Courtney explores The Netherlands

I had an incredible semester in Holland this spring. I loved the country and the people of the country. I especially enjoyed the beauty of the tulip fields, and the bikes everywhere! My only regret during my time abroad was not getting a bike, I feel like I missed out on that aspect of Dutch culture. I was a little afraid to ride since I had not gotten on a bike since I was a child, but when I finally rode again I was so mad I did not have enough time left to get a bike! If I ever get the opportunity to go back to the Netherlands, I will get a bike!

In Rotterdam, my favorite things to do involved exploring the wonderful city. I enjoyed walking through and having picnics at Kralingse Bos, and walking along the river. I also loved to go to the Swan Market, and the weekly markets in front of Markthal. I also loved the chance to study arts and culture at Erasmus University, and the chance to learn in a new and challenging environment. While the courses were a little more difficult than I am used to at home, I learned how to adapt to a new learning environment, and gained so much knowledge that I can apply to my degree and future career.

I had the opportunity to do a little traveling within the Netherlands and in Europe. In the Netherlands, I was able to go to Maastricht, Delft, Utrecht, The Hague, Kinderdijk, Amsterdam, Keukenhof, and Oden. I was also able to travel to Belgium, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Germany, and France. I loved getting the chance to go to different cities and countries, get the opportunity to see the customs and people of different places, and enjoy the challenge of figuring out the city. I even had the wonderful opportunity to travel with my mom for a week, which was such a fun experience for both of us-especially since it was my mom’s first time in Europe. I also was also able to visit my “Europe family,” made up of my friends from Northern Ireland I hosted during the Ulster Project in 2012. With each city and trip, I felt my confidence grow; I became the person that sees what she wants to do, and goes for it.  After having this incredible chance to travel, I am so excited to travel again. I cannot wait to come back to Europe!

This semester, I was able to learn endless lessons about myself. Coming from a small town with many of my family within a few minutes’ drive, and attending school only a few hours away from my hometown, home is always accessible. The time I was able to spend in Europe was the longest I have ever been apart from my friends, family, and everything I am comfortable with. I now know that I can live independently from my home and my family, and I also learned to adapt to my surroundings, and established a newfound confidence.  I also gained even more respect for immigrant to the United States that do not speak English. As someone that does not speak Dutch, I learned how difficult it can be to communicate when you do not speak the native language. I was so thankful for Dutch people’s willingness to take the time to communicate with me.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to not only study, but also to travel and learn so much about myself and people of other countries. I am so thankful for the assistance offered by the ATP foundation, and helping me make one of my dreams come true. I cannot wait to come back to the Netherlands one day!

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