Friday, 5 April 2019

How to Pack a Suitcase in 30 Minutes…...... Venlo

The ground is lava in Brussels

For those of you who just started following this blog but don’t know me I am Tom. This semester I am doing my exchange semester as the second part of my international year from Waterford Institute of Technology. So therefore, I am attending Fontys International Business School Venlo. Since my last blog a lot has happened, this includes, settling into university, multiple trips and embracing the exchange programme. All in all living life in the moment.
Upside down in Vilnius 
University what can I say, so organised and accommodating. The modules I am studying are all business related, they cover logistics, economics, marketing, statistics and business knowledge. We are also learning Dutch to adopt a bit of the culture.  All the course content is new and challenging. We are constantly been pushed out of our comfort zone with presentations and group work. One of our classes is structured so that we begin the class with a topic, we have to research that topic in groups and present the findings at the end of the class. The only subject we have had a major issue with was statistics. We tried our best to understand it but we failed to keep up with the rest of the class as we had not completed the basics which were taught last semester. I was so confused one day the answer was on the board and I didn’t know if it was another question or the answer. We sat down with the lecturer to air our concerns and he came up with a solution. This solution was for us to go back to the start, self-teach ourselves and meet the lecture once a week for progress report and help us with questions we might have. The university has created a very friendly learning environment where students’ problems are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
The Windmills of Zaanse Schans
Of course, while time is primarily occupied with college, I do occasionally get out from my vigorous study to have a social life. Since my last blog I have travelled to three different countries, Lithuania, Belgium and Germany, as well as travelling to multiple towns in the Netherlands. Each place I went I tried different foods and drinks and experienced some of the culture from the area. I had not traveled to any of these countries before so it was a really great experience. The Netherlands was continued to surprise me. The most ambitious trip I went on was three cities, Utrecht, Den Hague and Amsterdam, the beach and to many trains to count all in the space of sixteen hours. That was my first time in Amsterdam and I was very much looking forward to seeing why Ireland has made it the number one holiday destination. After travelling to other parts of the country Amsterdam was only ok. It was like going into Temple Bar for a cheap drink (non-existent). I have since been to Amsterdam once more by day this time but still wasn’t impressed.  I will however be going back for Kings Weekend at the end of April. I have been to see the traditional windmills in a town up north of Amsterdam also. It has been a crazy month of travel but it is easily achievable and I haven’t missed one day of college yet.
As you can imagine with all the college work and travel my time is pretty well gone. However, I do find the odd night for a social drink or two. One of the biggest weeks in Venlo is the week coming up to lent. It is called Carnival and the circus most certainly rolled into Venlo. To describe this time, it is like St. Patricks day on repeat for a week. Everyone has to dress up, you are not allowed into the city centre without costume. It was a great experience but the number of plastic cups produced was crazy. Each night walking through the city it felt like you were trapped in a ball pit, but instead of balls you were drowning in plastic cups. There have been many other social gatherings, most of which have been organised by other exchange students allowing us to experience their different culture. We hosted a small gathering for St Patricks Day and even had Tatyo crisps as a snack.
Overall, I have no negative points about my life in Venlo. I am learning, travelling and experiencing all the different cultures people have to offer….

Carnival Weekend

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