Semester abroad in a quick check: Studying at the Hogeschool Utrecht

All Categories, Inside CBS   -  16. March 2020

Historic old town, hip trendy districts – the fourth largest city in the Netherlands manages the balancing act between tradition and modernity with ease. At the Hogeschool Utrecht, one of the city’s four major universities, Rachel Hall, a bachelor’s student in “International Business”, minored in “Smart Sustainable Cities”. In our quick check, she tells you the highlights of her studies abroad and the city of Utrecht.

This is what you can experience at Hogeschool Utrecht and in Utrecht

1. Exciting minor programme for international students

“The main reason why I would further recommend completing this minor programme is because it is designed especially for groups of international students to work smoothly on complex, real-life issues. The entire semester abroad is split into two parts; period A and period B. Over the course of period A, there are seven weeks of classes that are split into weekly topics – planet, profit, people, co-design, health, smart, and SSC. The second half of the minor programme, period B, is called the “Sustainability Challenge” and has no organized lectures. In this part of the semester, you work with another (different) group of students on an actual case for a client.”

2. Open-minded locals

“The Dutchies are very nice and open-minded people who are more than willing to speak English with any foreigner. I had no problem getting around the city or country, ordering at cafes or restaurants, and getting to know some of the locals in English.”

3. Tradition meets modernity

„The Dutch architecture is a beautiful mix of old and new and the engineering is state of the art.”

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You should be prepared for this

1. Difficulties finding an apartment

“The most important thing you should do if you want to study abroad at the HU, is find a place to stay far in advance of your studies. I began looking for places two months before my semester abroad, but this wasn’t enough time. I ended up couch surfing when I arrived in Utrecht and then took over a sub-lease, before I found my final accommodation 4 weeks after being in the Netherlands. This was a very stressful time that often kept me from participating in other activities or even going to class. The university does have short stay housing (SSH) for students, but A. it is not enough apartments for students and B. there were no more housing options available when I got accepted for my study abroad.”

2. Labour-intensive project in period B

“I chose a project that was commissioned by the GoedOpWeg in Utrecht to diminish the rush hour traffic to and from the Utrecht Science Park (USP). Again, our group consisted of international students from Finland, Turkey, Romania, United States and Germany. For 10 weeks, we dug deeper into research on social and travel behaviours of students, how to diminish rush hours, possibilities for sustainable mobility, and tailored solutions for the city of Utrecht. Our client specifically lacked information on the social and travel behaviour of students, so we also conducted a survey, interviews, and made field observations on this particular target group. In the end, we were able to provide our client with insights on how students travel to the USP, most importantly why they travel, and recommendations of solutions that could diminish the rush hour.”

My conclusion:

“A semester abroad is the best way to prove your knowledge and skills. The minor programme “Smart Sustainable Cities” offered me the opportunity to test my knowledge in project and time management as well as in entrepreneurial thinking … This enabled me to apply previous knowledge I gained at CBS International Business School and, at the same time, explore topics unfamiliar to me. I am glad to have left my comfort zone during my semester abroad and am happy about my personal development.”

You can find all the information you need about the semester abroad at:

Semester abroad in a quick check: Studying at the Hogeschool Utrecht_picture_2

Photos: (c) Rachel Hall

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