Different Schooling Systems

They do things a little differently here in the Netherlands, back home we have two semesters per year and with in each semester is one teaching period that runs for about thirteen weeks. Most full time students will take four subjects but you can also do three or five if you have the drive for it.

Generally classes will have one lecture and one tutorial with two hours for each, in total students should be spending about ten hours per week on a subject, though this unquestionably depends on the student and the work load. I have some friends that spend hours studying and also some that will barely attend classes.

During the thirteen weeks of attendance there is a ‘study break week’ usually between week 8 and 9, I think this week designed is to catch up on work and prepare assignments but it is often spent having some time out. At the end of the thirteen weeks there is a two week study break for preparing for exams and final assessment. Then we have a two week block in which exams are scheduled, sometimes they will all be bunched together in the last week or the first week, or if you are lucky nicely spread out over the while two weeks.

 Cairns campus

 In Australia the summer holiday period is over Christmas time, usually running for a little under three months. In winter we have our other break which is in June/July for about one month. The length of ones’ holidays usually depends on when the final exams are scheduled during the exams period.

So that was a brief description of the uni year back home in Australia now I will tell you what I know about the uni year I have experienced in The Netherlands.

Here the semesters are divided into two blocks in which two subjects are taken. Each block is ten weeks (though I think they have been a little less, since the schedule is slightly different with exchange students) and all assessment, from exams to essays, is due within the block period.

Utrecht University is massive there are approximately 1200 international students and I don’t know how many Dutch ones but definitely al lot more than that. Most of the subjects for international students are taught in English and they also have many other languages including, of course, Dutch.

  The Drift, Utrecht

 Most of my classes are at the Drift which is in Utrecht city centre. The main campus is De Uithof  which is a fifteen minute buss ride out of the city, De Uithof is massive it is practically is own city. The university also has other campus within the Utrecht area and many random buildings through out the city.

Oh yeah, one more semi important difference; in Australia the first semester is at the beginning of the year starting February/March, where as in the Netherlands the first semester is in the second half of the year staring September.

In the Netherlands the summer holidays go from June till September for three months, it seems almost as if everyone leaves the country and most of the kingdom shuts down for summer.

For me the first block has just finished and number two about to start. – Half way through it barely feels like it. – It’s kinda sad that the blocks are so short here, I had just started to get to know some of the people in my classes and the now I barely see them any more and with block two beginning its time to start the process all over again.


Something that was strange for me here is that for both of my classes we had exams before the assignment, this was strange because back home exams are always last and here there was still plenty more to do. The same goes for my next class with the exam in week five, just half way through.

I am sure there are many more differences, some that I have already gotten used to and some that I still have to find, but these are the ones that seem to be the most talked about among the Australian students I know here. I just wanted to share some of the simple things that might be obvious but also over looked.

Till next time, Arian.

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1 Response to Different Schooling Systems

  1. Jessica Leinster says:

    Hi Arian
    It was really interesting to see how the schooling system differs between the Netherlands and Australia. It is different again in Sweden, we do one subject at a time and our semester break will be Christmas! Courtney wrote about it in much more detail here is the like below.

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