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University of Missouri

My last five days abroad

Filed in Blog, Netherlands by on December 21, 2017
by Lauren K.

It’s currently my last Sunday night in Amsterdam. Sunday nights are often accompanied by a feeling of sadness because the weekend is over and it’s time to get down to business. Tonight, though, my Sunday night blues aren’t because of my long to-do list for the week (which, yes, includes studying for finals and writing a paper). I’m feeling down because my four months abroad are coming to a close.

Student standing against railing on a bridge above a canal with boats in it.

It’s me again, this time by a canal (there are a lot of those here)

At this point, I’m doing a lot of reflecting on my time here (and lots of last minute gift shopping and going to all my favorite spots before I leave … if you’re going to Amsterdam hit me up for a list of those). Studying abroad is, truly, not all fun and games (but we all knew this was part of the deal, right?). It is a huge challenge. Adjusting to a new culture, being thousands of miles away from family and friends, getting into the groove of a new university/class structure, managing your studies around travels and adventures.

I heard it all before I came. How my emotions would be all over the place. Somehow, I thought that because I knew this I had some sort of advantage and control over those emotions and … I could not have been more wrong. There were days where I missed home and it was hard to get out of my apartment. There were days where I just wanted to lay in bed all day and watch Netflix (shout out to “Rick and Morty,” which I fell in love with over here).

Student lays across a giant sculpture of the letter "a".

Classic Amsterdam tourist pic in Museumplein

Looking back, I’m realizing that’s okay. Before arriving, I thought I would be traveling to another country almost every weekend or I would be doing cool, new things almost every day. It’s not that easy, especially considering that I’m still a college student (aka, ballin’ on a budget) and I’m still human! It’s okay to have lazy days. It’s okay for things not to meet expectations.

I’ve learned in my time here that I cannot and should not compare my study abroad experience to other people’s. I have to do my own thing. I cannot and should not look back and regret days where I went back to my apartment after class and took a nap instead of exploring the city. I can and should look back at the days where I missed home so much but I still motivated myself to go out and try a new café, restaurant or museum that was on my list. I did what I was mentally, physically and emotionally capable of in those moments. And I can’t change anything now!

A row of houses and buildings very close together facing a river.

Ummmm, can’t believe this is real!

These four months have been an incredible period of growth in my thought processes — how I react and how I deal with my feelings. So much of it is being kind to yourself and realizing when you need to cut yourself some slack and when you need to give yourself a little push. My final days here and the coming days back in the States will be a continued period of acceptance that my experience abroad was mine and nobody else’s.

I hope anyone who is studying abroad at the moment and might be in the same boat, or anyone who is about to go abroad keeps this in mind. Because remembering that this is my experience and mine alone has been an anchor for me in coulda-shoulda-woulda moments. Get out of your comfort zone, but remember to listen to and trust yourself.

P.S. Hit me up if you ever need someone to talk to or if you’re going to Amsterdam and need some suggestions of things to do!
I will miss u, bb.

About the blogger

Lauren K. is studying abroad on the IES Abroad: Study Amsterdam program in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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