Where are you studying? Cheltenham, England
Third-year religious sciences student
The pub... typically English
How did you end up in Cheltenham?
‘I arrived here a little over a month ago. As a child, I went to Scotland on holiday every summer, but now I’m staying in this town until December. It’s a fairly small town, with approximately 110,000 inhabitants. I live on campus and walk to the university every day, which is a 45-minute walk both ways. That’s okay, because I pass through the typically British town centre on the way.’
You have a room on campus. Was that room difficult to get?
Living in Cheltenham is comparable to living in the Netherlands when it comes to price.
‘A coffee costs approximately 2.20 euros and a savoury pie, their favourite food around here, costs around 8 euros. Nightlife here starts quite early: people start drinking beer around 7 o’clock at night.
Pubs and clubs do close a bit earlier than in Groningen, around 4 o’clock in the morning.’
And a beer? ‘That costs approximately 2.70. That’s not a pint, no. Just a normal-sized beer.’
‘I booked a room before I got here, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of finding one. It’s pretty expensive, 600 euros, but on the other hand, it also enables me to get to know people on campus. I live in a house with approximately thirty to forty other people. Ten of us share a hallway, and I have my own bathroom.’
Moving abroad means a whole new start. Have you made any friends yet?
‘I have visited Bath and Oxford together with my roommates, who are Russian, American, and German. We also enjoyed a classical music concert. The central location is ideal: London is only an hour and a half away by train. In the evening we usually go to the pub in the centre of town. It’s very British, I know. The stereotypes are true, unfortunately: even now that it’s only 12 degrees Celsius, people are still wearing shorts and skirts during the day. And people drink a lot more than they do in Groningen.’
You’re taking classes as well, of course. How does Cheltenham university education compare to that in Groningen?
‘The classes themselves aren’t all that different. But what’s striking is that they don’t have exams here anymore. They felt they were too much a snapshot of our knowledge. Instead, I have to write a lot of essays. Approximately two for each course, a 6,000-word one and a 2,000-word one. But I can handle that. I’m a lot less busy here than I am in the Netherlands, which makes for a nice change.’
Do you think you might return to Cheltenham when you finish your studies?
‘I can definitely see myself living in England, although I’m not sure I’d come back to Cheltenham. But that’s because I want to keep discovering new places. After my studies, I’d like to research counterterrorism.’
What is something you think future Erasmus students should know?
‘Some things might seem overwhelming, like all the deadlines for your Erasmus forms. But you just have to start early, and if you do have any doubts, just go for it. A chance like this doesn’t come along often.’
Royal Crescent Photo by Julie Anne Johnson