A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
You are interested in the International Bachelor of Psychology offered by Leiden University and curious about how first-years experience it so far? After having survived our first exam week, I asked some of my international fellow students to share their thoughts.
What brings you to Leiden?
I have always wanted to study abroad and Leiden seemed to be the perfect place: not too far from home, beautiful, well situated.
What have you liked best so far?
As our professor predicted in one of the first Introduction to Psychology lectures “when you read “Psychology” by Grey, there will be so many times you hate it but you will also love it”, I have very rarely experienced something so stressful and rewarding at the same time.
I also really enjoyed the History Lectures, not the book though.
What surprised you at the beginning of the semester?
Definitely that reading that was expected of us prior to the (first) lectures. We only got introduced to blackboard during that week, so before barely anyone knew about the assigned chapters and it was pretty overwhelming.
Was there anything else you expected to be different?
I guess we all expected a little less time spent in the library. In the beginning, I found it really hard to find a balance between studying and also spending time on other things.
How to survive exam week (+ the week before)?
Coffee. Lots of coffee.
Why did you choose IBP at Leiden University?
I really wanted to get the international aspect that was lacking in my education as a result of living solely in the Irish countryside. I also felt that it would be beneficial to study psychology with as many different nationalities as possible, so that I would see how things are viewed in other cultures and not be restricted or narrow in my way of thinking. The list of reasons for studying here is pretty: much cheaper, shorter degree, qualifies me to work across Europe, Leiden is beautiful, course taught through English…
So, what do you think about the study system of Leiden University?
The work groups are a really good idea. They expand on the lectures pretty well and there is a somewhat relaxed yet effective learning environment that encourages discussion, cooperation and independent thinking. There is also emphasis placed on learning and improving valuable skills such as debating.
In the last two months, I would have liked to know…
…the most efficient method of studying the Introduction to Psychology book because I found it very time consuming and not easy to condense such large quantities of information.
What surprised you?
Statistics is a quite prominent feature in our course and multiple choice exams can be very difficult, especially if you have never taken one before.
How do you experience the international atmosphere?
Even though my brothers (both studied at Leiden University) told me that I would meet lots of interesting people, I am still kind of surprised by all the really great people I’ve gotten to meet. I feel pretty lucky and glad that I left Ireland to come here.
What brings you to Leiden?
I chose to study at Leiden University because I’ve always wanted to live in Europe, and this was a very good opportunity. I have visited the Netherlands before and loved this beautiful country. Leiden has a very good psychology program, so I figured this was the best opportunity for me.
What has been your favorite topic so far?
Social conformity in the Introduction to Psychology course!
In the beginning of the year it would have been nice to know…
…how much time to dedicate to school work versus how much time to spend on social and personal life.
How is Dutch student life different from student life in the US?
For example, in the US, students are much less independent. They’re all required to live in a dorm for the first 2 years, and have all meals served to them. In the Netherlands however people are much more independent. You have to go find and lease an apartment and take care of yourself.
How to succeed in an exam?
Keep a level head, stick to what you know, and don’t second guess yourself.
Why did you choose to study abroad at Leiden University?
Since spots for psychology students are quite limited in Germany, I looked for options abroad: the Netherlands offer good programs in English and Leiden University was recommended to me by a colleague of my father who had studied here.
My favorite course so far…
…Introduction to psychology! It is very broad and you gain insight into many fields of psychology. Also the book was my favorite one to read. In general, I really enjoy workgroups. It is very nice to study in smaller groups and to be able to interact with each other.
And what about Statistics?
It was doable but harder than I expected. I really recommend paying attention in both lectures and workgroups as well as starting studying earlier than two weeks before the exam. For extra practice, the additional assignments are a good option! It is very important that you are not just able to use the formulas but also to understand and transfer the content. Relying on your cheat sheet usually doesn’t work.