Living History

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All throughout school, students are taught about the world wars. In particular, World War II is talked about the most for many reasons. Millions of people lost their lives, ground breaking machinery and weapons were invented and it tore the world in two. I was taught all about the war but my patient summed this up the best: I was never taught how it felt. I was never told about how it felt to have your entire city blown up or how it felt going 5 years without a decent meal.

Pictured here is Kranenburg, Germany. I biked to this town this past Sunday and today I visited a town called Kleve. Both of these cities contain so much history in such a small space. There are still remnants of the war, stories being told and burial sites with soldiers from all over the world. There were bombs dropped, parachuters entering and lives lost and created.

I’m hopping on my soap box here but I feel like as much as America was impacted in the war, it does not compare to what was felt in Europe. Troops never marched our shores, overnight aerial bombings did not occur nearly as often and we didn’t have to bury our tin and metals so the Germans wouldn’t get them. I’m not undermining at all what America lost and gave but it was mind-blowing to see the long term impacts on the other side of the globe.

One of my favourite parts of doing home health rotations here is meeting people who lived through it. There is a couple, born in 1935 and 1936, who grew up post World War I and lived through all of World War II. The Netherlands is the border country to Germany and at one point, the country blew up their connecting bridge to stop the brigade. This couple met and fell in love in a time of turmoil. They still wanted to raise children after seeing how dark the world can be. I look forward to many more stories with them and absorbing as much as I can. It’s all about perspective and walking around in a living history book is one of the best ways to gain a new view.

 

Money Management Abroad: Budgeting

The biggest factor for many students in general is money. How am I going to pay for this, how am I going to pay for that and overall, how much is it going to cost? This is especially true when you are fortunate enough to study abroad because costs skyrocket. You now have a flight, living, food, and other things to account for that are bound to pop up, especially if you have never been to that country. It causes a lot of stress and while I am not perfect with this, I’d like to think I learned a few things.

Step One: Budget before you commit. Studying abroad can be impeccably expensive. You had the round trip international flight, rent, food, traveling and that’s all before you even step foot to depart. You had application fees, international insurance and it all adds up, very quickly. Look at the estimated cost you are given and see if it is something that you can make work before clicking accept.

Step Two: Plan it out. For myself personally, I was extremely fortunate enough to receive scholarship, grants and early graduation gifts which paid for my entire study abroad trip. I applied for international ones, nursing ones and received enough to fund it. Once I knew the money would be there, I went ahead and started planning how to divide it and here is what it looks like:

Flight: $1300

Rent: $1200 (400 per month times 3)

Linen/Cooking Package: $110

Food: $600

Personal expenses (including travel): $750

Your study abroad typically pre-arranges living situations for you so that is easy to calculate out. Food is very individualistic and for me, I knew I could survive happily off of $50 each week. The packages ordered were arranged by my housing unit and saved me from bringing my own linen/cooking supplies. Personal expenses varies but I utilised this as my travel budget while here.

Step Three: The unaccounted for. My budget above looks all nice and good and let me be the first to say, none of it went to plan. There were way more costs that I didn’t calculate for and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

We flew into the Amsterdam airport. I did not even think about the cost of the train from Amsterdam to my city so that was another $25. I didn’t calculate out the rent in euros, I did it in USD so that was an extra $80 extra dollars. I didn’t calculate for foreign transaction fees because I thought my card was the right one so that is another $60. My internet was solely ethernet based and my computer doesn’t have an ethernet cord, another $80 for the conversion piece and phone bill I racked up. Finally, once I add in all the things I forgot to pack (which is a whole different story), I spent about $300 extra that I did not account for with the help of my “oops” budget.

Things are going to pop up while traveling. You often end up accruing these unexpected expenses the first day you arrive so make sure you have an “oops” budget. Traveling is all about embracing the unknown and learning about yourself. You are bound to forget something or have something pop up so ensure you have that barrier so you aren’t fretting the entire trip.

To the soon to be new graduate

Even though I had promised to write about money management, this was on my mind today. Life seems all set up for you when you go to college. You are told you are pursuing a higher education and are made to think that, as a result,  you are promised a better life. That as soon as you graduate degree in hand, you’ll be snatched up for a job and make thousands of dollars. I’m here to tell you that this is false. Life is never that easy and this  has been very heavy on my heart  the last few days.

All of my life, I have worked very hard in school and work to both better myself and get a job I am passionate about when I graduate. I was not born with the gift to look or write something down once and know the material. No, I re read the same things and do the same flashcards for hours on end to understand one concept. I’ve worked very hard for everything in my life, including the past two and a half years in my nursing program. There is a nursing shortage throughout the country and I thought it would be easy to find a job. Again, also wrong.

Now I don’t know if it’s being abroad that makes it harder or the fact that there aren’t many new graduate programs but it has been immensely difficult to coordinate it all. I applied for my dream position and found out two days ago that I did not even make the cut off for them to give my application a second glance.  This really took a toll and knocked me off my feet. I thought I had a chance. After all, hard work is supposed to pay off right? I couldn’t help but thinking that this wasn’t how it was supposed to go and I blamed myself. However, I aimed for the top of the hay pile and I can’t compare myself to those standards, especially as a new graduate.

But I think hearing that no allowed me to do a self-chefk.  It made me realise that simply having a degree and contacts in the right places is not going to get you a job right away. There is no “magic one-application does all policy” and you have to work really really hard to get what you want.  You have to market yourself and do what you have to do until you can do what you dream of. For me, I am immensely passionate about my career of being a Registered Nurse and I know I will find a job somewhere within the next few months but it’s also terrifying. It wasn’t as easy as I thought and it is something that I just have to tackle head on.

So for my new graduate friends, just know that rejection comes with the process. The real world is a scary and competitive place so don’t let failure keep you down. You have worked hard for where you are and I think that hard work needs to be acknowledged too.

To quote one of my best friends (shout out to Edel): “Life doesn’t always give you what you want, but it gives you what you need”.