I know this isn’t your typical post from me. I’ve taken a break from blogging about travelling because that’s not the sole purpose of my time abroad. I’m here to study, yes, but I think it’s not just about that. This time abroad is more than just studying subjects you probably need to finish your degree. I say probably because unfortunately some classes just transfer as generic business or non-business classes. At least in my case. There is one that actually transfers as a core class I do need for my degree. Besides that the courses are fairly easy but the grading system is a lot different. Dutch students are not very competitive with one another and high grades are not a top priority. Attaining high grades is pretty difficult. I’ve had to face the harsh reality of scoring lower than I would at my home university because the academic standards are not the same. I am passing everything so far so I guess I have nothing to complain about!
I didn’t really know what to expect going into this experience. I don’t think anyone does. You go into it with an open mind, and you let your guard down in order to meet other people. If you don’t you risk isolation from others. But sometimes this isn’t the case. Sometimes you prefer to do things independently–and that’s totally acceptable. For me, I find myself stuck in between both extremes. At times I love becoming acquainted with new friends, or I prefer to just see things by myself. I’ve learned to be independent prior to my arrival here, maybe that’s why I have so much confidence to come here in the first place. People always tell me, “I could never do it. I would hate to be away from home for so long.” But you can only hang on to that leash for so long. One day you will have to see the world through your own eyes and not through the eyes of others.
The reason I write this is to give you my perspective of this experience. I’ve learned more about myself in the past 3 months than I have back home. Part of the reason is because I am alone. I don’t have my family or close friends to seek social assurance with. Instead I have to learn to adapt to new social norms with complete strangers, and to coincide with that, cultural differences.
When you apply for a study abroad program your advisor won’t tell you what to expect out of the experience because it’s different for everybody. Some people may learn their new found love for alcohol and techno music, but others may learn about their new found love for independence and self-exploration. Fortunately I’m the latter category and I think it’s because of my age. I want to make the most out of this experience and explore new things. At the beginning I felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself, where to go, who to go with; now I find myself wanting more because I realize I have only three more months here.
For King’s Day I had the opportunity to visit a music festival for the first time in my life–for free. The student magazine at HAN, Sensor, offered free music festival tickets to international students who have never experienced such an event. The best part about it is that you are featured in the magazine as a result of the opportunity. I took my new German friend, Julia to Beat the Bridge music festival on King’s Day (April 27) and we had a blast. We even had a professional photographer take our photo.I will also be writing about my experience at the festival in days to come. I feel famous.
Do what YOU love. Don’t let others decide for you. It’s your life and you only have one. Be open-minded to trying new things and get outside your comfort zone. I guarantee you will love it.