Adventure called Breda

A small blog of a Tiko student about an adventure in the Netherlands, Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Chapter 2: Arrival to Breda. Part 1: First impressions

First days at the Netherlands, almost a week. Here are the first quick impressions.

 

A picture from the landing to Amsterdam Schipol.

When landing to Amsterdam Schipol, this view was the one that made me fall in love with the Netherlands a bit. A canal sided with trees. Beautiful. (Not to mention a runway going over the said canal.)

 

Enjoying Breda already! It has some nice historical buildings and in general the kind of architecture which makes the city feel warm. The traffic as a bit crazy compared to finnish traffic. Cars drive very fast, as well as bikes.

During the first days noticed that Visa Electron does not work in most of the places, and the supermarket that sells food, doesn’t accept credit card. On the other hand, in most other places they accept the basic credit card, and the laundry system of my accommodation needs credit card as well. So, a credit card is a must to have on an exchange. The finnish combination of Credit/Debit might cause some issues, though. Be prepared! There’s also an opportunity to start a local account, but for five months it might be too much extra bureaucracy. One can decide it themselves, though. 😀 There are ATMs to extract money from finnish cards as well, though.

 

The Great Church of Breda.

De Grote of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk. The Great Church of Breda. It’s beautiful from both inside and outside and is situated in the center of the town.

 

The apartment is nice, generally very clean and spacey with good equipment like fridge and stove. The roommates are nice as well and we’re finding our tune together quite well. 😀

Decided to rent a bike, which I got on Monday, because the journey to school is a bit on the long side. The campus of IMEM and IDAG (game design) where moved to another campus due to changes at NHTV, or as from September 1st, Buas, Breda University of Applied sciences.

Had some home sickness before getting more used to the apartment and the area. Mostly things are a bit unfamiliar and the stress of traveling and packing is starting to release itself. But believing it’ll pass ones the school starts. 😀 On Saturday met some other international people through Erasmus ESN-network, which helped. 😀 Local bars are relatively small and the place the event was at, was crowded. Music was good, and drinks cheaper than in Finland. Didn’t want to risk it on the first night, so left very early back to apartment, just in case

The locals speak english very well in general, and they seem to be surprised that people from Finland visit their country. 😀 Or then I’m just so ridiculous tourist now. XD On Monday’s International Kick-Off, a staff member of the bike rental company said that there have been quite a few finns getting their bikes that day. Saw at least three finns, based on their name tags, on that day.

Took the Tuesday after the Kick-Off lazily. Found a way to the new campus of IMEM, and got lost a couple of times. Highly recommending either downloading local off-line maps on your phone, or a paper map of the area. My own connection dealer was Telia, and wasn’t interested to get a local prepaid, so rather tried saving the relatively large amount of mobile internet for “emergency” situations during the exchange.

The courses starts on next Monday, so taking this week as a chance to rest and get used to the area. The courses I chose are second year studies. Found them interesting and supportive for my professional goals. When meeting international students who are starting their game development degree, feeling a bit of a stab. But thinking that these studies and the experience in the Netherlands in general are useful.

Don’t know when there’s time to write more new relevant things. Just waiting for the actual studies to begin. 😀

Take care you all!

Until the next time!

-A-K

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Chapter 1.5: Accommodation aquired

Hello again!

 

It’s been a short while since the last update. Since then something relevant has happened: found a place to stay!

 

In general, NHTV doesn’t offer dormitories or student rooms for the exchange students automatically and students need to find their own accommodations. However, the school is part of an arrangement called Studentrooms Breda, which is a joint service of two companies which build, maintain and offer student accommodations and the two schools in Breda NHTV and Avans. The accommodations are mostly single rooms in shared apartments of three and include basic furniture, bed linen and things like electricity, water and gas (and web). The rental prices are a bit higher than a room through KOAS in Jyväskylä, and the living period is fixed duration of one semester or one school year. Could say that the bit higher price is worth the hassle of first buying and then selling the furniture for a similar room in private sector.

 

Which brings in another option to find a place to stay: Facebook groups. While waiting (and panicking over) the booking-day of studentrooms, I joined a couples of FB-groups where students offer or search a room for rent. Got one good and affordable offer, but being a super-stressing person, chose the bit more expensive, all-inclusive option. If you like adventure, are social and extrovert enough, and don’t find extra hassle with furniture a problem, this is a good option as well.  Third option would be KlikVoorKamers (Click for rooms), where you can apply for a room or studio apartment, depending on your age. For me this option was ruled out, because I’m too old for shared apartments and a studio would have exploded my monthly budget over the limit.

 

Speaking of expenses. When booking for room, have roughly 1500-2000€ worth of credit available for reservation payments. Once you’ve chosen a room in the studentroom service, you need to pay for the rents of August and December in advance, since they are not full months, as well as the furniture and linen packages. The amount for me was 1400€ and they only take a credit card. For Finnish students getting a credit card shouldn’t be a problem if you have acquired enough study credits. At least it wasn’t in 2010. (Feeling ancient now….) So, if you don’t have a credit card, get one in early summer or spring.

 

Some other notable things about Student rooms are that the accommodation period doesn’t last until February, when the last exams are (or could be, not enough info available about these things), so be prepared to make friends on who’s couch/floor you’ll sleep for the last week, or look into hostels.

Another important thing is to be reloading your email constantly on the day you’re supposed to get the login-info for searching the room. If possible, ask your boss for a chance for special arrangements so you won’t miss this chance and will get your hands on the rooms immediately. The rooms run out in minutes. I was 30min too late because I was at work and the message went to trash-mail-folder, so I didn’t hear the message arrive to my phone. By the time I was making my choices, there where only 12 rooms left. Had to act fast and pick one. Later it turned out that I’m going to have a 5km biking from the apartment to IMEM’s new campus, but at least the terrain is flat, and not a hill-race as the 5km biking to Jamk at home. XD I was a bit pissed, because the house was 3km from the old campus. No can do.

And. Once you’ve paid the reservation, there’s no turning back! You cannot cancel a paid reservation. So this is the final frontier to be sure ou want to go.

 

Anyways. Now having a bit pricey room (by finnish standards), but at least having a room! And the Netherlands is flat so at my biking pace it’ll be some 15min journey at the best. 😀 Just extremely relieved to have a place to stay in the first place!

And starting to get exited and a bit worried. At the moment when writing this still feeling very calm and cool about it. When doing the reservation and immediately after it was feeling very weird a stressed and surreal. I’m really going there now! The closer the day of departure comes, the more I’ll start to stress, I’d assume. Too busy with work to stress yet, though. 😀

 

Anyways. It’s the hottest summer in Finland in years. I’m gonna head outside and take the most of it! More updates to come later!

 

Love,

A-K

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Chapter 1.25: Paperwork, bloody paperwork

Hello again, peeps!

This time around not so much have happened. Breda sent in an e-mail that I’m accepted and sent them the learning agreement. Now just fiddling with my fingers nervously and hoping that everything is okay.

Meanwhile, did a language assesment which is demanded for Erasmus Study Grant. The first invitation went to junkmail-folder, and the mobile Outlook-app or desktop-extetion didn’t show it. Lesson nr. n+1: Remeber to check the junkmail-folder as well. Eventually got a link to the service and passed the test. As a result, going to get the grant for the exchange. Makes life easier, then. 😀 And it was a fun test to do, a way to challenge oneself to see just how challenging language one can understand.

Also got an e-mail from Breda, apparently I need to go to the State Office there and announce that I’ve arrived (Insert a Fabulous entrance meme here XD ) to live there for a few months. Apparently that’s a thing to take care of closer to the date. Yet another bureaucratic mini-adventure ahead.

Otherwise things don’t look too complicated. Going to report about accommodation once it’s all sorted out in later posts, that’s perhaps the biggest stressor to deal with.

More to come when having stuff to write about.

‘Till the next time! <3

-A-K

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Chapter 1: How on Earth to apply for an exchange?

Hello!

From where to begin this story?
From the day I began the studies in JAMK Business Information Management? Sounds about right.
The first week. They talked about student exchange. About how it changes a person. About how it gives one a hand in applying for work. Challenge accepted! And then forgot for a year or so due to studying and life.

On the second year, after considering the topic between other duties until the last week before applying, started to think. I kind of made the decision on the first week of this degree. And you can press the cancel button any moment if you’re not ready for the jump after all. Okay. Let’s apply.

Netherlands.
Canada.
Japan.

Picking the countries listed above after browsing both Elmo and Asio for information and experineces, browsing the the websites of each school I was interested with, writing down a table of approximate expences of each option and listening to ones soul and heart. What do you want? What is the thing you’re after? What makes your insides scream “I want to study that and be there!!!!”. 😀

 

Elmo Intra has great resources to prepare for yor exchange.

Elmo Intra has great resources to prepare for yor exchange. Check the things from there before bombarding the exchange office people with questions. Usually the data you need can be found from here or from the website of your target school. 😀

 

For me a chance to work with game dev or game art lifted NHTV Breda in the Netherlands and Humber in Canada over Japan. Japan would have been more of a culture and language school due to a precious hobby. Out of the three NHTV Breda had most to offer for my personal professional goals. Sent the application on the last day possible, luckily not at the last minute, though. (Note to self, procrastination is not always a good thing, while it gives time to process things.)

Some time later school e-mail pinged.

“You’re accepted to apply for an exchange in the Netherlands, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences”.

Okay. Here we go then. Right? Right???

Turned out that the school won’t take people to study in their Triple-A Game Dev Degree from a business-line of companion school and that the courses would have to be chosen from the Creative Business / International Media and Entertainment Management Degree. This is a tiny problem of Tiko (Business Administration and ICT -degree) being branched under Business rather than Technology. For more technical students it closes doors to apply for some of the Game Dev schools. Which happened to two of my classmates. Sad for their sake. 🙁

Personally the Media and Entertainment Management (IMEM) sounded interesting, so I kept moving. Next step was to fill in the application for NHTV online and send a bunch of copies of papers and a motivational letter. Then it was all about waiting. At some point the school sent an e-mail about the steps to take regarding the application-process. The most urgent one was to register to the application-workspace, fill in the needed data and start searching for options regarding accomodation. Joined a couple of Facebook groups which are basically marketplace to rent a room from open market of shared student apartments. That’s is an adventure for another time, though, I’ll most likely write a post about living arrangements later as it’s own.

The week I’m writing this, the official acceptance letter arrived. Okay, so it’s official hat they’re okay that I’m going. 😀

The next step is to send the learning agreement to NHTV, whenever they send more details about it. The application for Study Grant is now filled and sent as well, with a bit of a detour due to starting and ending dates of a semester in central Europe. For exchange students it is usually from the last week of August (introduction week, the actual semester starts at the beginning of September) to the last week on January. Please keep that in mind when choosing the courses you’re about to study (you need 5 credits / month) and when applying for summer work back home.

I also updated my data in ASIO, marked myself as Present for the next two semesters, and visited Kela to sort out the study funds and asked for European Health Insurance Card, jut in case. Also contacted my insurance company and asked for extension for the extra months a basic travel insurance does not cover. Just in case. Also should take care of vaccinations as well.

Anyways. Still a lot of stuff to do. Highly reccomend to sort the bureaucracy ASAP. Less stress to everyone.

And.

As fantastic as the people at the JAMK exchange office are, please keep in mind that they are two person handling hundreds of us students. Of course, if things get very super tangled and confusing and anxiety-inducing, they are more than willing to help! But Elmo, Asio and these blogs serve as a great source of information for the basic info you need, and you can always ask a friend to lend a second set of brains for help and discuss if you’re uncertain with something. And there are Exchange Infos during spring to tell you about what to do and when and how. If there are previous year student’s been to the school you’re attending for, ask them, they usually are more than happy to help. 😀 Thank you for my seniors for all the info when I asked them! <3 And the peeps at the Office as well! <3

But perhaps this wall of text is enough for one sitting.

See ya around!

Love,

Anna-Kaisa

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