After just one month of being abroad, I know I am a more independent and adaptable person. I am able to make quicker decisions, budget, plan, and handle conflicts in ways that were never necessary before I came to the Netherlands.
The idea of study abroad sounds intriguing to just about everyone. The opportunity to travel a new country, see all the beautiful places the world has to offer and to escape reality for a semester truly makes study abroad an experience of a life time and is something that many people desire to do, but not many actually follow through with.
Only around 1.6% of students in the United States study abroad. There are various reasons why the majority of students do not take advantage of this opportunity, some simply are unable for financial reasons or because it will set them back in credits. Usually though, most are afraid or nervous to leave their friends, families, and lives on the back burner for 4-5 months and experience a whole new world. If you are someone who thinks they are unable to go abroad, it is important to remember that to have study abroad on your resume truly will set you apart from the rest.
It is no surprise that the decision to go off to a completely new country on your own demonstrates independence in itself, but to actually live your day to day life in a foreign place that you know nothing about, and figure it our on your own promotes independence in yourself that you never knew existed.
I have flown to a new country on my own. I have figured out how to operate public transportation like I have never maneuvered before. I have mastered grocery shopping in a city where I have to transport my groceries back via bike basket. I have figured out the lay of the land here in the Netherlands and I am proud to say I did it pretty much, all on my own.
I never knew all that study abroad had in store and how truly different it would be in the Netherlands compared to the United States, but since I have arrived here a little over a month ago, I have transformed into a self-sufficient person and will be proud to share my experiences with a potential employer in the future.
Along with my new found independence, I have also determined through this experience that I am able to adapt fairly easily to new environments. Trading in the suburban city of my childhood for city life in Amsterdam was a transition in itself. I have never lived in a city, so I had to adjust to the use of public transportation and walking or biking to all my destinations.
Aside from the small town to city life adjustment, I had to adjust to a totally different language and culture. Upon my arrival, I had not realized that I had never actually heard Dutch be spoken. Lucky for me, just about everyone in the Netherlands can communicate in english. Though this is a big help, the predominant language spoken here is Dutch, which is what the street signs, menus, directions, and just about anything you can think of is written in. The struggle to translate everything from Dutch to English and attempting to decipher what things said based on small key words I learned here definitely took some getting used to.
Not only was I required to quickly transition from an American lifestyle to the Netherlands way of life, but I have also had the opportunity to travel to new countries-France, Italy, Ireland and Germany-each of which has its own unique culture, language and style of living.
Now that I know I possess adaptability, I know that I can easily acclimate to any work environment that I am put in. Many fields constantly go through change or it is necessary to be moved around, at times like this, it is important to be able to easily and quickly adapt to your surroundings.
There, obviously, is a great deal that goes into planning your time abroad before you even come. Now that I am here, I realize the planning never ends. I am constantly planning flights, trips and activities, all while managing my classes.
Planning a weekend trip to another country may not seem like much, but it can be time consuming and overwhelming when you are planning multiple trips, flights and accommodations at a time, while simultaneously trying to find the cheapest way and time to do each one.
Since I am a Public Relations major, a large portion of my career will require me to plan things such as events. This is a skill, though, that is required in most fields, even if it is just planning out your time.
I have found one of the most important things to do as someone who studies abroad is to budget your money. Once you know how much money you have to work with, you set a weekly budget for things such as food and necessities. This allows you to know how much wiggle room you have to splurge and what you can realistically afford when planning trips.
While not every single career deals directly with budgeting, being able to handle money is something that all adults should know how to do, it demonstrates responsibility and allows employers to know that if need be, they can trust you with money or a budget.
While study abroad is the adventure of a life time, you would be naive to think that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Quite literally, Amsterdam is the opposite of sunshine. The constant rain and cold weather was a bit of shock for me when I first arrived to my new city. I was completely unprepared in what I packed for the semester and I immediately had more sweaters and jackets shipped my way. That was the first conflict I faced, and that was only day one.
I have faced my fair share of complications in my past month and a half abroad, the most significant of course being when I missed my flight home from Ireland. It can be scary to face such a conflict in a foreign place, but the issue was resolved and we got home with virtually no issue-other than the extra 100 euro charge for the next flight.
It is true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After the challenges I have overcome abroad, in a foreign place, some of the time, dealing with people who speak minimal english, I know I can handle any work related conflict with ease.
It is easy for people to tell a future employer in an interview that they are independent and easily adapt to new environments, but have no withstanding evidence of this. Someone who has studied abroad will have a plethora of stories to prove exact moments in time that they had to quickly adapt to a foreign environment and independently figure things out when they truly had no idea what was going on.
Employers will appreciate the opportunity to interview someone who has experienced study abroad and to hear refreshing answers to their questions rather than the general responses and conversations that they hear on a day to day basis. I am thankful to have this experience which has made me a more versatile person and has given me skills that will translate well in my future career.
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