This column highlights exchange students who study or have studied in Tilburg. They share their stories and experiences about how they experienced Tilburg, the school, the culture and the people, with the aim of giving students who are considering studying in Tilburg the best possible idea of what to expect in terms of experiences and practicalities!
The first exchange student we spoke to is Eugenio. He studied Business Administration in Chile and came to Tilburg on exchange about two years ago, pre corona. He lived in a fraternity house in the center of Tilburg with 14 other male students.
How did you enjoy your experience in Tilburg?
“I really liked it. When I finally arrived in Tilburg, the people were really nice to me. They asked me anything, about if I needed help with renting a bike, or with the places that I wanted to see.”
Did you experience unique things, that are normal in Tilburg but are absolutely not in Chile?
“Well, I think that my experience was a little different than the other exchange students obviously. For most of the time, I stayed in a house with another fourteen Dutch students, so for me it was more like an American dream. Furthermore, driving bicycle was quite hard for me, because in Chile it is not even possible to do this due to the hills etc. In addition, driving bicycle while holding an umbrella when it was raining was even more hard for me to learn, where Dutch people seem to have no trouble at all with doing this!
Also, the trains in the Netherlands work really well in comparison to Chile. When the train will arrive approximate at for example 8.40 AM, it is going to arrive at 8.40 AM. All the time. In my opinion this does not only hold for Tilburg, but for the Netherlands as a whole.”
What did you think about the Dutch food?
“I was living practically next to De Burgerij, where the sandwiches and plateaus were really nice and tasty. But I actually did not like the Dutch food in general. There were a couple of exceptions: Waffles, chocolates and sweet things did really have my preference. But in general, I think Tilburg could upgrade at that point. I liked the food in Chile way more than I enjoyed it in Tilburg, so that could be an opportunity for this city. For example: in Chile you can really easily ask for a dish with rice and chicken, and in Tilburg it is not that simple.”
Eugenio cooked mostly by himself. What he also enjoyed were all the variations for vegetarian people. “There are a lot of soya products that are tasting exactly as chicken and beef for example. There are not as much of these kind of products in my country.”
What were the major things you had to get used to when you moved to Tilburg?
“This changes a lot over time, but in the first month it was quite difficult for me to find a room. Actually, officially I was homeless the first month of my residence. I spent my time at a friend who was living next to Tilburg University. As this was not an ideal scenario for me, I continued searching for a room via multiple platforms. Eventually, I saw a Facebook message where a big house with 14 students from a fraternity were looking for a roommate, so I sent them a message. After visiting them and having a quick chat, I was told that I was getting the room. In the beginning it was kind of difficult for me to blend in, as everyone is mainly speaking Dutch (which is understandable in a Dutch speaking country) but over time, I was starting to get used to it. Nevertheless, looking for a room was one of the toughest challenges for me, so I would advise upcoming exchange students who are going to study in Tilburg to make sure you start searching early for a room!
Lastly, it would be nice if there is any kind of awareness or exposure for exchange students to make sure you download the correct and relevant apps with regards to the public transport. For example, the apps called ‘9292’ or ‘NS’. It would have helped a lot if I knew this only just a bit earlier.”
What is your main advice for students who are considering studying and living in Tilburg and are from another country?
“As I mentioned before; start looking early for a room! Preferably 5 months earlier, to make sure you are on time. In addition, open up a Dutch bank account, because you need the Euro as a currency in order to pay with. This makes banking transactions and withdrawals a lot easier!
It also makes your life a lot easier when you join an association, for example I*ESN. They organize fun trips, and such an association is a base for students to meet each other. They even arrange certain discounts for example flights, so I could highly recommend this.
Finally, you should rent a bike instead of buying one. Since most exchange students are not particularly proficient with cycling in the Netherlands, there is a chance that you will crash which could damage you and your bike. Therefore, I would advise students to rent a bike. It will also save you a lot of money at the end of the day!”
Which places in Tilburg did you like the most?
“That depends on the moment, but there were two places that I went a lot. In the night, if I did not have to study, I went to the coffeeshop to play board games with my friends. I really like that concept of being in a bar and playing this kind of games. Here in Chile, that is not existent. The other spot I really liked was the Wilhelmina park. Those were really nice spots to breathe a little fresh air besides studying for exams for example.”
To conclude: could you name 3 words in your own language that you think would best describe the city of Tilburg?
- Tranquillo - speaks for itself;
- Kalido – warm/ambient, the comfortable feeling you get when you are staying in Tilburg;
- Centrál – I figured that Dutch students train mostly in the weekend to visit their family. My homecountry is way bigger than the Netherlands, and it is not doable to do this in Chile.