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How to have a gouda time

Filed in Blog, Netherlands by on February 15, 2018
by Anna S.
Seven students sitting around a table in an Italian resturaunt in The Hague, Netherlands.

Best Italian food in The Hague.

Sorry about the cheesy pun, but I’ve been in my new country for exactly one week now and it has been an incredible experience so far. Before my arrival, I was terrified and anxious, wondering about whether or not I will make new friends, be homesick or if I had made the right choice. I was very focused on what I was leaving behind, and not what I was moving towards. However, since going through customs at the airport I have completely forgotten about every single one of those things. There are still challenges like language barriers, cultural differences, and being in a country with more bikes than people. Yet, as I was waiting in the back of the line at customs (eavesdropping on the people in front of me, because let’s be honest a 10-hour journey by yourself leaves you bored) I heard someone say that they were studying abroad at The Hague University. I immediately seized the opportunity and chased them down as soon as I got through customs. I had made my first friend within 10 minutes of being in the country (thanks to some slight stalking skills). I have since taken that state of mind in everything that I do here, minus the stalking. I have been seizing every opportunity that comes my way. While it was a little weird at first, it has caused me to settle into my new country and make amazing friends that I normally wouldn’t have reached out to if I were home. I have been saying yes to the trips to the store, game nights, sightseeing tours and going along on every adventure to find the best food. Every time I start to feel homesick or out of place (which was a lot the first few days), I check the exchange student group chats and join their latest adventure. It has made me miss home a little less, and appreciate my new one in ways I wouldn’t have been able to if I just stayed in my apartment and caught up on sleep. This opportunity is just that — an opportunity. You have to go and make the most of what you’re given here; otherwise you’ll just being living your usual life in a different country.

A couple of students posing in funny gestures in front of Parliment.

A quick photo op outside of Parliament during one of our sightseeing tours.

My program consists of 100 exchange students from 26 countries. There has never been a time in my life where I could learn so much about so many countries from their residents’ personal experiences. So, if you’re thinking about studying abroad, just do it. Once you get there, just say yes to all of the experiences that come your way (the legal ones).

Six students pose together at their new home in the Netherlands.

New friends in our new home.

About the blogger

Anna S. is studying abroad at The Hague University in The Hague, Netherlands.

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