Why did you decide to go abroad with your provider?
Sarah: I chose to go abroad with IES as my provider primarily because I wanted to travel with an established organization with a great reputation, and because they were able to provide housing and accommodation.
They also had a large class selection and eased the process of registration. I loved studying abroad with IES because of the incredible support they were able to provide.
The staff was extremely helpful and friendly, and it was very comforting to know that I had individuals to turn to with problems about classes, the living arrangements or just the general adjustment period.
Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.
Sarah: I ate a lot of incredible food while in Amsterdam, but if I only recommend one type I would pick Oliebollen, which are also called Dutch Donuts. Oliebollen are deep fried dough covered with powered sugar.
As far as I can tell, oliebollen are only available during the winter season, where they are commonly sold from street carts throughout the city. Not the healthiest food, obviously, but they are a favorite holiday treat for many Amsterdam residents, and are incredibly delicious.
If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?
Sarah: If I were to do my whole experience over, the one thing I would change is that I would travel more within my host country. I grew to love and feel at home in Amsterdam, and I traveled to many incredible countries throughout Europe, but I wish I had explored and spent more time in other cities in the Netherlands as well.
It would have been interesting to see more of the country as a whole and see how Amsterdam fits into a larger culture; Amsterdam on its own can’t represent all of the Netherlands.
If given the chance, I would travel to the Hague and Delf, or see the countryside of the Netherlands as well as traveling to other countries.
Do you think your program changed you as a person?
Sarah: I absolutely think that my program changed me for the better. As cliché as it sounds, I honestly feel as if my time abroad made me a more educated, confident and self sufficient person.
Being abroad made me take more chances and embrace experiences I might have been too nervous to try at home; I felt more courageous and independent, and these feelings persisted even after I came home.
Before going abroad, I thought I would have been too nervous to take trips and travel outside the Netherlands alone, but traveling by myself became one of my favorite things to do.
While abroad I learned to be much more self reliant, and that has made a huge difference in how I see myself and how I interact with others.