An interview with Elaine Houilhan in


In May 2017, an interview with Saxion student Elaine Houlihan appeared in the Irish Magazine in which Elaine explains to the magazine’s readers about why she chose to study abroad. We are happy to share her story with you too!

Elaine Houlihan

Before she decided to come to Saxion

Elaine Houlihan comes from the small village in Athlacca in Limerick in Ireland. She currently studies physiotherapy at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede in the Netherlands. 

Before she decided to come to and study at Saxion, she always had studying abroad as an option in her mind, as she loved the idea of being able to travel and see a new part of the world while being in college. "And of course another reason why it was an option for me was that the point system in Ireland is crazy," Elaine says.

The practical side

After speaking to EUNiCAS, Elaine discovered places abroad where she could study physiotherapy. "The Netherlands seemed like the right country for me as the main focus for colleges there is the practical side of degrees - and I always excelled in practical subjects throughout my time in school." 

The first day

"I will never forget the first day I moved to Enschede," she recalls. "I didn’t know anyone and I hadn’t met my two roommates until the day we were leaving Dublin airport. I had spoken to them on the phone and through Facebook." Elaine was very nervous as it’s a big decision for any 18- or 19-year-old to make.

"But once I arrived and started college I settled right in as everyone in my class was in the same situation – we had all just finished school and moved countries to start college and none of us knew anybody, so it was extremely scary for all of us. Once I had the first week of college over I felt at home as I had my bearing of the town and had made friends in college over the first week or so."

The best decision ever

Elaine says taking the first step towards moving abroad at such a young age was difficult at first, but it was the best decision she has ever made.

"Mind you, it felt extremely strange not to be in college in Ireland as looking at some of my friends’ Snapchats was very hard for the first while." It seemed like they had so much fun on nights out. "Of course I miss the nights out in Ireland, but I am doing my dream course and meeting people from all over the world by studying abroad so I wouldn’t trade it for anything now."

The positives outweigh the negatives

If you are facing a decision like this, you may feel scared of losing friends. Elaine says that this may be the case at home, but you will gain so many more abroad. "There are pros and cons to everything! The benefits of studying abroad well and truly outweigh the negatives," she says. "You get to see the world as it is so easy to hop on a train to visit another country, your degree will be an international one, you get to experience different cultures and languages and most importantly you become so independent."

"On the negative side, you do lose a few friends along the way." Elaine also has heard that when applying for a work placement in Ireland, you can be classed as a foreigner. "But that is the only downside I can think of."

Make the most of it

"Studying abroad is really what you make of it." Elaine advises to make the most of it as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and will be a decision you will not regret. "It may seem hard leaving Ireland at first but after a while it becomes normal - and now when I’m home I look forward to going back to ­the Netherlands as it is my home from home."

Final thoughts

In addition to this interview in WomansWay.IE, Elaine told us why she decided to come to Saxion. "I love the practical approach in class. Considering my degree in physiotherapy, I found that Saxion's approach would stand more to me than any other college I looked at."

And what about living here? Elaine smiles, "My love for the Dutch lifestyle has grown over the past year here as I have found my love of cycling everywhere. There is no journey too long or short for your Dutch style bike."