Emily McGrath

Experience of Emily McGrath from Wexford

The surprise on the faces of people when I tell them I study in Holland is not unusual. More often than not I get asked the question “why study abroad and why Holland?” My answer is “why not?” There is an endless list of reasons why you should study abroad; it is one of the greatest experiences of your life.

Emily McGrath

”I was completely surprised with how much I have enjoyed student life in the Netherlands.”

I chose to study in Holland for many different reasons with many factors affecting my decision, both internal and external. Initially, I found out about NHL Stenden University through a branch university they have in Port Alfred, South Africa where I also happen to have family who live there. I kept the idea of NHL Stenden in the back of my mind, still looking at other colleges mainly located in Dublin. I was sold on the idea of studying at NHL Stenden after attending the Higher Options in the RDS. I moved to Leeuwarden in September, 2015, feeling both excited and nervous. Everything was so structured and put together so well that the transition was extremely easy. I had no problem with settling in as everyone was so nice not only in the school but also the city of Leeuwarden itself. What also helped the moving process was that there was so many other international students in the exact same boat as me which created a sense of belonging within the school. 

I was completely surprised with how much I have enjoyed student life in the Netherlands. It is a completely different experience form Ireland. For example, going out is not the same at all. In Ireland going out is a big event whereas here it’s very relaxed and very enjoyable. The night life in Leeuwarden is not as vast as other larger cities in Holland such as Groningen but there’s always something going on as there are two other universities in the city, meaning lots of students. There is also a lot of options for sports. The gym is just a minute walk from campus and offers many classes such as spinning, pilates, insanity and much more. It also has a very well equipped gym. I have a love for long distance running and have joined a local running club with whom I have travelled to many parts of Holland to partake in races. Whatever your interests are you will find them in Leeuwarden. 

The school itself is quite different from the average college or university in Ireland. Firstly, the school offers a lot of support to their students. As an international student they understand that it can be difficult to adjust to a new system and new surroundings so teachers are very helpful and approachable if you have a problem. The classes are much smaller too. NHL Stenden offers a great way to learn and focuses on real world experiences meaning you get a taste of what work would actually be like after your studies. The school has a hotel which is almost fully run by students. This is in my opinion the best way to gain valuable knowledge and one of the major qualities NHL Stenden has to offer. What initially impressed me about Stenden University was that they didn't ask me how much points I got or was aiming for, they asked me what my motivation was, what I was passionate about and why I wanted to go to Stenden.

Studying abroad is one of the greatest experiences you can have and studying in Holland has given me every possibility and opportunity I could ask for. I am free to go by train to other countries such as Germany or France, English is widely spoken, there is a great diversity of cultures here, the country itself is beautiful and most of all I am loving my course and the knowledge I’m gaining from meeting lots of different people from around the world. And sure I get the best of both worlds, Ireland is only a short flight away.