Studying abroad: broaden your horizon as a Tilburg University student

Travel to your exchange destination in an environmentally-friendly way

Pre-departure Process Study Abroad

What impact does my exchange have on the environment?

Spending a semester on exchange is an unforgettable experience for many students. You will enhance your language skills, make friends from all over the world, get a taste of new cultures, and give your resume an impressive boost. However, students travelling all over the world for their exchange semester has a significant impact on the environment. Most students travel to their exchange destination via airplane, yet the air travel industry is a major source of greenhouse gases and pollution. 

What can I do about it?

In February 2020, Tilburg University pledged to commit to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes committing to protecting the environment and all species on earth, and taking action against climate change. As part of Tilburg University's efforts, the Study Abroad & Exchange Office wants to encourage students to travel to their exchange destination in a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly way.

Luckily, there are many alternatives to flying nowadays that are more affordable and accessible than you might think, especially within Europe.  For example, there are excellent rail networks and sleeper trains, connecting the Netherlands to many major cities throughout Europe and even beyond. You might also consider taking a bus or exploring carpooling schemes. Some forms of boat travel can also have a smaller carbon footprint than flying. There is no perfect or totally 'green' way to travel as every transport method affects the environment in some way. Nevertheless, there are small changes that students can make to reduce the negative environmental implications of their exchange experience. 

What if my exchange destination is very far away?

Taking the train or bus may not be doable for everyone, especially if your exchange destination is outside of Europe. If travelling in a more environmentally-friendly way is not possible for you, you could look at ways to offset (some of) the environmental impact of your journey. There are many online resources that help you to calculate the emissions produced by your journey. You can then donate or contribute to a cause that helps to remove those emissions back out of the environment, such as planting trees, finding renewable energy sources, or donating more energy efficient resources to developing communities. Offsetting is not a perfect solution, but it could be a good first step towards making sustainable choices during your exchange.

Traveling during your exchange

Many students travel during their exchange to explore their host country, and even surrounding countries. We encourage students to consider less polluting ways to travel when making these trips, like student Manouk who traveled around India by train after her exchange at KIMEP in Kazakhstan:

“During and after exchanges it’s very tempting to travel. After my exchange in Kazakhstan and travelling to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, I went backpacking through India. Even though most of the trips could not be made without the use of an airplane, in India we took a 36-hour train ride from Varanasi to Chennai, spanning 1700 kilometres. Not only is this a more sustainable way of travelling, it also gave me very interesting experiences of India and its culture I would have probably missed if I would have taken the plane. Since my return I’ve taken many train rides through Europe as well, and I personally find it more convenient also than taking a plane!”

There are many scenic and very impressive train routes to enjoy all over the world. Check out this article about some of Europe's most impressive train journeys, and this one about 11 beautiful train rides globally

Information and support

More information and tips about travelling sustainably, including how to plan your route and find tickets, can be found on our Canvas page.

If you need further help in looking for sustainable ways to travel, please contact erasmusplus@tilburguniversity.edu. We are also interested in receiving testimonials from students who traveled sustainably during their exchange.