Why did you pick this program?
I am currently an intern at my university's Study Abroad and International Programs Office. Previously I had lived in Asia, but I had never traveled to Europe.
My boss, the assistant director, encouraged me to travel to a new part of the world so that I can grow both professionally and personally. When deciding what program to choose, I chose Amsterdam in the Netherlands because I had heard that it was a beautiful city and that our previous students had loved the program.
What is the most important thing you learned abroad?
The most important thing I have learned about traveling abroad has been as much about myself as it has been about the world. I am a first generation college student, and my parents have not only never lived in a foreign country, they have never lived out side of New York City.
No one in my family had ever traveled before and I had to do everything on my own. As a result I became more independent, and learned that I have absolutely no limitations. If I set my mind to something, I know I can accomplish it. I also learned that I can overcame any challenge that comes my way. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from every single one of them.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
I encourage all of my friends to travel, study or live abroad. I think the best time to travel is when you are still in school. Once you graduate you wont have the same opportunities, and I really believe living abroad is something everyone should do.
I tell everyone that it will change you, how it will change you, however, is different for everyone. Even if it is for a short time it changes you. You grow so much as a person and you can't even imagine it until you have experienced it.
What was the hardest part about going abroad?
The hardest part about going abroad is having to leave your friends and family behind, and start over from the beginning. I knew when I traveled abroad that I wasn't going to be able to go with friends, but if I didn't go alone, I wouldn't have been able to go at all.
It was very hard at first, especially because when I first studied abroad I was shy and had trouble making friends. However, after a couple of weeks I was able to form new relationships, and during my time abroad I have met people from all across the world, and became exposed to new perspectives. The friends I made will stay with me for the rest of my life, and if I would have never met them if I had stayed home.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
This past summer with the Amsterdam Summer School I had the proud record of being the only student to attend every excursion. There was days when this wasn't easy. Half of the excursions were on Wednesday after a long day of class and the other half were very early in the morning on Saturdays. On one trip we had was a long bike ride, over an hour and a half, to a museum inside a national park.
I hadn't rode a bike in a long time and fell behind rather quickly. I eventually came up upon a group of fellow students who were lost. When I asked them if they were with the school, they looked at me and asked "Who are you?" They made sure I got to the museum safely and we ended up becoming great friends.
On another day we went to the Hague during a huge storm. Some students left early, but five of us stayed. I ended up having a blast and making even more great friends. My biggest advice now is to never skip an event and never go home early!
What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?
Traveling abroad this past summer has completely changed me as a person. Before studying in Amsterdam I was planning on getting a full time job after graduation and was thinking about things such as getting my own apartment or a car.
I really thought my days of traveling the world were behind me and that it was time for me to focus on stability. But after living and traveling in Europe over the summer, my passion for travel has been reignited. I realized that while I am still young I should try to make the most of my life and that means taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.
I learned that I being adventurous, meeting new people, and exploring the world around me does not have to only happen when I am abroad, I can make it a part of my every day life no matter where I am. Furthermore, I fell in even deeper love with the field of International Education, and know now more than ever that this is what I want to do with my life.