My experience in the Netherlands:
After finishing my Baccalaureate, I decided to go abroad to get my university degree, being aware of Spain’s difficult economic situation and ofthe importance of learning English. While I was doing my last year at High School, a friend had become a freshman at an International Business and Management Studies program in Holland, which made me wonder about the possibility of studying in another country. I knew what I wanted, so I contacted an agency to help me find the right university, accommodation, etc. I chose HZ because it is regarded highly in the Netherlands and gives students the option of taking courses in English rather than Dutch. I had 5 different study programs to choose from, and ended up going for IBMS, International Business and Management Studies.
I felt a little lost at first when I arrived in Vlissingen, a small, quiet town in the South of Holland where life was quite different from what I had experienced in Spain, but in a couple days I knew my way around. The University played a crucial part by organizing activities for students to meet, and thanks to that I now have friends from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, which is always stimulating. Class schedules are arranged thoughtfully, for instance I’ve got classes four days a week, with three 90 minute lessons each day.
My IBMS courses are pretty similar to what I would find in Spain. Our first semester included Marketing, Finance, Economics, Excel, Career Orientation, English and elementary Dutch (which is always handy). All are taught in English, which may seem hard at first, but little by little you become familiar with the technical terms and vocabulary, which is very useful, and before you know it you have mastered the language. I’ve found the most interesting courses to be Marketing and Economics.
First year students at IBMS are divided into two groups, A and B, each of them less than 30 students in size, which makes it a friendly environment and allows for a more personal relationship with teachers. There are people from all over the world in my class: Greece, Portugal, Belgium, France, Holland and Spain of course (having a fellow Spaniard in your class is always convenient).
The overall cost of the experience is not too high; university fees are similar to Spanish ones, and you can find accommodation for as little as 250€ a month, depending on whether you are willing to share, etc. I think the only problem may be having to manage your expenses on your own, but if you are organized enough you can live comfortably without spending too much. The standard of living in Vlissingen is pretty high; you’ve got everything you need nearby and access to Holland’s excellent transport network. You can take a train and travel anywhere in Holland, Belgium, France, in no time and for very little money. It’s also easy to get a job here if you know where to look. You can work as a waiter, pizza delivery guy, etc. But you’ll probably need to speak Dutch to get hired.
When I got the chance to study abroad, I was expecting to find similar conditions to the ones I knew back home. But living here and discovering so many different cultures from all around the world has opened up my mind and made me realize a few things.
I would advise any Spanish student thinking of studying abroad to consider HZ in Holland, a unique destination where you will meet lots of people, learn English and get a change of scenery. It is important to note that this is an international university, where there will always be someone to help you out if you have any trouble.
Academic course 2012- 2013 (Original text in Spanish)