International Student Shares Experience in the Exchange Program

Photo Courtesy: Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering
A V7S DARE Rocket, a modified version of the CanSat Launcher V7 ,in suspension in a Laminar Flow Wind Tunnel.

Nicolas Wahler/Correspondent

Hello everyone! I am Nicolas, a Bachelor exchange student from the Netherlands.

I was lucky to be chosen by my home university to come over to Embry-Riddle for a semester. I was thrilled to come here for a multitude of reasons. The foremost was to experience the American college culture, especially as Embry-Riddle is well known worldwide for their outstanding education in all aerospace-related fields.

I love everything around aviation, being a pilot myself, so coming here was a natural choice. On the other hand, spending the colder seasons in Florida sounded so much more tempting than having cold rain back in Europe. Sadly, the last week reminded me too much of home, so I really hope temperatures will go back up again soon.

Since I came here, I have been surrounded by very friendly people, always good for a laugh and very helpful. From the very first moment of my arrival on campus, and even before that, I felt very welcomed by the university and all the other students.  I have seen and experienced so much here that is new and exciting for me. So far, I have had a lot of fun experiences, from barbecues organized by the exchange office to great student parties. And the semester is only just about halfway done.

I would also like to share a bit of my background: where I come from (PART I) and present my university (PART II). I want to do this because I want to give something back for all my experiences here, and maybe some of you will get interested in coming to TU-Delft and the Netherlands, where you can experience a good deal of European culture for an exchange semester in the future. The Exchange office sends people over to us every year, and it would be great seeing some more Embry-Riddle students around our Aerospace Engineering faculty.

Part I; You know the Netherlands?

The Netherlands (or ‘Holland’) is a rather small country at the North Sea, just in between Germany and France. Its is about twice the size of New Jersey, or, looking at Florida, roughly the same size as  the part between Daytona Beach and Sarasota. Now you may think that because it is so small, we might be somewhat insignificant?  

Well, we really are not. Our small country is rather important in the world. Some centuries ago, our small spot on the world map had colonies around the globe: mostly in Asia, but we also had several in Africa and South America.

We have also had some major impact on the US, as the city of New Amsterdam, now known as New York, was founded in the 17th century by the Dutch. With the downfall of colonialism in the last couple of centuries, many of those territories are now
entirely independent.

Only some small islands in the Caribbean, although self-governing, still belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The current involvement is more based on diplomatic relations. The Netherlands is an important partner of the United Nations, with the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Furthermore, many of the vital organs and organizations of the European Union are distributed around the country. We are also well known for our big tulip fields (largest exporter worldwide), beautiful windmills, a vast love for cheese of all kinds, and these uncomfortable wooden shoes, Klompen, that tourists really seem to love (for some weird, unknown reason).

The country itself is already rather small, but some hundreds of years ago, most of the land was still hidden underneath the sea. Over the last few centuries, a good deal of the country has been created artificially by drying the land and building big dikes to prevent the sea from coming back.

This lead to the name ‘Netherlands,’ or ‘low lands,’ as most of the country is literally under sea level. Due to this, the whole country is crossed by many waterways. Most parts are reachable by boat.

Another beautiful way to experience the country is to just hop on a bike and go for a trip along those waterways; it is a beautiful landscape, and you will not regret just spending a whole day out in the open. The bike is the prime mode of short-distance transportation. As everything is so flat and close together, most people just bike to their destinations.

It also saves a lot of hassle finding parking spots in the narrow towns. Everything is close by; usually, within 10 minutes of biking distance, you will find everything you need for your daily life. However, the country is mainly decentralized. Although we have about 16 million inhabitants, the largest city, Amsterdam, only has about 600,000. Where I live, the cities are a bit smaller than that, yet they are so close together that border is barely visible. Thus, you are always in the close vicinity
of a larger city.

Being completely honest, there is a distinct disadvantage compared to Florida – the weather. All those people that like to have the AC set to minimums will probably love it; all others should definitely take a thick jacket. The yearly average is about 50°F, with a high about 72°F and low of 35°F. To these lovely temperatures, you should always add a stiff breeze; it is a windy country. Plus, we tend to have many rainy days. This maritime climate can be very nice in a way that even in the hottest summer days you can still walk around very comfortably, but you will also have a lot of cold rain in the winter because it stays just above freezing. And this ‘wannabe-snow’ can get kind of uncomfortable.

The city that I come from, Delft, lies just in between the second and third largest cities in the country, Rotterdam and The Hague respectively. 

As I mentioned earlier, most things around are rather close, so it is less than 10 miles to get to either city. Delft itself is a rather old and beautiful town.  It has about 100,000 inhabitants, but the feels like much less.

It is a beautiful and lively old town, with a lot of history in and around the city. It has a nice market twice a week (when you are there, try the fresh Stroopwafels, a traditional Dutch sweet) and many beautiful old churches. In fact, the biggest one is the coronation church for the Dutch royal family, as well as their family tomb.

To be continued in Part II, where I will talk about the Delft University of Technology.