E-mail: Study Program: Bachelor Sociology Exchange semester: First semester

E-mail: r.m.r.dobbelaar@tilburguniversity.edu
Study Program: Bachelor Sociology
Exchange semester: First semester
Academic year: 2015- 2016
Host University: Ateneo de Manila University
Country: Philippines
Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) is a very social and active university In the middle of one of the
most busy metropoles. Metro Manila can be a suffocating city but also has a lot to offer for students
around the area of Ateneo and to go out. Ateneo de Manila is located in the part of the city called
‘Quezon city’. To enter the campus you had to wear your Ateneo-ID on a key-cord on you neck so it
the campus would only be entered by staff and students so it would be a safe place. It took me a
week or two but after a while you will know your way around the big and green campus. There are
always a lot of people on the campus and due to the tropical weather there are a lot of outside
workplaces, as well as inside air-conditioned working places.
Ateneans are sport fanatics and the school has a big campus where you can run but also offers
several in- and outside sport classes that you are allowed to attend. You can also use the sport
facilities by yourself if there is no class going on. Sport facilities are for example a gym, ball sport
fields and a swimming pool.
There are a lot of food facilities on campus. You have the canteen with several food stalls and other
food facilities all around campus with less option. Ateneo also has an area of food stalls that is totally
organized by students. The dishes, that are mostly rice with some kind of meat-side dish, are
relatively cheap compared to the prices we are used to in The Netherlands. Unfortunately, the food
options on campus are not that healthy as they don’t include a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Manila is a very big city but doesn’t offer a lot for tourists. There are some historic sites you can go to
but you already see them with the introduction that Ateneo organizes for you. If you want to do
some cool stuff in the city I recommend to go shopping China Town, check the scenery and sunset at
Manila Bay, go out in Makati, eat at a good restaurant in Maginhawa and see the Manila view from
‘Cloud 9’. Manila is one of the biggest cities in the world this makes it totally different from the small
city Tilburg. You will maybe dislike the city for its smog and the busy roads with never-ending traffic
but try to see it from the bright side by appreciating the scenery of a very busy metropole and
enjoying the nightlife with your exchange friends!
The current faculty division
John Gokongwei School
of Management
 Department of
and Accounting
 Department of
Leadership and
School of Humanities
School of Science and
 Department
of Biology
of English
Kagawaran ng
Department of
of Chemistry
Department of
Computer and
School of Social Sciences
of Political
of Sociology
and Anthropology
of Marketing and Law
of Theology
Department of
Quantitative Methods
and Information
Department of
Department of
Fine Arts Program
of History
Department of
Department of
Department of
Health Sciences
Department of
Systems and
Computer Science
Department of
Department of
Department of
European Studies
of Physics
Chinese Studies
Japanese Studies
Studies Program
Ateneo has Centers of Excellence in: Business Administration, Chemistry, English, Entrepreneurship,
Information Technology, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology and Sociology. It
has Centers of Development in Biology, Environmental Science and Filipino
The number of undergraduate students is roughly 7500 and the number of postgraduates is around
4000, which gives ADMU a total of 11,500 students. Due to a change of their academic calendar to
the European and American schedule that begins in August or September, they had the biggest
number of exchange students in time during my batch. We had a total of 100 exchange students who
were mostly from Europe, some Asian countries and a few from the USA. They expect that the
number of exchange students will only increase in the coming years. The number of exchange
students in the second semester is smaller, namely 60, and the diversity of nationalities is less.
The study structure is different from what I was used to in Tilburg. You had work to do during the
whole semester. There was either a quiz, midterm, long-test, paper, presentation or other individual
or group project every week. This gives you something to do every week but I thought about it quite
positive because you don’t have to do a lot of work at the sudden at the end of the semester. In
ADMU you collect points and thus build up your grade during the whole semester so you grow
gradually to your final grade. The final exams are still very important and the biggest tests, mostly
they compose the biggest part of your grade. Classes are compulsory and were thought interactively
so by talking a bit about the subjects every weak I learned a lot about them and the information also
sticks into your mind better.
Information before you left
I knew all application requirements a long time before I finally had to hand them in on the 15th of
April. I received the first pre-arrival information about courses and housing on the 2nd of July and
other information about the university on the 15th of July. I didn’t experience any difficulties with
this. Note that you have to hand in your application requirements in hardcopy and if you want to
save costs it is better to send them a few weeks before the deadline.
Visa procedure and arrival
To get your visa for the Philippines you have to go personally to the embassy in The Hague(Den Haag)
or make an appointment at the Honorary Consulates in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. You have to hand
in a passport size photograph taken within the last six months, have a round-trip flight ticket, a
photocopy of your passports bio-page, proof of sufficient funds that can finance your stay and take
your passport valid for at least six months with you. Thereby, you have to fill and hand in an
application form. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of applying for a single entry Visa but a
multiple entry visa. If you apply for a single entry visa you can stay in the Philippines for 59 days and
after this your extension will only be 30 days. If you have a multiple entry visa your extensions after
this will be 59 days as well for a period of half a year. The fee for the single entry visa is 27 euros and
the fee for the multiple entry visa for 6 months is 54 euros.
If all the requirements are fulfilled and handed in at the embassy you have to leave your passport
and they will make your visa and stick it on one of the pages of your passport. If you leave an
envelope with a self-addressed stamp (aangetekende postzegel) at the embassy they will send your
passport back to your address. If you don’t do this, you have to personally pick your passport up. The
self-addressed stamp is only available at Dutch post-offices and is a different stamp than the normal
stamps you normally use. It is not valid to use normal stamps for sending personal documents as
your passport, so make sure you have the right self-addressed stamp.
You need a ticket out of the Philippines for being able to enter the country. Ateneo already asks you
to book a round-trip ticket and hand it in together with your application forms. I booked a round-trip
flight ticket but it is hard to decide which date you want to go home after your semester ends. If you
want to decide this later, my advice is to book your ticket to the Philippines and book a ticket out of
the Philippines when your first 59 day visa ends. Make sure you book another ticket out of the
Philippines before you leave because you have to show a ticket out of the Philippines every time you
want to enter the country.
The OIR gives you advice on leaving the airport and even arranges a taxi if you want to. You can fill
this in on one of the arrival forms you receive with the application forms. I arranged my own taxi at
the airport by following the pre-given advice of the OIR and this taxi dropped my safely at my house
in the Philippines.
The first reception at school was in the OIR to apply for the Special Study Permit in the week before
the introduction. The OIR didn’t know when we would arrive but they always were prepared to
welcome students and give them information and the needed forms .
Orientation/Introduction activities
In the week before the lectures begin, the first week of August, is the orientation week. We had
introduction activities on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This introduction week was organized
by the OIR and ASEC, the Ateneo Student Exchange Council. The orientation had some boring
moments when important information was communicated but when this was finished the fun began.
The activities were nice to attend because they were organized in collaboration with students. We
were introduced to the campus and its facilities and the last day we visited historical sites and a
museum in Manila. ASEC also arranged the buddy system and buddies were members of ASEC.
Buddies were randomly addressed and you met them during an activity with games.
The OIR has a booklet with several accommodations that are possible within the area .You can rent a
condo in one of the residences in the neighborhood, live in a shared dorm on campus or share a
house within a compound area with other exchange students. You send a housing form to the OIR
together with your application with the option if you want to live on a dorm on campus or arrange an
accommodation together with help of the OIR after your arrival.
I lived in one of the houses in a compound area near the school and shared this house with seven
other exchange students. I was very satisfied with this kind of housing because living together with
other exchange students in a house was a lot of fun and the house was very spacious.
Living Costs
The costs of daily life are much cheaper in the Philippines compared to the costs of living I had in
Tilburg. My rent was half of what I paid in Tilburg and meals can costs between 50 cents and 2 euros.
I recommend students to commute if they have the time to save some euros on taxis. The biggest tip
I can give is that eating in the normal ‘eateries’ is cheaper per meal than buying everything in the
supermarket and cooking yourself. In general everything is much cheaper, from cutting your hair to
transport and going out. I could finance everything easily with my student loan and even saved a lot
of money because daily life was cheaper. With all the money I saved I financed my traveling. I think
is spent half of my money on daily life and the other half on traveling.
Approximate monthly budget on exchange
Going out
€ 150,€ 140,€ 20,€ 5,€ 100,€ 80,€ 250,-
Academic Calendar
I arrived on the 29th of July and the introduction week begins in the first week of August. The real
lectures begin the week after the introduction, this was the 10th of August for me. There are no
breaks in between the beginning and the end of the semester but there definitely are some days you
are off because of (inter)national holidays. The last lecture week was from the 30th of November till
the 4th of December. The week after this, the first full week of December, was the final exam week.
The International Office
Ateneo has a very active and concerned Office of International Relations(OIR) and they are officially
responsible for the exchange students. This office is very helpful and you can always drop by if you
have questions. They communicate through e-mail and Facebook so you are always reached. Their
forms and regulations are quite clear from the beginning on. They help you through the bureaucratic
regulations and try to make them as easy as possible. The OIR works together with the student
association for international students called ASEC (Ateneo Student Exchange Council). They organize
the fun activities for exchange students and help with all the questions concerning Ateneo, study
materials, OIR and more.
Exchange promotion
There was a promotional fair in Ateneo during my semester abroad. They asked me if I could
promote my university on this fair but I had classes and a test during the available time so I was
unable to promote. Furthermore I talked with other students about participating in an exchange and
answered their questions about The Netherlands and Tilburg University if they asked them.
Social Activities
The OIR and ASEC organized the welcome week and the closing event for exchange students. This
was visiting the city, doing several activities and having dinner together. Next to this, ASEC also
organized some parties during the semester where exchange students, members of ASEC and other
students from Ateneo can come to. Ateneo is a school where almost every student is very active as a
member from an association and a lot of events are always organized. They are very open and social
so making friends is definitely not difficult. I had contact with both local and exchange students.
Contact with exchange students is very easy because everybody knows each other and there are
places where you meet or go out every week. I made friends with local students through activities of
ASEC and in my classes.
I traveled a lot during my semester in the Philippines. Traveling within the Philippines is cheap and
exchange students always organize a trip during the weekends as it is easy to take a bus to go
somewhere. To renew your Visa you can pay for a new Visa but you can also leave the country a few
times. I advise to take a cheap flight to another Asian country for a few days during the weekends as
this costs maybe as much as paying for a new Visa. The Visas of exchange students expire around the
same date so I always traveled with other exchange students and this was a lot of fun. Thereby, you
check another country out!
Culture and Language
As I expected I experienced a culture shock in the Philippines but it was not necessarily unpleasant.
One of the reasons I chose the Philippines was to be surprised by a total different culture. My host
culture is different from my own culture in several aspects. People appear to be more open, even
strangers will always greet you and are always happy to start a conversation with you. Classes are
small and other students are very social but also teachers are very involved with their students. We
even had pizza together in some classes to celebrate the last classes. Some concepts are perceived
totally different, like time. Filipino’s are not that punctual at all and if they give you a time indication
or you set a time to meet they will come mostly too late. What I learned about my own culture is that
Dutch people are indeed direct, but that our norms are also to treat people equal. What was
different about my host culture was that I experienced that Filipino’s care a lot about their family.
They like to have big celebration for family events and include more relatives into their personal
circle than most Dutch people do. I liked the hospitality and helpfulness of my host culture. While
being in the Philippines I never felt that suspicious about people and I experienced a lot of situations
where people were very hospitable. What I don’t like about my host culture is the big social
difference. You will experience that the elite and rich can study and you will meet them in ADMU but
you also see a lot of poverty around the city. I also met people outside manila while I was traveling
and speaking to these people you will hear that there is inequality and some unfair practices going on
in the country.
At the end of the semester I can definitely say that I learned much about the culture of my host
country. It will take you some time to understand some practices or to make some differences in
practices in the country your own but at the end you will notice that you know your way around
pretty well. Some Filipino’s asked me if I will come back to the Philippines after my semester and I
always answered that I definitely will. Knowing the culture in a country better makes traveling much
more fun because you somehow feel you know how a lot of practices work.
What I also appreciated in the Philippines was that the majority of the inhabitants talk English very
well so I could always communicate perfectly with them wherever I was. The students in Ateneo
speak English fluently and for some it is even their first language so I never really had to experience a
language problem.
Personal Development
I learned a lot about myself and others during my exchange. I am much more aware and finally
understand the cultural boundedness of our thoughts and behaviors. I think my exchange influences
my future career possibilities in a way that i have a deep experience with other cultures, living
abroad and talking English with different nationalities for a long time span. Being more aware of
other cultures and habits broadens your world view and learned me how different people from
several countries see and perceive the world differently from how I see it.
My best experience was all the traveling and interacting with a culture that is not similar to my own.
What I thought was the worst is that you stand out as a Caucasian in an Asian country. Having people
react to you in a different way and experiencing prejudices based on my appearance was something
that I was never faced with so obvious before. I learned a lot from this and found a way to deal with
it and turned It sometimes around with a lot of humor.
Overall, my exchange period was an amazing time in my life. I met many people and some became
very good friends. I dealt with a culture that is so different and surprised me so many times. The
Philippines’ landscape is always amazed me and the inhabitants where kind and hospitable people.
The university had a very nice learning environment, a lot of facilities, interesting eye-opening
courses and my study mates were always the kindest.
Academic level at host university
The courses at Ateneo are mostly in English, only a very few are taught in Filipino. I took the courses;
Cultural Anthropology, Woman and Gender in Philippine History, Language and Culture, Cultural
Studies of Technology and Comparative Studies of Culture. All these courses were taught in English. I
liked all the courses I took but I would expeccially recommend Cultural Anthropology, Language and
Culture and Cultural Studies of Technology because these courses had the most interesting content
in my opinion. They gave me new eye-opening insights and taught me to be socially aware about
different topics.
The education at Ateneo is very different from the one I am used to in Tilburg. For the first time all
my lectures were taught in English, I had to make midterms and quizzes during the whole semester
but he biggest workload were all the papers I had to write. In total I wrote 25 papers during the
whole semester, varying from 1 page to 6 pages, mostly by myself and sometimes with a group. So
you can guess that the teaching was more practical as I was asked to write a lot during the semester
next to attending all the lectures. I attended almost all the lectures I had during my semester as it
was only allowed to skip lectures 3(3 hour classes) or 6 (1,5 hour classes) times per semester. If you
exceed this amount you are mostly excluded from the course and can’t pass it anymore. My teachers
are were very personal and concerned with the results of students. What also caught my attention is
that they were very knowledgeable in their disciplines.
I was happy that I finished my semester with good grades, varying from B, B+ and A.
I had several different types of tests. For some courses I had to make quizzes and these could be one
in a few weeks or almost every week. Most of my courses gave me a mid-term in the middle of the
semester. Every course gave me assignments to write papers, varying from 1 to 6 pages. One course
asked me to present. In the end, all the courses gave a final exam.
You can use the facilities in the libraries. Next to a collection of books, these libraries contain silent
rooms, (group-)study rooms, computers, printers and a collection of books. All these facilities are
available all over the campus in different places. Food facilities are also present at different location
on the campus but you have to search if you want to find vegetarian food options or fruit and
vegetable dishes in general.
Description of Courses
SA119: Cultural
studies of Culture
Woman and
Gender in
Philippine History
Language and
IS163.3: Cultural
Studies of
Take-home essay 6
(6 pages)
quizzes and
assignments and
assignments and
quizzes and
Tips for the future students
I would absolutely recommend an exchange period to students who are interested in studying
abroad once. You make friends really easy with other exchange students and you will experience so
many things that will become great memories. Especially making friends and experiencing
adventures is easy in Philippines. Ateneans are very social and always open to others. As a foreigner
they were always curious to hear how your experience here in the Philippines is and they will
frequently invite you to do something fun together.
Special advice that I want to give to future exchange students who go to Ateneo de Manila or the
Philippines is that, even though all the Filipino’s speak a word of English, it comes in handy to learn a
few words of Tagalog (The Philippine Language). You will notice that the inhabitants are surprised
you took the effort to learn at least a bit of the language and they appreciate this. I had the idea they
were more eager to help me while I was traveling outside of Manila. People learn English in the
Philippines as their second language but in the areas outside of Manila you will notice people
sometimes struggle with talking English. Take some clothes for colder weather because busses and
some public areas are so cold from the air-conditioning that you will need them to not get sick.
The most important thing is that you have to go with an open minded stance. Some things or
concepts are totally differently perceived in the Philippines than we are used to in The Netherlands.
Examples are that people are always very nice and really want to help you, but this persuasion in
helping you also can turn into giving you directions to a certain location that they don’t know at all. A
few times, this resulted for me in walking in the wrong direction because people were too shy to say
did didn’t know where I had to go. Another example is ‘Filipino Time’, this is the different concept of
time Filipino’s have compared to us. They are not that punctual and if they give an indication of time
it mostly is not that correct, so 30 minutes can be 30 minutes or maybe one hour.
One thing that I would do different if you I could do it over is that I would make sure to apply for the
Multiple Entry Visa and not the Single Entry one.