Otago Polytechnic
Fotolia Netherlands

Sarah Mathewson

Bachelor of Applied Science

Sarah Mathewson recently completed a five month student exchange in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, studying sports at Fontys University of Applied Sciences.

Arriving in Eindhoven for the fall semester of August to January, Sarah stepped outside of her comfort zone and experienced first-hand what life is like on the other side of the world.

“I had never been to a non-English speaking country before so it was a real culture shock getting used to hearing different languages being spoken around you all of the time and not being able to understand what people were talking about. Fortunately, the Netherlands is one of the best countries in Europe in regards to English as a second language.”

Sarah chose to rent a studio apartment in the Netherlands with her own bedroom, kitchen and bathroom in a building full of mainly international students.

“I absolutely loved it, but this luxury did cost more than other options although it included power and hot water. Thankfully I was eligible for a government rental allowance which reduced my costs to 416 euros per month (approximately $680).

“The study was very interesting but challenging too. The course consisted of three cumulative theory exams, one very large movement analysis project and one gym practical exam based on both coaching and execution of Olympic lifts, as well as a coaching based internship. Although it was a lot of hard work, looking back now it was the best thing for me.”

After completing her semester abroad, Sarah chose to lengthen her trip to explore Europe. Some of the highlights of her travel were visiting a range of European cities including Munich, Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Zurich, Prague, Warsaw, Copenhagen, and London, staying in hostels making new friends and discovering the history of each city through free walking tours.

“I spent a long time weighing up whether I should go on exchange or not. However, making the decision to go was the best decision I have made in my life so far. I have not only learnt a lot in relation to study I have learnt more than I could ever imagined about myself, and my perspective on life. My recommendation to other students is to take advantage of every single opportunity that is offered to you, have an open mind and ask questions if you need help.”