It's the Dutch experience!

Reflecting on our experiences as exchange students, we realize just how much we’ve learned and grown. Taking part in the Living Lab Biobased has been an amazing journey filled with challenges and discoveries. Our primary goal was to improve our English skills, and we've made significant progress. Initially, we were very insecure, even to order food. Now, speaking English has become more natural to us. Living in the Netherlands has taught us many things about adapting to a new culture and way of life. For instance, we learned that surviving having just a sandwich for lunch is possible, something we hadn’t considered before. We also discovered that traffic lights can be noisy when crossing the road and that a two-hour drive can be too far away, we don’t know how. The Dutch weather presented its own set of challenges. Wind and rain can be formidable adversaries, while sunny days and bright blue skies become treasured events. 


We learned that there are hundreds of species of tulips and that we live in Limburg – not Holland – and that is a huge difference (we have vlaai!). We were also very impressed that lots of dialects exist in one country that is almost 205 smaller than ours. We learned that Albert Heijn is everywhere and that a train can derail and you will be left behind at the station because the warning was given in Dutch and you didn’t understand. We learned that it’s not Van Gogh it’s Van Rrrrrroooorrrh.


In Portuguese there’s a word calling “saudade”. It means a nostalgic longing to be near again something or someone that is distant. We experienced that “saudade” can hit different when we are 9000 km and +5 hours away. Despite that, we’ve made incredible connections here. The Netherlands has given us a new Brazilian family while here and have taught us a lot about friendship. Additionally, we have also made wonderful Dutch friends who have welcomed us with open arms and shared their culture with us.


During our exchange program at CHILL, the laboratory experience was transformative, providing us with invaluable practical skills and a deeper understanding of scientific research methodologies. The handson experience with advanced laboratory equipment enhanced our technical proficiency and confidence in conducting experiments. Collaborating with international peers exposed us to diverse perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, enriching our analytical skills and contributing to a collaborative spirit. These immersive lab experiences not only reinforced our theoretical knowledge but also taught us the significance of teamwork, communication, and adaptability in a research setting. Every day, we learn more about gratitude and seizing opportunities. The initial anxiety and nervousness we felt upon arriving have gradually given way to growing confidence. We’ve learned that the world is huge and that life can be surprisingly simple.

Yet, there are still mysteries to unravel—like how to ride a bike without using both hands. Maybe one day we’ll master that skill too!


Met vriendelijke groeten!


Adriano, Ana Laura, Bianca, Bruno, Isabella, Sofia and Thales.



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