Hogeschool Utrecht, Netherlands
Spring 2016 Semester
I was most excited to experience a new part of the world. I took a week long trip to France six years ago and that gave me the taste of what a different country could be like. I was excited about exploring and learning how a culture different than mine lived their everyday life. I could not wait to try new food, see a new surroundings and meet new people. Also, it doesn’t snow as much in the Netherlands as it does in Michigan and I was ready to get away from the snow.
I miss almost everything about my study abroad country. I miss the people that I lived with, I miss the food, and I miss the city of Utrecht which in my opinion was perfect in every way. Utrecht was the perfect size and was beautiful from the dom tower in the center to the cobblestone streets. The atmosphere was breathtaking as you passed little shops and street musicians. Crossing the canals made you feel like you were in a dream. Even on my last day as I was departing to catch my flight Utrecht still seemed like a magical place that forever changed my life. Needless to say, I was not excited to come back to the United States but It was nice to see friends and family.
I was placed in a large apartment that accommodated eleven other people. I was the only one from the United States. I had a roommate from Taiwan. She was the most perfect roommate anyone could ever ask for. I am going to do my best to figure out a way to visit her some day in Taiwan. There was also one guy from Canada, one guy from France, one guy from Mexico, one guy and one girl from South Korea, two girls from Belgium, two girls from India and one girl from Spain. I have never been so lucky to live with such a wonderful group of people. The only squabbles that we had in five months were over dishes. Everyone was kind and was open to learn about each other. I was able to try food from all over the world and when I visited countries in Europe that my roommates lived they helped me to find the best spots to be. I was able to learn first hand about the lives they live in other countries and how they are similar and different from my own. I learned everything from the different names for Harry Potter characters in France to the heartbreaking social conditions that plague rural India. These people became more than just roommates they became my friends and they made my stay better than I could have even imagined.
Money is always a stressful topic. Once I was there I knew I wanted to open a bank account in the Netherlands because that was going to give me the best deal on my exchange. Instead of just having the fees every time I paid with a card, which I heard would sometimes not be accepted. I also knew the situation with people pickpocketing and I didn’t want to pull out large sums of euros every time I needed more cash. This led me to my only option of opening a bank account. The people at ING were really friendly they helped me every step of the way and were able to speak really good english. I was lucky to have done this because it made accessing my money throughout Europe easier because I had a bank that was in Europe. The only issue that came which was one that is not an issue but a part of the banking process which was just to wait a week while my money transferred. At this point in my stay I was already friends with the people that I lived with and I knew I could count on them if I needed anything.