSST. Whether it was traveling to university together, preparing for our exams, or getting lunch at the university restaurant, we missed all the tiny parts of our daily life spent with them. Needless to say, aside from our friends, we also missed our professors who have always shown us support and help in everything we did. After all, there is no place like home.
SSST: Was Erasmus funding of your student exchange helpful? If yes, why?
Adna, Amila: Considering that both of us come from Sarajevo, where the cost of living significantly varies compared to Den Haag, the Erasmus funding was truly life-saving. In fact, without it, we do not think that such a journey would even be possible for us. Living in the Netherlands is always exciting, but it can also be costly for students outside the EU, and it surely requires good financial management. We are thankful that we received financial support from Erasmus because it exposed us to a new environment, improved our interpersonal skills and confidence, and helped us experience a different academic setting.
SSST: Would you recommend other students to consider taking a semester abroad during their study years?
Adna, Amila: If you have any doubts about taking a semester abroad, trust us when we say it is an experience you do not want to miss out on. Regardless of the country or the university, it is always a great idea to develop academically and personally, make friends from all over the world, and expand your horizons.
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