While studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, this once in a lifetime opportunity inevitably comes with challenges. That’s the point of going to a new country: to step outside of what you know and embrace the unknown. Right?
I knew this before going into it and it was also why I wanted to go. I am very much a “Type A” personality in it that, I have a nick for organizing, planning, and having 3 different backups in case my original idea went wrong. It gives me joy and satisfaction knowing that I have backups for my backups! This being said, life is not always something that even my three backups can account for.
Since being abroad, I had been without internet, charged up $50 of data, gotten lost, had to buy a bicycle, figured out how to navigate a train, bus and school system, cooking every meal and deciphering grocery stores. I calculate before every purchase how much it is going to charge me in euros because the USD is worth less. I listen to the Dutch’s impressive English but am actively deciphering some sentences where it is fractured and even I cannot understand.
More recently, I am figuring out how to manage being comfortable with not always knowing the answer. I wait days for a response from a faculty member or department at my school, am casually waiting on immigration to get back to me about my visa to stay longer in this country, and have to learn how to structure a course by myself as the classes here do not come with a syllabus. I guess the point of this is that the uncertainty and “free flowing” attitude in the Netherlands is my biggest challenge so far.
No matter how much fear and anxiety this unknown lifestyle has caused me, I’m surprising myself with how flexible I have been. Even though that visa determines if I can come back to Europe once I graduate, I have learned that I cannot rush their response and therefore have no control over it. I have spent so much time of my life worrying about the next step and did not even know I could enjoy the present moment until I met Brandon who taught me that worrying about something does not change the outcome. I’m utilizing that immensely over here and it is paying off because no matter how many times things go wrong, something else is bound to go right.