By: Brian Minard, Foster School student who studied abroad at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands
Whether you’re studying abroad for a week, a month, or a year, one thing is for sure. It will go by in an instant. The desire to immerse yourself in to the culture of not only where you are living, but ideally the many places you visit during your stay is exciting/nerve-wracking/engaging/exhilarating. There is no way or word to exactly describe what studying abroad or living in another country is like. The only way to see the effects of studying abroad is to truly do it, and in my opinion to do it by yourself.
I have lived in/around the Seattle are all my life. I have a close bond with not only my parents but my identical twin brother as well (Both of us are Foster students) and this was one of the key reasons I decided to stay close to home for college. One thing I knew for certain when I decided to attend UW was that I wanted to get to experience something new and push myself out of my comfort zone. I figured there was no better way to do this then to study abroad, specifically in Europe which I had always been fascinated by, but had never had the chance to visit. When I finally went through the process of interviewing and being accepted to study abroad at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) in Rotterdam, Netherlands I was thrilled, but as the date loomed for my flight to Europe I grew more and more nervous. I panicked that I had made the wrong decision, but before I had to much time to think about it, I was on my way.
Luckily for myself I got the opportunity to travel through Europe with my brother for two weeks after finals visiting Dublin, Barcelona, and Rome. All of which were amazing cities. If you get the chance I highly suggest checking out Barcelona, it has been my personal favorite city since I have been here.
Since school has started life has only gotten crazier. Class Monday-Thursday and trying to travel Friday-Sunday’s can be stressful at times but in order to get the full experience and see as much as I can in 10 weeks, I manage. Since school has started I have visited Munich, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. From these places I have gained an appreciation for many things, from food, to cultures, to people, to physical locations, or how my personal feelings and expectations have changed since I have gotten here.
I have found that the best way to travel is to truly immerse yourself in where you are going. Whether it’s strapping up the lederhosen and eating a pretzel and a brat at a beer hall in Munich, biking around Rotterdam, going to the cheese market in Alkmaar, walking through the Red Light District in Amsterdam, trying raw herring in The Hague, enjoying a pint of Guinness in Dublin, visiting a castle in Copenhagen, taking in a soccer game at Camp Nou, Barcelona, or going to a Dutch House music festival… YOU are the only one who can define your study abroad experience… YOU are the only one who decides what YOU want to do/see that day… YOU are truly in charge of your own experience… Because although you will meet a lot of interesting people, make a lot of new friends… Traveling by yourself is the only time you truly get a sense of the world and gain an appreciation for where you are, where you are from and where you are going.
Each city/country you visit is really different. No matter how much you read about “The top tourist attractions of XXX”, it doesn’t prepare you for the up’s and down’s of traveling and trying to communicate and interact with people who are completely different from you. Try a new food, try a new activity, do something that scares you. Write YOUR own story. Because the next thing you will know it will be over. It will go by in a whirlwind.
Oh yeah…. There is (some) studying too!