As they left they told us to keep our horizons open and cease opportunities. That is what studying abroad is really about: broadening horizons, going to places you might never have gone to, doing things you might never have done, and at last meeting people and creating friendships across cultures. The world is a big place and this program allowed me to explore it in a way that was culturally enriching and educationally stimulating.
My semester in the Netherlands was simultaneously the most relaxed and most demanding semester I've ever had. Learning to live in a new country with a just-different enough culture was difficult and took a lot of time and energy, but the friends I made along the way – both local and international themselves – made the adjustment a fantastic adventure.
The first stop was Cannes, France. I learned more in this area than all of the others because we were extremely lucky and were able to attend the famous Cannes Lions Festival for an entire week. During this festival I was able to hear stories from some of the most powerful and important CEOs in the advertising and marketing field.
When we arrived at the refugee school, a few of the students left the room because they were scared. Several of the students expressed to their teachers they were afraid of Americans because they thought we hated Muslims.
But the best part was being able to teach at the United World College Maastricht. For my program we were placed at an international school. At the UWC each classroom contained children from at least ten different countries.
The program itself was amazing, but being able to study sexual politics in Amsterdam created a learning experience that I could never have had if I did not study abroad.
Although I longed for certain things from back home (large beverages, big breakfasts, and guaranteed English-speaking services), I now miss things from Europe (waffles and fries, intriguing museums, and beautiful scenery)! But these cannot compare to the value of the opportunity to be completely immersed in another culture for the first time in my life, and I highly recommend that other students take the chance to explore the world outside of their cultural comfort zone.
We worked with students of different academic and scholastic levels and were able to really learn about cultural and societal differences between our American students and the Swedish students.
As a first generation college student I got the opportunity to experience a different setting and culture than what any of my family members have ever experience. Given this opportunity I made my family extremely proud.
Looking back on my experiences on Amsterdam, it is almost a moot point to explain to you what I experienced. Study abroad is an opportunity to explore who you are and what you stand for in an unfamiliar environment.
As an Animal Science student interested in the dairy industry, it was unbelievable to see how other farmers operate and live. From the time I landed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I knew that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I learned that despite our different upbringings, the Romanian students and the American students still had many things in common. We were able to build many friendships in an academic setting, and collaborate minds to work on an assignment.
Though I was initially upset that I was forced to spend time alone, I learned to appreciate the uncomfortable feeling of roaming an unfamiliar city without being able to speak its language.
We went to a total of five countries and eleven cities and it blows my mind that I experienced all those places within a month.
Project after project of flawless hand drafting and rendering skills left me speechless. What was even more impressive was the fact that the projects I was looking at were actually all done by first year students.
This palace was called the People’s Palace and we had the opportunity to visit it during one of our days in Bucharest. All of us girls loved the palace and were astonished by how grand and beautiful it was.
Companies that we have visited include the European Union Court of Justice, Luxembourg Stock Exchange and even Skype!
Places we visited included: Coca Cola, the Diamond District, Duvel Brewery, the European Investment Bank, J.P Morgan, Microsoft, Skype and more learning about the ways they do business internationally. Listening to the discussions at the companies was a lot more enjoyable than sitting through a normal lecture and we got a way more in depth and hands on look on how they were ran.
I loved the flower market and cheese farm visits because it gave us a great inside view of not only business but culture as well and over all great experiences in Western Europe.
I traveled to four European counties not knowing what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised in each by the people’s kindness, the ease of commuting and the overall educational value of the 4 different cultures in each city.
I taught 5 classes in the schools. This helped me grow as a teacher because the students I was teaching had little English skills meaning I had to think of other ways to communicate with the students.
This was one of the first times that I realized studying abroad was not just an academic learning experience. Throughout my three weeks on the International Business Management program I learned that studying abroad was more than the six credits I was getting and something to put on my resume.
During our time in Europe, we were taught by LGBT-identified Dutch scholars; visited an LGBT community center in Brussels; learned about the work of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights
It was a lot of fun being able to get involved and ask the dairy farmers questions. Being able to visit the farms helped me to learn and retain more information than I would have been able to if I had been studying in a classroom the whole time.
I remember giggling as I watched one of my classmates try to convey that all he wanted was water. The more she didn’t understand, the louder he would get. And hand signals were our way of trying to show them what we needed.
Going to the heart of Nazi Germany and going up to Hitler’s Eagles Nest in the same elevator he used was a surreal experience for me.
This program has opened so many doors to endless possibilities and I hope to have the opportunity to participate in some of them.
The main academic parts of this program helped me develop the urge to continue to travel and research around the world about education systems and what seems to develop the happiest and most successful students so I can work to spread the knowledge to those education systems that need it the most.
My experiences in a different cultures dairy farm will help me to better understand the industry here in the United States and better manage a dairy farm here.
What I had expected to get out of the program only scratched the surface of the true rewards I would gain from my academic work in the Benelux countries.
Overall, studying abroad was worth two weeks of my summer. Although I was slightly homesick, I had an experience that I remember for the rest of my life.
There are very few farms in the United States that utilize robotic milking systems, which made this a very unique opportunity to see so many dairies that converted to this system and how it has changed the way they run their business.
After speaking with business professionals in the region it is pretty easy to recognize that they realize the importance of understanding the cultures in order to do business across borders. Many of the individuals in respected positions were fluent in three or four languages, and had educational backgrounds in a number of different countries.
Just by living across the Atlantic Ocean the names and numbers of divisions like the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” are relatively unknown, but here in Europe U.S. flags fly with the names and numbers of division, regiments or units and often names of soldiers to go with. The Europeans know more about WWII than us Americans who majorly fought it, but they don’t forget like we often do.
70 years later their memory remains in the minds and lives of Europeans as it should for all Americans, though it seems that education in this topic for American students is too limited as the places, people, ad events we learned about were often unfamiliar.
The program in which I participated allowed me to see five different countries. In these various cultures, I was able to learn about business from a range of perspectives. The study abroad program brought material that I have learned in the classroom to life and gave me a solid global business perspective.
Trying new foods, including extremely salty herring, struggling to communicate in three languages, and learning to travel independently in a foreign country truly gave me a hands-on experience that helped me personally and academically. Our group progressed past the surface level of sightseeing and truly interacted and engaged with cultures foreign to us.
I was constantly being challenged to go beyond my comfort zone as I explored new foods, languages, and a world entirely different from what I had ever known. Not only did I discover a lot about new cultures but also discovered a lot about myself.
This study abroad gave me, as a scholar, some very unique opportunities and chances to enhance my academic experience. Traveling abroad allowed me to experience life in another country and opened my eyes to a whole new way of living. All of my life I have had a strong interest in dairy, and traveling to the place where it originated from was insightful.
Each and every country we visited in Europe was so truly European. Not only were the cities filled with history, but also rich culture. Many people who haven’t been on a study abroad or never traveled outside the United States have a lot of preconceived notions as to what Europe is like.
By taking on these other cultures, I was able to see the beauty of another culture, something that most people of the world never get to partake in. I was able to realize that my way of life is not necessarily the only way to do things.
Studying dairy husbandry and environmental stewardship in Europe was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and grow as both a person and a future dairy industry leader. I feel that going on this trip helped me to see more issues involving dairy cattle and farming than I ever knew existed, and also to learn how the European Union is handling regulating these issues.