Study Year Abroad in Amsterdam

Freya Shearn – BSc Criminology and Sociology

My name is Freya Shearn and I study Criminology and Sociology at the University of Surrey. During my study abroad at Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam), I completed the gender and diversity minor as well as other modules including ‘Sex Work in the Times of Anti-trafficking’ and ‘Behaviour and Communication in Organisations’. Learning from a different cultural perspective allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of my chosen subjects, and see different perspectives that I had not previously uncovered. 

Studying abroad helps you grow as an individual as you gain vital independence and autonomy. You are faced with challenges that you may not experience in your home country, for example, culture shock and living far away from family. It is an invaluable experience for those who want to expand their knowledge of a different culture and learn about themselves as a person. It is an opportunity to step away from everything you know and live a year where you’re free to be who you want, where you want!

Alongside studying there are constant new adventures to be had, travelling not only around your host country but also abroad to neighbouring countries. Living internationally means you will be surrounded by people from all over the world, where you will embrace cultural diversity and benefit from learning about different perspectives.

How did the Santander grant* benefit me?

Without the grant, I would have been more financially constrained, and studying abroad would have been more tricky. It has allowed me to say yes to more experiences and in turn, make lifelong friends. For example, I was able to join the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), a program for incoming exchange students, which organises events and trips so you can meet other exchange students. Although these trips can involve going abroad and there are fees involved, having the grant meant that I could join and therefore meet new people. Going to these events made my year abroad more comfortable and enjoyable as I no longer felt alone after meeting other exchange students!

*Disclaimer: The Santander grants are no longer available for students to apply for beyond the 2023/24 academic year. Please see our MySurrey website for further information about funding available through the Turing Scheme and other grants and scholarships.