Just over a year has passed since I arrived in Arnhem, the Netherlands. It feels like yesterday I was sitting on my cot-sized bed in my small room contemplating what was to come in the next 6 months of my stay. Sometimes I see old pictures of what my room looked like, and reminisce of the countless rainy days where I would crack the window open to let in the fresh air.

It’s hard for me to move on from this point in my life because it was the first time I was away from everybody. My family, my now-husband, and some of my close friends. The reverse culture shock and “post-study abroad depression” has improved over the last 2 months, but there are still times when I think back to my time abroad and miss it incredibly. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I had friends to hang out with all the time, roommates to share delicious new meals with, and overall, have a good time. But, that’s not to say I don’t have friends here, or meals to share with my husband. It’s just different. Nothing seems the same when you return from a 6-month living abroad experience. You realize how unreliable people are, how the weather really does make your depression worse, how hard it is to find a job in a recession, and how your American neighbours managed to elect a bigot for a President.

There’s so many things I wish I could’ve done while I was in the Netherlands. For instance, make more friends with Dutch people. I’ll admit, I didn’t really make a ton of Dutch friends, I mainly just stuck around my Spanish-speaking mafia. Although my friend Niels (whom I met here) did take me to two soccer matches–something I had never seen before. Besides that, no Dutch friends. I didn’t quite immerse myself the way I had wanted to. That’s my only regret. I could’ve learned a lot from the Dutch, but I decided to seclude myself and pretend I was in my own little world.

Although there were many other things I wish I could redo, so to speak, I believe I made the most of my experience abroad. The friends I made are irreplaceable, and I still speak to many of them today. The most important takeaway from this experience are those friends I made, and the memories we made together. That’s what matters most.

Antwerp, Belgium

I would like to continue my blog in a positive, forward-thinking direction this upcoming year. I have ideas and new hobbies to try. Although I won’t be travelling again for probably a year, I want to make the most out of 2017 as I did in 2016.

Steph xo


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