“What I Love About Sancta Is That You Never Have to Be Alone”

Dutch Exchange Student, Juliette Suermondt, reflects on her time at Sancta

April 2019

Degree: Bachelor of Biology, Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Arrived in Australia: July 2018.

Departed Australia: December 2018

Road to Sancta

Choosing my Bachelor’s degree was quite easy for me as I’ve been interested in Biology since the age of 10. Utrecht University in the Netherlands offered a great Bachelor of Biology and was located in Utrecht, which is one of the best student cities with lots of fun stuff to do.

After three years of studying in Utrecht, I was ready for a change. I have always wanted to come to Australia, because of the lovely people, gorgeous nature and awesome animals. A very good way to enjoy a country is through student life. That’s why I decided to go on exchange to Australia. The University of Sydney attracted me the most because the units of study looked very interesting, and the city is, of course, amazing. Through some research, I found Sancta Sophia College which appealed to me as the atmosphere seemed very kind and welcoming. Also, the formal dinners and various events interested me as I felt they could benefit me in the future too. So, I decided to apply for Sancta Sophia College and thankfully, I was accepted.

Differences between life in the Netherlands and Australia

During my stay, I’ve noticed some differences between Australia and the Netherlands; one of them being that Australians are very open and helpful. It’s not that Dutch people aren’t, but Australians really take it to the next level. Another difference is campus life. Colleges like Sancta do not exist in the Netherlands; that is also why it attracted me so much.

Best things about Sydney

The lovely accent and Australian slang are some of the things I really enjoy about Australia (maybe not during lectures, though). Sydney is beautiful, with lots of parks that make a biologist like me very happy. There is so much to do in Sydney, that even after spending four months here, there are still lots of items on my Sydney bucket list. The University of Sydney has a very luxurious campus with very nice lecture theatres and a lot of opportunities to get involved. Even though the 8.00am classes were hard to attend, I went every single day and my semester here has taught me so much about my field of research. Sydney is definitely the place to go if you want a combination of good education and a great time.

Juliette meeting Australia’s iconic wildlife


Best things about Sancta

Living at Sancta Sophia College allowed me to have a great time and pursue an excellent education simultaneously. Sancta offers good study spaces and lots of help from other students going through the same struggles as you are. The events at Sancta range from formal dinners with inspiring speeches to rooftop drinks to amazing formals
(we would call them ‘proms’).

What I love about Sancta is that you never have to be alone. You will always find people to sit with during breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can always roam around the college and find people to chill with. Everyone is very welcoming, which makes it easy to make new friends. There are good parties at Sancta, but it also offers a quiet place when you need it.

Advice for future exchange students

Definitely get involved as much as you can, because that is how you will get the most out of your experience in Sydney. Getting involved isn’t hard to do since both The University of Sydney and Sancta Sophia College offer lots of fun projects, events and opportunities.

Standout memories at Sancta

My most memorable moments at Sancta Sophia College would be the end of year Formal and saying goodbye to all the friends I’ve made. The formal was lots of fun; from finding a nice dress to attending the after-party, it made for a glamorous and memorable night.
Saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made at Sancta was equally memorable (and a bit sad), because I realised that we had grown really close in those four months. I truly believe that I’ve made friends for life here in Sydney and that we will always stay in touch for many years to come.

Moving forward from Sancta

Having graduated from Utrecht University after my semester in Sydney, I am now starting my postgraduate degree — the Master of Biology of Disease at Utrecht University. I hope to realise my dream of becoming a researcher in the field of cancer and I hope this path will somehow take me back to Sydney at some point.

Juliette with Sancta friends exploring NSW


Read more about Sancta’s international students