By: Devin Kim, Foster Undergraduate
The main entrée so to say to be an exchange student is definitely the traveling part. The Netherlands is surely one of the more accessible countries to visit from Germany, since they are very close, geographically, culturally and linguistically. I would like to introduce you how I arrived at the Netherlands and I will also like to compare college-level classes in both countries, how they are different from each other, based on what I have witnessed.
Take the train. Taking the train is the most convenient way of reaching the Netherlands from Germany. In my case, I paid around 90 Euros for a round-trip from Koblenz to Rotterdam. It seems quite expensive, but if you compare it to how much it costs to travel from Koblenz to Hamburg, both taking around 5 hours, you’ll notice that traveling to Rotterdam is actually cheaper (!) than the latter. Because the countries both apart of the Euro Zone, you don’t need to go through customs and border control, which makes your life so much easier. There are some alternatives, like taking the bus, but it’s often not as available in Koblenz, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Strangely, I had the opportunity to visit the Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam and attended a statistics class, since I had a friend who was studying there. I thought it would be interesting to compare the classes of WHU and at the Erasmus Universiteit, to classes in UW.
The teaching method varies among the countries regarding how active they are. As I noticed, in Germany, the classes are not as participation-based even though the size of the classes are usually smaller than at UW. Lectures are mostly rigid and unilateral. The amount the teacher talks during class accounts for more than 90%, except for some questions the students ask. On the other hand, the statistics class that I have experienced at the Erasmus Universiteit was very participation-based. The professor was constantly asking about the contents, and the format of the class was that the students were supposed to solve a few problems together with the professor on side, guiding through the processes. It was in a sense quite similar to some mid-sized business classes at UW.
Student behaviors during class were also quite different from each other. The atmosphere was more conservative in the Netherlands and students barely talked during class except when the professor asked something. However, one thing you should consider if you are thinking of going WHU as one of the exchange options is that Germans (at least those at WHU) can make quite a lot of noise, while doing anything. In some lectures, especially in non-major elective classes, the noise level can become quite loud. It is definitely something that I want to be critical about and objectively, something I really didn’t like about the German students at WHU. UW, in my perspective, lies closer to the Erasmus Universiteit in this regard.
But since the lectures at WHU mostly use slides, it is very straightforward what the professor demands from the students. The contents are usually more organized and preparing for exams don’t involve any complex thought processes. Just memorize. It’ll save your grades. Based on what I saw, it seemed that the Erasmus Universiteit would be trickier when you try to prepare for exams. Since the class I attended involved lots of participation, and more student answers, it’s hard to predict how the exams are going to be. I think UW is closer to WHU when it comes to the workload and straightforwardness.
It is very subjective what I have written on this post so far, and of course I cannot judge quite right because I only attended one class in the Netherlands, about something I barely have knowledge of, but I hope this would give you at least a simplified picture of whether studying in Germany would be the right choice for you.