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Student Laura in Pyeongchang: ‘The best start to my exchange!’

Studying abroad is about more than just your study programme. Laura Noordermeer is on an exchange in Seoul, South Korea, where she was lucky enough to see Suzanne Schulting win the very first gold medal for the Netherlands in the short track.

‘It's a pity the Winter Olympics in South Korea are over, but I'll remember them for a very long time. I'm currently in South Korea for six months studying at Sogang University in Seoul. Studying abroad is always a fantastic experience, but in my case it also coincided with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. That's just about two and a half hours by train from Seoul, which made it too much of a coincidence not to make the most of it. So, on 22 February I went to the Ice Arena in Gangneung to cheer on the Dutch short-track  skaters. And that was the day Suzanne Schulting won the first Dutch gold medal in the short track.'

Disappointed Korean fans

‘Before the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea had won 53 medals at Winter Olympics, 42 of them in the short-track events. At the last games the country won a further 6 short-track medals. It's quite obvious that this is a sport that's really popular among the Korean people. You could feel the disappointment in the stadium when the two Korean favourites collided and Schulting collected the gold. Once the races were over, the Korean fans didn't even wait for the award ceremony; they just left. What a difference from the two rows of Dutch fans where I was sitting. When Schulting was in the lead, even the glares from the Koreans around us couldn't stop our yelling.' 

Bright orange bike

‘All the races were over within just two hours and my Olympic adventure had come to an end. I did get to see Sjinkie Knegt, though, on his bike when he was raced past the taxi queue on his impossible-to-miss bright orange TeamNL bike. He didn't have a race that day, but the Netherlands is proud of all the athletes who did their best at these Games to put the country on the map as a sporting nation. It was an absolutely unforgettable day, and I couldn't wish for a better start to my time as an exchange student in South Korea.'

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